White Ravens: English
Australia (English) - 1993 - 49
A Cage of Butterflies
St. Lucia: University of Queensland, 1992. 164 p.
science Fiction - gifted children - science (misuse) - corporation
Caswell's story is triggered by the death of a young research scientist in a road accident. When his sister tries to tidy up loose ends in his research, her quest leads her to a 'farm' where a research team is at work to develop marketable products from the bizarre brilliance of two groups of children. The story dramatizes the way in which corporate goals devised for the benefit of institutions continually threaten our welfare. The episodic first-person narration by several people in alternation may require the reader's close attention. This is, though, a gripping story in which science fiction is used as a device to probe the realities of the present. (12+)
Australia (English) - 1993 - 50
My First Batteries & Magnets Book
Sydney: Hodder & Stoughton, 1992. 48 p.
magnetism - electricity - science experiments
This is one book of the series "Science by pictures" in which young children are skillfully introduced to experiments and projects. First, they are shown the basics - the special powers of magnets or how to connect a battery in a circuit to light a bulb. Then, they learn how to use that knowledge to make magnets for the refrigerator door or a stock car with headlights, or even a radio. The step-by-step instructions in this oversized, brightly illustrated book are clear and easy to follow. At the end of each project there are also short explanations of what is happening and why. (8+)
Australia (English) - 1993 - 51
Brothers in Arms
Sydney: Hodder & Stoughton, 1992. 142 p.
World War II (Japan/Australia) Vietnam War (Australia) - war memories - family (Japan) - bereavement
This is an enthralling adventure story triggered by the arrival of Yukio, a very determined young Japanese boy seeking the remains of his grandfather who had been reported missing after a failed submarine mission during World War II, in a small Australian coastal village. There he is befriended by an Australian boy and an Aborigine boy who had been enemies. Yukio's father's intention to purchase land for tourism in the town brings out the contemporary national rivalries and racism commonly found where two cultures impinge on one another. In addition to numerous well-drawn side characters, the complicated emotional circumstances of three families are revealed as the boys follow the clues leading to the sunken submarine. The after-effects of two wars on the parent's lives become clear to the boys, giving them a chance to make their own commitment to peaceful tolerance without any tinge of didacticism. (12+)
Australia (English) - 1993 - 52
Tyrrell, Clodagh (ed.)
Tyrrell, Margot (ed.)
Goodbye and Hello
Ringwood: Viking/Penguin Books Australia, 1992. 229 p.
This is a collection of short stories by well-known Irish and Australian authors of youth literature Commissioned to be written around the theme of “leaving and arriving.” Because there are sixteen stories in all, the book explores many forms of transition in life. There is the harsh reality of sacrifices required of those who seek a “fresh start” by migrating; there are the losses as well as the gains of turning thirteen; there is the shock of finding your special place changed and wondering how that also changes you. The collection avoids repetition, maintains a high standard storytelling and gains from its blend of peatbog and eucalyptus aromas. (12+)
Australia (English) - 1993 - 53
Pender, Lydia (text)
Niland, Kilmeny (illus.)
The Land and the Spirit. An Australian Alphabet
Sydney: Margaret Hamilton, 1993.  p.
This approach to the alphabet goes beyond the naming of objects. Rhythmical, playful poems of four to sixteen lines in length describe and illuminate the peculiarities of each Australian phenomenon, for example Ibis, Magpie, or Wombat. Glowing watercolor illustrations of varying formats provide wide diversity to the presentation for Australia. The language level is appropriate for early readers and reading aloud. (4-8)
Canada (English) - 1993 - 54
Day, Marie (text/illus.)
Dragon in the Rocks. A Story Based on the Childhood of Early Paleontologist Mary Anning
Toronto: Owl/Greey de Pencier, 1992.  p.
Mary Anning (1799-1847)/biography – Paleontology/England/19th century
This picture book for young readers tell a seemingly simple tale of curiosity and determination within the wider context of an historical geological discovery. Twelve-year-old Mary Anning had always enjoyed collecting fossils with her father, an amateur collector, who before he died, taught her the techniques of chipping and separating fossils from rocks. He also told her of a dragon skeleton he had once seen in a cave near their home in Lyme Regis on the southern coast of England. One day the opportunity arose to visit the cave herself, and subsequently she spent many months chipping, numbering and packing up the fossil pieces of the 26-foot-long ichthyosaur skeleton, which has now been on display at the Natural History Museum in London for nearly 200 years. Although the story ends with the visit of important scientists to her home to see her rebuilt skeleton, children may well be inspired to learn more about the interests and life of this unsung heroine and about paleontology. This approach is a welcome variation to the endless stream of dinosaur books available today. (5-10)
Canada (English) - 1993 - 55
Gay, Marie-Louise (text/illus.)
Toronto: Stoddart, 1993.  p.
Love - friendship
Mister Sun and Mademoiselle Moon have been best friends from the moment Mister Sun climbed out of his shell. Both of them, however, had a busy work-schedule and for years they could only catch glimpses of each other. But when she loses her job one day, Mister Sun promises to help her. A sudden storm comes up and Mademoiselle Sun takes shelter in a lighthouse where her brightly beaming smile is indeed much needed. This poetic tale about love and friendship has a charming pencil illustrations which convey a sense of playfulness and warmth. (5+)
Canada (English) - 1993 - 56
Two by Two
Richmond Hill: North Winds Press/Scholastic, 1992.  p.
Using Plasticine shaped and pressed onto illustration board, Reid has once again developed astoundingly detailed and realistic scenes in an uncommon media. Spread after spread, each time from a different perspective, we see Noah's ark being built, the animals brought on board, the flood and the return to pastoral, peaceful life. The rhymed text is also set to music in an endnote. Young children cannot help but be fascinated by seeing the animals they know are presented here in a medium they are quite familiar with. Thus it is a book which will stimulate their own creative activity and draw them back for many re-readings. (3+)
Great Britain (English) - 1993 - 57
London: Hamish Hamilton, 1992. 185 p.
family - friendship - father/son - family/violence
Tristam Catt has lived with his semi-unemployed, hippie-like father in a rural, ramshackle home without running water or electricity ever since his mother tired of their impoverished, marginal existence and left to seek her fortune in Australia. While Tris still waits every day for a letter from her, he spends his time outside of school adventuring in the nearby woods and fields with a made-up intergalactic companion named Selsey Firebone. As chance will have it, he encounters a young girl with a similar capacity for fantasy and adventure whose family he had known well when he was a small child. She needs his help to escape from the children's home in which she has been placed and the stepfather who is trying to kidnap her. The concept of "underrunners" in the title applies here not only to the gullies and underground channels in this landscape which make wonderful hiding places and harbor danger for car or hikers, but also to the undercurrent traps and dangers for children in instable or changing families. This well-crafted adventure story offers a richly satisfying mix of story elements and twists of plot and impressively captures the reality of the world as it is formed by adults from the child's perspective. (10+)
Great Britain (English) - 1993 - 58
Liquids in Action
London: Franklin Watts, 1992. 32 p.
(Science Through Cookery)
science - cooking
What an enticement: to be able to eat the results of a science demonstration. The attractively designed two-page spreads illustrate scientific principles such as density or surface tension and guide the reader through simple kitchen recipes such as ice cream or dressings in step-by-step color photos. (8+)
Great Britain (English) - 1993 - 59
Oram, Hiawyn (text)
McKee, David (illus.)
Out of the Blue. Stories and Poems about Colour
London: Andersen Press, 1992.  p.
anthology/color - color
Typically English humor jumps out of every page of this anthology of stories and poems which explore some aspect - whether common and cliched or witty and clever - of a particular color. The texts are printed over McKee's well-designed and highly varied double-paged layouts done in the appropriate color and illustrating the corresponding text. The short vignettes often reveal the source of a common expression in a madcap story, while the poems take a wider approach to the topic of color and succeed in rhyme and meter but are entertaining. (5-9+)
Great Britain (English) - 1993 - 60
Ray, Jane (text/illus.)
Tha Story of Creation. Words from Genesis
London: Orchard, 1992.  p.
(Also published in New York: Dutton/Penguin, 1993.)
The story of how the world began as told in the King James version of Genesis is translated into pictures by the award-winning illustrator. The folk-art rendering of the newly created world of nature and animals is presented in vibrant water-colors in several gold-framed panels of various sizes and shapes on each page. (5-9)
India (English) - 1993 - 61
Subir, Roy (illus.)
Twenty-Four Short Stories
New Delhi: Children's Book Trust, 1991. 150 p.
short stories (India)
This collection of stories by twenty-four of India's most accomplished writers for children offers a wide variety of themes and settings. The narratives ae well-constructed, briskly paced. Some involve adventure or dangerous encounters, others family disputes or the resolution of an everyday-life problem. Common to all is a respect for life and human values such as justice, bravery and friendship. (10-14)
Ireland (English) - 1993 - 62
Cléirigh, Máirtin ó (transl.)
Sí an Bhrú
Baile Átha Cliath: An Gúm, 1991.  p.
Ireland/New Grange - sun worship (Ireland)
More than 5,000 years ago in the Stone Age sun-worshipping farmers crossed the western seas in pursuit of the home of the sun and landed in Ireland. This picture book-like information book describes the magnificent passage graves, the Irish equivalent of Stonehenge, that were built at New Grange and elsewhere and presents a plausible theory about them. The enigma which they offer to Irish and world pre-history is reflected in the striking pen-and-ink illustrations on each double-page spread. (6-10)
Ireland (English) - 1993 - 63
Mullins, Tom (selected/introduced)
Irish Stories for Children
Dublin: Mercier Press, n.d.. 111 p.
anthology/short storeis (Ireland)
The range and variety of well-crafted stories in this volume fully confirm the famous Irish tradition of story-telling. The 16 stories by well- known Irish writers from this century (unfortunately there are no biographical notes included) take the reader from real-life families to animal fantasy and back again. Because of their real Irish settings, these stories are well-suited for multicultural collections. And whether the Irish brogue is there or not, one can easily imagine these stories being read aloud over and over again. (10+)
New Zealand (English) - 1993 - 64
Out Walked Me!
Dunedin: John McIndoe, 1991. 77 p.
coming of age
Mel insults the Minister of Education during his visit to her school because he embarrassed her best friend Wai, a redheaded Maori girl. To her surprise, Wai is not at all thankful, but angry. The very same day, Mel decides to leave school and hitchhikes to Christchurch where her father lives. During the following days she learns more about herself and finds a new friend. She finally returns home upon learning that Wai has died in a car accident. This award-winning novel deals with a crucial time in the life of a young girl in a very believable narrative style. (12+)
New Zealand (English) - 1993 - 65
Mataira, Kāterina (text)
Kemp, Terewal (text)
Ngata, Hone lhi-O-Te-Rangi (illus.)
Wellington and Raglan: Mallinson Rendel and ahuru Enterprises, 1992.  p.
fable/Maori - moon/fable
The moon is crying because she cannot see her face in the sea. Each passer-by, Cloud, Rain, Thunder and Lightning, in turn suggest that something is wrong with her. Rainbow, however, advises her to ask the spirit of the sea to still the wind and calm the waves. At last she can see her dazzling reflection and is happy. This simple fable is faced off against illustrations in striking, bright-hued pastel rainbow tones which give faces and personalities to the natural characters of the story. (3-7)
USA (English) - 1993 - 66
Ball, Duncan (text)
Ulrich, George (illus.)
New York: Simon & Schuster, 1992. 82 p.
otherness/acceptance - eyes
Emily Eyefinger was born with an extra eye on the end of her finger. Her parents fear that she will not like being different from other children, but as she grows older she finds that having an extra eye comes in handy. She finds lost objects in hard-to-see places, helps a boat captain navigate in the fog, and even identifies bank robbers. Readers will have great fun with Emily's high spirited adventures and gain some insights into her adjustments to being different. The pen-and- ink illustrations underscore the playful quality of the text. The author has already published numerous books in his adopted home of Australia. (8-10)
USA (English) - 1993 - 67
Blair, David Nelson
Fear the Condor
New York: Lodestar Books, 1992. 137 p.
Aymara Indians - Bolivia (1930s)
In 1932 the Bolivian president provoked the Chaco War, a dispute over lowland plans claimed by both Bolivia and Paraguay. Both sides suffered disastrous casualties, mostly among the Ayrnore and other Indian groups who were forced to fight in a war that was not their own. In Bolivia, the war became a symbol for the suffering and oppression the Indian peoples had endured for centuries and they began to fight for their civil rights. This is the historical background for the story of Bartolina Ch'oke, a young Aymara girl who comes of age in the 1930s and witnesses the beginning of change in her people's way of life. (12+)
USA (English) - 1993 - 68
Ernst, Usa Campbell (text/illus.)
Zinnia and Dot
New York: Viking/Penguin, 1992.  p.
friendship - rivalry - sharing
Zinnia and Dot, two hens who live alone in an old chicken coop, spend their time fighting about whose eggs are the most beautiful and perfect. One day a weasel steals all their eggs except for one. They agree to share the egg until it is hatched, but still hate each other. When the weasel returns again. they finally out aside their quarrels and fight him off together. This common victory is the starting point for their friendship and when the baby chick is hatched, it grows up with two mother hens. The bright and simple illustrations hilariously portray the interaction of the two smug hens. (3+)
USA (English) - 1993 - 69
Black Cowboy. The Life and Legend of George McJunkin
Niwot: Roberts Flinehart, 1992. 162 p.
(Forgotten Pioneers Series)
George McJunkin (1851-1922)/biography - African-Americans (19th century) - Wild West - slavery (USA)
George McJunkin was a very determined freedom-loving man who led a dramatic and adventure-filled life in the cattle-raising parts of the Wild West. This black cowboy made a such lasting impression on people who knew him that a highly readable biography could be written about the man whose name is associated with a bone pit, now known as the Folsom Pit, where first proof was found for the existence of Indians in North America over 10,000 years ago. The changing social structure during McJunkin's life- time, especially the position of Blacks, is an undercurrent theme. The fascinating process of tracing the life and acquaintances of one individual in recent history is described in an appendix. While documentary details remain in the foreground, the author uses an anecdotal approach with frequent dialogue to portray his characters and the key events. (10+)
Special Mention - USA (English) - 1993 - 70
Nye, Naomi Shihab (selected)
The Same Sky: A Collection of Poems from around the World
New York: Four Winds Press/Macmillan, 1992. 212 p.
When a topic or theme like "multiculturalism" comes into vogue, whether in children's literature or any other field, many projects develop which are clearly done just to corner a piece of the market. And then again an idea may be realized and a work produced which probably never would have come about or received such publishing support without a strong impetus. Such is the case here. In 1991, the prize-winning American poet Naomi Shihab Nye sent out a call to all corners of the earth for entries for this collection and probably never dreamed of the great response she would receive. Her immediate goal was to find more poems from contemporary poets from other "foreign" countries to share with younger readers when working as a poet-in-the-school, to help them learn more about writing poetry and to open windows to new friendships. In the end she selected 129 poems from 68 countries and arranged for excellent English translations. The poems are grouped under six general headings, although, in one sense, each poem actually stands alone just as much as it stands together with the others. As one reads one begins to feel the presence of an international community - that is the essential and special experience which this volume helps create. For those readers who feel they have found a new friend, there are biographical notes on the authors; also included are a world map, an index to countries and an alphabetical author index. As an international anthology of translated poetry, it seems conceivable and commendable that the original works also be published in other languages, taking one more step toward closing the circle. (10+)
USA (English) - 1993 - 71
Coming of the Bear
New York: Harper Collins, 1992. 230 p.
Japan/history (16th century) - Samurai - Ainu - war/prevention
Zenta and Matsuko, two samurai who have left their home country because of civil war, are stranded on an island inhabited by Ainus, a strange, round-eyed people. At first they are cautiously welcomed by their hosts, but when it becomes clear that they are really captives, they escape to the Japanese settlement on another part of the island. They find the Japanese preparing for war against the Ainus. Soon the two friends are torn in their loyalties and realize that they have to try to prevent the war. This historical novel tells a story that is very important today; tolerance and understanding between different cultures can only be achieved with great effort. (12+)
USA (English) - 1993 - 72
Extraordinary Eyes. How Animals See the World
New York: Dial Books, 1992. 42 p.
Setting out from the explanation of how eyes work, this informational book traces the developments in animal vision from the oldest or most primitive creatures up to the advanced primate and human eyes. Through comparison and contrast, readers learn that there are animals with clusters of eyes, eyes at the end of tentacles, and even eyes which create their own light. Although there is still much more to be learned about animal sight, modern science has been able to develop useful technologies based on the knowledge gained about animals' different methods of seeing. The text is clearly written and well-organized and illustrated by beautiful color photographs. An index provides access to terms defined or mentioned throughout the book. (10+)
USA (English) - 1993 - 73
Rosa Parks: My Story
York: Dial, 1992. 192 p.
Rosa Parks (autobiography) - African-Americans - civil rights movement (USA)
In this compelling account, Rosa Parks writes about her childhood and the events that led up to her refusal on December 1, 1955, to give up her seat to a white man on a bus in Montgomery, Alabama. Her act of civil disobedience set in motion the year-long Montgomery Bus Boycott and the subsequent decision of the Supreme Court on desegregation. The history of the civil rights movement is told by one of its most prominent activists and illustrated with high-quality documentary black-and-white photos. The historical significance of this particular period and the personal integrity of one individual are very well expressed in this autobiography. (10+)
USA (English) - 1993 - 74
Hirschfelder, Arlene B. (selected)
Singer, Beverly P. (selected)
Rising Voices. Writings of Young Native Americans
New York: Scribner's, 1992. 115 p.
Native Americans - poetry/USA/Native America
This collection of poems and essays written by Native American children and young adults gives an insight into the realities of their lives over the past hundred years. Their writings speak of issues that are central to members of an oppressed minority: identity, family and community, ritual and ceremony, education and history. This book is typical of many that were published in 1992 dealing with the experiences of ethnic minorities in the United States. (10+)
USA (English) - 1993 - 75
Scieszka, Jon (text)
Lane, Smith (illus.)
The Stinky Cheese Man and other Fairly Stupid Tales
New York: Viking/Penguin Books, 1992.  p.
fairy tales (adaptation)
The author and illustrator are gloriously successful in this spoof at two levels. First, the design and layout of a book as such is mocked from the TITLE PAGE through to the copyright warning on the last page ("Anyone caught telling these fairly stupid tales will be visited, in person, the Stinky Cheese Man"). Secondly, the content and moralistic intent of 10 standard European fairytales have been turned into slapstick farces. Not only the tales selected should strike a chord with school-age children, but also the flippant, cabaret-style manner of dialogue between the very self-assertive do-as-they-will main characters such as the ugly duckling (who is), the frog prince (who isn’t) or with Jack the narrator who survives all. The illustrations, at times resembling the color and line of European modern art, employ a vast variety of techniques, styles and perspectives which draw the reader to take a closer look. (8+)
USA (English) - 1993 - 76
Cummings, Pat (compiled/edited)
Talking with Artists
York: Bradbury, 1992. 96 p.
book illustration (USA) - biography/book illustrators
Pat Cummings, an illustrator herself, was motivated by her talks and correspondence with school children to show them more about the many paths which lead to becoming a professional artist. Here she allows 13 other artists (in addition to herself) to tell their own story and asks them eight additional questions which reveal what they have in common or do differently in their working lives. Characteristic illustrations of each artist are included as well as a glossary of basic art and book terminology and five titles of each illustrator's favorite own books. This work is primarily anecdotal and does not enter into artistic discussions about media, perspective, etc., but offers a springboard to further investigation for young readers interested in art as a serious activity. (10+)
USA (English) - 1993 - 77
Sundiata. Lion Kind of Mali
New York: Clarion Books, 1992.  p.
Mali/legend - Africa/history (13th century) - handicap
This is the story of Sundiata who became the king of Mali in the 13th century, establishing the last great trading empire of West Africa. Physically handicapped as a child, Sundiata is nonetheless made his father's heir but is forced into exile by his usurping older half-brother. In another city his talents were recognized and he was trained to be the leader his father had destined him to become. When his homeland is invaded, he is asked to return. The most striking feature of this book is the spectacular double- spread illustrations of cut and elaborately assembled colored papers. An endnote explains the important historical background of the story, its survival until today and the artist's efforts to accurately portray African culture. (5-10)
Special Mention - Australia (English) - 1994 - 58
Si. Lucia: University of Queensland Press, 1993. 151 p.
