I'm a librarian with a confession to make. I have not read The Grapes of Wrath nor The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. I find Dickens depressing. The Catcher in the Rye? I put it down after the first two chapers. After you finish gasping, I will explain. I have read hundreds (likely thousands) of books in my life, many classics and many hugely popular. I have read verse, poetry, graphic novels, biographies, comics, fantasies, dystopians, long books, short ones, and those in between. But there is still a long list of classic and popular books that, up until recently, I have been ashamed to admit I have yet to read .
"...that’s the fun of it to create from scratch, it’s to me, it’s creative in one sense of the word. I try to make exciting books for children and of course, I do them for myself too, I put everything I have into them."*
There was a stuffed bear in a department store who was missing a button, but a little girl loved him anyway. She didn’t want a perfect companion. She wanted Corduroy. Don Freeman’s stories about the plucky bear and his friend are still treasured and shared decades after they were written. A true classic, Corduroy can found in pretty much every library and book store with space set aside for young ones.
Sam & Dave Dig a Hole is exactly what it sounds like. Two boys start digging a massive hole to see what they might find. Such an activity is a tried and true milestone for any child explorer, but few make it as deep as this pair does.
The Watermelon Seed tackles a common childhood fear with humor and artistry. A young crocodile gushes about his love of watermelon, delightfully chomping and slurping away at a slice in hand. He's the happiest reptile ever, until he takes that final bite.
Journey is Aaron Becker's first picture book, and what a debut! Using his artistic prowess rather than text, Becker delivers a blockbuster fantasy adventure worthy of the multiplex, with sweeping landscapes, amazing sets, and glorious detail.
No teacher ever told Newbery-winning author Betsy Byars she should be a writer when she was growing up. Young Betsy Cromer, nicknamed “Cro,” was a wide-awake kid and into most everything, but not writing. Part of the time her family lived in the country, which was heaven for Betsy as she was surrounded by nature. When she got older, she was interested in nature of a different kind—boys!
From African-American history to folktales to album covers, Kadir Nelson has added his glowing and inspired paintings to dozens of projects and gone on to become an award-winning author himself.
"In other worlds I used the imaginary kingdom not as a sentimentalized fairyland, but as an opening wedge to express what I hoped would be some very hard truths. I never saw fairy tales as an escape or a cop out....On the contrary, speaking for myself, it is the way to understand reality."*
Lloyd Alexander wrote many adventure stories for young people, including the wonderful Chronicles of Prydain which follow the adventures of brave, young Taran, who proudly holds the title of assistant pig-keeper, the fiery, quick-witted Eilonwy, shambling man-beast Gurgi, and Fflewddur Fflam, a teller of tales, mostly tall ones. In The Book of Three, these unlikely heroes are on the run from dread forces that have more personality and are therefore more terrifying than Tolkien’s Sauron.
Twelve-year-old Abilene Tucker jumped off the train in Manifest, Kansas, well before it officially stopped—and for good reason. Abeline was in a bit of a mood. She, who was used to criss-crossing the whole nation alongside of her beloved drifter dad Gideon, was being parked for an entire summer at the dustiest, driest town imaginable while he goes to work a railroad job in another state. In Moon Over Manifest, by Clare Vanderpoole, the year is 1938—about 20 summers since her Dad was here as a boy. The whole town, not just the lawns and the gardens, seems like it’s about to blow away in the June wind. What Abilene doesn’t realize is that this seemingly dead place is full of secrets and regrets just waiting to bubble to the surface.
Taro Yashima is the assumed name of children’s author and illustrator Jun Atsushi Iwamatsu. Born in the Japanese countryside to a local doctor and his wife, as a young man he found the rise in militarism prior to his country’s invasion of China and attack on America to be very much against his personal beliefs. He and his wife Tomoe, also an artist, joined peaceful protest groups called “culture clubs” that used their art to make anti-authoritarian statements about Japan’s government and the harsh conditions people lived under to support the military as it readied for war.