Five favorite graphic novels

My final list for 2020 is my favorite graphic novels, always a fun one for me! I’m going to post one more review tomorrow of the perfect new year’s book, then take a vacation for a few weeks and start to read some 2021 books. Happy new year to you all!

Class Act by Jerry Craft

Published by Quill Tree Books

Class Act: Craft, Jerry, Craft, Jerry: 9780062885500: Amazon.com: Books

Jerry Craft outdid himself in his sequel to last year’s Newbery Medalist New Kid. This one followed Jordan’s friend Drew, and asks some hard questions about race and inequality while keeping its light touch and kid appeal.

Fox & Rabbit Make Believe by Beth Ferry, illustrated by Gergely Dudás

Published by Amulet Books

Amazon.com: Fox & Rabbit Make Believe (Fox & Rabbit Book #2)  (9781419746871): Ferry, Beth, Dudás, Gergely: Books

I can’t wait to get back to school and start introducing the younger graphic novel fans to Fox and Rabbit. There’s plenty of gently humor and friendship stories that include a couple of great sidekicks. Look for book 3 in April 2021.

Shirley & Jamila Save Their Summer by Gillian Goerz

Published by Dial Books

Shirley and Jamila Save Their Summer (Shirley & Jamila): Goerz, Gillian:  9780525552864: Amazon.com: Books

I didn’t read many mysteries this year, but this one was a ton of fun, with a quirky nod to Sherlock Holmes and Watson.

Twins by Varlan Johnson, illustrated by Shannon Wright

Published by Graphix

Twins: A Graphic Novel (1): Johnson, Varian, Wright, Shannon:  9781338236170: Amazon.com: Books

Two years later, I’m still trying to recover from the fact that Varian Johnson didn’t win the Newbery for The Parker Inheritance. Thankfully, Mr. Johnson has moved on to produce this series opener about identical twins who begin to discover their differences in middle school and wind up running against each other for class president. It’s billed as book 1…here’s hoping there will be more.

Snapdragon by Kat Leyh

Published by First Second

Snapdragon: Leyh, Kat: 9781250171115: Amazon.com: Books

Kat Leyh packed a lot into this unique story, including gender and sexuality issues, domestic abuse, and a touch of magic. This is the fifth year running that at least one of my graphic novel favorites has been published by First Second, and I applaud their standards for high quality and innovation.

Five favorite early chapter books

I wish there were more books published that fit into this category: chapter books for the 7-to-9-year-old crowd that are substantial without being too heavy, that still have illustrations, and that are great to read aloud or independently. Here are five of my favorites that fit that description this year.

The Silver Arrow by Lev Grossman, illustrated by Tracy Nishimura Bishop

Published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

The Silver Arrow: Grossman, Lev: 9780316539531: Amazon.com: Books

At 272 pages, this is pretty long for the “early chapter book” genre, but I’m including it on this list because it would make a great read-aloud for that audience. It’s also perfect for those precocious second- and third-grade readers who have out grown the true early chapter books but aren’t quite ready to tackle some of the topics in a lot of middle-grade fiction. And it has a lot of great illustrations!

Real Pigeons Fight Crime by Andrew McDonald, illustrated by Ben Wood

Published by Random House Books for Young Readers

Amazon.com: Real Pigeons Fight Crime (Book 1) (9780593119426): McDonald,  Andrew, Wood, Ben: Books

We here at A Kids Book a Day take pride in our eclectic tastes and are not tied to some pretentious definition of “great literature”. So yes, Real Pigeons is on this “best of” list, okay? It’s funny, it straddles the graphic novel/chapter book divide, and there’s plenty of action. I would be proud to recommend this to any second grader who asks me.

A Collie Called Sky (Jasmine Green Rescues) by Helen Peters, illustrated by Ellie Snowdon

Published by Walker Books/Candlewick

Jasmine Green Rescues: A Collie Called Sky: Peters, Helen, Snowdon, Ellie:  9781536215717: Amazon.com: Books

I haven’t seen too much of this British import series, but I really liked it and would recommend it to any kid who loves animals. Jasmine seems poised to follow in her veterinarian mother’s footsteps, being smart and passionate about animals. It’s a bit long for an early chapter book (160 pages), but has plenty of illustrations to keep things moving along.

