The Kids Are All Right

Winners of the Caldecott, the Newbery, and more!

Hi Kid Lit friends,

It was a huge week for children’s books! Lots of prestigious awards were given out, including the Caldecott and the Newbery. If you’re interested in seeing the complete list of award winners, check out this post on Book Riot, which includes links to purchase and some background about each award.

For this newsletter, I wanted to call out some books I thought you might enjoy, so here goes!

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I was so excited to see some of my favorite titles honored this year. I cheered when Celia C. Pérez’s middle grade book, The First Rule of Punk, won a Bulpré Honor for Text. The Pura Belpré Award, established in 1996, is presented annually to a Latino/Latina writer and illustrator whose work best portrays, affirms, and celebrates the Latino cultural experience in an outstanding work of literature for children and youth. If you’ve been following this newsletter for awhile, you know that I absolutely loved this book. It had classic middle grade themes paired with cultural references and, of course, punk music.

I was also a huge fan of the other Bulpré Honor for Text, another middle grade book called The Epic Fail of Arturo Zamora by Pablo Cartaya. This story is about thirteen-year-old Arturo Zamora who is trying to save his family’s restaurant from being demolished by a real estate developer. Arturo refuses to let his family and community go down without a fight, and as he schemes with Carmen, Arturo discovers the power of poetry and protest through untold family stories and the work of José Martí.

The winner of the Bulpré Award was Lucky Broken Girl by Ruth Behar, a gorgeous story set in New York City in the 1960s. This was based on the author’s own upbringing as a Cuban-Jewish immigrant, and her experience after a horrific car crash that confined her in a full-body cast for months. A moving and gorgeous book about patience, healing, and the power of art. Sandra Cisneros, the author of The House on Mango Street, said it best: “A book for anyone mending from childhood wounds.”

I was excited about so many of the Coretta Scott King Award winners as well. The Coretta Scott King Book Awards are given annually to outstanding African American authors and illustrators of books for children and young adults that demonstrate an appreciation of African American culture and universal human values.  The award commemorates the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and honors his wife, Mrs. Coretta Scott King, for her courage and determination to continue the work for peace and world brotherhood.

I was thrilled to see that Ekua Holmes received a Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor for her work on the picture book Out of Wonder: Poems Celebrating Poets. That is a gorgeous book! Another picture book, Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut, won two CSK awards: the illustrator honor went to Derrick Barnes and the author honor went to Gordon C. James. This book also won a Caldecott Honor AND a Newbery Honor!

The Caldecott Medal went to Wolf in the Snow, illustrated and written by Matthew Cordell. This was the one book from the Caldecotts that I have not read, but I have heard great things about it. Booklist gave it a starred review, saying, “This nearly wordless picture book is a tender, never precious story of kindness and cooperation. Expect this wintry tale to bring only warmth.”

I was thrilled to see Big Cat, little cat by Elisha Cooper on the list. This book is sparse in text, but every word is so lovely and the illustrations are incredibly sweet. Like the title implies, it is about a big cat who shows the little cat the ropes. In a starred review, The Horn Book says, “Cooper’s thick black lines produce figures full of kinetic energy and personality. The circular nature of the story is beautifully reinforced by the repetition in both art and text, and the result is at once realistic and comforting.”

The title I was most excited to see was A Different Pond, illustrated by Thi Bui and written by Bao Phi, on this list. This was one of my favorite picture books of 2017. It is about a young boy and his father who are Vietnamese refugees. The story flows beautifully in both text and pictures, and it is especially powerful in light of recent American politics.

And, the Newbery! The Newbery Award went to Erin Entrada Kelly’s Hello, Universe. This middle grade book is told from four points of view and deals with so many important themes, including bullying, new friendship, and bravery. School Library Journal says, “Plucky protagonists and a deftly woven story will appeal to anyone who has ever felt a bit lost in the universe. Readers across the board will flock to this book that has something for nearly everyone-humor, bullying, self-acceptance, cross-generational relationships, and a smartly fateful ending.”


New Releases! 

All of these books release this Tuesday! The book descriptions are from Goodreads, but for some books I am going to add some commentary in italics and a ❤ if I particularly loved a title.

Picture Book New Releases

❤ Florette by Anna Walker (HMH Books for Young Readers)

When Mae’s family moves to a new home, she wishes she could bring her garden with her. She’ll miss the apple trees, the daffodils, and chasing butterflies in the wavy grass. But there’s no room for a garden in the city. Or is there?

Note from Karina: This beautifully told story brings a new element to the familiar theme of moving to a new place. What touched me the most were the gorgeous illustrations, which told a beautiful story of letting go of a beloved home and building a new life in a new place.

When the World is Full of Friends by Gillian Shields (Bloomsbury)

Albert, Tom, Flossie, and Pipkin love to play. And while they have fun inventing games together, their biggest wish is to have friends to share them with. One day, something magical happens. A family of squirrels moves in across the stream! They could be the perfect friends–but how will they cross the stream?

