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2018
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Matthew Cordell

School Library Journal K-Gr 2-In this mostly wordless picture book, a girl gets lost in a snowstorm while walking home from school. At the same time, a wolf pup gets separated from its pack. The girl discovers the pup and carries it through dangerous and icy terrain to reconnect with its pack, and the wolves assist the girl by howling to attract her searching family. Cordell's artistic approach is a little more free-form than in his past titles. It works well in depicting the twisting trees in the snowstorm but is more challenging to pull off with the characterization of the girl. Yet he succeeds. Only her eyes are visible in her large red triangular parka, with a scarf across her mouth and nose, as she trudges through the snow; there is so much emotion in her eyes that viewers know all that they need to know about this almost comically bundled, shapeless figure. Cordell's landscapes do a wonderful job showing the vastness and desperation of the girl's journey, his blended watercolors of the snow and trees adding eloquence to the experience. VERDICT A heartwarming adventure about helping others, best shared one-on-one to pore over the engaging images.-Peter Blenski, Greenfield Public Library, WI Copyright 2017. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Publishers Weekly Caught in a blizzard on her way home from school, a girl in a red parka discovers a wolf pup left behind by its pack. Cordell's story is wordless, but there's a soundtrack: the cub whines, and distant howls reveal the pack's presence over the next hill. The snow is deep, and the girl is tired, but she puts the pup first, scooping it up and heading toward the howls, undaunted by frightening encounters along the way. Cordell (Leaps and Bounce) uses his customary light and loopy scrawl for the girl, but the bristling fur and open mouths of the wolves are startlingly real. The mother wolf comes to meet them: her golden eyes blaze, and she growls softly. But she's grateful, and when the girl collapses going home, the pack shows its gratitude in an unexpected way. Cozy vignettes, framed in rough circles, help reassure readers that the story will end well, and so does a tender opening portrait of the family. The girl's story is a hero's journey, and Cordell tells it with skill and heart. Ages 2-6. Agent: Rosemary Stimola, Stimola Literary Studio. (Jan.) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

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Book list *Starred Review* In parallel opening spreads, a little girl says good-bye to her parents and dog as she heads off to school, and a wolf cub ranges across the field with his pack. At day's end, the girl, wearing a bright red coat and hood (catch that allusion!), heads home as snow begins to fall. The snow thickens across the subsequent pages, and soon she is lost, just as the wolf cub is separated from his pack in the storm. A chance encounter leads to a moment of solidarity: when the wolf cub sinks in the snow, the girl scoops him up, carrying him towards the distant howls of his family. He's home safe, but she's still lost until the wolves, realizing a debt is owed, return for her, and their howls bring her own family. This nearly wordless picture book is a tender, never precious story of kindness and cooperation. The ink-and-watercolor illustrations, though simple, are packed with emotion, while the minimal text relays only sounds: the distant howls of the wolves, the whines of the wolf cub, the girl's huffs of breath as she struggles through the snow. Cordell's wolves aren't cuddly cartoons by any means, but neither are they monsters; instead, they're realistically depicted wild animals who inherently understand loyalty. Expect this wintry tale to bring only warmth.--Reagan, Maggie Copyright 2016 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright American Library Association. Used with permission.

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2018
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Elisha Cooper

Book list It's all about simple text and clean lines in this picture book about feline camaraderie. Cooper certainly loves and understands cat behavior, as exemplified in his various poses of cats at rest and in action. A big cat (white) welcomes a new little cat (black) to the household, and shows it when to eat, when to drink, where to go, how to be, and when to rest. The white cat is outlined in black lines on generous white space as the two partake in these activities; the black cat is profiled in silhouette, with only one tiny white dot for an eye. As the years go by, the black cat grows bigger, and eventually the white cat has to go. A silhouetted family mourn along with the black cat. But soon a little white cat arrives, and the now-big black cat teaches it all the same lessons. In a final double-page spread the two dream happily, completing the concept of the circle of life in loving contentment.--Gepson, Lolly Copyright 2017 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright American Library Association. Used with permission.