A Long Road on a Short Day by Gary D. Schmidt and Elizabeth Stickney, illustrated by Eugene Yelchin

Published by Clarion Books

A Long Road on a Short Day: Schmidt, Gary D., Stickney, Elizabeth, Yelchin,  Eugene: 9780544888364: Amazon.com: Books

Short enough (64 pages) for a second- or third-grader, yet with enough substance to keep a fifth grader engaged, this is a perfect introduction to historical fiction. I think Gary D. Schmidt and his late wife Elizabeth Stickney are the only authors to make it on to two of my favorites lists this year.

Ways to Make Sunshine by Renée Watson, illustrated by Nina Mata

Published by Bloomsbury Children’s Books

Ways to Make Sunshine (A Ryan Hart Novel, 1): Watson, Renée, Mata, Nina:  9781547600564: Amazon.com: Books

Another longish book (192 pages), but with a large font and enough illustrations to make it a perfect third-grade read. This book felt like a modern-day Beverly Cleary book and would be great to read aloud, as each chapter is its own small story. Be excited book that 2 coming out in the spring of 2021!

Another list of six: favorite nonfiction books

Your Place in the Universe by Jason Chin

Published by Neal Porter Books

Your Place in the Universe: Chin, Jason: 9780823446230: Amazon.com: Books

I notice that Jason Chin has made it onto three of my last five favorite nonfiction book lists, so guess I’m a bit of a fan. His illustrations are awe-inspiring, and I loved the comparisons in this book that made enormous numbers and sizes a little more understandable.

Grow: Secrets of Our DNA by Nicola Davies, illustrated by Emily Sutton

Published by Candlewick

Grow: Secrets of Our DNA: Davies, Nicola, Sutton, Emily: 9781536212723:  Amazon.com: Books

Explaining DNA and genetics in a way that’s accessible to readers as young as kindergarten is no easy feat, but Nicola Davies and Emily Sutton pulled it off. Watson and Crick would be proud.

We Are Power: How Nonviolent Activism Changes the World by Todd Hasak-Lowy

Published by Abrams Books for Young Readers

We Are Power: How Nonviolent Activism Changes the World: Hasak-Lowy, Todd:  9781419741111: Amazon.com: Books

I thought I knew a fair amount about nonviolent activism–I’m a Quaker, for Pete’s sake–but I learned so much from reading this book. 2020 had its share of activism and books about activism, but this was the one I found most inspiring.

The Fabled Life of Aesop by Ian Lendler, illustrated by Pamela Zagarenski

Published by HMH Books for Young Readers

The Fabled Life of Aesop: The extraordinary journey and collected tales of  the world's greatest storyteller: Lendler, Ian, Zagarenski, Pamela:  9781328585523: Amazon.com: Books

I’m sure Aesop never imagined he’d be part of the Common Core, but there he is. As a school librarian, I am grateful for this comprehensive introduction to his life and fables, and I also appreciated the sly observations on what it means to have power. Pamela Zagarenski has a couple of Caldecott honors to her name, so don’t count her out this year.

Facts vs. Opinions vs. Robots by Michael Rex

Published by Nancy Paulsen Books

Amazon.com: Facts vs. Opinions vs. Robots (9781984816269): Rex, Michael,  Rex, Michael: Books

Who knew that when I was playing Kick the Can with Michael Rex and the rest of our neighbors in 1970’s suburban New Jersey that in 2020 I’d be reviewing his book? Well done, Michael, I loved your take on facts vs. opinions. Librarians everywhere should thank you for this book.

All Thirteen: The Incredible Cave Rescue of the Thai Boys’ Soccer Team by Christina Soontornvat

Published by Candlewick Press

All Thirteen: The Incredible Cave Rescue of the Thai Boys' Soccer Team -  Kindle edition by Soontornvat, Christina. Children Kindle eBooks @ Amazon .com.

