Early Childhood

Charlie and Mouse by Laurel Snyder and Emily Hughes

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Charlie and Mouse

2018 Geisel Award

Four hilarious stories, two inventive brothers, one irresistible book! Join Charlie and Mouse as they talk to lumps, take the neighborhood to a party, sell some rocks, and invent the bedtime banana. With imagination and humor, Laurel Snyder and Emily Hughes paint a lively picture of brotherhood that children will relish in a format perfect for children not quite ready for chapter books. Follow it with the sequel, Charlie & Mouse & Grumpy. – from the publisher


All Around Us by Xelena Gonzalez and Adriana M. Garcia.

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All Around Us2018 Pura Belpré Illustrator Honor. 

A young girl with Native American and Spanish heritage learns from her grandfather that circles are all around us. The moon, clocks, wheels, and the sun are all common circles we see almost every day, though we may not notice them. Grandfather points out that a rainbow is only half a circle; the other half is under the surface, representing that what comes from the earth goes back into it again, creating a circle of life. The warm relationship the two share is evident as the girl happily absorbs the lessons, often spiritual in nature, that her grandpa teaches. Garcia’s colorful mixed-media illustrations reveal images placed upon paintings with what appears to be chalk, pen and ink, and colored pencil. A circle motif, including the arcing of the text, highlights almost every spread, emphasizing the prevalence of the shape. – Booklist

La Princesa and the Pea by Susan Middleton Elya and Juana Martinez-Neal

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La Princesa and the Pea.jpeg2018 Pura Belpré Award. 

 In this bilingual twist on a classic fairy tale, the mother of a young prince does all she can to make sure that no maiden who is unworthy will win the heart of her son. The prince is very lonely and longs to find his princess, and when a girl comes along looking for a place to rest while on her journey home, the prince instantly falls in love. His mama searches through the garden for an elegant pea that is sure to determine whether this girl is truly the one. When the girl rises after a restless and painful night, the prince rejoices, secretly glad that—like his mama—he, too, had a trick up his sleeve. Martinez-Neal’s illustrations, featuring stylishly exaggerated figures rendered in warm tones and delicate lines, are inspired by the textile designs of the indigenous people of Peru. With eye-catching details on every page, this book is sure to capture the imaginations of young readers. Spanish words are sprinkled throughout, and clever rhymes make this a book to enjoy more than once. –Booklist

Mama Africa! How Miriam Makeba Spread Hope with Her Song by Kathryn Erskine and Charly Palmer

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Mama Africa.jpeg2018 Steptoe Illustrator Award. 

Miriam Makeba, a Grammy Award-winning South African singer, rose to fame in the hearts of her people at the pinnacle of apartheid–a brutal system of segregation similar to American Jim Crow laws. Mama Africa, as they called her, raised her voice to help combat these injustices at jazz clubs in Johannesburg; in exile, at a rally beside Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.; and before the United Nations.

Set defiantly in the present tense, this biography offers readers an intimate view of Makeba’s fight for equality. Kathryn Erskine’s call-and-response style text and Charly Palmer’s bold illustrations come together in a raw, riveting duet of protest song and praise poem. A testament to how a single voice helped to shake up the world–and can continue to do so.

A Different Pond by Bao Phi and Thi Bui

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A Different Pnd.jpeg2018 Caldecott Honor. 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.  – Booklist


Crown: an Ode to the Fresh Cut by Derrick Barnes and Gordon C. James

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Crown- An Ode to the Fresh Cut.jpegCaldecott Honor 2018, Caldecott Honor 2018, Coretta Scott King Honor 2018. 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.  –Booklist

Big Cat, Little Cat by Elisha Cooper

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Big Cat, Little Cat 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. 2018 Caldecott Honor. – Booklist