Thank You, Earth: A Love Letter to Our Planet by April Pulley Sayre (HarperCollins)

April Pulley Sayre, award-winning photographer and acclaimed author of more than sixty-five books, introduces concepts of science, nature, and language arts through stunning photographs and a poetic text structured as a simple thank-you note. Touching on subjects from life cycles to weather, colors, shapes, and patterns, this is an ideal resource for science and language art curriculums and a terrific book for bedtime sharing. Thank You, Earth is a great choice for Earth Day celebrations, as well as family and group read-alouds.

❤ The Rabbit Listened by Cori Doerrfeld (Penguin Random House)

When something terrible happens, Taylor doesn’t know where to turn. All the animals are sure they have the answer. The chicken wants to talk it out, but Taylor doesn’t feel like chatting. The bear thinks Taylor should get angry, but that’s not quite right either. One by one, the animals try to tell Taylor how to process this loss, and one by one they fail. Then the rabbit arrives. All the rabbit does is listen, which is just what Taylor needs.

Note from Karina: I thought this story was such a lovely springboard to discuss grief with young children. 

Anywhere Artist by Nikki Slade Robinson (HMH Books for Young Readers)

In spare, delightful text and illustrations, an exuberant artist makes art from found objects and the world around her. This sprightly picture book celebrates creativity and will inspire readers to find art all around them, unleash their imaginations, and make their own artistic creations. 

❤ A Chip Off the Old Block by Jody Jensen Shaffer, illustrated by Daniel Miyares

Rocky comes from a long line of rock stars! Uncle Gibraltar, Aunt Etna, and Great-Grandma Half Dome are just some of the legendary rock formations he calls family. It’s no wonder he wants to matter in a big way too–but it’s not easy trying to get a foothold. Rocky gets tossed by The Wave and driven away at Devil’s Tower–but he’s determined not to allow these pitfalls to chip away at his confidence. Rather than feeling crushed, he keeps on rolling, hoping to become the rock-star he knows he’s meant to be.

Note from Karina: I read this to my kids, and they really enjoyed it! I found Miyares illustrations to be compelling and beautiful (rocks are hard to make interesting!), and there were lots of natural history elements to the story. As a family, we also love going to national parks and hiking, so this hit a sweet spot for us. A fun read! 

Middle Grade New Releases

❤ The Girl Who Drew Butterflies by Joyce Sidman (HMH Books for Young Readers)

One of the first naturalists to observe live insects directly, Maria Sibylla Merian was also one of the first to document the metamorphosis of the butterfly. In this visual nonfiction biography, richly illustrated throughout with full-color original paintings by Merian herself, the Newbery Honor–winning author Joyce Sidman paints her own picture of one of the first female entomologists and a woman who flouted convention in the pursuit of knowledge and her passion for insects.

Note from Karina: I have been waiting for months for this nonfiction book to come out! Joyce Sidman is one of my favorite writers, and this book did not disappoint. I learned so much about Maria Merian! I passed my review copy on to a former librarian at the New York Botanical Garden (who happens to love Maria Merian), and she also loved it. The finished copy is absolutely gorgeous and sure to engage budding young naturalists.

Sticky Notes by Dianne Touchell (Delacorte Press)

Foster Sumner is ten years old. He likes toy soldiers, tadpole hunting, going to school, and the beach. Best of all, he likes listening to his dad’s stories. But then Foster’s dad starts forgetting things. No one is too worried at first. Foster and Dad giggle about it. Dad goes out for milk and comes back with cat food, when the cat has been dead for five years. But then the forgetting gets worse. And suddenly no one is laughing anymore.

Note from Karina: I thought this was a gorgeous and heartbreaking book. The author does not shy away from the hard moments of Alzheimer’s and how it can tear at the fabric of a family. I think this book can reach those kids who have experienced very difficult family health issues first hand, while also creating opportunities to develop empathy in kids who have not.


Around the web…

Housecleaning and ‘Lots of Champagne’: Erin Entrada Kelly Toasts Her Newbery Win, via Publisher’s Weekly (link)

Sexual Harassment In Children’s Publishing Reaches a Crisis Point, via Publisher’s Weekly (link)

New York City Teacher Banned From Teaching the Harlem Renaissance, via Book Riot (link)

I had a very happy week of reading this week! First off, I finished Stella Díaz Has Something To Say, an early middle grade book by Bulpré award winning illustrator Angela Dominguez. It is about introvert Stella who is struggling with not having her best friend in her class at school, keeping Spanish words from slipping out when she’s trying to speak English in her American classroom, and dealing with a new boy in school.

The picture book Shaking Things Up: 14 Young Women Who Changed the World by Susan Hood and illustrated by a number of prominent female illustrators is one that I read to my kids this week – we loved it and learned so much about amazing women!

And finally, I read Sunny, Jason Reynolds’ highly anticipated third book in his track series. I have been curious about Sunny ever since reading Ghost, the first book in the series, and Patina, the second book in the series. In this new installment Jason once again brings that relatable voice, real life situations, and humor in this story.

Finally, Book Riot has another awesome giveaway! Head over to our Instagram account to enter to win $500 of Penguin Clothbound classics!

I’d love to know what you are reading this week! Find me on Twitter at @KarinaYanGlaser, on Instagram at @KarinaIsReadingAndWriting, or email me at

Until next week,

Izzy guarding the book stacks!

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