I guess none of us should be surprised that this drama we watched unfold a couple of years ago would be made into a gripping nonfiction tale. Christina Soontornvat added so much context with her sidebars on Thailand, caves, and Buddhism, as well as her personal connection to the story that readers get much more than just a survival story.

Five (okay, six) more favorite chapter books

I struggled to get this list down to five–the random magic number I have chosen for each of these lists. I couldn’t bear to remove any of them, though, so here are the six.

The Blackbird Girls by Anne Blankman

Published by Viking Books for Young Readers

The Blackbird Girls: Blankman, Anne: 9781984837356: Amazon.com: Books

There’s a lot to this book, and it’s probably not for every reader, but those who love historical fiction and strong girl characters will take Valentina and Oksana to heart as they form an unlikely friendship in the aftermath of Chernobyl.

The Only Black Girls in Town by Brandy Colbert

Published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

The Only Black Girls in Town: Colbert, Brandy: 9780316456388: Amazon.com:  Books

Another outstanding friendship story featuring Alberta and Edie who are navigating mean girls, seventh grade, and a mystery that reveals the racism in their town’s history that has persisted to the present day.

96 Miles by J. L. Esplin

Published by Starscape

96 Miles: Esplin, J. L.: 9781250192288: Amazon.com: Books

I do not typically use the expression “holy cow” in a book review, but I did indeed do that when reviewing this gripping survival story that I read practically in one sitting.

The Boys in the Back Row by Mike Jung

Published by Levine Querido

The Boys in the Back Row: Jung, Mike: 9781646140114: Amazon.com: Books

This book struck just the right balance between funny middle school story and touching friendship story and made me realize how rare it is to find a middle-grade novel that celebrates boys’ friendships. As the cherry on top, it’s a love letter to marching band geeks like myself.

The Mystwick School of Musicraft by Jessica Khoury

Published by HMH Books for Young Readers

The Mystwick School of Musicraft: Khoury, Jessica: 9781328625632: Amazon.com:  Books

I always feel a bit guilty that I don’t review more fantasy books; I’ll admit it’s not my favorite genre. Once in awhile, though, I find a great one. I spent a few pleasant weeks this spring listening to Amelia Jones’s adventures at Mystwick on Audible and doing jigsaw puzzles. Despite 2020’s reputation, it has not been without its happy moments.

Brother’s Keeper by Julie Lee

Published by Holiday House

Brother's Keeper: Lee, Julie: 9780823444946: Amazon.com: Books

I would not have predicted that a survival story featuring a brother and sister escaping from 1950 North Korea would have made it on to my list of favorite 2020 books, but look, here it is.

Five more favorite picture books

These were some of my personal favorites this year. As I look at the list, it seems to reflect 2020: lots of emphasis on the joys and sorrows of family and home.

Golden Threads by Suzanne Del Rizzo, illustrated by Miki Sato

Published by Owlkids

Golden Threads: Rizzo, Suzanne Del, Sato, Miki: 9781771473606: Amazon.com:  Books

I loved this little fox and the friendship he finds with two different girls; also the concept of wabi-sabi that is explored in the story: finding beauty in things that are imperfect.

The Camping Trip by Jennifer Mann

Published by Candlewick

Camping Trip: 9781406393507: Amazon.com: Books

This story perfectly captured a weekend camping trip: swimming, hiking, s’mores, homesickness. The illustrations reminded me a little bit of G. Brian Karas, upon whom I shall heap praise a bit further down.

Hike by Pete Oswald

Published by Candlewick

Hike: Oswald, Pete, Oswald, Pete: 9781536201574: Amazon.com: Books

Another excellent introduction to the great outdoors, this one a wordless book celebrating a father-son bond created during their shared hike. This could easily have been on my Caldecott contender list.