Aborigines - Racial Conflict - Sport
The narrator, Dougy, the youngest, seemingly simple-minded child of an Aborigine family living in a small village, relates the events of one summer in which his sister, Gracey, with whom he is very close, plays a leading role. After she wins the 100m race in the state championships and subsequently a scholarship to boarding school, the white residents of the village become openly resentful. Racial tensions surface when a white girl who had been expelled from the same school is found unconscious near the river. An armed "civil war" breaks out and one person is even killed. It is ended only by a flash flood, in which Dougy helps save his brother and sister from a mysterious shadow, perhaps the Moodagudda, the river spirit in which he (but not everyone) still believes. The intricate plot has several levels which are well-developed: the Aborigine family structure, the loss of and frequent indifference to their own Aborigine cultural heritage, sibling relationships, the status structure in the racially and socially mixed village community (microcosmos), and the chances and choices which different individuals use or misuse. The role of intolerance and prejudice as motivating factors in a community is also explicitly explored. Finally, the position of Dougy in all these events is perhaps symbolic of the average, passive observer and eventual participant in a socially changing situation. (14+)
Australia (English) - 1994 - 59
Ringwood: Puffin/Penguin, 1993. 188 p.
Extrasensory Perception - Deception - Death/Parent - Family Problems - Self-identity
After the death of her parents in a car accident, Miranda and her young brother Jimmy go to live with their grandmother. But Miranda is wrapped up in a world of her own making, and has trouble getting along at her new school or making friends with fellow classmates. One evening she begins to describe to her uncle strange background details and images which make him believe she has extrasensory perception. This leads her to be the center of attention for a local group of esoterically interested adults as well as for her older sister's unsavory, smooth- talking boyfriend, who has great need of her special visionary talents. This is a suspenseful tale with a surprising ending. Very subtly Klein also shows the strain, often unnoticed or ignored, which a young person experiences after the death of loved ones. The characterizations of a range of minor characters is well-drawn, just as we expect from this masterful writer. (10+)
Canada (English) - 1994 - 60
Bruchac, Joseph (text)
Morin, Paul (illus.)
Toronto: Oxford University Press, 1993.  p.
Indians/Canada - Nature - Death - Fox - Grandmother
Although it is time to get up, Jamie lies in her bed and remembers Grama Bowman and the times they spent together. She remembers walking up Fox Hill, learning how to peel birch bark to make baskets, how to hunt for the winter tracks of a fox. She remembers how her Grama told her stories and taught her welcome song of her Abenaki people. Then she goes to Grama's favorite place on Fox Hill, sings that song and is visited briefly by the red fox, Grama's best friend, and Jamie finally understands that she would never be alone. The author draws on his Native American background and personal family experiences to describe in this story the importance of spiritual balance. The narrative is given an appropriate accent by the full-paged paintings by the award-winning illustrator whose naturalistic technique captures grandmother and child experiencing nature together. (5+)
Canada (English) - 1994 - 61
Gilman, Phoebe (text/illus.)
Something for Nothing. Adapted from a Jewish Folktale.
Richmond Hill: North Winds Press/Scholastic Canada, 1992.  p.
ISBN 0-590- 73802-X
Folktale - Blanket - Tailor - Growing Up - Storytelling
Joseph's mother keeps telling him to throw his blanket away - the special one his grand- father made him at birth from blue star- strewn fabric - because it is frazzled, worn and unsightly. But Joseph is confident that Grandpa can fix it, and indeed he does many times over. He makes Joseph a jacket, then a vest, a sabbath tie, a handkerchief, and finally a button. But when the button is lost. even is Grandfather does not know what more to do. Then Joseph himself decides there is just enough to make something after all. This delightfully told story of old-world shtetl life and a grain of wisdom is complemented by a subplot that can only be seen in the illustrations: At the time of Joseph's birth, a mouse couple takes up quarters under the floorboards of the house and gradually furnish their growing household and mouse-children with the scrap remnants of Joseph's blanket, while their daily activities parallel those in the human world. The two picture narratives, painted in egg tempera in warm, natural colors, extend the simple text perfectly.
(Ruth Schwartz Award 1993)
Special Mention - Canada (English) - 1994 - 62
Yashinsky, Dan (text)
Pitt, Nancy Cairine (illus.)
The Storyteller at Fault
Charlonetown: Ragweed Press, 1992. 63 p.
Storytelling - Folk literature (Adaptation)
A mighty ruler who loves stories so much that he would condemn the forgetful storyteller to death after saving the 1000 tales he has told (in the files of a memory machine), A young child who hates the fairy tales his father tells because they always end happily- ever-after - and are thus not true, since death after all is life's real end. A tale which cannot be separated from its teller. In addition to his retelling of ten tales from the oral traditions of Japan, Uganda, Portugal, Great Britain, Scandinavia,orway, Israel, France and ancient Persia in such a way as to make a rich narrative tapestry, the author-father frames his bed-time storytelling ritual with philosophical reflections which remind the adult readers of the magic and significance involved in passing along stories to the next generation in a most compelling manner - by the power of the stories themselves.
Canada (English) - 1994 - 63
Thornhill, Jan (reteller/illus.)
Crow and Fox and Other Animal Legends
Toronto: OWL/Greey de Pencier Books, 1993.  p.
Folktales - Fables
These nine animal folktales, which the author carefully chose as a way of taking an amazing journey over each continent and subcontinent of the world, are linked at one level like a chain by the reappearance of an animal protagonist in each following tale. Thus the author retells in two pages the Indian story of the elephant and the hare, followed by the West African story of the hare and tortoise, and so on, through to the South American story of the mouse and tapir. And at another level the similar tone and hue of the brilliant colors in the full- page illustrations by Thornhill link together landscapes which are nonetheless quite diverse.
Great Britain (English) - 1994 - 64
Cole, Babette (text/illus.)
Mummy Laid an Egg!
London: Jonathan Cape, 1993.  p.
Sex education - Misinformation
Satire at the expense of parents - even in a hip, alternative household - is a perfect literary vehicle to convey the basic elements of where babies come from after all the old myths are presented and tossed out - by the would-be audience! Cole's slapstick watercolor illustrations first show how birth would take place if the myths were true, and then lets two children give their embarassed parents anatomy lessons and fairly explicit suggestions "for ways mummies and daddies fit together", letting "everyone else" - the reader and the whole barnyard of animal families - know that its all a perfectly natural phenomenon which need not be disguised. An imaginative and charmingly designed guide to the facts of life with enough humor to help parents get through their duty when the time is right. (5-8)
Great Britain (English) - 1994 - 65
Cooper, Helen (text/illus.)
The Bear Under the Stairs
London: Doubleday/Transworld, 1993.  p.
(Also New York: Dial Books/Penguin, 1993; ISBN 0-8037-1279-0)
Bear - Fear - Nighttime
William is scared of grizzly bears and - since he is sure a bear lives there - of the place under the stairs. Worried that the bear might get hungry enough to eat a little boy, he begins to feed the bear - until his mother begins to notice a peculiar "pongy" smell. Forced to confess his fear, William and his mother confront the bear under the stairs together. The way the illustrations not only complete the text but also undermine its meaning is funny, surprising, but also - perhaps - disturbing. For there, of course, the bear is quite independent of William's fearful fantasy. The craftful array of watercolor pictures brilliantly depicting an episode of childhood which everyone will identify with. (4-7)
Great Britain (English) - 1994 - 66
Foreman, Michael (text/illus.)
Grandfather's Pencil and the Room of Stories
London: Andersen Press, 1993.  p.
Storytelling - Wood - Paper - Grandfather
On a full-moon night long ago in a young boy's room, as a pencil begins to write down his memories, the paper, the wooden pencil, the table, the floorboards, the door and the window join in with the memory of their origins in the forest and the long journeys leading them to that house, until the house where Jack now lives strikes a chord. Returning home. Jack rescues the pencil from between the floorboards, and at night it continues to write down its memories. In masterful watercolor illustrations which complement the narrative with additional signs of time's passage. Foreman captures the stages of this many-facetted, multi-level story of stories. (5-9)
Great Britain (English) - 1994 - 67
Hoffman, Mary (text)
Winter, Susan (illus.)
London: Dorling Kindersley, 1993.  p.
Belonging - Clique - Baby - Sibling
Henry desparately wants to belong to a particular gang of boys at his new school, but doesn't believe he can meet their standards (or the image Henry attributes to them) because there seems to be nothing special about him. To his surprise, he discovers that his little baby brother is something special for all the other boys. The realistically drawn watercolor portraits of the main characters on white pages perfectly capture young school boys in their favorite poses and past-times, while the simple theme might spark some reflection on what it means to belong. (7-9)
Great Britain (English) - 1994 - 68
Hughes, David (text/illus.)
London: Walker, 1993.  p.
Bullying - Play - Aggression
The idea for this picture book story may have come after observing children at free play in kindergarten for about half-an-hour! One minute they are playing so well together, and suddenly new constellations of sub-groups form invisibly, without reason. The eight animal and human characters in this skillfully drawn caricature about members of a group joining together to pick on another member. Hughes cleverly employs color, shapes, as well as various typography, boxes and comic-like action lines to suggest the tension and heated emotions which build up and explode before being finally allayed again. He also shows how this group tries and succeeds in stopping the bullying - all by themselves. A visually fascinating book which makes a young reader curious to understand the message. (5-8)
Special Mention - Great Britain (English) - 1994 - 69
Someone Came Knocking
Barnstaple: Spindlewood, 1993. 148 p.
Quest - Family - Child Abuse - Nursery Rhyme <Motif>
Tod is an emotionally and physically abused child, who is rejected by his alcoholic, junk-shop owner father after the mother's death, and copes with life by creating his own reality and employing careful strategies of escape and avoidance. The reader soon understands the stone which Tod feels "in his chest where his heart ought to be." Children's rhymes often run through his mind, stirring up vague memories of long-ago; they comfort him at bedtime and influence his actions during the day, too. For Guy Fawkes Day, Tod sews an odd-looking ragdoll with which to beg for pennies, but soon notices that the face he gave it was not of a guy, but a girl. This doll becomes his alter ego, singing and murmuring in his ear. The turning point in his months-long journey is the encounter with a children's social worker in a holiday home, who gains his trust and becomes mental anchor, This is a heart-breaking novel of a boy's survival in a cruel, anonymous world. It is a well-crafted story, whose initial feeling of hopelessness is gradually replaced by a strong sense of resiliency, making it a satisfying experience for readers who appreciate emotional involvement. (12+)
Great Britain (English) - 1994 - 70
London: Orchard, 1993. 168 p.
Secret - Death - Family - Grandparent - Detective Story
A family tragedy whose memory is blanked out and taboo for the parents and surviving daughter surfaces again when the grandson, David, accidentally finds a photo of an unknown look-alike. In trying to interpret mysterious clues with his newly found friend, David finds the key which releases long-buried emotions for his grandfather and mother and helps him to establish stronger, maturer relationships with his whole family. And he himself matures both socially and emotionally through this experience. The story's mystery plot is well-constructed with well-drawn characters and a background of events and places which give it a realistic everyday setting, (11+)
India (English) - 1994 - 71
Srivastav, Sigrun (text)
Guha, Tapas (illus.)
A Moment of Truth. True Stories from Around the World
Delhi: Ratna Sagar, 1991. 78 p.
Everyday Life/Child - Short Stories/interna- tional
In these fifteen short stories set in many different countries of the world, a protagonist has an encounter that changes his life or reveals to him or her a profound truth about life and human goodness. These are positive, inspiring stories which have a refreshing and uplifting effect on the reader. Richly detailed, multi-toned black-and-white sketches accompany the texts. (10-15)
Ireland (English) - 1994 - 72
Conlon-McKenna, Maritta (text)
Coady, Christopher (illus.)
Dublin: The O'Brien Press, 1993.  p.
Night - Star - Dream
Young James finds a shiny star lying on the ground in his backyard one evening and enjoys its company, its shining brightness, over the next three days in his room. Then he realizes it is not a star for indoors and throws it back up into the sky. The double-spread, borderless illustrations are very striking for their use of color and the effortless suggestion of light sparkling with brush strokes. A prize-winning author of youth novels, this is Conlon-McKenna's picture book. (3-6)
Ireland (English) - 1994 - 73
Dublin: O'Brien Press, 1993. 159 p.
(Horseshoe Series 1)
ISBN 0-862 78-331-3 (pb)
Horse Show - Dressage - Ambition - Pover ty
Ger Casey is the acknowledged leader of a loose gang of young ruffians in a poor district of Dublin. Running away from the scene of a prank one day, he slips into the fairgrounds where a horse show is taking place and has a chance encounter with a young girl his own age but of middle class background. Most importantly he is impressed by her horse's ability to dance, as the steps per formed in dressage seem to be. Captivated by this new experience he stays around the stables and, with Suzanne's help, gets the chance to become a stable boy. This is the beginning of a double life for him, taking him out of a dead-end situation at home and school and giving him hope and goals, as well as divided loyalties, which are resolved only after several turbulent episodes and some soul-searching. In this novel the world of horses is treated in detail, but equally important is the depletion of social inequality and its consequences for the young. The writer manages to do both subjects justice, giving the reader pleasure and food for thought. The sequel to "Star Dancer" is breathlessly awaited. (11-15)
New Zealand (English) - 1994 - 74
Butler, Dorothy (text)
Klepatski, Gabriela (illus.)
Auckland: Random House New Zealand, 1992.  p.
ISBN 1-86941 170 6
Sibling - Lost - Family
As a second child, Isabella has a strong mind of her own and seems to know how to get her way. at the expense of her parents and brother, who are always losing her on excursions to the zoo, the farm ... The momentary solution turns out to be a compromise of sorts. The family's misadventures are portrayed in enchanting pen-and-ink colored illustrations, four frames on one page. The simple storyline ring familiar to many families and young listeners, especially those with tempestuous younger siblings.
New Zealand (English) - 1994 - 75
Dodd, Lynley (text/illus.)
The Minister's Cat ABC
Wellington: Mallinson Rendel, 1992.  p.
ABC/English - Cat
This witty picture book interweaves an affectionate look at many kinds of cats with a vocabulary of ways to describe their activities. A seemingly simple subject is thus made unendingly more enjoyable and readable by the diversity of aspects to be observed page after page. It is hard to resist the desire to start right over at the beginning. Lynley Dodd's inimicable and hallmark style of drawing and coloring have found another congenial subject matter which children and adults can enjoy together. (3-7)
New Zealand (English) - 1994 - 76
A Sonnet for the City
Dunedin: McIndoe Publishers, 1992. 175 p.
Student protest - Curfew - Kidnapping - Social responsibility
In this sequel to "Leaving the Snow Country" (1991), Penny Rider finds herself away from her home in the hills for the first time, having chosen to pursue studies at university. although she must thus give up the companionship of her new friend, a young doctor who is as much attracted to nature as she is. As befits her age, she is open to new experiences and making new friends, but is not fully able to deal with all the complications that arise thereby - conspiritory resistance to burocratic repression or the emotional attraction to a mysterious loner. Her thoughts on life, the various interests of her new friends and her probing attempts to keep a balance in her own life and struggle to sort out her own values are quite realistically portrayed. (15+)
Philippines (English) - 1994 - 77
Yuson, Alfred A. (text)
Parrocha, Beth A. (illus.)
Sunico, Ramón C. (transl.)
The Boy Who Ate Stars
Metro Manila: Cacho Publishing, 1991. 20 p.
(CPHI Trampoline Series)
(Text in English and Filipino)
Modern Fairy Tale/Philippines - Greed - Stars - Trees - Peace
How a little boy who had a craving to eat all the stars he could learned to appreciate having stars in the heavens is told cleverly along with a parallel tale about deforestation by outsiders to the community, which the villagers recognize only too late as wrong and harmful. When no stars and no trees are left, a stranger visits the village, giving the people a tree to begin re-establishing their forest and the boy wisdom to reverse his error. This is a bilingual edition, attractively produced on glossy paper in broadside format, with colorful, inventive watercolor illustrations. The book is part of a noteworthy series of innovative children's books coming from the Philippine's burgeoning children's book scene. (4-8)
South Africa (English) - 1994 - 78
Hartmann, Wendy (text)
Daly, Niki (illus.)
Een Winderige Aand
(All the magic in the world)
Kaapstad: Human & Rousseau, 1993.  p.
ISBN 0-7981-3086-5 (Engl. ed. 0-86486- 248-2)
(Also available from Dutton Publishers, USA, and Bodley Head, GB)
Magic - Odd-Job Man - Play
Lena is the smallest and clumsiest of five children who like to play together and occasionally visit old Joseph, the local odd-job man who has a tin box of scraps and treasures. One evening he helps them discover that magic comes from within, from what you make of the things you have or are given. The simple tale is told also through the illustrations done in bright, natural colors which delightfully depict the rural setting, their childlike playfulness and. in particular, Lena's eager, joyful facial expressions. The black South African setting is well-captured, the story international. (3-6)
South Africa (English) - 1994 - 79
Bodenstein, Christel (compile)
Bodenstein, Hans (compile)
Linda, Rode (compile)
Mphahlele, Es'kia (foreward)
Stories South of the Sun. 28 South African Read-Aloud Stories.
Cape Town: Tafelberg, 1993. 96 p. With illustrations
ISBN 0-624-02616-7 (Afrikaans ed. 0-624-03083-0)
Everyday life - School - Family - Adventure - Folktales/Africa
Compiled by two experienced educators and an award-winning compiler of other anthologies and tested in schools, this book represents today's multi-cultural and multi-faceted South African society in as much as the authors, both newcomers and renown children's writers, chose their own language of expression and focus on contemporary, familiar situations and persons - a hard week at school, a dispute of honor at home, fantasy encounters extraterrestials or dragons, animal fables and traditional African folk- tales. Eleven talented illustrators have contributed striking very colorful illustrations on most pages. The book offers a rich variety of well-written tales that will have wide appeal to readers. (5-10)
(This collection is also available in Africaans under the title Stories suid van die ion: 28 voorleesstories and in Tswana.)
South Africa (English) - 1994 - 80
Owen, Phyllis (text)
Seterfeld, Adrian (illus.)
The Dala Tree
Cape Town: Human & Rousseau, 1993. 44 p.
School - Bully - Challenge - Tree-climbing
To strengthen his health, the city boy, Gideon, is spending several months with his grandparents on their farm in the Northern Cape. As a newcomer and outsider at school, he is bullied by Daniel, the undisputed leader of the boys in his class, until he decides to hold his ground and defend himself. On the spur of the moment he challenges Daniel to a duel: to climb the 18 meter- high Dala Tree in the school courtyard. After successfully mastering his fears in his dangerous climb, the book's well-written, tension-filled climax. Gideon is ready to put out his hand in friendship to his classmates. even Daniel. The author's very readable and believable description of Daniel's efforts to come to terms with fellow pupils, teacher and grandparents will strike a chord with many readers. (8-10)
USA (English) - 1994 - 81
Conrad, Pam (text)
Egielski, Richard (illus.)
New York: Laura Geringer Book/Harper Collins, 1993.  p.
Toys - Grandfather
This unusual, but not implausible portrayal of the life-like world of wooden "tub" figures who make the best of things even when no child is there to play with them - by marching in parades, gardening or playing ball - immediately absorbs the interest the reader-viewer. Their daily routine is stirred up one day by the tub boy's accidental discovery of his long-lost grandfather, lying on his side, asleep in the dust under the radiator. By jogging his memories, he is finally revived and joins them again in their nightly vigil on the windowsill. The fantasy plot and the very realistic pictures of the stiff, round-headed toy will strike a chord of knowing recognition. (3-6)
USA (English) - 1994 - 82
Mason, Cherie (text)
Stammen, J. E.McAllister (illus.)
Wild Fox. A True Story.
Camden, Maine: Down East Books, 1993. 32 p.
ISBN 0-892 72-319-X
Fox - Animal Trap - Animal Instinct- Man/Animal
The author relates her own experience of befriending a young wild red fox whose front paw was nearly severed in a cruel and widely outlawed steel-jawed trap. Their tentative relationship of benefactor and cautious visitor continued over many months. In describing this period, the author weaves in many facts about habits the red fox while subtly suggesting the possibility of peaceable co-existence between civilized humans and wildlife. The realistic, warm-toned, colored-pencil illustrations capture a peaceful idyllic landscape and offer very beautiful portraits of the fox. (7-10)
USA (English) - 1994 - 83
Napoli, Donna Jo
The Magic Circle.
New York: Dutton/Penguin, 1993. 118 p.
