Turkeys and Pilgrims are important, of course, but this book speaks to another aspect of modern-day Thanksgiving: the Macy Thanksgiving Day Parade. Both text and illustrations are brilliant, and will give you a new appreciation for all those character balloons bobbing about on your TV screen! Balloons over Broadway, by Melissa Sweet. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt: […]

This brilliantly written book explores the differences and similarities between Thomas Jefferson and John Adams and how they helped shape their cooperation in making a new nation. The book starts with a strong opening: The true story of how one gentleman–short and stout–and another–tall and lean–formed a surprising alliance, committed treason, and helped launch a […]

This book, about a landmark moment in jazz history, is written with a jazz-inspired narrative voice, playing with literary convention–there’s no end punctuation in the entire book–and dabbling with different poetic devices, like rhyme, alliteration, and onomatopoeia, without ever committing to one. The story’s told with staccato phrases in shotgun bursts. Ransome uses rich and […]

Sometimes historical fiction is the closest we can get to the past. In an “Author’s Note,” Angela Johnson explains the limitations she was under in writing about the day slaves were emancipated: I’d love to know how my great-grandparents celebrated when told they were free. But that tale has been lost to time, so I […]

In writing biography, it’s tempting to start at your subject’s birth and finish at your subject’s death. But usually that’s not the structure that will best tell the story. In this biography of an astronomer, the book starts with her gazing at the stars as a child and wondering about them. We see her work […]

Historical fiction can be used to present troubling topics in a controlled way appropriate for young children. In this historical fiction, Yamasaki skillfully tackles a difficult subject–World War II Japanese-American internment camps. Her story shows the triumph of brotherly kindness and courage, without glossing over the institutional cruelty of the camps. Her narrative voice is spare. She […]

There aren’t too many Veteran’s Day picture books. You could read a book about a particular veteran, but this book is the rare one that honors veterans as a group. Demarest tells the stories of Arlington Cemeteries. It includes the big stories–JFK’s eternal flame, the Tomb of the Unknowns, Robert E. Lee’s memorial–but I love […]

 In this inventive nonfiction picture book, each page is written in the voice of an animal who is arguing about why its nose (or ear or eye) is the “best.” These are great examples of persuasive writing, and along the way we learn a lot about how animals specialize to fit their individual environmental niches. […]