Almost Time by Gary D. Schmidt and Elizabeth Stickney, illustrated by G. Brian Karas

Published by Clarion

Amazon.com: Almost Time (9780544785816): Schmidt, Gary D., Stickney,  Elizabeth, Karas, Mr. G. Brian: Books

A quiet story about waiting: for a tooth to fall out and for the maple sap to start running. This one also celebrates the father-son bond. And I am a sucker for G. Brian Karas illustrations.

Saturdays Are for Stella by Candy Wellins, illustrated by Charlie Eve Ryan

Published by Page Street Kids

Saturdays Are For Stella: Wellins, Candy, Eve Ryan, Charlie: 9781624149214:  Amazon.com: Books

With so many families experiencing loss this year, this book is a comforting read about the circle of life, and how joys and sorrows can balance each other out.

Five Newbery Predictions

My five-year record is slightly better for Newbery than Caldecott: five out of 25 predictions. I love the title of my post in 2018: “Five books I’d like to get a Newbery–and why I am probably wrong about just about all of them” (I should have left out the “just about”). With all these lists, I always enjoy hearing your ideas in the comments!

King and the Dragonflies by Kacen Callender

Published by Scholastic

King and the Dragonflies: Callender, Kacen: 9781338129335: Amazon.com: Books

Having already won a Boston Globe/Horn Book Award and the National Book Award, King and the Dragonflies is likely to pick up a few more awards in January, including possibly the Newbery. It wasn’t a top favorite of mine, but I understand the book’s importance (middle grade novel with a gay black male protagonist), and I’d be remiss not to put it on my predictions list.

Efrén Divided by Ernesto Cisneros

Published by Quill Tree Books

Efrén Divided: Cisneros, Ernesto: 9780062881687: Amazon.com: Books

Ernesto Cisneros really hit one out of the park with his debut novel. Efrén is such a likeable, believable character, and his situation (undocumented parents, mom deported) is one all American kids should be aware of. I know this won’t influence the Newbery committee, but I love that cover! Also a likely contender for the Pura Belpré award.

When Stars Are Scattered by Victoria Jamieson and Omar Mohamed

Published by Dial Books

When Stars Are Scattered: Jamieson, Victoria, Mohamed, Omar, Jamieson,  Victoria, Geddy, Iman: 9780525553908: Amazon.com: Books

The graphic memoir of two Somali brothers who spent much of their childhood in a Kenyan refugee camp…okay, I’ll admit it’s a long shot (especially when a graphic novel won the Newbery last year), but if I had to pick a favorite book from 2020, this would probably be it. And it was a National Book Award finalist, so one never knows.

We Dream of Space by Erin Entrada Kelly

Published by Greenwillow Books

We Dream Of Space: 9780063057807: Amazon.com: Books

Erin Entrada Kelly masterfully weaves together the three third-person voices of siblings Bird, Fitch, and Cash during the weeks leading up to the 1986 Challenger explosion. Kelly won the 2018 Newbery for Hello, Universe; personally I enjoyed We Dream of Space even more.

A Game of Fox & Squirrels by Jenn Reese

Published by Henry Holt and Co.

A Game of Fox & Squirrels: Reese, Jenn: 9781250243010: Amazon.com: Books

There were quite a few books dealing with child abuse this year, and if I’m being completely honest, probably Fighting Words by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley is a more likely winner. But there was something about Jenn Reese’s book that really won me over. Her approach to the subject was so unique, and the way she let the horror unfold, so subtle, that I’m choosing her for a place on my list.

Five Caldecott Predictions

Take this post with a huge grain of salt: in the last five years, I’ve predicted 25 winners and gotten it right exactly four times. But it’s fun to keep trying, so here I go again.

I’ve put together a PowerPoint slideshow that could be used for a mock Caldecott award. This one includes 20 titles, with more information about each one. Let me know if you are interested, and I will send it to you!

If You Come to Earth by Sophie Blackall

Published by Chronicle Books

If You Come to Earth: Blackall, Sophie: 9781452137797: Amazon.com: Books

Will Sophie Blackall win her third Caldecott in five years? It seems unlikely, yet I love this book too much to keep it off the list. Her illustrations and story–a letter from a boy to an alien–capture what it means to be human, no matter what part of Earth you inhabit.