English/Modern Fairy Tale - Hansel-and Gretel <Motif> - Witch - Evil - Good
The life story of the witch in the story of Hansel and Gretel provides the stuff of a fascinating and stimulating novel. Set in the Middle Ages, with its elaborate class system, belief in magic, superstition, and jealousies, the tale begins when a single-mother and skilled midwife is persuaded by a neighbor to employ magic spells in order to acquire even more "clients." She learns to exorcise evil spirits, much to their dismay. When these spirits finally manage to trick her and win power over her soul, she still fights against their will - to turn her into a devourer of human flesh - by escaping to an enchanted forest. Many years later, as an aged, self-sufficient hermit, her cottage is discovered by a young brother and sister, etc. The renown fairy tale is embedded here with extraordinary skill in a much wider profounder context - the battle between good and evil. Hence it, too can be regarded as a fairy tale inspite of its apparent realism. This is the second work by the author to rework a well-known Grimm fairy tale. The "Frog in the Pond" (19 ) tells the story of the prince's life as a fairly helpless and misfit frog after being bewitched and before he met the princess, his human benefactor. The humor of that story stands in strong contrast to the gravity of the witch's tale. (10+)
USA (English) - 1994 - 84
Sendak, Maurice (text/illus.)
We're All Down in the Dumps with Jack and Guy. Two Nursery Rhy- mes with Pictures.
New York: Michael di Capua Books/Harper Collins, 1993.  p.
Mother Goose/Nursery Rhyme - Slum - Poverty - Evil - Human Kindness - Moon - Social Conscience
This book cannot be compared with anything already available for children and youth, nor is it likely to be imitated - a unicorn. Even if the first "reading" - in this case looking, decifering and associating is required - seems difficult, it is well worth repeating. The borderless broadside illustrations, in characteristic Sendak style, are filled with visual details and clues of a view of the human condition, concretely that of the homeless in the slums, the dumps, of a big city, which we can recognize as New York City. The two Mother Goose nursery rhymes will be new to most everyone; they are not likely to he learned readily by children, but are worth exploring. Because of the complexity of the information and its societal implications, this book would be a stimulating discussion piece in classrooms of 9 to 11- year olds, where teachers can point out the use of symbolism and the book's connection with the reality. (9-99)
USA (English) - 1994 - 85
Scieszka, Jon (text)
Lane, Smith (illus.)
Your Mother Was a Neanderthal
New York: Viking/Penguin, 1993. 78 p.
(The Time Warp trio)
Time Travel - Stone Age - Mathematics - Magic
In this episode of the continuing saga of the time-travelling narrator, Joe, and his friends Fred and Sam, the trio return to the Stone Age to impress the natives (and postpone doing their math homework) and lose "The Book" of magic spells which enables their return to the present. After dealing with a dinosaur, a saber-tooth tiger and a wooly mammoth, by using their wits, they discover that some mathematical knowledge could be quite useful even in the Stone Age. Their string of zany adventures parodies other time travel stories, Tarzan movies and is related with characteristic American slapstick humor that appeals to middle readers.
USA (English) - 1994 - 86
Singer, Marilyn (text)
Oubrerie, Clément (illus.)
Szafranski, Paula R. (designer)
It's Hard to Read a Map with a Beagle on Your Lap
New York: Henry Holt, 1993.  p.
Dog - Poetry
This volume of dog poems for indefatigable dog-lovers and their sympathizers manages to pack a whallop of humor into every page. Showing astounding insight into the joys and, even more. the trials and tribulations of being either a dog or a dog-owner, Singer also uniformly demonstrates great wit and poetic skill in rhyme and meter. The French illustrator masterfully matches the tone and intent of each poem and the graphic designer deserves credit, too, for the very innovative use of typography.
USA (English) - 1994 - 87
Sis, Peter (text/illus.)
New York: Greenwillow Books, 1993.  p.
Komodo dragon - Komodo Island <Indonesia>
A child's obsession with dragons is rewarded one day by a trip to the Komodo Island in Indonesia, where (the author's afterword tells us) the rare giant lizard, the sole survivor of the carnivorous dinosaurs still lives (relatively) undisturbed today. Sis's visual satire of the tourist attractions on Bali and Komodo do not seem to penetrate the narrator's single-minded involvement with "his" dragon. The lush green tropical surroundings, filled with dragonesque images, demand intensive attentiveness, while the brief summative text is secondary. Thus, this is another splendid case for the power of visual narrative in a picture book for sophisticated, school-age readers. (6-10)
USA (English) - 1994 - 88
Uncertain Roads. Searching for the Gypsies.
New York: Four Winds Press, 1993. 112 p. With photos
Gypsy/Europe 1939-1992 - Multiculturalism
After giving an enlightening introduction to the ethnic group "Rom", as they call themselves, and a map of the migration routes of the gypsies from India to other European countries beginning 1300 years ago, the photographer Yale Strom lets the interviews and photos of several individuals - children and adults - in each country which he visited - Romania, Hungary, Ukraine and Sweden - speak for themselves. He also provides factual background details, personal impressions and a typical song text with music for each country, as well as a glossary and bibliography of quite recent information sources. This well-designed book is dedicated to "the hundreds of thousands of forgotten Rom who tragically lost their lives in the Holocaust" and is highly suitable for supplemental reading related to the Holocaust and to the fate of an ethnic minority in Europe today. (10+)
Special Mention - USA (English) - 1994 - 89
Wolff, Virginia Euwer
New York: Henry Holt, 1993. 200 p.
Teenage Mother - Babysitter - Single-parent Family - School
A "lemon," in American slang, is something imperfect or defective. A lemon is, metaphorically, how the author characterizes the initial life circumstances of Jolly, a 17-year- old single mother with two pre-school children. The novel is, at least in part, about what she learns to make out of it. She struggles bravely against the odds to run the household and hold down a job. To do so, she needs an inexpensive babysitter, preferably one with strong nerves, a flexible time-schedule and experience. Instead, her advertisement is answered by 14-year old LaVaughn, a high-school girl and daughter of a hard-working widow. LaVaughn has set her mind on getting to college. For that she needs good grades at school and money, which she plans to earn with part-time jobs. The uneasy relationship that develops between these two very different teenagers over many months, the touching relationship between LaVaughn and the two young children, and LaVaughn's tentative attempts to defend her own opinions and actions to her mother are further aspects of this extraordinary, unsentimental novel set in working-class surroundings. That education is the key to the future could seem like an overly overt moral message, if it weren't simply self- evident under the given conditions. Narrated matter-of-factly by LaVaughn, it is written in her own natural speech patterns - a masterly achievement by Wolff. (14+)
USA (English) - 1994 - 90
Wolff, Ashley (text/illus.)
Stella & Roy.
New York: Dutton Children's Boohs, 1993.  p.
Sibling - Hare-and-Tortoise <Motif> -Contest
This modem rendition of the classic fable of the hare and the tortoise rings true to the eye and ear - sibling rivalry as seen every day in the park or at play, and the intense yearning and final triumph of the younger child, the unwilling underdog. The simple read-aloud text introduces catchy phrases used by children at play while the elaborate, colorful wood-cut and water-color illustrations delightfully capture details of nature and park surroundings from the child's perspective. (3-6)
Slovakia (Russian/English) - 1995 - 33
Sef, Roman (text)
Požidaev, Leonid (illus.)
Lewis, Paul (Engl. transl.)
Kataev, I. (music)
Minkov, M. (music)
Moskva: ADP, 1994. 57 p.
Poetry/Nonsense - Multilingual book
In this bilingual picture book in verse Roman Sef proves once again his craftsmanship as the best contemporary Russian poet. The witty poems, which are striking in their simplicity, belong to the tradition of English nonsense verse and occasionally remind one of the works of the German children's poets Josef Guggenmos and Hans Manz from Switzerland. Sef’s style is also successfully captured in the English translation by Paul Lewis. (4+)
Australia (English) - 1995 - 36
Gilbert, Kevin (text)
Williams, Eleanor (photos)
Me and Mary Kangaroo
Ringwood: Viking/Penguin Books Australia, 1994. 54 p.
Kangaroo - Child/Pet - Aborigine/- Australia/Memoir
Kevin Gilbert (1933-1993) was a noted New Zealand author, publicist and activist for the rights of the Aboriginal peoples. In this childhood memoir he relates many humorous, playful episodes in his relationship with the orphaned kangaroo he kept as a pet until she returned one day to the bush. Written in the style of oral storytelling, it is laced with details of everyday family life in this remote rural area. Mary was not only his best friend and playmate, but forever the incarnation of a deep affinity Gilbert felt for his homeland. The appealing sepia-toned photographs of a young Aboriginal boy and another kangaroo suggest the nostalgia of a family photo album. (7+)
Australia (English) - 1995 - 37
Wilson, Barbara Ker (compiled)
Hands Up! Who enjoyed their schooldays
St. Lucia: University of Queensland, 1994. 141 p.
School - Australia/Short stories/Anthology
Short stories and excerpts from the works of leading writers of Australian youth literature have been selected by a well- known editor to present stories about a wide array of memorable topics reflects different eras, types of schools, and socioeconomic backgrounds. (12+)
Australia (English) - 1995 - 38
The serpentine belt
Norwood: Omnibus Books/Aston Scholastic, 1994. 119 p.
Father/Death - Self-discovery - Friendship/Change
Sixteen-year old Emily is a quiet, reclusive type of person who watches and reflects on everything going on around her. Her best friend Kat, an Aborigine from an extended family of siblings and cousins, is a completely different type of person. Though they once had much in common, they are beginning to drift apart. Emily's discovery of her dead father's cryptic diary occupies her mind constantly, until she finally learns the true circumstances of his death. In this appropriately slow-paced, reflective novel the first-person narration of Emily’s inner world and her perception of the people and activity around her is a sensitive character study of a girl passing through an important stage of emotional growth. (14+)
Special Mention - Australia (English) - 1995 - 39
Ringwood: Viking/Penguin Books, 1994. 255 p.
Fantasy - Man/Animal - Genetic experimentation - Difference/Tolerance - Extraterrestial beings/intelligence - Freedom - Friendship - Change - Survival
For nearly two centuries artificially bred humans and man-ape hybrids have lived together in harmony and docility in a high- walled enclosure, guarded by keepers who supply all their needs but also mete out sadistic punishments when necessary. The strong-willed, curious Cassie and her two intelligent, hybrid friends manage to break out of the enclosure. After their disastrous flight to freedom they return reluctantly to Parkland, where they finally break the mastery of the keepers and learn why those extraterrestrial beings had become "cosmic gardeners" with a mission to maintain diversity and harmony in the galaxy. This masterly written novel with strong characterizations challenges the imagination of the reader on every page and poses basic questions about human life, attitudes toward fellow creatures, and the ability to create and control life and society. (14+)
Special Mention - Australia (English) - 1995 - 40
Pugh, Dailan (illus.)
Dunkle, Margaret (text)
Secrets of the rainforest
South Melbourne: Hyland House, 1994.  p.
Rainforest - Conservation - Australia/Flora and fauna
Unlike Europe or North America, children in some parts of Australia have the opportunity to walk directly from their homes into a rainforest with stunning, century-old vegetation still inhabited by rare and endangered species of animals. In this picture book for primary school children Kevin, son of a logger, takes a walk for the first time in the local rainforest with environmentally concerned classmates whom he had once dubbed "the greenie mob." Overwhelmed by its beauty, which is realistically presented in full-paged gouache paintings, Kevin realizes the need to prevent further destruction of this unique natural habitat. The at times lengthy text serves to describe the habits and needs of the various animal species, making Kevin's growing social awareness plausible. While the intention of the book is undoubtedly moralistic, it is tastefully presented in a very attractive and informative format. (5+)
Special Mention - Australia (English) - 1995 - 41
Rodda, Emily (text)
Kelly, Geoff (illus.)
Power and glory
St. Leonards: A Little Ark Book/Alien & Unwin, 1994.  p.
Video game - Family life - Challenge
By dealing with an activity close to their hearts and high on their minds, children who are reluctant to read might be drawn to this story about a video game player. In fact an book with an unconventional layout, it employs repetitive, situational vocabulary and hilarious caricatures of family life situations. The narrative tension between the all-absorbing challenge of a video game of skill and adventure and the continual interruptions by parents, siblings and pet, each with their own demands is as hilarious as it is realistic. Geoff Kelly has chosen an avant-garde style of illustration which resembles but in no way imitates video graphics. (6-8) ☼
Canada (English) - 1995 - 42
Lewis, Arnanda (text)
Wynne-Jones, Tim (text)
Slavin, Bill (illus.)
Toronto: Kids Can Press, 1994. 95 p.
Theater - Shakespeare, William
The many aspects of a theater production are presented here not in a direct, nonfictional format, but embedded in a story about a young girl who gets to know real people working in a real repertory theater. And at the fantasy level she has repeated encounters with (an otherwise invisible) Will Shakespeare. In between each of the nine chapters, terms and concepts of the various departments of a theater are explained in a readable style which avoids a definitional tone. The book is attractively colorful and uniformly illustrated with realistic but expressive scenes on each page, which are designed to illuminate the text and ideas in a natural manner. It is well-suited to motivating young readers to get involved with some aspect of theater themselves. (8-12)
Great Britain (English) - 1995 - 43
London: Methuen, 1993. 157 p.
Child Migration/UK/Canada - Scotland - Mining - Father/Death - Family/Separation
A realistic portrayal of living conditions in a Scottish mining community in 1937, when hard work, meager food, and little security was the order of the day, forms the background for the first half of this compelling story. The accidental death of their father and son brings sudden impoverishment and eviction to Kezzie, Lucie and their grandfather. Due to two unfortunate mishaps on one day, the younger sister is mistakenly included in an orphan transport to Canada, leaving Kezzie no choice but to go to Canada, too. The second half of the novel describes how Kezzie finds and rescues the thoroughly traumatized child. Breslin, 1987 winner of the Scottish Kathleen Pidler Award for a first novel, has a special talent for capturing natural speech and for weaving a story full of life-like characters. This novel is immediately striking, not only for its eloquence but also for its portrayal of endurance, human goodness and love in the face of misfortune. (12+)
(Shortlisted for the 1994 Federation of Children's Book Groups Award)
Special Mention - Great Britain (English) - 1995 - 44
Step by wicked step
London: Hamish Hamilton, 1995. 135 p.
Stepparent - Family problems
Even if this book by one of England's best contemporary authors had appeared anonymously, its success would be guaranteed by the immediately absorbing narrative with its masterful combination of suspense and sensitive delving into the hearts and minds of appealing and believable main characters. Five twelve- year-old classmates who know each other only superficially accidentally discover the memoir of a man with a tragic family history in a hidden room of an old spooky manor. A chance find, a cryptic word from their teacher and an all-night round of storytelling begins, in which each tells about his or her own family problems and gains insight into the difficult choices and emotional turmoil facing each of the others. The common bond between them all is the presence of stepparents in their lives. This is a book which will be read in one sitting and still be (hauntingly) memorable long after. (10+)
Special Mention - Great Britain (English) - 1995 - 45
Hathorn, Libby (text)
Rogers, Gregory (illus.)
London: Andersen Press, 1994.  p.
Homelessness - Boy - Cat - Friendship
His white-on-black text and the skillfully composed dark, somber illustrations immediately identify this book as one dealing with a "problem": the underside of life, street life, in a metropolitan city in a modern affluent society. It depicts an hour in the life of a boy of the street - in which such a picture book would have no place - who empathizes with and adopts a stray cat as company. Together they return through the ugly back alleys to the hole he proudly calls "home." Lacking in any didacticism, direct in its tone, impeccably designed, the book cannot fail to make a lasting impression on any reader willing to face its chilling truth. (8+)
Special Mention - Great Britain (English) - 1995 - 46
The exiles at home
London: Victor Gollancz, 1993.
(Paperback: London: Lions/HarperCollins, 1994. 173pp)
Siblings - School - Africa - Charity - Grandmother - Elderly
This is an engrossing and well-paced family story in the excellent British storytelling tradition. The four Conroy sisters, aged between thirteen and six years, have not changed a bit in this sequel to the Guardian award-winning title The Exiles (1991). The thread running through the narrative revolves around the girls' efforts to acquire £10 month after month to send to a 10- year-old African boy whose education the girls have decided secretly to sponsor. They get involved in numerous escapades by sitting for the baby next door, selling packed lunches at school, robbing the postbank, selling their mother's books, or gardening for an elderly couple. Each of the girls has a distinctive personality within the family, and alone or together their actions and idiosyncratic reasoning ensure the reader one laugh after another. (9+) ☆ ☼
(Overall winner, 1994 Smarties Award)
Special Mention - Great Britain (English) - 1995 - 47
Ure, Jean (text)
Hellard, Susan (illus.)
Who's for the zoo?
London: Orchard, 1995 (text first publ. 1989). 64 p.
ISBN 1-85213 662 6
School - Zoo - Animal rights
The Orchard "Readalone" series offer a wide range of stories written by some of the UK's most popular and humorous contemporary writers and illustrators for children, such as Rose Impey, Mary Hoffman or Jonathan Alien. With this sixth installment in her "Woodside School Stories series" the versatile Jean Ure manages to portray a cast of individual characters and tackle a topic of social concern. When one pupil in her classroom hesitantly reveals her dismay at the planned school excursion to the zoo, the teacher finds a clever way to let the rest of the pupils reflect on how it might feel to be kept in a cage and gawked at. The somewhat larger type and black-and-white sketches make these titles attractive additions for home, school and public libraries, while the choice of topics makes them suitable for readers of English as a second language. (7-9) ☼
India (English) - 1995 - 48
Kapur, Jusum (text)
Sumaty, N. (illus.)
Stories from Ladakh
New Delhi: Indus/HarperCollins, 1994. 112 p.
Ladakh/Folk tales - Greed - Love - Cleverness
This is a collection of nine long tales from a district in the northern-most province of India. While the names and places are distinctly Indian, the morals of the stories are universal. Alongside the human figures, talking animals play a notable role in most of the tales. While the good or evil character of the protagonists plays a certain role in the development of each tale, twists of fate, whim or chance luck sometimes lead to surprising outcomes. Some tales, such as that of the three brothers who inherit equal shares from their well- intentioned father, will call to mind the morals of well-known folk tales, while others help to illuminate Indian thinking and life. This is a well-written volume which will enrich any folk tale collection. (8+) ☆
India (English) - 1995 - 49
Mitra, Rathabali (text)
Harichandan, Deepak (illus.)
New Delhi: Children’s Book Trust, 1993. 64 p.
Andaman Islands - Nicobar Islands - Holiday
This book is essentially a non-fictional social geography of India's Bay Islands which stretch over 900 square kilometers in the Bay of Bengal between Burma and Indonesia, but the factual information is framed within a fictional story about an Indian family visiting the islands on holiday. The children's questions throughout the four-day ship journey and on the islands help them to learn about the many animals they encounter, the sea- and landscapes, the tropical rain forest, endangered species and even the historical background of an infamous prison which is now a National Monument commemorating the struggle for Indian independence. This travelogue reads very smoothly and entertainingly, allowing the reader to absorb a wealth of information. A number of pen-and-ink illustrations depict the Indian family's sightseeing stops. (8+) ☆ ☼
(Second Prize, Natural History category, WWF/CBF Competition)
India (English) - 1995 - 50
Stories from Premchand
New Delhi: Vikas Publishing House, 1986 (repr. 1994). 112 p.
(Madhuban Supplementary Readers)
India/Hindi/Short Stories - Human nature
Munshi Prernchand (1880-1936), a school teacher, was one of India's most important Hindi writers in the 20th century, but his works have not been easily accessible in English. His over 300 short stories deal in particular with the common people and injustice. Though these ten tales are gathered in a supplemental educational reader for young adults and are followed up with several comprehension questions, the narrative style and content of the stories warrant their being made available more widely. Each one deals with a key event in the life of a child, of a family or among friends, by force of which a small kernel of life's wisdom - about friendship, love, rivalry, hypocrisy, or reconciliation - becomes clearer to those involved. Prernchand's style is descriptive, even somewhat flowery, and filled with lively dialogues; yet it is easy to follow and suitable for the intermediate reading level. (12+) ☆ ☼
Ireland (English) - 1995 - 51
No peace for Amelia
Dublin: O'Brien Press, 1994. 215 p.
Ireland/World War I - War - Ireland/Easter uprising - Friendship
Decisive personal decisions in the lives of two young men (and their families) in Dublin in the spring of 1916 are depicted here in alternating chapters from the point of view of a thirteen-year-old Quaker girl, Amelia Pim, and that of her friend, the household servant, Mary Ann. While Frederick, Amelia's best beau, has patriotically signed up in the British army to fight in the Great European War, Mary Ann's brother, Patrick, is a Volunteer for the cause of Irish independence. The author skillfully uses this constellation to present two types of armed struggle and show how the different positions taken depend on the individual positions in life. The characterizations are strong and convincing, the interjection of historical facts into the plot judicious. This suspenseful sequel to "Amelia", which was short listed for Ireland's Bisto Book of the Year Award, will leave the reader most eager for the next sequel. (12+) ☆
New Zealand (English) - 1995 - 52
Barnett, Rosalyn (selector)
Bowics, Trish (illus.)
