Wednesday, January 2, 2008

BCCB Blue Ribbons 2007

Today BCCB released their annual Blue Ribbons list for 2007. Nine titles have already appeared on other top lists- SLJ, Kirkus, PW, and Hornbook Fanfare. You can probably guess some of the titles, as they also appear on more than one list. Unsurprisingly, Part-time Indian, The Arrival, Orange Pear Apple Bear, Robot Dreams, Good Masters and The Wall make another appearance.

One title that had slipped my mind is Today and Today: Haiku by Kobayashi. The story is a collection of Issa’s haiku from the 16th century, supported by illustrations that show a family throughout the year. Older readers will pick up the subtle storyline that concludes with the death of the grandfather. As Aunt Betty would say, “it’s a tissue book,” but an unexpected one at that.

Interestingly enough, the Blue Ribbons list is strong on the graphic novel. Three of its fiction titles and also three of its nonfiction titles are graphic novels. I was glad to see Remembering Mrs. Rossi by Amy Hest, which is not a graphic novel. It’s a lovely story for grades three to six about the death of a mother and teacher. It’s the words that bring tears to your eyes and a catch in your throat when you read it. Pictures and words… thank goodness for them both.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

2007 Books in Review

January, my favorite time of the year. Committees are reviewing. Books are being re-read. And I am feverishly making my list and checking it twice. We are on the edges of the Oscars for Literature. The time of year when journals and experts alike publish their best lists of books from the previous year. Like any lover of lists, I compare my lists with those others. What titles show up on list after list? Did I read everything I should have? What did I miss?

The first book I almost missed (due to time- almost everyone starred it) was The Wednesday Wars by Schmidt. WOW! This is a must read, for sure. Great characters. Great conflicts. Lots of laughs and even a few tears. So much to think about.

Another book that flew under my radar is The Very Ordered Existence of Merilee Marvelous. Thanks to Book Sense Quarterly Picks, I found it at the last minute. However, I am afraid that this is a book, that unlike Elijah of Buxton, may not get its due. Don't miss it, even if it doesn't make the lists.

Though there are some lists that are yet to be posted, several books have already made their Notable Presence known. Elijah of Buxton by Curtis and The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie are strong entries in the fiction category. Orange Pear Apple Bear by Gravett and Dog and Bear by Seeger get several nods in the Picture Book Category. The Wall by Peter Sis and The Arrival by Shaun Tan dominate the graphic novel with Robot Dreams by Varon close behind. Who Was First? by Russell Freeman and Spiders by Nic Bishop appear strong in nonfiction.

Let's not forget The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Selznick. A book that so far has dodged the first of the lists is Kadir Nelson's Henry's Freedom Box, which is my personal favorite for Caldecott and CSK. I also like Good Day by Henkes. So many books, so little time...back to reading my last minute choices. Now where did I put my coffee?