All Because You Matter by Tami Charles, illustrated by Bryan Collier

Published by Orchard Books

All Because You Matter: Charles, Tami, Collier, Bryan: 9781338574852: Amazon.com:  Books

The link for this title takes you to my reviews for both this book and I Am Every Good Thing by Derrick Barnes and Gordon C. James. In a year when racism in America took center stage–again–it seems appropriate to recognize these two books. I particularly loved Bryan Collier’s brilliant (in all senses of the word) collage illustrations inspired by his grandmother’s handmade quilts.

Honeybee: The Busy Life of Apis Mellifera by Candace Fleming, illustrated by Eric Rohmann

Published by Neal Porter Books

Honeybee: The Busy Life of Apis Mellifera: Fleming, Candace, Rohmann, Eric:  9780823442850: Amazon.com: Books

The more I look at these illustrations, the more I am blown away by the amazing details Eric Rohmann captured in his paintings. The story unfolds in a surprisingly dramatic fashion, enhanced by the close-up illustrations.

We Are Water Protectors by Carole Lindstrom, illustrated by Michaela Goade

Published by Roaring Brook Press

We Are Water Protectors - Kindle edition by Lindstrom, Carole, Goade,  Michaela. Children Kindle eBooks @ Amazon.com.

This book really grew on me as the year went on, not only for its message of standing up for what you believe in (specifically the protests at Standing Rock), but for the watercolor illustrations featuring traditional Ojibwe clan symbols and the many forms and colors of water.

The Old Truck by Jerome Pumphrey and Jarrett Pumphrey

Published by Norton Young Readers

The Old Truck: Pumphrey, Jerome, Pumphrey, Jarrett: 9781324005193: Amazon.com:  Books

Here’s another book I came to appreciate more since its January release. I went from initially deciding not to review it to putting it on my Caldecott prediction list. I love the illustrations created from over 250 handcrafted stamps, as well as the story of hard work and resilience demonstrated by two generations of a farming family.

12 books of Christmas

Starting the day after Christmas, I’ll be posting my year-end lists of Caldecott and Newbery predictions and my favorite books in different categories. I found myself with an higher-than-usual number of books at the end of the year that I had wanted to review, but didn’t get to before time ran out. That number turned out to be twelve, so as a little Christmas gift, here is a list of my final dozen books for 2020.

Tani’s New Home: A Refugee Finds Hope and Kindness in America by Tanitoluwa Adewumi, illustrated by Courtney Dawson

Published by Thomas Nelson

Tani's New Home: A Refugee Finds Hope and Kindness in America: Adewumi,  Tanitoluwa, Dawson, Courtney: 9781400218288: Amazon.com: Books

The true story of Tani Adewumi, who moved to New York City as a Nigerian refugee at the age of 6. He discovered chess, and practiced it for hours in a homeless shelter. In less than a year, he was the New York State Chess Champion. I haven’t had a chance to see this book. The publisher, Thomas Nelson, is a Christian publisher, so I’m not sure if there is any religious content to the story. 32 pages; grades K-3.

Dear Earth…From Your Friends in Room 5 by Erin Dealey, illustrated by Louisa Uribe

Published by HarperCollins

Dear Earth…From Your Friends in Room 5: Dealey, Erin, Uribe, Luisa:  9780062915320: Amazon.com: Books

The kids in room 5 begin a correspondence with Earth, learning different ways to help the planet like recycling and energy conservation. Rhyming text, letter writing, and environmental tips make this an appealing choice for Earth Day or any time of year. 32 pages; grades K-3.

Saving Stella: A Dog’s Dramatic Escape from War by Bassel Abou Fakher and Deborah Blumenthal, illustrated by Nadine Kaadan

Published by Bloomsbury Children’s Books

Saving Stella: A Dog's Dramatic Escape from War: Fakher, Bassel Abou,  Blumenthal, Deborah, Kaadan, Nadine: 9781547601332: Amazon.com: Books

When Bassel was forced to flee Syria, he had to leave his beloved dog Stella behind. After settling in a new home in Belgium, he worked with friends back in Syria to create a daring plan to rescue Stella. 40 pages; grades K-5.