Sun days & moon nights
Wellington: Mallinson Rendel, 1994. 63 p.
New Zealand/Short Stories/Anthology - Folktales/New Zealand - Everyday Life/New Zealand
This anthology of ten stories for young readers and read-aloud storytelling ranges from light-hearted adventure tales to episodes of family life to special moments in a child's life to folk and fairy tales. Underlying each story are elements of human nature such as greed or ambition or the human condition which require learning to appreciate differences. The water-color illustrations enhance the volume with humor and imagination. Some of the stories have Maori characters and vocabulary, while others could be set almost anywhere on earth, making this a volume attractive to school and library collections around the world. (6+) ☆ ☼
South Africa (English) - 1995 - 53
Randall, Isobel (text)
Sothoane, Zacharia (illus.)
Mazini: Macmillan Boleswa Publishers, 1993. 30 p.
Africa/Rural life – Grandparent/Grandchild – Dream/Bicycle – Child/Money
A young Black girl's dream of owning her own bicycle seems unattainable until, with the help of her grandfather, she earns money by selling vegetables from her own garden. When her little brother needs to be hospitalized, she instead gives this money to her grandparents. Again raising money with handmade toys to be sold in the big city, the dream is finally fulfilled after a long wait. The ambitious black-and-white pencil sketches on each page of text realistically depict the steppe-like rural landscape and the very simple life-style of the farming family in a manner which may appeal to the child's eye more than the eye of the professional art critic. This is an authentic story of rural Africa which draws on everyday life rather than on folk-tales or social problems. (7+) ☆ ☼
South Africa (English) - 1995 - 54
Cape Town: Tafelberg, 1994. 138 p.
Cape Town/Street life - Orphan - Reading - Friendship - Survival
For several years the abandoned child and runaway. Mess (nicknamed Mellow Yellow), has been fending for himself in the streets of Cape Town. He survives through his association with a gang of street kids, whose teenaged leader, Space Gun, who sets down strict rules that give order to their lives. Mess's dream, his life-motivation, is to learn to read in order to understand the piece of green paper, the key to his real identity, which he wears hidden in a tin box around his neck. One day on a whim he asks a posh schoolboy, Henry, at the train station to teach him to read and through their ensuing friendship ultimately finds his grandfather. Henry's encounter with Mess and the street gang brings about dramatic changes in each of their lives and leads to a happy end in this fast-paced, compelling novel. (12+) ☆
USA (English) - 1995 - 55
Arnold, Katya (adapt./illus.)
Knock, knock, Teremok! A traditional Russian tale
New York: North-South Books, 1994.  p.
Diversity - Co-existence - Story in verse
One after another eight different animals, each seeking a new home, join a fly who has taken up residence in a wooden hut, a teremok. But when the bear tries to fit in, too, he causes the roof to collapse on them all. The humorous, repetitive text is composed in a sing-song manner, ideal for reading aloud and letting young listeners participate. In a note for adults Arnold mentions that she also sees her text as an allegory of the collapse of the socialist ideal, which she also eludes to with a portrait of Lenin in the teremok. The illustrations are a cumulative collage of bold water-colors with contrasting black outlines perfectly supplementing the text. (4-7) ☆ ☼
USA (English) - 1995 - 56
New York: Hyperion Books for Children, 1994. 119 p.
Identity - Family conflict - USA- /lndians/Whites/Friendship
Opening oneself to new knowledge, finding the answer to "who am I?", the power of cultural patterns and expectations are the underlying themes of this fictionalized historical novel. Key experiences in the lives of a young Indian boy and Indian girl are set against the background of one of the first significant encounters of their Indian tribe with white English colonists (possibly the Plymouth Rock colony in 1620). The narrative explores both the clash between the two cultures, the impatience of a young boy who yearns for acceptance into adulthood and the turmoil of a young girl of the same age who wants to escape the female role expectations she soon will be forced to fulfill. The Indian way of life is portrayed as one of respect for nature and for the tribe's long-standing traditions; and both are linked by the wisdom passed down through oral storytelling. Though it covers only one day, the highly readable narrative includes a series of encounters between persons and generations in the village and the natural surroundings to portray the adventure of growing up in those days in a compelling manner. (10+) ☆ ☼
USA (English) - 1995 - 57
Fisher, Leonard Everett (text/illus.)
New York: Macmillan, 1994.  p.
Netherlands/Folklore - Flood dike
An historical event in Holland in 1421 forms the basis for Fisher's lyrical text, which is printed one line at a time on stunning acrylic double-spread illustrations. The scenes depict the simple life of a village near the sea during each season of the year. After a spring gale floods the shore, destroying all the houses and windmills, the villagers nonetheless decide to rebuild again on the same spot. The simplicity of the colorful landscape scenes and the subtle details of Holland's way of life will undoubtedly appeal to young viewers. (3+)
USA (English) - 1995 - 58
Hine, Lewis (photos)
Kids at work. Lewis Hine and the crusade against child labor
New York: Clarion Books/Houghlon Mifflin, 1994. 194 p..
USA/Children/Work - Social Reform - Hine, Lewis (1874-1940)
This is in fact two stories of differing scope, but inextricably bound up together and excellently related by one of the USA's leading authors of non-fiction. On the one hand, the social, political and economic conditions which led to the appalling exploitation of millions of children between three and sixteen years of age by industry and commerce in the 19th and 20th century is an aspect of social history which has received little attention up to now. The courageous efforts of individuals and organizations to engender moral indignation and legal barriers against this form of child abuse makes up the other side of the story. In 1908 Lewis Hine became an investigative photographer in the service of one of most important causes of his time and undoubtedly contributed to the gradual progress in this area of social justice. Using dozens of Hine's moving photos on full- page spreads throughout the book, Preedman smoothly interweaves the course of this still incomplete social reform movement and Mine's own biography in a highly readable and unforgettable text. (10+) ☆
USA (English) - 1995 - 59
Kleven, Elisa (text/illus.)
The paper princess
New York: Dutton, 1994.  p.
Doll - Imagination - Homecoming
One day a young girl draws a princess on a piece of paver and cuts it out. Before she can give it hair, a gust of wind carries the simple paper figure up and away in the sky. The paper princess encounters different kinds of people and animals who care for her during her journey, but she longs to return home and be finished by her little girl. Her open, upright manner ultimately enables her wish to come true and the happiness at her homecoming is great and genuine. The simplicity of the paper doll and her little girl is cleverly counterpointed by the very colorful and elaborately detailed full-paged collage illustrations which children and adults will find stimulating and memorable. (4-7) ☼
USA (English) - 1995 - 60
Kurtz, Jane (text)
Lewis, E.B. (illus.)
Fire on the mountain
New York: Simon and Schusler, 1994.  p.
Folktale/Ethiopia - Cleverness - Rich/Poor
As is common to all folktales, this brief story describes an aspect of human nature, a conflict of interests, its resolution. Here a greedy rich man takes pleasure in lording over his servants until he is challenged by a young shepherd boy who speaks the truth instead of kowtowing to the boastful, haughty master. The boy wins a wager with the master, who however refuses to pay the agreed price until the boy's sister and the other servants jointly outwit him, finally risking to show their defiance and demand for justice. The well-drawn watercolor illustrations set the tale in rural Ethiopia, giving the reader a glimpse into another way of life. (6+) ☆ ☼
USA (English) - 1995 - 61
Troubling a star
New York: Farrar Straus Giroux, 1994. 296 p.
Antarctica - Ecosystem - Love - Friendship
Many of the story elements which characterize LʹEngle's young adult novels are present here once again: intelligent, upper class protagonists; strong, unusual individuals belonging to an older generation; scientific topics; mystery and a touch of romantic love. Sixteen-year-old Vicky is given the opportunity to join an excursion to Antarctica where a young man whom she is very fond of, is completing a research internship. But some other members on her ship are involved in high- level political intrigue and crime. Due to her connections, Vicky is suspected of knowing too much. Once again LʹEngle succeeds in weaving a story of suspense around a wide cast of characters caught up in a challenging situation. At another level, this suspenseful, fictional story allows her to comment on the current real-life political wrangling over a vast undeveloped continent which can effect the world's environment and safety. (14+) ☆
USA (English) - 1995 - 62
Lewis, J. Patrick (text)
Spirin, Gennady (illus.)
The frog princess
New York: Dial/Penguin, 1994. 32 p.
Fairy tales/Russia - Frog/Princess/Curse
These exquisite, finely detailed illustrations in rich dark pastel tones portray the opulence of the tsar's court and immeasurably enhance this Russian folk tale about Vasilisa the Wise. Commanded to marry whoever finds the arrows they shoot out, two of the tsar's sons bring home wealthy, but otherwise ordinary women. But the third son returns home with an ugly frog, whom he nonetheless must marry. When the tsar sets the three brides various tasks, the two ordinary women make fools of themselves while Vasilisa is able to work wonders overnight, much to the delight of the tsar. The prince, however, nearly loses her forever when he secretly burns her frog skin before the curse has been broken. Only his persistence and the help of animals whose lives he spared enable him to return with his bride from the Kingdom beyond Blue Kingdoms. (5+) ☆
USA (English) - 1995 - 63
McGuire, Richard (text/illus.)
Night becomes day
New York: Viking/Penguin Group, 1994.  p.
Time - Transition
This picture book employs a very unusual technique to stimulate the reader's mental and visual imagination. The theme of time is presented in a chain of events which ends where it began. Each of McGuires double- page spreads continues the sequence of free- association, beginning with "night becomes day" and ending with "good becomes night. " In between the reader takes an abstract journey through time and space. The illustrations are nearly one-dimensional lithographs done in primary colors and their main combinations. Hence the seemingly simple composition and clearly designed shapes aptly correspond to the seemingly simple text. The steady pace of time which flows invisibly page after page gives the book a complexity and intensity which seems to contradict the visual simplicity and ultimately achieves its purpose as a read-aloud sleep-inducing bedtime story. (4-7) ☼
USA (English) - 1995 - 64
New York: Dutton/Lodestar Books, 1994. 120 p.
Death - Grief - Family problems - Teacher - Friendship
Her father's death brings drastic changes in nine-year-old Vinnie's family: moving in with Grandmother in a new town, mother going to work, a new school. Her five-year- old brother Mason stops speaking after their father's burial, and Vinnie cannot express her feelings of jealousy, anger and sadness because no one takes time to listen to her. At school she begins a tenuous friendship with another outsider girl in the class, and idolizes her teacher who reminds her of her father. But Vinnie's repressed emotions are vented in a spontaneous act of vandalism, setting in motion a chain of events which ultimately allows Vinnie and Mason to deal with their pain and self-imposed feelings of guilt and frustration. Paterson describes the events entirely from Vinnie's own perspective, sensitively portraying the emotional and mental ambiguity (flip-flop changes) in children going through painful adjustments without overdramatization or sentimentality. (12+)
Special Mention - USA (English) - 1995 - 65
Bolden, Tonya (ed.)
Johnson, Charles (forward)
Rites of passage. Stories about growing up by black writers from around the world.
New York: Hyperion Books for Children, 1994. 208 p.
Blacks - Racial discrimination - Self- discovery
The syntax, vocabulary and content of these seventeen stories is uniquely rooted in the so-called black experience without making them any less universal, inspiring and entertaining for readers of all ethnic and racial backgrounds. The manifold effects of belonging to a minority which collectively has been economically and socially disadvantaged for so long are sometimes blatant, sometimes quite subtle elements in these poignant and finely tuned tales about crucial moments in the process of coming of age, of learning to see the real world from a new perspective. This international anthology includes authors who grew up and still write today about contemporary life in North America, Latin America, Africa, England, or Australia. (12+) ☆
Special Mention - USA (English) - 1995 - 66
Robinet, Harriette Gillem
New York: Atheneum, 1994. 117 p.
(A Jean Karl Book)
USA/Racism - Friendship - Father/Prison
In this story about one hard-working black sharecropper family suddenly caught up in the wheels of injustice, racism in rural Mississippi in the 1930s is depicted realistically but without bitterness. The protagonist, twelve-year-old Shortning, is quite capable of recognizing and verbalizing his disadvantaged situation but seeks anyway to get his father released from the chain gang. By chance he saves the life of a white boy, Hawk, who begins to recognize his own prejudices and misconceptions of blacks. Though they are each still bound by strict social conventions. Hawk helps Shortening succeed in his plan. The solid plot and natural, honest dialogues create an authentic, gripping story of resilience and solidarity in the face of adversity. (10+) ☆
Ghana (English) - 1996 - 23
Abdallah, Mohammed ben
Ananse and the golden drum. A play for children
Accra: Woeli, 1994. 34 p.
Folktale/Ghana - Greed
One of Ghana's leading playwrights, Abdallah uses here the well-known clever and crafty folktale figure Ananse to write a tale about greed and the consequences of trying too hard to get one's own way. (6+)
Namibia (English) - 1996 - 24
Marais, Anna Louise (text)
Marais, Christine (illus.)
Windhoek: Gamsberg Publishers, n.d.. 102 p.
Namibia - Natural life - Animals
The animals living in the southern regions of African need not become familiar around the world only through folktales. This well-designed information book provides an artist's ink-and-watercolor renderings and informative texts about the habits and character traits of well over 100 animals found in this Namibian national park. A glossary, index and list of references make the book accessible for young adults. This is a useful addition to collections of African studies. (8+)
South Africa (English) - 1996 - 25
The Boy Who Counted to a Million
Cape Town: Human & Rousseau, 1995. 109 p.
Self-identity - Grandfather/Grandson -
World War I/Memories - Racial violence This story is set in modern day South Africa during the period of high racial turbulence, which also influence relations between the members of a white middle-class family. Matthew is a thoroughly normal boy who enjoys comics and war games, but his experiences of violence with their black neighbors and his great-grandfather's vivid, guiltily repressed memories as a warfront soldier help him see that there is no glamour in real fighting. Bransby develops this compassionate story of a boy's search for meaning in a well-developed plot. (12+)
Special Mention - South Africa (English) - 1996 - 26
Deall, Alanna (text/illus.)
Sandton: Mike Jacklin/Knowledge Unlimited, 1995.  p.
Old Man/Boy - Friendship - Kite
An old man sits under a tree carving animal figures, peaceful but lonely. Then a little boy suddenly comes out of nowhere, flying a plastic bag as a kite. The two of them make it into a real kite and spend a mutually enjoyable day together. The gentle, poetic narrative is accompanied by pen-and-watercolor drawings which capture the character of the protagonists, their feelings and their immediate surroundings. The book is designed in an very attractive style. (4+) ☆ ☼
Special Mention - South Africa (English) - 1996 - 27
King, Georgiana (text)
Eloff, Friedel (illus.)
Zolani Goes to Yeoville
Cape Town: Tafelberg, 1995. 48 p.
Father/Son - Friendship
When Zolani recovers slowly from a debilitating bout of measles, his mother decides that a change of setting would help him and decides to invest all her savings - instead of buying a cow - in making a visit to the father who works in faraway Johannesburg. Their weeks long stay there as subletters in the home of a white family makes an interesting experience for the boy used to living in a remote rural district. The peaceable relations between Zolani's family and their temporary hosts is portrayed without any moralizing overtone, and the everyday pleasures and misunderstandings make interesting reading. (10+) ☆ ☼
Special Mention - South Africa (English) - 1996 - 28
Wyk, Chris van (text)
Callinicos, Luli (text)
Cape Town: Maskew Miller/Longman, 1994. 66 p.
(They Fought for Freedom)
Tambo, Oliver/Biography - African National Congress - South Africa/Politics
This series of biographies presents southern African leaders who have been struggling for freedom and justice in this century. Short readable chapters with fictionalized conversations and meetings make these books lively and inspiring. Illustrated with photos and supplemented with maps and an appendix of vocabulary, project activities and further reading, the series can also be used in classrooms. (10+)
Special Mention - Swaziland (English) - 1996 - 29
Leggat, Gillian (text)
Heerden, Marjorie van (illus.)
The Car with Three Wheels
Manzini: Macmillan Boleswa Puublishers, 1995.  p.
Brother - Birthday present - Homemade toy
Musa wants to give his little brother a special birthday present, but he has no money. With considerable ingenuity - and some forbidden scavenging - he find enough scraps to make a red racing car. Not only does his brother find it the »best present in the world«, they both continue to collect odds-and-ends for future presents. Though this story is set in Africa, where pocket money may be scarcer than elsewhere, the idea that hand-made things are as valuable as store-bought ones, and a gift of the heart the dearest of all, is universal. The color or black-and-white full-page illustrations attractively capture the main events of this simple everyday story. (6+) ☆ ☼
Special Mention - Zimbabwe (English) - 1996 - 30
Proctor, André (text)
Koch, Hannie (illus.)
The school we made
Harare: Baobab Books, 1992.  p.
School - Soccer - Everyday life/Village/Zimbabwe
The villagers first get support to build a real school building and then they are granted their request for an accredited teacher. But this strict, taciturn stranger has other ideas about classroom behavior, appearances and when it is appropriate to play soccer on the school's sport field. The efforts of the parents and the heart-felt enthusiasm of the pupils for their soccer team finally win him over and he becomes integrated into village life. The gently drawn pen- and-brush drawings on each page capture the main elements of this well-written entertaining tale. (6+) ☼
Special Mention - Zimbabwe (English) - 1996 - 31
Waste Not Your Tears
Harare: Baobob Books, 1994. 73 p.
(Turn about series)
Love - AIDS
A young woman thinks she has found the man of her dreams. After she moves into his quarters, his promises of marriage prove to be the false words of a lazy and self-centered man. When she discovers that he has infected her with AIDS, she must find the strength to live with this situation. This topic is not only of interest to Africans, but all over the world. (14+)
Australia (English) - 1996 - 32
Fred Hollows. Leaving the World a Better Place
Carlton: CIS/Cardigan Street Publishers, 1995. 44 p.
(Makers and Shakers)
Hollows, Fred/Biography - Eye disease - Medical Care
New Zealand-born Hollows (1929-1993) is revered by thousands of people as a »larrikin saint.« He dedicated his life to bringing the highest quality medical care to the eyes of the poorest of the poor. The author describes Hollows beginnings and early »Wanderjahre« in New Zealand and Australia, before focusing on his professional life as an ophthalmologist. Explanations of medical treatment and the socio-political issues which effect medical care around the world are also featured here. The text is given an attractive layout with black-and-white photos and and documentary information. (10+) ☼
Australia (English) - 1996 - 33
Clark, Margaret (text)
Guthridge, Bettina (illus.)
Wally the Whiz Kid
Ringwood: Puffin/Penguin Books Australia, 1995. 99 p.
(Mango Street Story)
School - Politicians - Adventure story
Wally knows a lot more than most kids his age, but he only gets in trouble when his best friend, Sean, dauntlessly sally into the state parliament house to get out of the rain. A case of mistaken identity, they are asked to give their opinions on major political matters - before running cameras! Sean, the narrator, tells of their misadventures with a jaunty commentary of the adult world that will surely entertain. (9+)
Australia (English) - 1996 - 34
The Drover's Dog
Norwood: Omnibus Books/Ashton Scholastic, 1995.  p.
Man/Dog - Tricks - World travel - Affection
Joe is a simple man in the outback. His dog Sue has a gift for acrobatic tricks which she gladly does to please her master, earning his praise and attention. But once he becomes obsessed with travelling the world and earning money with her tricks, their old way of life changes for the worse. It takes the intervention of a kindly queen for Joe to realize how selfish he has been in denying Sue the very thing that made their relationship so special - true affection. Water-colored pen-and-ink sketches exuberantly convey a simple story about the needs of the heart that children - and hopefully adults - will appreciate. (5+) ☼
Australia (English) - 1996 - 35
The First Book of Samuel
Ringwood: Viking/Penguin, 1995. 158 p.
Family - Father/Daughter - Grandfather/ Grandson - Conflict of Interest
The past history of a family can have an effect on the next generation, as in the case of 12-year-old Samuel where the relationships between his father, her mother, his father's first wife and children, and his dearly beloved grandfather form a core constellation that produces a turning point in his life and helps to establish his own identity. The author skillfully develops the events which lead up to a climactic »kidnapping« and reconciliation. The theme of family relationships is narrated here in a fascinating style with the voice of a concerned observer, giving the story a feeling of immediacy. (12+)
Australia (English) - 1996 - 36
A bit of a hitch and other stories
Melbourne: Hyland House, 1995. 160 p.