Publishers Weekly Like a Japanese brush painter, Cooper (8: An Animal Alphabet) uses bold, black lines to trace the outlines of a white cat; it roams through an apartment, playing with yarn and gazing at the bird feeder. Then a black kitten arrives, and the white cat shows it "when to eat, when to drink, where to go, how to be." "Big cat, little cat," Cooper writes as the two sleep embraced, their curves a rhythmic composition of black and white. The two grow ever closer until, with little warning, the white cat "got older, and one day he had to go... and didn't come back. And that was hard. For everyone." The black cat is pictured alone on the page; the next spread pulls back to reveal its human family, all bereft. Even younger readers will understand their grief. But when a white kitten arrives, the story begins again: "The cat showed the new cat what to do. When to eat, when to drink, where to go, how to be." With quiet grace, Cooper delivers the message that love persists through loss. Ages 3-6. Agent: Liz Darhansoff, Darhansoff & Verrill. (Mar.) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

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School Library Journal PreS-Gr 1-Bold and simple illustrations perfectly depict life with cats. Elegant, expressive black line drawings on white backgrounds capture the essence of all things feline and call to mind the work of Clare Turlay Newberry and Nikki McClure. The book follows a lone white cat who gains a small black companion, their life together, and the eventual loss of the elder cat ("Years went by-and more years, too-") and ends with the addition of a new kitten. The spare text does an excellent job of conveying the story from the animals' point of view. Readers are told that "the older cat got older and one day he had to go...and didn't come back. And that was hard. For everyone." VERDICT A gentle, loving look at the life cycle of pets; young readers will be able to gain confidence in retelling the story using the text and the pictures. A must-have for all collections.-Paige Mellinger, Gwinnett County Public Library, Lawrenceville, GA Copyright 2017. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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2018
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Derrick Barnes

Publishers Weekly How good can a haircut make a person feel? "Magnificent. Flawless. Like royalty." In a powerfully moving tribute to barbershop culture, Barnes (We Could Be Brothers) addresses readers directly-and it's safe to say his audience is primarily boys of color-using hyperbole to boost their confidence and help them recognize their own value. "You came in as a lump of clay," he writes, "a blank canvas, a slab of marble./ But when my man is done with you,/ they'll want to post you up in a museum." Created with thick, forceful daubs of paint, James's luminous portraits reinforce the idea that, when a person looks this good, not even the sky is the limit. Of a man admiring the curving designs newly shaved into his head, the narrator remarks, "Maybe there's a river named after him on Mars. He looks that important." Pride, confidence, and joy radiate from the pages, both in the black and brown faces of men, women, boys, and girls featured in Barnes's majestic paintings, and in writing that celebrates human worth with every syllable. Barbers included: "Tip that man! Tip that man!" Ages 3-8. (Oct.) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

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School Library Journal K-Gr 3-Rhythmic text describes the feeling of a young African American boy as he gets a "fresh cut" and how a trip to the barbershop changes the way he feels about the world and in turn how the world perceives him. He might just "smash that geography exam" or "rearrange the principal's honor roll" and, of course, the cute girl in class won't be able to keep her eyes off of him. The protagonist spends time looking at black men in chairs next to him and creating vivid stories about their lives: "the dude to the left of you with a faux-hawk.looks presidential.maybe he's the CEO of a tech company." Oil paintings illustrate the intricacies of the haircuts, details in the characters' faces, along with the sense of well-being that is conveyed along the way. While a trip the barbershop is the main story line, the themes of confidence-building, self-esteem, and joy of young black boys are the important takeaways, and the illustrations jump off the page and invite readers to share in the experience. VERDICT A super fun read-aloud, this title is a recommended purchase for all picture book collections.-Kristen Todd-Wurm, Middle Country Public Library, NY Copyright 2017. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Book list Barnes (Ruby and the Booker Boys, 2008) playfully tells the story of a black boy getting a haircut at a barbershop. The boy comes in as a blank canvas, but as the haircut starts, Barnes leads the reader into all the things that might happen because of the cut, from passing a geography test, to becoming a star, and even impressing a girl. The other men in the barbershop look important and full of swagger because of their hair, and the barber knows what he's doing and doles out shape-ups and a faux hawk with skill. Colorful images illustrate all of the patrons, including a woman. Barnes mixes fresh and sharp lines with an integral part of the African American experience: maintaining one's hair. Illustrator James deftly uses bright colors including teal and fuchsia, and a colorful galaxy complements Barnes' words well. The strong voice will resonate with readers, soothe any young child scared of their first cut, and give a boost of confidence to the seasoned pros.--Gilfillian, Courtney Copyright 2017 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright American Library Association. Used with permission.