Rabbit, Raven, Deer by Sue Farrell Holler, illustrated by Jennifer Faria

Published by Pajama Press

Raven, Rabbit, Deer: Farrell Holler, Sue, Faria, Jennifer: 9781772781366:  Amazon.com: Books

There’s a copy of this book traveling to my library right now, but I haven’t gotten a chance to see it. A boy and his grandfather enjoy a winter’s day together, finding animal tracks and identifying the animals in both English and Ojibwemowin. Sounds like a cozy winter choice. 32 pages; ages 4-8.

When You Trap a Tiger by Tae Keller

Published by Random House Books for Young Readers

When You Trap a Tiger: Keller, Tae: 9781524715717: Amazon.com: Books

When Lily and her family move in with her sick grandmother, Lily meets a tiger straight out of the Korean folklore she’s grown up on. This book won a Boston Globe/Horn Book honor and received five starred reviews. Personally, I couldn’t really get into it and only read about the first third back in the beginning of the year. Everyone else loved it, though, and it could definitely be a contender for more awards. 304 pages; grades 4-7.

Antiracist Baby by Ibram X. Kendi, illustrations by Ashley Lukashevsky

Published by Kokila

Antiracist Baby Board Book: Kendi, Ibram X., Lukashevsky, Ashley:  9780593110416: Amazon.com: Books

Ibram X. Kendi’s book How to Be an Antiracist is #15 on Amazon’s list of 2020’s bestsellers. Here he offers nine tips for being (or raising) an antiracist baby, with a note to parents and teachers at the end. Available as both a board book and a regular picture book. 32 pages; ages 0-4.

Woodpecker Girl by Chingyen Liu and I-Tsun Chiang, illustrated by Heidi Doll

Published by Reycraft Books

Woodpecker Girl: Chiang, I-Tsun, Liu, Chingyen: 9781478869559: Amazon.com:  Books

A girl with cerebral palsy tells how she learned to paint with a brush strapped to her forehead. An amazing gallery of her work is included. Told in the first person, the story doesn’t shy away from the challenges she faces and the discouragement she feels, but also expresses her joy at sharing with others through her art. 40 pages; grades K-4.

Everything Comes Next: Collected and New Poems by Naomi Shihab Nye

Published by Greenwillow Books

Everything Comes Next: Collected and New Poems: Nye, Naomi Shihab:  9780063013452: Amazon.com: Books

I just got this book on December 23, so haven’t had a chance to read it. These 100 poems by Young People’s Poet Laureate Nye start with a section of poems on childhood, both her own and others. She also explores her Palestinian heritage and the need for peace, as well as an appreciation for the diversity of people in the world. 256 pages; grades 3-7.

Unstoppable by Adam Rex, illustrated by Laura Park

Published by Chronicle Books

Unstoppable: (Family Read-Aloud book, Silly Book About Cooperation) -  Kindle edition by Rex, Adam, Park, Laura. Children Kindle eBooks @ Amazon .com.

A crow being pursued by a hungry cat and a crab who dreams of flying work together to help one another. When they add a turtle and a bear, they become UNSTOPPABLE! At least until they see a bulldozer digging up the lakefront to build a mall. Then it’s off to see the President of the United States…and Congress…and things really get zany as only Adam Rex can imagine them. 56 pages; ages 4-8.

Chance: Escape from the Holocaust by Uri Shulevitz

Published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Chance: Escape from the Holocaust: Memories of a Refugee Childhood  (9780374313715): Shulevitz, Uri: Books - Amazon.com

Caldecott Medalist Uri Shulevitz’s memoir covers his childhood from his days in Warsaw at the start of World War II to his family’s harrowing experiences in the Soviet Union during the war and their postwar years in Paris before emigrating to Paris when he was 14. Although it’s a thick book, the print is large and filled with Shulevitz’s illustrations, making it a quick and engaging read. 336 pages; grades 4-8.