Short stories - Australia - Old Age - Pets - Imagination
These funny and fast-paced short stories revolve around episodes of everyday life in modern Australia, but could perhaps happen to anyone anywhere. There is, for example, a case of an accidental long distance call from Scotland, or an imaginary aunt invented and fully-blown to reality by the whole family, all for the sake of a school essay. In an appendix Steele describes where the inspiration for each story came from. This is entertaining and sometimes thought-provoking reading based on well-formed plots and characterizations. (10+)
India (English) - 1996 - 37
Jafa, Manorama (text)
Harichandan, Deepak (illus.)
Gandhi. The Man of Peace
Delhi: Ratna Sagar, 1995. 95 p.
Gandhi, Mahatma/Biography - Peace - War of Independence
A leading writer of children's books in India has carefully prepared this biography of India's and the world's most famous leader in a readable style, filling it with anecdotes and imagined scenes from Gandhi's life as a boy, a young lawyer in South Africa, and a political activist in the still British colony of India. Black-and-white sketches highlight important stations of his life. (10+) ☆ ☼
India (English) - 1996 - 38
New Delhi: Children's Book Trust, 1994. 152 p.
Mother/Son - Self-identity - Friendship - Family origins - Detective story
When his father dies, a English schoolboy discovers the secret of his mother's identity which his father had tried to hide from him. Determined to learn the mystery of his parent's relationship and find his mother, he travels with his butler and a school friend to the Himalayas. Their many adventures before finding the remote village of Malana, home of Jack's reclusive mother, make for a suspenseful story and a framework for getting to know one area of India. At last reunited with his mother, their future together or apart is left open. The problems and challenges of bi-cultural families makes up part of this interesting story. (12+) ☆
New Zealand (English) - 1996 - 39
Dunedin: Longacre, 1995. 115 p.
School - Outsider - Sport - Conformity
Byrony moves to Auckland and enters a new school. She is well-to-do, white, and clever in a school where many pupils are none of these. Tormented at first by her classmates, her efforts to win acceptance through conformity with their values results in a brush with the law. This is a thoughtful novel about two girls, united by their love for softball, who try to bridge class divisions through growing understanding and friendship. Boock is a prizewinning writer for young adults, and also for theater and television. She shows great insight into the problems of growing up in modern times, where individuals must struggle to chose the path that is right for themselves. (14+) ☆
Philippines (English) - 1996 - 40
Kuhonta, Ma. Michelle (text)
Llana, Dindo A. (illus.)
Metro Manila: Cacho Publishing, 1995.  p.
(We Love the Earth Books/Mini Series)
How Anna learns to swim at the seashore is told her in rhyming verse, illustrated in full-page richlydetailed spreads with elements of modern art and child-oriented humor. (3+) ☼
Philippines (English) - 1996 - 41
Ventura, Sylvia Mendez
Metro Manila: Tahanan Pacific, 1992. 32 p.
(The Great Lives Series)
Rizal, José/Biography - Philippines/War of Independence - Doctor/Biography
One of the Philippines's national heroes, José Rizal Mercado (1861-1896), a brilliant, promising young European-educated doctor came from a simple merchant family. Already as a young toddler it was clear that he was a gifted learner and when he was eleven years old his family arranged for him to go to a school run by Jesuit priests in Manila. These were turbulent times in the Philippines. The only years of relative peace in his life were those spent studying medicine in Europe, where he became a specialist in eye operations and fluent in many languages. Filled with love for his family and his land, he returned home in 1891 to practice medicine, teach children and help with the modernization of his village. When accused of inciting revolution because of his prominent position among his people, he was unable to flee in time to avoid execution, only a few years before the Filipino nation won independence from Spain. This is a moving story of a very exceptional individual, written in hagiographic terms but filled with historical detail. (8+) ☆ ☼
Great Britain (English) - 1996 - 42
Cashford, Jules (reteller)
De'Angeli, Daniel (illus.)
Theseus & the Minotaur
Bath: Barefoot Books, 1995. 32 p.
Greek mythology - Minotaur - Theseus - Greed - Betrayal
This classic myth of greed and betrayal is retold in an easily accessible but lengthy narrative.The text alternates with sparse water-color illustrations by the Italian painter De'Angeli which give his own rendering of the main events related in the text opposite. In an afterword the author points out the cultural and historical elements of the story and gives an interpretation of the symbolic meaning to be found in the main characters and their deeds. The book's aesthetically pleasing design will further it's appeal for older children. (8+)
Great Britain (English) - 1996 - 43
Coplans, Peta (text/illus.)
Cat and Dog
London: Andersen, 1995.  p.
Cat - Dog - Counting - Tolerance
Is this a counting book or a book about tolerance and friendly rivalry? The cat brings a delicious tencourse picnic (»snack« she calls it) to the beach but refuses to invite the dog to join her. Distracting her with a counting game, he manages to grab more than his share of the goodies. Fortunately she takes the loss lightly and in a critical moment the tension is broken with a game of chase. These gaily painted uncluttered full-page water-color illustrations are sure to appeal to pre-schoolers. (4+)
Great Britain (English) - 1996 - 44
Dicks, Terrance (text)
Beaumont, Laura (illus.)
London: Piccadilly Press, 1995. 75 p.
(Chronicles of computer game addict)
Computer - School - Fantasy adventure
Zak is a computer game champion who seemed to have his addiction under control. But suddenly he and his elderly neighbor, the shopkeeper, and other adults also appear to be having hallucinations. Zak takes on the mission of tracking down the enemy named Virus in cyberspace and learns that though things may not always be as they appear to be, one can take control and change them. Black-and-white illustrations and a somewhat oversized type mark this as a early-reader book. This is the third adventure story about Zak, a boy whose wild and weird experiences will keep other boys of his age and background turning the pages. Reading could become addictive, too. (7-10) ☼
Special Mention - Great Britain (English) - 1996 - 45
Hendry, Frances Mary
Oxford: University Press, 1995. 120 p.
India/Customs - Marriage - Family
At the age of eleven Chandra, a schoolgirl in modern-day Delhi, is married by her family to a sixteen-year-old boy, a distant relative whose traditional family lives in a remote rural area. All her dreams of a modern marriage with a boy she immediately liked vanish when he dies before she arrives at his home. But in accordance with tradition, a widow must remain in the family, staying out of sight, and work as a servant. And indeed this family is very hard on her. Chandra's spirit, however, is not easily broken, and she manages to escape from this cruel fate. Though her parents refuse to help her, her grandmother finds a way to enable her ultimately to start a new life in England. This novel touches the heart in its portrayal of a determined girl up against nearly insurmountable odds.The narrative is well-paced, the local color of the city and rural Indian life believable. Though not written by a native of India, the author has surely done considerable background research to create a sympathetic portrayal of the dilemmas of Indians torn between socially cohesive traditions and the desire for progress and individual happiness. (12+) ☆
Special Mention - Great Britain (English) - 1996 - 46
London: Walker Books, 1995. 217 p.
Climate - Conservation - Electricity - Windmill - Computer-based communication
This novel is set in 1999 against a background of chaos in world weather patterns and reflects anxiety about the encironment and changing climate. Telly lives on a wind farm and is a member of »Weather Eye«, a club that shares information via Internet about climatic conditions all over the world. A neardeath experience during a storm leaves her with psychic powers and a clear, if daunting purpose. The third award-winning book by Lesley Howarth is a sophisticated and well-written story in which the suspense and drama are sustained throughout. (12+)
Special Mention - Great Britain (English) - 1996 - 47
London: Victor Gollancz, 1994. 125 p.
Ten-year-old Robin and his widowed mother run a bed-and-breakfast in an old Victorian house on the Yorkshire coast. After a collision with a dog sends him to hospital, Robin is extremely wary of canines. His new neighbors, family with four children, whose wacky, unconventional and inventive way of life adds adventure to his life, help him overcome his fears of dogs and bullies. The sprightly story, full of funny episodes is a well-developed, fastpaced entertainment. (9+)
Special Mention - Great Britain (English) - 1996 - 48
Our Universe. A Guide to What's Out There
London: Kingfisher/Larousse, 1995. 96 p.
Universe/Origins - Astronomy
Stannard, a professor of physics, has already written several well-received and entertaining introductions to the concepts of modern physics. Beginning here with the facts and basic laws of nature on our planet, he moves from matter and gravity to the solar system and on to the theories of the origins of our universe. The design of each page is varied, using colorful illustrations, box inserts for factual details, black-and-white cartoons and quiz questions, all arranged to keep the focus on the subject matter. This informative and easy-to-follow text will appeal even to young readers who might otherwise avoid natural science topics. (10+)
Ireland (English) - 1996 - 49
Dublin: Basement Press, 1995. 126 p.
Football - Good/Evil
Larkin's Lot are a football team with a difference. They are the seven all-time worst players. In an attempt to achieve victory the two main players, Gerald and Fran, enter into a sinister plot with Lucky Lucy, the devil in a sports coat - and soon achieve more fame than they are ready for. The perennial struggle between the forces of good and evil is played out on a football pitch in this fastpaced comedy that is sure to appeal not only to football-playing boys. (10+)
Ireland (English) - 1996 - 50
Dublin: Poolbeg, 1994. 155 p.
Ireland/History 1893 - First love - Self-discovery
In this sequel to »The Hiring Fair« the everyday life of a farming family in Donegal is presented from the standpoint of the eldest daughter, Sally. Returning from Scotland where she and her sister worked as hired hands, she finds that her would-be boyfriend is being pressured by his family to strive for a liaison with a richer girl. Sally has her own dreams for a better life and decides to pursue them by going off to Dublin. Full of authentic details of Irish country life in those times, a young girl's path of self discovery is portrayed here in a fascinating, well-paced narrative. (12+)
Ireland (English) - 1996 - 51
Could this be love? I wondered
Dublin: O'Brien, 1994. 160 p.
First love - Family - Social differences
Jackie lives in a well-to-do suburb of Dublin and has little contact with other poorer neighborhoods until she goes to a disco evening at another school. For quite some time she has been exchanging »he Look« with a boy on her bus line, to whom she feels mysteriously attracted. When they finally meet, there are still further barriers to be overcome. The ups and downs of their romance, with all the family and social complications, are told by her in the first person, making it a believable story which teenagers will be able to identify with. (14+)
Ireland (English) - 1996 - 52
Hannah Or Pink Balloons
Dublin: Marino/Mercier, 1995. 96 p.
Hannah, Mark and Ben stay with their Belfast grandmother for over six weeks while their parents are away. Then Granny has an accident, and the additional responsibilities placed upon them deepens the relationship between the children and their grandmother. The narrative structure is engaging, the characters well-developed as the children go about their everyday activities of school, homework and housework. Though the story works well without any sensations or crises, the text is interspersed with humorous side-line commentary by magpies who observe the events from their nest at the bottom of the garden. (10+)
Ireland (English) - 1996 - 53
Melody for Nora. One Girl's Story in the Civil War.
Dublin: Wolfhound, 1994. 217 p.
Ireland/1922 - Father/Daughter - Music - Alcoholism
Set against the backdrop of the Irish Civil War in 1922, just one year after most of Ireland won independence, this timely balanced novel explores complex political allegiances, the horror of war and difficult family circumstances through the eyes of the its central character. Fourteen-year-old Nora looses her mother and experiences only bitterness in her usually drunken father. But she is musically talented, resourceful and ultimately a survivor. This novel is as much about Irish life in that turbulent period as it is about growing up in hard times. (12+)
Special Mention - Canada (English) - 1996 - 54
Aura, Alejandro (text)
Gukova, Julia (illus.)
Langer, Shirley (transl. from Spanish)
Sefami, Sally Stokes (transl. from Spanish)
The Other Side
Toronto: Annick Press, 1995.  p.
Curiosity - Opposites - Reversal - Eternity
One day the king sent all the children in his kingdom out to discover what the world was like on the other side. Made curious by their reports that everything was just the same, except »sdrawkcab« he decided to see it all for himself. The surprising result is left open-ended in this playful, mindboggling tale. The author, a prize-winning poet and philosopher, is a major figure in contemporary Mexican literature. The composition of this story follows the axioms of storytelling by awakening the curiosity and imagination of the young reader with thought-provoking ideas. The illustrator, who lives in Moscow, has already illustrated many children's books and won the Third Prize at the BIB. She has expanded the text with Alice-in-Wonderland-like imagery in a surrealistic style where colors play an important role. (7+)
Special Mention - Canada (English) - 1996 - 55
Gilmore, Rachna (text)
Priestley, Alice (illus.)
Lights for Gita
Toronto: Second Story Press, 1994.  p.
Festival - Homesickness - Friendship
A young Indian girl whose family recently moved to the chilly northern climate of Canada excitedly looks forward to celebrating Divali, the Hindi celebration of lights in honor of Lakshmi, the Goddess of Wealth who brings good fortune and prosperity to all throughout the year. Though the day turns out much differently than she expected, she makes another step toward accepting her new surroundings. (6+) ☆ ☼
Special Mention - Canada (English) - 1996 - 56
Gugler, Laurel Dee (text)
Willms, Russ (illus.)
Little Wynne's Giggly Thing
Toronto: Annick Press, 1995.  p.
Family - Usefulness
Little Wynne would like to contribute to the running of the household, but all the important things in home and garden are taken care of by the adults. So she turns to making gadgets and sculptures whose only function is to stimulate laughter and enjoyment. Not successful at first, she is persistent and finally gets the others to see the usefulness of her own playful creations. The caricaturist full-page and double-spread illustrations support the zany thesis of the book. (6+)
USA (English) - 1996 - 57
Ashby, Ruth (ed.)
Ohrn, Deborah Gore (ed.)
Steinem, Gloria (intro.)
Her Story. Women Who Changed the World
New York: Viking, 1995. 304 p.
World/History - Women/Fame
This compendium of 120 biographies of women who became famous during the course of »history« is an inspiring, informative book. Each two-page biography is prefaced with a quotation that can be taken as that woman's life motto. The long list runs from an Egyptian queen born in 1486 B.C. to the Guatamlan freedom fighter Menchú, born in 1959. Texts by the nine contributors highlight the early circumstances, turning points and main achievements in each woman's life. An introductory essay summarizes the course of women's collective fate and an extensive bibliography gives valuable tips for further reading. Nearly half the woman cited were born in the USA, but over 60 women from other countries can also be identified by country in an index. (12+)
USA (English) - 1996 - 58
New York: Viking, 1995. Each  p.
ISBN 0-670-85804-8; 0-670-86392-0
Wordless picture book - Perception - Travel
The Hungarian-born, New York-based artist Banyai has composed two fascinating picture books with mind-expanding images fitting together like a Russian wooden doll, Babouschka. He takes the beholder on a wordless journey through space and time via images which follow upon one another in a telescope fashion. The first scene focuses on one minute object. With each successive page, one finds either more detail revealed in a wide-angle panorama or the previous context once again concealed by another jump backwards. As each individual, snapshot- like scene unfolds, it depicts events in different epochs in different parts of the world, ranging from Egypt, Hollywood, India, to Japan. These books surely invite the younger reader to look carefully over and over again, to explore details, sense shifts of perspective and see incongruities; older viewers can appreciate the books as visually rendered intellectual exercises in freeing the imagination from the boundaries of time and space. (6+)
USA (English) - 1996 - 59
Bruhac, Joseph (reteller)
Shrader, Christine Nyburg (illus.)
Gluskabe and the four wishes
New York: Cobblehil Books/Dutton, 1995.  p.
Wabanaki/Folktale - Greed - Wish
The author, a well-known storyteller, is a registered member of the Western Abenaki Nation of the Wabanaki peoples of New England. He drew on several written and oral sources in writing this tale about the selfish consequences of desire and foolhardy curiosity. The Glushabe (also spelled Koluskap or Gloopskap) is a cultural hero who aids the Great Spirit of all things, and here gives each of the four men their various heart's desires. As he points out, the oral stories are meant to teach but also must entertain.The text is complemented by dark natural tones which corresponde to the natural environment. (6+)
USA (English) - 1996 - 60
New York: Cobblehill Books/Dutton, 1995. 114 p.
Cohen rightly notes in his introduction that the imaginations of children and adults alike are easily captivated by the figure of the vampire, or rather stories and rumors of their existence. Young adult literature abounds with horror stories today. Cohen has collected a facinating compendium of tales and events from different countries which have been told over the past 200 years.He relates each story briefly within an objective framework and gives a commentary. The reader can thus maintain a distanced stance and even laugh about the gullibility of »other people« while still enjoying the tales, too. (10+)
Special Mention - USA (English) - 1996 - 61
Clarke, Dr. John Henrik (intro.)
The Middle Passage. White Ships - Black Cargo
New York: Dial Books, 1995.  p.
Africa/Slavery - North America/Slavery - South America/Slavery
The renowned US-American artist and professor of art, Tom Feelings, expresses the horror of the African diaspora - the transport of millions of black men, women and children into slavery in the New World - in 64 narrative paintings. Feelings captures here a world-shattering event while also giving expression to a highly personal experience. Leaving out any text captions helps to emphasize that this sin against humanity can only be fully realized at the visceral level. In an introduction he explains how he came to develop this project, while Dr. Clarke gives historical background to the forces that led to the slave trade. This is a highly recommendable work for showing young people that history is more than facts, illustration is much more than decoration. (10+) ☆
Special Mention - USA (English) - 1996 - 62
Garland, Michael (text/illus.)
Dinner at Magritte's
New York: Dutton, 1995.  p.
Dali, Salvador - Magritte, René - Fantasy - Art
The American illustrator Garland conveys his enthusiasm for surrealist art in this simple story of a young boy living outside of Paris who breaks out of the boring, even petrifying stillness of his parent's cottage to visit his artist neighbor, Magritte. When Magritte's friend Dali also pays a visit, they help Pierre discover that there are other ways of visualizing one's immediate surroundings. Garland's colorful surrealist illustrations invite readers to open their imaginations. (4+)
Special Mention - USA (English) - 1996 - 63
Murphy, Jim (text)
Kiesler, Kate (illus.)
Into the Deep Forest with Henry David Thoreau
New York: Clarion Books, 1995. 39 p.
Thoreau, Henry David/Travels - Nature
The award-winning non-fiction writer, Jim Murphy, uses Thoreau's own journal entries about a trip through the wilderness of Maine to create an adventure story of suspense and discovery which young readers who appreciate nature will find eye-opening. Watercolor scenes of landscape and black-and-white vignettes of animals and plants attractively frame the text. (8+) ☼
Special Mention - USA (English) - 1996 - 64
Hamanaka, Sheila (comp./intro.)
On the Wings of Peace. Writers and Illustrators Speak Out for Peace, in Memory of Hiroshima and Nagasaki
New York: Clarion Books, 1995. 144 p.
This collection of contributions from 60 wellknown authors and illustrators from numerous countries of the world is dedicated to the people who died at Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945, a terrible event which serves to remind us why we must work for peace. The written contributions are short texts about true or fictitious events or poems well-suited for reading aloud. Some speak to the mind, others to the heart, but all condemn war and its pain. The artwork includes every thinkable type of media. The pieces are excellently reproduced on full-sized pages. The book was put together with great care and dedication. It includes a valuable bibliography of resource materials on war and on conflict resolution for adults and for children, biographical notes on the authors and illustrators and step-by-step instructions for folding an origami paper crane. (6+) ☆
Special Mention - USA (English) - 1996 - 65
Scieszka, Jon (text)
Smith, Lane (illus.)
London: Viking/Penguin, 1995.  p.
(Orig. ed: New York: Viking, 1995)
Mathematics - School
When his teacher states that „almost everything [is] a maths problem", a boy begins to see his entire life in terms of numbers and mathematical functions. He begins to feel she has put a curse on him. Of course, for this well-known author-illustrator team that is just an excuse to give the reader a riotously funny romp through a maze of incongruous quiz questions. The artwork and design of each page are fully absorbing, and the clear typeface suggests that this is also a book for first readers. The editor has apologized for and corrected a mathematical error which was overlooked. Fans of this authorillustrator team will not be disappointed in this latest collaboration. (6+)
Special Mention - USA (English) - 1996 - 66
Venezia, Mike (text/illus.)
Chicago: Children's Press, 1994. 32 p.
(Getting to know the world's greatest artists)
Mike Venezia believes strongly that the best way to introduce children to art or music is through fun. His wry and witty texts and matching comical, deadpan illustrations are interspersed with samples of the artist's most famous pieces. The texts highlight key biographical facts and stages in the artist's development. This series includes books on a broad range of artists from Sandro Botticelli and Rembrandt to Georgia O'Keefe and Edward Hopper. Another series done in the same style is titled »Getting to know the world's greatest composers« and includes modern composers such as Aaron Copland and earlier ones such as George Händel. (8+) ☼
Russia (Russian/English) - 1996 - 228
Kružkov, Grigorij (text)
Šatalov, A. (illus.)
