In the last few years, the American Library Association Youth Media Awards have increasingly recognized nonfiction. By my count, between 1942 and 1983 no Caldecott medals went to nonfiction books. That’s 0 awards in 41 years. In 2014, 2016, and now 2017, the Caldecott medal went to nonfiction picture books. This week Radiant Child by Javaka […]

This Monday the Siberts will be announced. I would love to see Preaching to the Chickens: The Story of Young John Lewis honored–the art is stunning and the voice is pitch-perfect, but it has only a short author’s essay at the end. It would be a stronger contender if it had a more complete bibliography. […]

As a general rule, books happen text-first, especially when the author and illustrator are different people. An author writes a story, and then an illustrator illustrates it, often shaping it in new ways. But still, the general rule is that words come before pictures. Like a Bird: The Art of the American Slave Song is […]

My eighth grader got braces today. I got braces in eighth grade, too. I remember spending a long time with the orthodontist with his hands in my mouth, tugging and yanking. When I went home with my mouth full of metal, it felt like he had installed a set of doll knives in my mouth, […]

One of my New Year resolutions: to find people whose stories haven’t been told. Whose stories do we get to hear? Usually, it’s the stories of the people in power. There’s a good reason for that: their stories are memorialized in documentary evidence. Historians can examine papers and books and stitch together stories. The problem […]

My grandmother was a great cook. Of course, she spent most of her life cooking. She woke up early, often before the sun was up, stoked her coal stove (yes! she cooked on a coal stove into the 1980s), and made hearty breakfasts for Grandad and my uncles before they tramped out for their irrigation […]

“Rinty-Tin-Tin!” “Whiz! “clink!” “Whoosh!” This joyous picture book biography of quirky composer Esquivel rejoices in the weird sounds he incorporated into his music. It tells the story of his childhood in Mexico, his move to the United States, and his experiments with using new sounds in new ways in his music. The book is full […]