Monday, January 10, 2011

Award Winners! ALA announces awards for best books of 2010

Librarians and booksellers follow the American Library Association annual awards for the best books of the previous year with baited breath, but what do these awards mean for parents? The Caldecott, Newbery and other awards bring to families' attention outstanding books that might speak to their children. It's a way to find out about distinguished books that do not otherwise noticed in big stores.

Here's a quick take on some of the award winners, which were announced this morning:

For young children (ages 2 - 7):
A Sick Day for Amos McGee
by Philip Christian Stead
illustrated by Erin E. Stead
NY: Roaring Brook Press, 2010
ages 2 - 6
available on Amazon and at your local library
A Sick Day for Amos McGeeA Sick Day for Amos McGee, by Philip and Erin Stead, is a sweet story of friendship that will make young children smile. Amos McGee is a zoo keeper who makes many friends among the animals. He takes the time to play chess with the elephant, runs races with the tortoise, keeps the shy penguin company, and reads stories to the owl. One day, Amos wakes up feeling sick and stays home from work. The animals miss him, and take the bus to visit their friend. The illustrations capture the quiet, warm friendship with their delicate woodblock prints and fine color pencil work. Little kids will enjoy this books' gentle humor and kind message of looking out for your friends. Winner of the 2011 Caldecott Award.
The Pirate of Kindergarten
by George Ella Lyon
illustrated by Lynne Avril
NY: Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2010
ages 3 - 7
available on Amazon and at your local library
The Pirate of Kindergarten (Richard Jackson Books (Atheneum Hardcover))Ginny is the Pirate of Kindergarten, and her eyes play tricks on her: she sees double of everything.Walking to circle time is hard, because she isn't sure which chairs are really there and which aren't. Reading is hard, when the words float, with two of each letter mixing the words together. Cutting rabbits out becomes so frustrating, as she struggles to tell if her bunny has two or three or four ears. The routine eye exam at school helps teachers realize that Ginny has a correctable problem. Ginny starts to wear an eye patch to help her see clearly. Young children will appreciate seeing this story from Ginny's perspective, and will have empathy for kids who struggle at school. Winner of the 2011 Schneider Family Book Award, given for a book "that  embodies an artistic expression of the disability experience for child and adolescent audiences."

For middle grade readers (ages 8 - 12) 
Moon Over Manifest
by Clare Vanderpool
NY: Delacorte Press, 2010
ages 9 -12
available on Amazon and at your local library
Moon Over ManifestMoon Over Manifest, by debut author Clare Vanderpool, is an exploration of what home means to twelve-year old Abilene, a girl who has grown up riding the rails during the Great Depression. In 1936, her father sends her to live with a boyhood friend in Manifest, Kansas. She makes friends and comes to know the town her father's childhood. I have not had a chance to read this novel yet, but it sounds like wonderful historical fiction. “Vanderpool illustrates the importance of stories as a way for children to understand the past, inform the present and provide hope for the future,” said Newbery Medal Committee Chair Cynthia K. Richey. Winner of the 2011 Newbery Award.
Kakapo Rescue:
Saving the World's Strangest Bird

by Sy Montgomery
photographs by Nic Bishop
NY: Houghton Mifflin, 2010
ages 9 - 12
available on Amazon and at your local library
Kakapo Rescue: Saving the World's Strangest Parrot (Scientists in the Field Series)If you have a child who's fascinated by wild animals, it's well worth seeking out Kakapo Rescue: Saving the World's Strangest Parrot. Sy Montgomery and Nic Bishop travel to New Zealand to follow a group of scientist devoted to saving a native parrot, the Kakapo (pronounced KAR-ka-poe). It's a fascinating look at all the factors that affect the survival of an endangered species: particular food, conditions for mating, survival of chicks, weather and more. Young naturalists will love seeing themselves in the shoes of the many dedicated scientists and devoted volunteers who are working to protect these birds. You can read an excerpt on Sy Montgomery's site here. Winner of the 2011 Sibert Informational Book Medal.

There are many, many more outstanding, distinguished books which won awards and honors. But for now, these are some definitely worth seeking out to read with your children.

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