Bartlett, Rosamund (Engl. transl.)
Otkuda što vzjalos' - Where Things Came From
Moskva: Linka-Press, 1995. 36 p.
This simply designed Russian picture book, a bilingual booklet, about the origins of animals, plants and the world in which they live incorporates legends and creation myths from all around the world. (6+)
Ghana (English) - 1997 - 24
Dadson, Nana (text)
Sutherland, Ralph (illus.)
Suma went walking
n.p.: Afram Publications, 1996. 16 p.
(Excl. dist. by African Books Collective, Oxford)
Africa/Animals - Size - Comparison
In this text a little girl encounters a series of animals who compare her size to theirs. She wonders how she can be so many contradictory things at the same time. Then the turtle explains that what she is doesn't depend on what other people say. Each of the strikingly well-drawn ink drawings is overlaid with two colors. (4+) ☼
Kenya (English) - 1997 - 25
King, Bridget (ed./text)
Marks, Jonti (text)
Leggat, Gillian (text)
Miranda, Robin (illus.)
The magic drum. Stories from Africa's savannah, sea and skies
Nairobi: Jacaranda Designs, 1996. 64 p.
South Africa/Fable - Kenya/Fable - Animal - Pride - Dreams - Fear
This volume encompasses three modern animal fables set in Kenya and South Africa. All the animals living near the waterhole enjoy dancing to the sounds of Fodo the Frog's magic drum but one day when his dancing friends destroy a farmer's garden, he nearly gets caught and eaten. Now, though we hear his drumming, he shies away from men. Laika, a romantic young crab, learns not to see her dream of prince charming more realisti-cally after her search for footprints (which she mistakenly understands as »foot prince«) leads her to spend a night alone on the shore. And, finally, the neversatisfied little red bird, who continually persuades his creator to change his shape and improve his status, gets his just reward. The comic and matched by the bold colors on the full-page illustrations done by a self-taught airbrush artist who skilfully captures the African settings and animal life. (4+)
Namibia (English) - 1997 - 26
Ngoma and Click. Namibian detective stories
Windhoek: Gamsberg Macmillan, 1995. 107 p.
Detective - Shaman
These nine detective stories introduce Ngoma and Click, a shaman and his Bushman companion, an odd pair of detectives whose powers of observation and ability to reasoning are reminiscent of Sherlock and Watson or even Detective Columbo though, in addition, they draw upon their cultural knowledge and African traditions to solve each case. Each story is set in a different part of Namibia and contains interesting details of social and family customs and provides a glimpse of some aspects of modern life, ranging from industrial espionage, illegal smuggling, racial hatred or marital strife. The excellent characterization and vivid storytelling make this book of suspenseful tales hard to put down. (12+)
Namibia (English) - 1997 - 27
DeVincent, Stephen (comp.)
The orphan calf and the magical cheetah. Cheetah poems, essays and illustrations by the Namibian people
Windhoek: New Namibia Books, 1996. 77 p.
(Excl. dist. by African Books Collective, Oxford)
Cheetah - Endangered animals - Animal protection
This attractively designed nonfiction book is a literary collage designed to inform, motivate and also to entertain readers of all ages. The cheetah is an endangered animal with a global population of only 12,500. Though protected by law in Namibia since 1975, more active protection is needed. Interspersed with factual details about the cheetah on colorful double-page spreads in this anthology is a broad selection of poetry, essays, short stories and artwork from Namibian young people. A glossary explains many basic terms and concepts.The paperbound book is printed on high-quality glossy paper and the illustrations are excellently reproduced. (10+)
South Africa (English) - 1997 - 28
Carvalho, Carlos (text/illus.)
Zizi & !Xau. The eagle calls
Cape Town: Human & Rousseau, 1996. 64 p.
Africa/History - Quest - Friendship - Gold - Adventure
This precisely drawn, long narrative comic book is a historical adventure story set in the pre-colonial days at the center of Great Zimbabwe. Two boys from different tribes with different languages meet and become loyal friends while travelling alone away from their tribal homes. They endure a period of humane captivity in another gold-mining tribe which is then attacked by war-mongers (aided by a lone rifle-carrying white man), and help to save the tribal treasure. The protagonists are appealing and the plot is rich in background detail. An appendix supplies a map and a description of things used in the story. There is already a sequel available. (8+)
South Africa (English) - 1997 - 29
D'Arcy, M. Cassiem
Rage of the sea wind
Cape Town: Tafelberg, 1996. 113 p.
Death - Fishing - Poverty
After his father's death, the 13-year-old Muslim boy Amien becomes head of the family and struggles to help his mother support all three children in the impoverished fishing village. Their trekfishermen friends rally to their defense when Amien's rich uncle demands that they hand over the coveted fishing license and a small chest of family heirlooms from the East Indies. In spite of the uncle's wily ways and midnight raid, a chance turn of events lets Amien learn the monetary value of their treasures, which will help the children to obtain training for better jobs. This highly suspenseful tale of adventure, courage, family loyalty and ambition is told in a rich narrative by a South African-born medical practitioner. A glossary of Muslim and fishing-related terms is included. (12+)
South Africa (English) - 1997 - 30
Merwe, Louise van der (text)
Grimsdell, Jeremy (illus.)
Heroes and Lionhearts
Durban: Gecko Books, 1996. 54 p.
Heroes - Animal/Man
These twelve heart-warming stories set in modernday South Africa feature animals and humans who have risked their lives to save others, sometimes at terrible costs. The author, a journalist and animal rights campaigner, uses a clear style mixing factual background detail and the first-hand dialogs and commentary of those involved to present the gripping events in an narrative. (8+) ☼
South Africa (English) - 1997 - 31
Stewart, Dianne (text)
Daly, Jude (illus.)
The gift of the sun
Cape Town: Tafelberg, 1996.  p.
(In coproduction with Frances Lincoln, London)
Africa/Folktale - Husband/Wife - Laziness - Farm
Thulani, a lazy farmer who has one cow but yearns only to bask in the sun, tries in turn a number of different money-making schemes by selling his cow for a goat, his goat for a sheep, his sheep for geese, and his geese for sunflower seeds. His longsuffering wife nearly dispairs, until she finds that the sunflower seeds cause her chickens to lay more eggs. With their additional income from the eggs, Thulani begins to enjoy his new occupation of buying and trading. The warmly colored, abstractnaive pictures are an excellent complement to the entertaining tale. (5+)
Special Mention - Zimbabwe (English) - 1997 - 32
Alumenda, Stephen (text/illus.)
How Thopo became a great n'anga
Harare: Baobab Books/Academic Books, 1996. 30 p.
(Excl. dist. by African Books Collective, Oxford)
Homeless boy - Village life -Identity
Thopo is an orphan, »street boy«, an outsider in a Zimbabwean village where cultural rules and beliefs still play an important role. Brave and mischieveous, he resists all efforts to find him a family or send him to school, and is, of course, secretly envied by the other children. One day he even dares to challenge the village wiseman, the »n'anga«, the only person allowed to touch the sacred python Thopo has found. Thopo negotiates a deal with the n'anga, but soon disappears for several months. Then, to everyone's surprise, a new role is established for him in the village in a ceremony organized by the old n'anga. This is a contemporary folktale about real-life relationships which are governed by traditional beliefs and practices. The unity of story with the black-andwhite illustrations, typography and layout is quite striking. (8+) ☆
Australia (English) - 1997 - 33
Berolah, Lorraine (text)
Collins, Lilyjane (text)
Cristaudo, Noel (text/illus.)
Betty and Bala and the proper big pumpkin
St. Lucia: University of Queensland Press, 1996.  p.
Brother/Sister - Grandmother - Shopping - Everyday life - Adventure
A brother and sister set off with their grandmother to buy the missing ingredient for a special dish and nearly lose it several times in the course of their leisurely shopping jaunt. This simple but expressive story about children experiencing an everyday adventure is greatly enhanced by the excellently drafted drawings colored in warm, bright shades which convey the relaxed atmosphere of a fishing village on Thursday Island in the Torres Straits of northern Australia. (5+)
Australia (English) - 1997 - 34
St. Lucia: University of Queensland Press, 1996. 233 p.
Music - Rock-band - Grandfather - Friendship - Loyalty - Death
Caswell is a master of the art of telling a story from a sequence of different perspectives. Here he lets each member of a young successful teenage rock group tell their side of the story. From the intriguing prelude to the end, the story is overshadowed by the magical influence of one of the band-member's long-dead Spanish uncle, a guitarplayer obsessed with music. The plot revolves at the immediate level around the personal costs of fame and fortune, while the motifs of power, personal integrity, guilt, caring and friendship mark the conflicts and resolution of the dramatic course of events. The complex and interwoven storyline resembles one found today in televised serials, but its literary versatility make up for the novel's occasional clichéd elements. (13+)
Special Mention - Australia (English) - 1997 - 35
Crew, Gary (text)
Woolman, Steven (illus.)
Flinders Park: Era, 1996.  p.
Man/Insect - Transformation - Mystery
One is immediately struck by the way the story and illustration fully complement one another. On each page the spaciously laid-out text is printed over full-page ochre-coloured chalk and pencil drawings of insects of shapes and sizes. The plot is gradually unfolded by the first person narrator as he recalls his relationship with Caleb, a highly unusual fellow student of botany who bears an uncanny resemblence to the insects they study. The various events in the course of their year together, which allow the narrator to sense just how different Caleb is, are captured in subtly revealing black ink drawings. Crew's ending comes not unexpectedly, but succeeds in leaving the reader with a spine-tingling sense of uneasiness. (10+)
Special Mention - Australia (English) - 1997 - 36
Walk twenty, run twenty
Sydney: Angus&Robertson, 1996. 81 p.
Death - Grief - Family - Crime - Detective
After his parents' death, Rick must go to live with his cousins' family in the sheep-herding Razorback. His three cousins have little understanding for his grief and he can't fit into their family life. One day, Rick and his cousins try to thwart the theft of the sheep herd by three violent thieves. In order to conserve his energy and stay calm in moments of danger, Rick recalls several pieces of advice his father had given him. He is instrumental in outwitting the thieves and the bond that is formed with his cousins helps Rick to start moving on with his life. The first person narrative succeeds in capturing Rick's inner turmoil while also conveying the rural atmosphere. The suspenseful turn of plot makes great reading. (10+)
Special Mention - Australia (English) - 1997 - 37
St. Lucia: University of Queensland Press, 1996. 195 p.
Romance - First Love
While waiting to receive notice of acceptance at university in a few weeks, Alex idles away the days at their seaside cottage, punctuated by sparse communication with his single-parent mother. This mother-son companionship, which has been central to his life, shifts as Alex unexpectedly meets a girl his own age. As Fortuna and Alex begin to discover one another, with all their differences in background and aspirations, everything else in Alex's life fades into the background. This witty, first-person narrative is marked by inner monologs and detached observations which map Alex's path toward manhood and self-realization. This novel captures a period of late adolescence in an ordinary life which, notably, is not fraught with family conflicts or adverse social circumstances. (15+)
Special Mention - Australia (English) - 1997 - 38
Kuchling, Gerald (text)
Kuchling, Gundi (illus.)
Yakkin the swamp tortoise. The most dangerous year
Flinders Park: Era Publications, 1996.  p.
(Orig. publ. Chelonia Enterprises, 1995)
Tortoise - Wildlife conservation
This well-written narrative-style information book presents the life cycle of an endangered species in Western Australia, called Yakkin by the local aboriginals. While the text focusses on the environment and Yakkin's natural enemies, the boldly colored, full-sized illustrations on each facing page reinforce the text with lively, eye-catching detail. An appendix by the biology researcher, Gerald Kuchling, gives further factual information and explains the on-going efforts to protect the swamp turtle's habitat with much international support. The book has been widely prised by ecologists and wildlife conservations. German and French editions are available. (8+)
(Eve Pownall Award for Information Books Honor Book 1996)
Special Mention - Australia (English) - 1997 - 39
Macleod, Mark (comp.)
Ready or not
Milsons Point: Mark Macleod/Random House Australia, 1996. 308 p.
Australia/Short story - Sexual orientation
This anthology of 20 short stories gathers excellent short pieces on the theme of gender and sexuality by the best contemporary Australian-born or resident writers for young people, nearly all original publications. The narrative styles are as polished as they are varied: first person, stream of consciousness, shifting perspectives, or in diary or letter form. Most of the protagonists are adolescents becoming aware of their sexual orientation for the first time, or young adults seeking love and understanding. Interspersed with black-and-white cartoons which humorously portray the trials and tribulations of being gay or lesbian, the book also includes a short biography and statement by each (not necessarily homosexual) author. (14+)
New Zealand (English) - 1997 - 40
Crump, Barry (text)
Ball, Murray (illus.)
Mrs. Windyflax and the Pungapeople
Auckland: Hodder Moa Beckett, 1995.  p.
Fantasy - Pranks
This light-hearted, nonsensical story in rhyme relates the tale of a »funny little lady« who is plagued by a horde of invisible little green creatures, the »pungapeople«, who are constantly stealing her mailbox and playing other pranks. She turns to the local police officer, whose valiant but hapless attempts to enforce the law are recorded here in full-page illustrations which contain as much wit and slapstick as the text. The raw coastal cliffs are rendered in bold exhuberent color, giving the book an authentic New Zealand atmosphere. (4+)
New Zealand (English) - 1997 - 41
Wellington: Mallinson Rendel, 1996. 119 p.
School - Hamlet - Bully - Family problems - Suicide - Parent/Child
At the school in the new area where Cara and her parents have moved in hopes of forgetting the mysterious suicide of brother and son, the English class is studying Hamlet. While dealing intensively with the dilemmas faced both by Hamlet and by her brother, Cara herself has to deal with the bullying of a girl in her class, the easy-going attitude of her new college-dropout boyfriend, and her parent's inability to deal with their family tragedy. In this fast-moving plot the author carefully weaves these story elements into a satisfying whole, in which Cara learns about herself and how to cope with the effects of other people's behavior. (14+)
New Zealand (English) - 1997 - 42
The battle of Pook Island
Dunedin: Longacre Press, 1996. 200 p.
New Zealand/1930s - School - Rivalry - Adventure
This is the third adventure novel about the Seddon Street Gang, four boys and girls growing up during the 1930s in New Zealand. Returning to school after a summer full of adventure and personal growth, each of the children gets involved again in family life. At school they unite against their archrivals, the Milk Street Gang. Lasenby, a former teacher and today one of New Zealand's most popular writers, relies on colorful, direct dialogs to reveal the relationships between the characters and to make the situations come alive. The second book of this series, »The Waterfall«, was the winner of the 1996 Aim Junior Fiction Award. (10+)
Great Britain (English) - 1997 - 43
The Oxford children's A to Z of the human body
Oxford: University Press, 1996. 64 p.. With illustrations
This clearly formulated, alphabetical compendium of over 300 terms is striking for its concise definitions and the innovative manner of integrating explanatory illustrations within the page layout. The terms range from the parts and features of the body (e.g., abdomen; immune system; tears), its life processes (e.g. ageing; memory), medical treatment and apparatus (e.g., symptom; thermometer) illnesses and conditions (e.g. allergy; TB), to substances which have an effect of the body (e.g. alcohol). The illustrations range from photographs, microscopic enlargements, to stylistic color drawings. Neil Ardley, who collaborated with David Macauley on »The way things work«, once again shows how a book of this genre can be attractive, fun and informative. (9+) ☼
Great Britain (English) - 1997 - 44
Bateson-Hill, Margaret (text)
Pelizzoli, Francesca (illus.)
Wan, Manyee (Chinese text)
Qu, Sha-Liu (paper-cut)
Lao Lao of Dragon Mountain
London: DeAgostini Ed., 1996.  p.
Old woman - Emperor - Greed - Dragon
This newly written story by a British storyteller incorporates many elements of Chinese folktales into a tale about an upright, generous and obedient old woman who loves to entertain children with her paper-cuts. Then the greedy emperor locks her up on a tower where she is to use her skills to create jewels. Finally, the Ice Dragon rescues her and turns the emperor and the guards into ice monuments. The beautifully designed book, which integrates illustration, typography and background in an unusual manner, renders the story in both English and Chinese and includes simple instructions for paper-cuts. (6+)
Great Britain (English) - 1997 - 45
Behan, Brendan (reteller)
Lynch, P.J. (illus.)
The King of Ireland's son
London: Andersen Press, 1996.  p.
Ireland/Folktale - Giant - Prince - Princess - Trickery
The Irish storytelling tradition, with its wild exaggerations and magical resolutions after long journeys and battles of cleverness, is displayed here in full glory both in word and picture. Lynch offers superb watercolor paintings in which the choice of perspective, elaborate attention to detail, and full palette of colors and hue work together to achieve stunning effects. They are the ideal complement to Behan's vivid retelling of the tale of the youngest son who, with the help of a magical horse, releases the beautiful princess being held captive by a seemingly clever, but ultimately defeatable giant. (6+)
Great Britain (English) - 1997 - 46
London: Andersen, 1996. 149 p.
Wildlife park - Tiger - Transformation - Organized crime
In the Yorkshire hills of England a wildlife park for Siberian tigers is run with the alleged goal of increasing the population of this endangered species and returning them to their natural habitats. A young boy of the nearby town feels especially drawn to the charismatic young female tiger and, knowing this, she in turn comes to him for help after a Chinese syndicate invades the park and kills most of the tigers, whose bones are valued as a rare and expensive medicine. Changing shapes between tiger and young girl with her supernatural mental powers, she takes revenge on all members of the conspiracy in this suspenseful tale of realistic fantasy. (10+)
Great Britain (English) - 1997 - 47
The Byzantium Bazaar
Oxford: University Press, 1996. 136 p.
Grandfather - Criminality - Homeless - Animal protection - Friendship
When Bridie arrives at her beloved grandfather's home and junk-yard business for a visit, she discovers it taken over by two very weird and violent characters who will not tell her what has become of him and even keep her suitcase with all her belongings. Left to her own resources, she finds help among the street people, a loyal clan of social outcasts, and is taken in by an old woman who has closed her family department store and turned it into a refuge for stray animals. With the help of Miss Firbanks and her adult son, Bridie succeeds at last in locating her helpless, penniless grandfather and restoring order in their lives. This engrossing fantasy novel borders on our reality but creates a world of its own where, despite the presence of real and imagined evil forces, human values of compassion and loyalty prevail. (12+)
Great Britain (English) - 1997 - 48
Evans, Christine (coll.)
The blue moon and other stories from Wales
Dyfed: Pont Books/Gomer Press, 1995. 142 p.
Wales/Short stories - Everyday life
The tales collected here deal with events in the daily life of young people in Wales today. In some respects their experiences are universal, but at times the particular influence of their setting and culture shines through. Some of the stories are written in the first person from the perspective of an adolescent looking back at an event in earlier childhood. Some are melancholy reminiscences, while others reflect happy moments of understanding. (10+) ☆
Great Britain (English) - 1997 - 49
Hazell, Rebecca (text/illus.)
The Barefoot book of heroes. Great men from many times and places
Bath: Barefoot, 1997. 80 p.
Fame - Hero
The men profiled in this eclectic volume are praised for their genial achievements and their compassionate understanding of the human condition. Each of the vivid profiles is accompanied by a subchapter dealing with the historical and cultural context and a map on which the main places of their lives and times are clearly marked. The inclusion of outstanding figures outside of the European cultural tradition such as Prince Taishi Shotoku of Japan, Mansa Kankan Musa of West Africa, and Sequoyah of the Cherokee Nation is of particular significance. The texts are clearly written in a narrative which goes beyond a dry array of facts and is accompanied by appropriate, captioned watercolor illustrations. The author has already published a book on heroines with the same publisher. (10+) ☆
Great Britain (English) - 1997 - 50
Rosen, Michael (text)
Graham, Bob (illus.)
This is our house
London: Walker Books, 1996.  p.
Friendship - Play - Selfishness - Discrimination
When a young boy decides that the cardboard box house belongs to him all alone, he forbids entry to each playmate on account of their sex, size, appearance or behavior. But the others won't stand for such nonsense and when he leaves the box to go to the toilet, they of course gleefully take over. But these would-be »squatters« do not hold a grudge long, and George is allowed to join them in the end. The simple, full-paged water-color illustrations are full of delightful detail. (4+)
Special Mention - Great Britain (English) - 1997 - 51
After the darkness
London: Scholastic, 1996. 192 p.
