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Anita's Picks: The Children Have Chosen

by Anita Silvey
May 15, 2013
From May 13-19, 2013 we mark our longest running event in the children’s book world—Children’s Book Week. First celebrated in 1919, the week is administered by the Children’s Book Council; every year they provide posters and bookmarks for teachers to use.

The CBC also honors authors and books with their Children’s Choice Book Awards, the only awards voted on by children all over the United States. (Finalists are pulled from the Children’s Choices project, a joint effort between the CBC and the International Reading Association.)

If you are hunting for a list of crowd-pleasing books to add to summer reading lists or to enjoy in the classroom, the Children’s Choice annual selections are completely reliable. Here are some of the honorees from this year and years past.

Picture Books

SHARK VS. TRAIN (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2010), written by Chris Barton and illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld
“One of the most creative picture books of 2010, Chris Barton’s SHARK VS. TRAIN explores the imaginative life of children….It shows a profound understanding of childhood imaginative play and creates a lot of laughs when read aloud. Funny, original, exciting.”

HOMER (Greenwillow Books, 2012) by Elisha Cooper
“It is rare to find a successful picture book where the protagonist observes rather than participates in activity. Yet in the watercolor and pencil art, Homer looms as the focal point of each piece.”

ART AND MAX (Clarion Books, 201) by David Wiesner
“Everything—from the cover underneath the jacket, with an illustration that looks like a Jackson Pollock painting, to the back flap of the jacket with a picture of David as a child—enhances this reading experience. Beautiful paper and classic typography help make ART & MAX fun to read and a pleasure to hold in your hands as well.”

Knuffle Bunny series (Hyperion, 2004-2010) by Mo Willems
“With a real grasp of childhood behavior, a sense of what constitutes a solid story, and the artistic ability to render his thoughts in simple line and color, Mo Willems has emerged as one of the most popular picture book artist of the twenty-first century.”

Novels

WONDER (Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2012) by R. J. Palacio
“In this book, ideal for ten- to fourteen-year-olds, Palacio explores the issues of beauty and deformity—what physical appearance means in American culture….A fabulous book for classroom sharing or book discussion groups.”

THE LIGHTNING THIEF (Hyperion, 2005) by Rick Riordan
“An inventive plot, engaging characters, non-stop action, and an unpredictable ending have helped make the stories of Percy Jackson by Rick Riordan some of the most beloved reading for ten- to fourteen-year-olds in the last few years…. And as young readers devour Percy’s saga, they also learn a lot about Greek Mythology.”

OKAY FOR NOW (Clarion Books, 2011) by Gary Schmidt
“If you love baseball, you’ll learn a lot about the Yankees in the 1960s. If you are interested in art, you’ll find some brilliant composition analysis. If you are a literature nut, you will be able to see JANE EYRE through Doug’s eyes. If you enjoy watching a writer weave story, plot, and language together, you can savor this brilliant book by a master at the top of his craft—one of the finest pieces of writing for young readers of the last decade.”

THE INVENTION OF HUGO CABRET (Scholastic Press, 2007) by Brian Selznick
“Even the subplots of this sprawling novel have subplots; and because so much of the story is told in art, every reader has a slightly different version of what happens in the book.”

Graphic Novels

Bad Kitty series (Roaring Brook Press, 2005-present) by Nick Bruel
“Children love the mayhem created by Bad Kitty. Of course, the personality of this character is basically that of a little kid. Laugh-out-loud funny, with energetic drawings, the book brings demands for many readings.”

Babymouse series (Random House Books for Young Readers, 2005-present) by Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm
“Brother and sister team Jennifer L. and Matthew Holm have created one masterful book after another…. Once a reader age four through ten has found one of the sagas about this endearing protagonist, they long for more.”

Lunch Lady series (Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2009-present) by Jarrett Krosoczka
“In the past few years, Jarrett J. Krosoczka has become one of our most popular authors with children. His Lunch Lady series demonstrates why. He remembers what he thought about as a child and knows how to entertain children and keep them laughing.”

SMILE (GRAPHIX, 2010) by Raina Telgemeier
“Some read SMILE as a memoir; others simply find themselves fascinated by a story that rings so true to their own experiences…. In the end, whether you are an adult or child, after finishing this book you will find yourself smiling along with the protagonist.”

With a unique career in children's books, Anita Silvey has served both as the editor of THE HORN BOOK MAGAZINE and publisher of a major children's book imprint. She is the author of several books, including HENRY KNOX: BOOKSELLER, SOLDIER, PATRIOT and I'LL PASS FOR YOUR COMRADE: WOMEN SOLDIERS IN THE CIVIL WAR. Her latest project, THE CHILDREN'S BOOK-A-DAY ALMANAC (Roaring Brook Press, 2012), began as an interactive website. The entries serve as a "daily love letter to a book or author," with each one offering a glimpse into the story behind the story.

© 2013 Anita Silvey. Please do not reproduce in any form, electronic or otherwise.
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