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2018
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Bao Phi

Book list *Starred Review* Before dawn, a Vietnamese American man and his young son set out to fish for their supper in a nearby lake. As they travel the lamp-lit streets, build a small fire, and drop their hook into the water, the little boy contemplates his parents' lives, the everyday task of fishing for their supper, and the stories they've told him about living in Vietnam before coming to America as refugees. Phi's bittersweet story of the resourcefulness of an immigrant family is lovingly illustrated in Bui's evocative artwork. Her expressive ink-black brushstrokes stand out against a background of star-speckled, crepuscular blues, and at poignant moments in Phi's story, she movingly homes in on the facial expressions of the boy and his father. While the story occasionally hints at painful things, the gravity of those events is depicted in the emotional reactions of the characters in the present, rather than images of war in the past. The boy's father has fond memories of Vietnam, heartbreak for the people he lost in the war, and gratitude for the opportunities afforded to him in the U.S., all of which the boy silently internalizes into both appreciation for his life and curiosity about a place he's never been. This wistful, beautifully illustrated story will resonate not only with immigrant families but any family that has faced struggle.--Hunter, Sarah Copyright 2017 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright American Library Association. Used with permission.

School Library Journal K-Gr 2-This gorgeous tale about a father/son fishing trip shows the interconnectedness of family and the inexorable way that generational history impacts the present. The story is told from the boy's perspective, as his father wakes him long before dawn to go fishing. Although the child enjoys the outing as a special adventure with his dad, they are fishing for food, not sport, and they must be home in time for the father to leave for work. The quiet time together provides opportunities for the man to talk about his past life fishing with his brother in a different pond in Vietnam, long ago before the war and before coming to America. After they return home, triumphant, with a bucket of fish, the boy contemplates his role as the youngest in the family-no longer a baby-and even though he is sad that both his parents have to work, he knows there will be a happy, love-filled family dinner later that night. Bui's cinematic illustrations make use of panels and weighted lines, evoking the perfect background or facial expression for each piece of text. The text placement and composition of the illustrations allow each occurrence or observation to be its own distinct event, stringing together the small, discrete moments that make up a life, a memory, and a history into a cohesive whole. VERDICT This gentle coming-of-age story is filled with loving, important aspects of the immigrant experience and is a first purchase for all libraries.-Anna Haase Krueger, Ramsey County Library, MN Copyright 2017. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Publishers Weekly Phi, a poet whose parents were Vietnamese refugees, draws from childhood memories in this story about fishing with his father before sunrise on the lakes of Minneapolis. They didn't do it for fun; it was a way to put food on the table. "Everything in America costs a lot of money," his father tells him. Sometimes, they run into fishermen from other marginalized communities: a Hmong man "speaks English like my dad and likes to talk about funny movies," and a black man "shows me his colorful lure collection." Though the morning is an adventure for the boy, it's the start of a long day for his father, who heads to work afterward (as does the boy's mother). Bui (The Best We Could Do) uses confident ink lines and watery washes of deep blue to evoke the predawn setting and tender familial relationship. Graphic novel panels and strong figures give the pages the air of a documentary as Phi celebrates an unexpected superhero: a father who endures a strange new culture, works to support his family, cherishes time with his son, and draws no attention to the sacrifices he's made. Ages 6-8. (Aug.) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

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