France/History 1940 - Vichy Regime - Jews/Persecution
In this story-within-a-story, a modern-day French boy, Oliver, discovers the ghosts of two Jewish children from Paris who had been forced to take refuge with their parents in an unoccupied mansion in Vichy France in July 1940, just after the Vichy government agreed to turn all Jews over to the Nazi occupiers. Their mother was killed for refusing an order of the local militia and their father captured along with his underground helper. Abandoned and locked in a hideaway, the children have no chance to escape. Only Oliver's fascination with their presence in the garden of his new home gradually leads him to believe the story they tell him and find the one man who can tell them what they need to know to set their souls to rest - the old French resistance fighter who had been with their father in a concentration camp. This story combines elements of historical and magical realism to give insight into a period which forced men, women and children to choose sides, make moral decisions and take risks. The narrator weaves the different strands of this moving story together in a suspenseful manner, filling in the missing elements of the mystery step-by-step. (12+)
Special Mention - Great Britain (English) - 1997 - 52
Bai Bureh's countrymen
London: Janus Publishing, 1995. 128 p.
Sierra Leone - Family - Small people - Power - Beliefs
The author of these three stories is a young adult born in Sierra Leone and now attending school in England. She draws upon her family background in the novella-length title story in which the power relationships of employers, religious leaders, healers, and politicians are observed by a young girl of great perceptivity and self-confidence. As she grows older - but like Oskar in Grass's »The Tin Drum«, not taller - she learns to use her observations and also becomes inspired by the legendary tribal chief Bai Bureh, a figure of resistence and integrity at the end of the 19th century. The author opens up the experiences and culture of an African people in a contemporary setting and her writing will be enjoyed for its vivid depictions and its detailed, well-paced plots. (12+) ☆
Ireland (English) - 1997 - 53
The dwellers beneath
Dublin: Attic Press, 1996. 122 p.
(Bright sparks; 24)
Kidnapping - Sect - Alternative society - Mystery - Adventure
When Miriam's father loses his business, the family must leave its upper-class home for a smaller house in a less attractive part of town. At her new public school, Miriam is befriended by children of very different social backgrounds. When one of them mysteriously disappears, Miriam and her new friends discover only by chance the tunnel into an underground world where a fanatic religious sect has been living for generations, kidnapping children from time to time to keep their society going. Their experiences in this other, »peaceful« but rigidly structured world, where they find children held in captivity, and their dramatic escape make for a thrilling read. The tightly-woven plot and character development make the novel memorable. (12+)
Ireland (English) - 1997 - 54
O'Louglin, Aislinn (text)
Fitzpatrick, Marie-Louise (illus.)
A right royal pain. Rumpelstiltskin - the true story
Dublin: Wolfhound Press, 1996. 79 p.
Straw - Gold - Greed - Name/Secret
Rumpelstiltskin finally tells us his own side of the story about how he helped a very spoiled and ungrateful miller's dauther to live up to her father's claims that she could spin straw to gold. One quickly discovers that there can be two sides to any story and learns to sympathize with the kindhearted, wrongfully maligned elf. The hip, youthful first-person voice and the imaginative twists to this adaptation - which O'Louglin also connects to »Sleeping Beauty« and »Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs« - make for an all-around enjoyable read. (8+) ☼
Ireland (English) - 1997 - 55
Ré Ó Laighléis
Ecstasy and other stories
Dublin: Beacon Books/Poolbeg, 1996. 104 p.
Ireland/Short stories - Ireland/City life
These hard-hitting short stories are set in contemporary urban Ireland and deal with topics ranging from drugs (as suggested by the title) to unemployment, but the moment of the first kiss and a kidnapping. The characters come quickly alive and the open-ended tales are often stimulate the reader. The earlier Irish-language edition of these stories was a Bisto Book of the Year Merit Award winner. (14+)
Canada (English) - 1997 - 56
Toronto: Groundwood Books/Douglas & McIntyre, 1996. 94 p.
Newfoundland - Whale - Mother/Daughter - Brother/Sister - Change
Keri and her mother have been at odds with each other often ever since Keri's father had to sell his boat and take a job on a fishing ship. Keri finds it very difficult to accept this and other changes taking place in her village in the wake of Newfoundland's changing economic situation. When she and her brother find a whale stranded near their home she spontaneously insists they stay with it all night in hopes of saving it. When their mother finally comes searching for them, the pent up frustrations on both sides are finally vented. The author succeeds in depicting realistically a motherdaughter conflict and an adolescent's growing awareness of her world. The story rings true with the use of idiomatic speech. (10+)
(Governor-General's Literary Awards [Children's Literature-text] Shortlist 1996)
Canada (English) - 1997 - 57
Granfield, Linda (text)
Wilson, Janet (illus.)
In Flanders fields. The story of the poem by John McCrae
Toronto: Stoddart, 1996.  p.
(First printed in 1995 by Lester Publishing)
First World War/France/Belgium - War
This very attractively designed information book documents many aspects of the First World War in France and Belgium using as a visual and textual canvas the famous anti-war poem which begins with the line »In Flanders fields the poppies blow«, written by a young Canadian doctor and poet in 1915. Wilson's beautiful, atmospheric paintings illustrate each line of the poem, while photos and black-and-white sketches round out the story of the pain and tragedy involved in the »war to end all wars.« (8+)
Canada (English) - 1997 - 58
Lawson, Julie (text)
Zimmermann, Werner (illus.)
Whatever you do, don't go near that canoe!
Richmond Hill: North Winds/Scholastic Canada, 1996. 30 p.
Curiosity - Adventure - Island - Pirate
Two adventurous children in the Canadian wilderness are warned by their friend Captain Kelsey McKee not to go near »that canoe«. What child could resist this challenge? After a long journey, they do indeed meet a horde of wild pirates on an island who invite them to a campfire meal before sending them on their way again with pockets full of gold coins. This cryptic, rhyming picture book is written in verse in the first person.The wildly colorful double-spread illustrations reflect the light-hearted approach to this imaginative journey into the unknown. (8+)
(Governor General's Literary Awards [Children's literature - Illustration] 1996 shortlist)
Canada (English) - 1997 - 59
Little, Jean (text)
Wales, Johnny (illus.)
Gruntle Piggle takes off
Toronto: Viking/Penguin Books Canada, 1996.  p.
Grandfather/Granddaughter - City/Land - Differences
A young city-dwelling piglet whose parents pursue academic professions in the big city has an urging to discover her roots, in particular to meet her estranged, country grandfather. Full of adventure she sets off one day for the barnyard at Swine Corners and soon discovers that rural life is not as idyllic as she had imagined. But she realizes something about her grandfather that no one else had suspected, and sets out to rectify it. On the one level an entertaining animal tale, at another level a story of accepting differences not as barriers but as mutual enrichment. The captivating pastel watercolor illustrations extend the text with many witty details. (6+)
Canada (English) - 1997 - 60
McKibbon, Hugh William (text)
Cameron, Scott (illus.)
The token gift
Toronto: Annick, 1996.  p.
India/Legend - Chess - Honor
A clever and supposedly wise old man becomes wealthy from the sale of a 64-square board game of strategy he called Chaturanga. When the king summons him to court and offers a reward to the game's inventor, he uses his cleverness and mathematical knowledge to outwit the king and force him to abdicate in favor of the old man. After one day the new king realizes the emptiness of his wish for greatness, and restores the true king to the throne. In this way, both men give witness to the meaning of good and honorable behavior. Today this board game is known the world over as chess. The full-page oil-painting illustrations of each element of the narrative enable this story about human values to come alive. (6+)
Canada (English) - 1997 - 61
Yee, Paul (text)
Chan, Harvey (illus.)
Toronto: Groundwood Books, 1996.  p.
North America/Chinese - Father/Daughter - Dream - Railway - Death
A young Chinese girl, Choon-Yi, who possesses nothing but a talent to paint, follows her father to North America, where he works on laying the railway, only to learn that he was recently killed in an accident. In a dream he asks her »to paint the train that runs on the road I built.« He takes her on the ghost train and shows her the restless spirits of the many dead Chinese workers who long to return to their homes. Now her painting becomes filled with their faces in the train windows and she is ready to take them back to China.The exquisite paintings on these over-sized pages are done in sombe hues of brown which reflect the sorrowful, ghostly atmosphere of the story. The text conveys with feeling this part of the Chinese experience and the magical realism of the bond between the living and the dead. (8+) ☆
(Governor-General's Literary Awards [Children's literature - text] 1996)
USA (English) - 1997 - 62
Coles, William E.
Another kind of Monday
New York: Atheneum, 1996. 234 p.
Quest - Romance - Self-discovery - Pittsburgh/ History 1850-1996 - Racial identity
At the school library Mark borrows a copy of Dickens' »Great Expectations« and finds in it an envelope containing $300 and an invitation to participate in a quest with further rewards. Each stage involves solving elaborate riddles about a local site of historical significance where further instructions have been hidden together with increasing sums of cash. In the third stage Mark is required to select a girl to continue working with. When he chooses an intelligent classmate, daughter of a white father and black mother, their at first tension-fraught partnership gradually leads to romance. This odyssee of self-discovery, arranged by a mysterious stranger, leads them to extensive research in libraries and archives and at times very dangerous undertakings. The suspense and complications of the well-crafted plot make this novel hard to put down. (14+)
USA (English) - 1997 - 63
The cuckoo's child
New York: Greenwillow, 1996. 249 p.
Parent - Death - Cultural Identity - Self-discovery
Mia and her older half-sisters have lived for four years in Lebanon but Mia has always longed to return to the USA and lead a perfectly normal family life. When her parents' sailboat disappears in the Ionian Sea, the girls must return to Tennessee to live with their unmarried aunt. Gradually it becomes certain that her parents are dead and Mia's feelings of abandonment and all the associated emotional confusion are vented in daredevil behavior. Her one mainstay is an elderly neighbor, also orphaned as a child, whose story of the cuckoo bird ultimately gives Mia a metaphor which helps her to adjust to the changes in her life. This first-person narrative by a new author allows the reader to empathize with the spirited, self assertive girl. (10+)
USA (English) - 1997 - 64
Han, Oki S. (adapt./illus.)
Plunkett, Stephanie Haboush (adapt.)
Kongi and Potgi. A Cinderella story from Korea
New York: Dial, 1996.  p.
Korea/Folktale - Cinderella - Stepmother - Animals
Many elements of this very popular Korean version of Cinderella are identical to the Perrault version.The motherless girl's father ignores the stepmother's ill-treatment, but kind animals of the field and woods help her to fulfill her enormous workload and enable her to attend the prince's party. Later she is identified by the Korean-style slipper and marries the prince. Aside from the very attractively painted portrayal of rural farm life in Korea, the ending of the tale reveals much of Korea's cultural perspective: the stepmother and daughter repent of their wicked behavior and the new queen's steadfast goodness »helped her to serve her people well.« (4+) ☆
USA (English) - 1997 - 65
Langsen, Richard C. (text)
Rubel, Nicole (illus.)
When someone in the family drinks too much
New York: Dial, 1996.  p.
Alcoholism - Parent/Child
Using the familiar techniques of an picture book - a teddy bear family as protagonists and colorful illustrations overlaid with a few words of text - the author, a family therapist, and illustrator speak directly to children about the phenomenon of alcoholism: what alcoholism is, how to recognize it, how alcoholics deal with their situation, how alcoholism affects the rest of the family, especially children, and some positive ways of coping with an alcoholic family member. This work has all the features of an information book, but the immediacy and accessibility of a storybook. (6+) ☼
USA (English) - 1997 - 66
Lester, Julius (adapt.)
Schindler, S.D. (illus.)
Sam and the tigers
New York: Dial, 1996. 40 p.
Tiger - Clothing - Trickery - Pancake
The original fantasy-like tale of Little Black Sambo, written by a Scottish woman for her children in 1899, has had the reputation of presenting Blacks as dumb and ugly. In this version two of the USA's foremost writers and illustrators for children and Black themselves, give the story a new look. Sam is a strong-willed child who likes gaudy clothing. When faced with five greedy robber-tigers, he patiently waits for his chance to outwit them, taking home his due reward - a jug of tiger butter - for a neighborhood feast of orangeand- black striped pancakes. The story retains all the original fantastic elements while the richly detailed watercolor illustrations add to the humor and fun of the whole adventure. (5+)
Special Mention - USA (English) - 1997 - 67
Obee and Mungadeech
New York: Simon & Schuster, 1996. 107 p.
Imaginary friend - Friendship - School - Parent/ Child - Self-identity - Parental Separation
Kate is a highly sensitive and introspective young girl living in New York City. Aside from her girlfriend Beth, she confides her fears and problems in an invisible friend. Both her science teacher and a rival school friend encourage her to accept the challenges facing her - overtly in the form of a science project competion, but implicitly another one, the separation of her parents. In a fresh and captivating narrative the author explores a now common situation of a young girl coping with selfdoubt and a parental crisis which she observes but is helpless to change. The story is full of witty real-life dialogues and inner monologs, and the author makes clever use of a fantasy-like idea involving newborns' capacity to analyze the world and to speak with each other. (12+)
Special Mention - USA (English) - 1997 - 68
Jip. His story
New York: Lodestar/Dutton, 1996. 181 p.
USA/History 19th century - Slavery - African - American - Identity - Friendship - Quaker
Found abandoned as a small child on a country road in Vermont, Jip grows up on the town poor farm along with other social outcasts. As a healthy and intelligent young boy he bears responsibility for the handicapped and for the farmwork, receiving no recognition or even the chance for schooling. One day a stranger shows particular interest in Jip and his family origins. When at last Jip learns that he is the son of a runaway slave and her white master, who has now discovered Jips whereabouts, he receives help from Quaker neighbors to flee to Canada via the »Underground Railroad«, a secret escape network. In her usual skilful storytelling style, Paterson weaves a suspenseful tale with a cast of interesting characters against a realistic historical background. (10+) ☆
Special Mention - USA (English) - 1997 - 69
Prelutsky, Jack (text)
Sís, Peter (illus.)
New York: Greenwillow, 1996. 40 p.
Troll - Wizard - Giant
This team of poet and painter collaborate for the second time on a volume of thematic poetry embedded on full-paged paintings which respond to and interpret each poem's ideas and tone. Told in the first-person, the poems give humorous insight into the thoughts and behavior of trolls, wizards, witches, giants and ogres. Most of the 17 poems are composed in several stanzas with measured lines and end rhyme which simply roll of the tongue. (10+)
Special Mention - USA (English) - 1997 - 70
New York: Scholastic, 1996. 277 p.
School - Friendship - Rivalry - Pranks
The fifth-grade girls, Mikey and Margolo, find themselves next to each other, in alphabetical order, on the first day of their new school. Though they have different family backgrounds and experiences, their initially tentative friendship deepens. Each day they find ways to assert themselves against obnoxious boys and a teacher whose strict rules of order challenge their natural sense of dignity and self-identity. Voigt succeeds masterfully in portraying the thoughts and intense feelings of two high-spirited protagonists, their irreverent sense of fun and daring, and a classroom of children poised between childhood and adolescence. (10+)
Egypt (English) - 1998 - 19
Marston, Elsa (text)
El Guindi, Abdel Aziz (illus.)
Free as the desert wind
Cairo: Hoopoe Books, 1996.  p.
Father/Son - Desert - Camel - Disobedience
With great reluctance his father allows twelve-year old Omar to join him on the long camel drive from Sudan to Egypt. Omar experiences the loneliness of the journey and the extremities of a sandstorm. Soon he befriends a young camel, who helps them find a desparately needed water well. Unable to sell the camel and save him from the slaughter house, Omar secretly sets the young camel free in the desert, but the loyal animal soon returns. Attractively illustrated with color-pencil drawings, this well-told story will enrich multicultural library collections. (8+) ☆
Kenya (English) - 1998 - 20
Fulani, Dan (text)
Kirby, Patrick (illus.)
Janjo and Shika. Historic Adventures in Africa. The battle for Mombasa (1696-1698)
Nairobi: Jacaranda Designs, 1995. 44 p.
Mombasa/History 1696-1698 - Power - Rivalry - Monkey - Time travel
Kenya's coastal port of Mombasa was once a strategic site for the Portuguese traders along the Indian Ocean. Jealousy and rivalry among the local rulers and power struggles with the Arabs from the north and the Portuguese led to the destruction of Fort Jesus. To bring one historical episode to life, Fulani allows an African school boy and his pet monkey to time-slip and relive the dramatic siege. Many factual details are included in the story and in informative boxed inserts. Colorful, somewhat comic-caricaturist illustrations spice this engaging lesson in history with humor and visual action. (8+)
Special Mention - South Africa (English) - 1998 - 21
Cape Town: Tafelberg, 1997. 132 p.
Death - Grief - Family violence - Friendship - Suicide attempt - South Africa/History 1994 - Race relations - Alzheimer's disease
After his beloved stepfather is victim of a random street murder, Jakey and his mother move to a middle-class neighborhood where his mother has become the housekeeper of an older widow who is beginning to suffer from Alzheimer's disease. Still in weak health from his grief, Jakey takes lessons at home from this warm-hearted, independent woman. And Jakey soon becomes friends with the lonely white boy next door, who is being mishandled by his unhappy father, and helps Hendrik run away from home.When this fails, Jakey's sensitivity helps to prevent Hendrik's suicide.This is a realistic story about tension, grief and unhappiness in several families, but there is also an undercurrent of hopefulness and joy at the personal and political level. The day of the first free elections in 1994 is a significant event in the narrative. Beake weaves a well-balanced story with several narrative threads and an interesting array of characters caught up in a rapidly changing society. (12+) ☆
Special Mention - South Africa (English) - 1998 - 22
Pinnock, Patricia Schonstein
Saturday in Africa. Living history through poetry
Cape Town: African Sun Press, 1996. 70 p.
Poetry - South Africa/History - Everyday life
This collection of poems written in various styles and meters draws upon many aspects of life and memories in South Africa, focussing especially on the joyful anticipation of the new era beginning under Nelson Mandela's presidency. Many poems are accompanied by well-chosen, expressive blackand- white photographs taken from numerous sources. Unusual words and historical contexts are explained in endnotes. This is a very attractively produced volume which will enrich library collections. (10+)
Special Mention - South Africa (English) - 1998 - 23
Turkington, Nola (text)
Mathew, Gillian (illus.)
Matilda and Meggie
Cape Town: Human & Rousseau, 1997. 23 p.
School project - Role play - Egg - Parent/Child - Responsibility
Matilda's fourth grade class end-of-year project is learning how to take responsibility by caring for an egg for one week. Unlike many of her classmates, Matilda is quite fastidious, and learns quite a bit about the burdens of „child-rearing", but in a surprise turn of events she uses the egg to foil a supposed burglar. The humorous, tale in paperback format is complemented with very attractively stylized black-and-white pen-andwash illustrations. (7+) ☼
Swaziland (English) - 1998 - 24
Manzini: Macmillan Boleswa, 1997. 122 p.
Sailing - Adventure - Friendship - Family problems
When fourteen young adults from all around South Africa are chosen for a crew of a training ship sailing ship from Durban to Mauritius, they experience more than they had anticipated. Each must master an extensive range of nautical skills, and also learn to work as a team. Whitton focusses upon a number of individuals with different family backgrounds in this multicultural troupe, making the basic plot of an adventure story with modernday problems and dreams come to life. (12+) ☆
Zimbabwe (English) - 1998 - 25
Alumenda, Stephen (text)
Marita goes to school
Harare: Baobab, 1997.  p. With illustrations
School - Wish - Father/Daughter - Secret - Reward
Marita dreams of being allowed to attend school, but her father thinks it is a waste of time and money and fears that his daughter could grow up to be a misfit in their community. But when Marita is secretly tutored by the local teacher (a young woman who wears trousers!), she is able to help her father read an important letter. This is an affirmative story about a spunky modern African girl whom young readers can identify with. This paperback children's book is very attractively produced on sturdy paper and with lively black-and-white illustrations. (6+) ☆ ☼
Zimbabwe (English) - 1998 - 26
Jessicah the mountain slayer
Harare: Zimbabwe Publishing House, 1995. 92 p.
(Excl. dist. by African Books Collective Ltd., Oxford)
Orphan - Grief - Dream - City life - Garbage dump - Friendship - School
Twelve-year old Jessicah must leave her village when her mother dies and go to live with the sister of her father, who deserted the family long ago. Though she is still inwardly grieving, she must work very hard for her foster parents and give up school. She runs away to Nairobi, where she experiences dangers but also friendship in the person of an old woman who becomes her mentor and protector. Living as a garbage-picker in the »wasteland«, her situation finally improves when a journalist becomes interested in the situation of the squatters. This well-told, inspirational story is carried by its appealing main characters. (10+) ☆
Australia (English) - 1998 - 27
Brian, Janeen (text)
Cox, David (illus.)