A Gift for Amma: Market Day in India by Meera Sriram, illustrated by Mariona Cabassa

Published by Barefoot Books

A Gift for Amma: Market Day in India: Sriram, Meera, Cabassa, Mariona:  9781646860616: Amazon.com: Books

Another one I haven’t gotten to see, but I love the brilliant colors of the cover (and pictures I’ve seen of the illustrations). A girl shops in an Indian market to find the perfect gift for her mother. 32 pages; ages 4-7.

Desert Diary: Japanese American Kids Behind Barbed Wire by Michael O. Tunnell

Published by Charlesbridge

Desert Diary: Japanese American Kids Behind Barbed Wire: Tunnell, Michael  O.: 9781580897891: Amazon.com: Books

When Mae Yanagi was eight years old, she and her family were forced to move to Topaz Camp in Utah for the duration of World War II. She and her third-grade classmates created a diary of their daily lives in camp, filled with mundane details about school and family life, as well as descriptions of the difficulties of camp life. Michael Tunnell tells their story with plenty of photographs and excerpts from the diary. 144 pages; grades 4-7.

Sincerely, Emerson: A Girl, Her Letter, and the Helpers All Around Us by Emerson Weber, illustrated by Jaclyn Sinquett

Published by HarperCollins

Sincerely, Emerson: A Girl, Her Letter, and the Helpers All Around Us by Emerson  Weber, Jaclyn Sinquett, Hardcover | Barnes & Noble®

Summary: Emerson loved to write and mail letters. One day, it occurred to her that Doug, their mail carrier, was the person who made it all happen. So she wrote him a thank you letter. Doug shared that letter with some of his co-workers, they shared it in turn, and the next week Doug delivered two boxes to Emerson’s house, filled with letters from grateful postal workers all over the country, Emerson wrote back to them, and as she did, she started reflecting on all the other people–grocery store clerks, trash collectors, farmers, and many more–who keep the world going. At the end is a letter from the real-life 11-year-old Emerson to readers, encouraging them to thank the people in their lives who keep the world going. 32 pages; grades K-5.

Pros: First of all, this book reminds me of my mother who writes hundreds of cards and letters every year and who, ever since I was a child, has always known her mail carrier by name and given him or her a holiday gift. She is truly a master of both letter writing and expressing appreciation. Secondly, this book made me think of everyone who has kept the world going during this year of the pandemic: the teachers, librarians, grocery store workers, healthcare workers, election workers, municipal workers…the list goes on and on. Inspired by Emerson’s letter, allow me to say thank you for being part of my blog this year!

Cons: On Christmas Eve, after all those feel-good sentiments? No way!

Donors Choose

As I wrote about in March, my position as the K-8 district librarian for the Hampden-Wilbraham school district was eliminated for the 2020-2021 school year. I was fortunate to get hired a few months later as the librarian for the Rebecca Johnson Elementary School in Springfield. It’s been an exciting challenge for me, because the school hasn’t had a librarian or new books for quite a few years, but the principal is committed to having an excellent library and has been generous with funding.

Springfield schools are remote through April 8, and I’ve been working hard to bring the library back to life so that students will be excited to visit when they return. Rebecca Johnson is one of the largest schools in Springfield, with almost 800 students, and is located in one of the lowest-income parts of the city.

Following the example of other teachers and librarians I’ve met in my new job, I’ve started two Donors Choose projects. Hooked on Books is to get funding for some of the books that I know will be in high demand by our students, and Bring Dr. Seuss to Our Library! will allow me to purchase a new set of books by Dr. Seuss, who is especially beloved by our students since he grew up in Springfield.

As readers of this blog, you know how much I love to promote books to kids, and I am excited to start reading and book talking the new books to Rebecca Johnson students. I admit to feeling quite uncomfortable asking for money, so please do not feel under any obligation to donate! I appreciate the support of all those who read and follow this blog, and thank you for reading and considering my requests.