Kiddosphere: Newbery and Caldecott Choices: At the Midway Point
It’s nearly hard to believe, but we are just about halfway through 2016! For those that follow prediction/discussion blogs like Heavy Medal, Calling Caldecott, and Someday My Printz Will Come, it means that spirited discussion on the year’s top titles will commence very soon (usually in September). While I haven’t yet read titles that are my #1 pick for each medal (way too early for that!), I do have some strong favorites so far.
Perry T. Cook’s childhood is unusual and yes, improbable, but Leslie Connor deals with the delicate subject of children with incarcerated parents in a sensitive, deeply felt, believable and even humorous way that remains memorable long after you read it.
The Charmed Children of Rookskill Castle
Previously reviewed: n/a
Consideration for: Newbery
This spooky eccentric World War II fantasy is a must-read for young horror fans who have moved beyond Goosebumps. Definitely not for scaredy-cats. If a somewhat dark and creepy story set at a boarding school in Scotland sounds appealing, then this is right up your alley!
My favorite picture books tend not to win the Caldecott, so I’m not holding my breath for my picks. However, this darling story of a young ballerina and the professional dancer whom she admires is charming, sweet, and ideal for all dance fans. Barbara McClintock has never won a Caldecott-not even an Honor. That’s unbelievable.
I’ll definitely be shocked if “Freedom for Congo Square” is not among the ALA Youth Media Award selections in late January. R. Gregory Christie’s illustrations are vibrant and somber when appropriate; Carole Boston Weatherford’s evocative text makes this appropriate for young elementary students studying slavery.
Although any Joan Bauer book is heads and tails above many YA books, I haven’t loved her most recent stories as much as I’ve loved older titles such as “Hope Was Here.” Soar is an exception; this is among the best she’s written. Although she tackles heavy material (the main character has a heart condition, and much of the story is centered on the grief, shock and shame felt by the community after a promising young athlete dies), there’s tons of heart and humor to balance it out.
Oh, my heart. Make sure you have plenty of time to read and consider this one, because this isn’t the sort of story that you forget days after reading it. Told through the perspective of the chestnut tree that grew outside of Anne Frank’s hiding place (and, like Anne Frank, has had a long legacy), this is a powerful title that parents and teachers might use for young readers beginning to learn about the Holocaust.
Finally (and to end on an upbeat note), Kevin Henkes’s latest is bright, joyful, and now one of my favorite spring reads. Seasonal books don’t tend to be chosen for the Caldecott, but this one is so perfectly pastel the way only Kevin Henkes can create, and such a unique addition to spring stories that I can’t leave it out. This is a celebration of the ending of winter and the arrival of spring, but not forgetting that early spring can occasionally have some rather cool days (that is often ignored in other spring stories!). Tuck this into next year’s Easter basket.
Jennifer Schultz, Youth Services Librarian, Fauquier County Public Library
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