Leaves for Mr Walter
Hunters Hill: Margaret Hamilton, 1998.  p.
Old/Young - Neighbor - Tree - Friendship
Old Mr Walter keeps a very tidy yard inside his thick wooden fence, and the dropping leaves of the gum tree in the yard of the vacant house next door make him very grumpy. This all changes when young Emilia and her parents move in. With her winsome, innocent ways, she soothes him by happily carting away the leaves, then gets him to oil her bike, and ultimately build her a tree house with the wood he had bought to reinforce his fence. The skilful slap-dash pen-and-wash pictures capture the emotions and enthusiastic mood of this charming, universally appealing story of intergenerational friendship. (4+)
Special Mention - Australia (English) - 1998 - 28
Ringwood: Penguin Books Australia, 1997. 174 p.
Mother - Death - Grief - Brother/Sister - Love - Dreamworld - Symbolism - Aliciade
Greylands is the place where someone goes when they are sad or scared. That is the interpretation which Jack, the youthful author-protagonist of the story within a story, finds for himself and his sister at the end of his symbol-filled tale. After their emotionally ill mother suddenly dies, he works through his grief by writing a fictional story, sharing it at times with his sister. Emotionally deserted by their father, who has retreated into his own world of grief, the two teenagers struggle to come to terms with their mother's death in this very moving and illuminating story. Carmody skilfully employs literary devices to propel the narrative and captivate the reader. (12+)
Special Mention - Australia (English) - 1998 - 29
Caswell, Brian (text)
Chiem, David Phu An (text)
Only the heart
St. Lucia: University of Queensland, 1997. 212 p.
Vietnam/Emigration - Australia/Immigration - Postwar trauma - Family - Escape - Diary
Though Caswell uses his characteristic style of alternating perspectives to expand the horizon of the narrative, the content of this fictional story with real-life background comes from Chiem, a Vietnam-born Australian filmmaker of Chinese descent. The four-generation family tree at the outset is useful in following the diary-like entries - in both first and third person voices - of two main protagonists, cousins, and several other characters in this saga which spans from 1977 to 1996. This is a very immediate, gripping story of survival and coping in the face of the abominations of war and its traumatic consequences. (14+) ☆
Special Mention - Australia (English) - 1998 - 30
Crew, Gary (text)
Woolman, Steven (illus.)
Flinders Park: Era, 1997.  p.
Vietnam - War - Veteran - Friendship - Death - Memory
This artistically innovative graphic novel deals with the tragic effect of war. Ironically, it begins with a young boy phantasizing about the heroic aerial attack of a war pilot while he explores the ruins of a deserted factory. He comes upon an old man, a war veteran who has lost all hold on life, wallowing in the memories of his fallen buddy. Jimmy hears his tale and learns about the terrible price paid by combat soldiers. Visually the book resembles a graphic comic, though with more variety and creativity; the text is also more richly descriptive. (10+)
Special Mention - Australia (English) - 1998 - 31
Lester, Alison (text/photos)
The quicksand pony
St. Leonards: Allen & Unwin, 1997. 162 p.
Death - Disappearance - Single parent - Island - Pony - Robinsonade - Adventure
This is the first full-length children's book by a well-known picture story book author. An adventure story set in the bush, it weaves together the fascinating, but quite different tales of two child protagonists. Joe was taken to an uninhabited island as a baby by his grief-stricken, widowed mother and they live a secret Robinsonesque life until she dies, leaving him alone. When Biddy's horse is trapped in quicksand she is forced to abandon it, but later finds it had been rescued. Her search leads her to Joe and to his reintegration into the community. This is an unusual story that will appeal to many young readers. (10+)
Special Mention - Australia (English) - 1998 - 32
Prayer for the twenty-first century
Port Melbourne: Lothian, 1997.  p.
Peace - Future
John Marsden is an internationally renown author of controversial, challenging novels for mature teenagers as well as humorous works for children. This beautifully designed picture book shows another dimension of his obvious interest in the growth and well-being of the next generation. In lyrical, partially rhymed verses he gives expression to heart-felt concerns about human civilization and nature. A fascinating diverse selection of artwork from photographs to modern paintings from museums in Australia, set off against a stylized background, illuminate the individual thoughts. (8+)
Special Mention - Australia (English) - 1998 - 33
Morris, Jill (text)
Muir, Lindsay (illus.)
Maleny: Great Glider, 1996.  p.
ISBN 0-947304-30-4 (pb)
Australia - Wildlife - Frog - Instinct
Australia's gastric-brooding frog was discovered in a sub-tropical area of Queensland in 1974. By 1981, as the afterword of this informative picture story book reports, it had disappeared. Without any live frogs to photograph, this book makes use of a stunningly life-like alternative. Muir has created three-dimensional pictures of the frogs and their environment from glazed and kiln-fired clay. In a very attractive page design accompanied by a slightly oversized typeface text, the life and adventures of a frog named Silus is entertainingly told in such a way that could be read aloud to children of any age group, from four to twelve. (4+) ☼
(Shortlist, Crichton Award, 1996)
Special Mention - Australia (English) - 1998 - 34
Winton, Tim (text)
Louise, Karen (illus.)
Sydney: Pan Macmillan Australia, 1997. 151 p.
ISBN 0-330-36038-8 (pb)
Mother/Son - Snorkel diving - Fish - Nature - Oceanography - Growing up
Abel grows up on a remote coast of Australia alone with his widowed mother. He loves their almost daily snorkel diving, whose abalone harvest gives them just enough to survive, and treasures his lifelong relationship with a large pet-like blue groper. But Abel must leave this idyll for further schooling and his decision to become an oceanographer takes him far away for years, until he returns to his roots to establish a natural oceanwater preserve. This is a poetic story of growing up which spans decades of one individual's life, a captivating and unusal biographical narrative. (10+)
India (English) - 1998 - 35
Agarwah, Deepa (text)
Guhathakurta, Ajanta (illus.)
The toy horse
New Delhi: Children's Book Trust, 1997.  p.
Toy - Imagination
This picture book describes a brief encounter between two small girls who covet each other's toys. Rami, a gypsy girl whose family makes a living by selling iron tools and decorative handsewn cloth horses by the roadside, decides to sew a horse of her own to play with. Hers is not as perfect as the others, but in her imagination she travels far on its back. One day another small girl insists on buying Rami's cute horse and no other. Rami tearfully agrees to sell it at her mother's insistence, but is rewarded then with the other girl's lovely modern doll in exchange. This is a charmingly illustrated story with universal appeal. (4+) ☆ ☼
(2nd prize, Read-aloud, Competition for Writers of Children's Books, CBT)
India (English) - 1998 - 36
Ghosh, Subir (text)
Bansal, Richa (text)
Chakraborty, Ashim Ranjan (illus.)
The dream machine
New Delhi: Children's Book Trust, 1997. 101 p.
Father/Son - Scientific invention - Conspiracy - Friendship - Adventure
The motherless fourteen-year old Shailesh returns home from his boarding school eager to enjoy summer holidays, only to find his workaholic scientist father completely preoccupied with an extraordinary breakthrough discovery - a machine which can convert dreams into visual images. And an international conspiracy of greedy scientists is hot on the tracks, hoping to claim the invention and the considerable rewards. Shailesh and his childhood girlfriend are suddenly caught up in a dramatic, dangerous adventure. This science fiction fantasy is a fast-paced narrative with two interesting youthful protagonists. (12+)
(2nd prize, Science Fiction, Competition for Writers of Children's Books, CBT)
India (English) - 1998 - 37
Sarabhai, Mrinalini (text)
Roy, Subir (illus.)
Stories of India
New Delhi: Children's Book Trust, 1996. 78 p.
India/Tales - Creation - Buddha - Mahabharata - Panchatantra - Love - Trial
This collection of eleven tales from the rich storytelling tradition of India's heroic epics and religious legends is written in an accessible, easyto- read style by one of India's foremost dancers and choreographers. Attractive watercolor illustrations throughout the book capture the highlights of the narratives. (5+) ☆
Special Mention - New Zealand (English) - 1998 - 38
Dare truth or promise
Dunedin: Longacre Press, 1997. 180 p.
First love - Lesbian - Homosexuality - Mother/Daughter - Homophobia - Identity
Louie is a fast-talking, witty girl who likes acting and plans to be a lawyer. Willa is quieter, has a dog as a constant companion, likes fencing and hopes to become a chef. In two marvellous early scenes of the skilfully told narrative, which alternates, in the third person, between Louie and Willa, each personality is brilliantly captured. The ups and downs of their gradually acknowledged feelings - which give way to passionate romance - and the varying reactions of others are authentically portrayed. Not only does Boock depict each scene with much insight and vivid detail, she also brings in a large supporting cast of well-drawn characters - friends, family, schoolmates and working colleagues - to create a very realistic background. As in many relationships that break norms, there is a long painful separation as Louie copes with the negative reactions of her family and re-examines her feelings. Unlike earlier books about homosexuality in which anxiety and conflict prevail, here the joy of finding a kindred spirit is portrayed, making it evident that love and romance can take the same course regardless of the sex of the partners. (14+)
Special Mention - New Zealand (English) - 1998 - 39
Buxton, Jane (text)
Newman, Penelope (illus.)
Wellington: Mallinson Rendel, 1997. 144 p.
Runaways - Donkey - Adventure - Parentage - Secret
When three children between fourteen and six years of age learn that their mother has left suddenly for Australia to help a sick aunt, they decide to set off to visit the father they have not seen in six years. Travelling in a cart pulled by their pet donkey they learn to deal with each other and fend for themselves on the 100 kilometer journey. Covertly followed and indirectly helped by a family friend, they arrive safely in the end and learn from their father the true circumstances of their parents' marriage and separation. Illustrated with attractive black-and-white sketches, this vividly told adventure story is a real page-turner. (+9)
Special Mention - New Zealand (English) - 1998 - 40
Wellington: Mallinson Rendel, 1997. 112 p.
Friendship - Maori culture - Prejudice - Step-father - Betrayal
Glyn's best mate is a Maori, much to the dismay of his future stepfather, an omnipresent representative of the local police. During summer holidays Glyn and Api make two valuable archeological finds, over which Api's grandmother is quite excited. When she is then brutally beaten and robbed, the police first arrest an innocent Maori before discovering that the rich white young man who had slyly befriended Glyn and Api is the real culprit. The local flavor of New Zealand's people and social fabric adds to the reading pleasure of this richly textured adventure story, with its colorful characters and romantic subplots. (10+) ☆
Special Mention - New Zealand (English) - 1998 - 41
Because we were the travellers
Dunedin: Longacre, 1997. 155 p.
Survival - Old/Young - Mutual aid - Growing up
In an unnamed country a clan of people wander as nomads in a circular cycle through a rough, scorching landscape that can scarcely support them, governed by the rules of survival of the fittest. When the lame Ish's father is murdered by a rival and his protective older sister taken as booty, he has to survive outside the group, learning what he needs to for himself and an wise old woman he joins up with. This skilfully developed futuristic fantasy gives a realistic view of human society in primitive conditions and the maturation of a boy whose future course will be eagerly followed in the announced sequel. (12+)
Great Britain (English) - 1998 - 42
London: Andersen, 1997.  p.
Siblings - Excursion - Courage
This simple episodic tale describing two brothers and two sisters taking a walk across the fields is told in the first person by the oldest sister. The first half is fraught with tension because the youngest child is being a „cry-baby", frightened and unable to climb fences and jump streams like the older ones can. But when her comfort blanket becomes completely unravelled, she surprises them all by running the whole distance back alone to gather the wool in a skein. In her unmistakeable, sensitve and painterly style, Brown captures the shifting emotions with the perfect choice of perspective and an eye for details in the natural surroundings. (4+)
Special Mention - Great Britain (English) - 1998 - 43
Browne, Anthony (illus.)
Willy the dreamer
London: Walker, 1997.  p.
Dream - Imagination - Art history - Popular culture
With his patterned vest, green corduroy trousers and hair parted down the center, Willy has acquired the quality of instant recognition. His mildmannered way of meeting all the challenges of this world has a sense of universality. Now taking a different tack, Browne offers no narrative but takes a visual journey through Willy's surrealist dreamworld. It is filled, of course, with the omnipresent banana, but also with allusions to familiar literary works and cultural heroes, and spiced with visual jokes. Browne pays hommage to famous artists from Dalí to Sendak, giving children a first taste of art they will recognize again. (5+)
Special Mention - Great Britain (English) - 1998 - 44
Doherty, Berlie (text)
Bailey, Siân (illus.)
Daughter of the sea
London: Hamish Hamilton, 1996. 115 p.
(Text French and German)
(USA ed. New York: DK, 1997)
Sea/Legend - Selkie - Seal - Island - Fishing - Childless couple - Adoption
This is an absorbing, atmospheric tale of an older childless fisher couple who adopts a baby found on the shoreline on a stormy night. It is also a frame story in which numerous sea legends dealing with the relationship of man and seals are embedded. The well-drawn characters of this tight-knit fishing community on a remote windy island come alive in Doherty's narrative. One imagines the smells and sounds, and feels the emotional pull of the now teenaged selkie child toward her own people, setting the mood for the suspenseful climax. (10+)
Special Mention - Great Britain (English) - 1998 - 45
Dowswell, Paul (text)
Tomlins, Karen (illus.)
The Roman Record
London: Usborne, 1997. 32 p.
Rome/History 753 B.C.- 500 A.D. - Newspaper
Read all about it! Buy the »Roman Record« and you, reader, can learn everything you always wanted to know about the trials and tribulations of life as a slave - if you are so dumb - or as a senator - thank your favorite goddess - in Roman times. Find out all about those battles and conquests! Read about the fall of Rome! Ladies, check out the latest kitchen facilities and newly arrived shipments of jewelry! Find out how predictions are made! Page after page of the latest news, concisely laid-out facts and analyses. Colorful mosaics and paintings from-on-the scene reporters make your reading pleasure complete. (10+)
Special Mention - Great Britain (English) - 1998 - 46
Moore, Robin (text)
Ambrus, Victor (illus.)
My life with the Indians. The story of Mary Jemison
London: Franklin Watts, 1997. 32 p.
North America/Indians - Abduction - Adoption - Cultural conflict
The biography of Mary Jemison, based on the account she told at the age of 80 in 1823, spans a turbulent period of North American history. The sole survivor of an Indian raid on her home in Pennsylvania - a result of the French and British war for territory - she was adopted by another tribe, married twice and mother of a large family. She choose to remain with her Indian family and friends, rather than return to a bigotted white civilization, but still suffered many family sorrows through the changing times. Masterly pen-andwash illustrations adorn this fascinating documentation, followed by factual information in an appendix. (8+) ☆
Special Mention - Great Britain (English) - 1998 - 47
Nimmo, Jenny (reteller)
Jones, Jac (illus.)
Llandysul: Pont Books/Gomer, 1997.  p.
(Legends from Wales)
Wales/Legend - Ireland - Alliance - Marriage - Intrigue - Revenge
In this tragic tale from the Mabinogi, the Welsh heroic saga, a wise and mighty king of Britain gives his lovely sister Branwen in marriage to the king of Ireland, but the wrath of their half-brother, Efnisien, and the jealousy of the Irish court breaks the young couple's happiness. The exigencies of power lead to the bloody war between the two armies, and to many deaths, including the British king, the rueful Efnisien, Branwen's child, and broken-hearted Branwen - the high price of family loyalty. The readable telling of this tale is accompanied by beautiful watercolor illustrations which convey the emotions and dramatic action of the tale. (8+)
Special Mention - Great Britain (English) - 1998 - 48
Dancing through the shadows
London: Julia MacRae, 1997. 120 p.
(USA ed.: New York, DK, 1997)
Mother/Daughter - Breast cancer - School - Dance - Well - Legend
A school girl learns to deal with the fears and uncertainties of her mother's breast cancer operation and her moodiness during the subsequent chemotherapy. She becomes absorbed in helping a teacher with the renovation of an ancient well near her school and performing modern dance routines with a group of school mates. The events of everyday life in a normal family and suburban neighborhood setting make an enjoyable backdrop for the development of the likeable main character. This is a heartwarming family story with an authentic ring. (10+)
Ireland (English) - 1998 - 49
Dunbar, Robert (ed.)
Enchanted journeys. Fifty years of Irish writing for children
Dublin: O'Brien, 1997. 192 p.
Taking as motto for this anthology that »all good stories for children offer the prospect of 'enchanted journeys', ...voyages of discovery«, Ireland's leading children's literature expert, Robert Dunbar, has selected 17 authors whose works represent the breadth and diversity of Irish children's literature. The volume contains excerpts from each story, arranged in reverse chronological order, and range from Conlon-McKenna (1996) back to Conor O'Brien (1941). Dunbar also provides a detailed biographical sketch about each of the authors. (10+)
Ireland (English) - 1998 - 50
Dublin: Wolfhound, 1997. 157 p.
Adoption - Secret - Parent/Child - Expectations - Friendship
An adopted black Irish teenager begins to doubt the details of her adoption in Africa, when she finds a photograph of herself as a baby, surrounded by people she doesn't know. Sure that her (white) parents have lied, she secretly searches for her natural mother and in the end uncovers several unexpected truths. Parallel to her own identity quest, her boyfriend from a broken, tragedy-filled family, and her helpful, well-to-do school friend are also struggling with half-truths and selfdelusions in their families. O'Sullivan skilfully develops several suspenseful sub-plots and character portraits that reflect the complex realities of modern youth. (14+)
Special Mention - Ireland (English) - 1998 - 51
Four kids, three cats, two cows, one witch (maybe)
Dublin: O'Brien, 1997. 192 p.
Island - Friendship - Recluse - Adventure
The winner of Ireland's annual Bisto Award for Children's Literature in 1996 gives us another highly readable story about lively, appealing young adults who are caught in the throes of growing up, gradually gaining self-confidence and valuable experience along the way to adulthood. During summer holidays two girls and two boys are thrown together, partially by chance, and embark on an adventure which leads them to an island. There they make the acquaintance of an eccentric recluse and learn to see life with different eyes. One special part of their adventure story involves the highly revealing »fairy tales« each one must make up and tell to the others, stories within a story. In this way Parkinson can introduce tension and conflicts with which any person could be faced with, while still portraying teenagers whose lives are fairly »normal«, like those of many of her readers. (12+)
Canada (English) - 1998 - 52
Fitch, Sheree (text)
Labrosse, Darcia (illus.)
If you could wear my sneakers
Toronto: Doubleday, 1997. 32 p.
Children's Rights - Poetry
In fifteen witty, lively poems and full page backdrop illustrations, Fitch and Labrosse draw connections to the content and spirit of some of the United Nations' Convention on the Rights of the Child. One of Canada's leading poets, Fitch writes in a melodic, rhythmic way with a humor that embodies the wonderfully childlike - and surely Fitch's own - perspective on life. Not in the least pedagogical, the poems have animal protagonists and behave in a way that corresponds to a basic principle of the convention. At the close of the book the reader is invited to match the poem with the appropriate »right«. (6+) ☼
Canada (English) - 1998 - 53
Funston, Sylvia (text)
Stevens, Pat (illus.)
Animal smarts. The secret life of animals
Toronto: Owl Books/Greey de Pencier, 1997. 48 p.
Animal - Intelligence - Scientific research
This information book offers a wealth of information which describes to what extent animals actively use their brains, i.e. learn, rather than rely on inborn instinct. Each double-page spread discusses an aspect of the topic and gives three to five examples and explanations of phenomena that scientists have observed and drawn conclusions from. Since it is repeatedly made clear that our knowledge is still preliminary, young readers with an inclination toward science will be fascinated by still the open questions. The very attractive layout with different typography and styles of illustration make the book highly appealing. (12+)
Canada (English) - 1998 - 54
The seven magpies
Toronto: HarperCollins, 1996. 148 p.
Scotland/World War II - Boarding school - Ostracism - Soldier - Deserter - Celtic mythology
As a newcomer in a girls' boarding school in Scotland in 1939, 14-year old Maureen is at first ostracised and becomes interested in Celtic legends. But once she is admitted to a secret club she must learn how to assert herself and also find her place in the group. When she accidentally discovers the hiding place of her neighbor's son, an army deserter, she faces a real dilemma. In both cases she gains maturity by wrestling with problems of social and moral conduct. The credible narrative is rich in characterization and background. (12+)
(Shortlisted for 1997 Geoffrey Bilson Award For Historical Fiction For Young People)
Canada (English) - 1998 - 55
Zeman, Ludmila (text/illus.)
The first red maple leaf
Toronto: Tundra Books, 1997.  p.
Canada - Winter - Wind - Seasons - Tree leaf - Modern folktale
The well-known emblem of Canada, the red maple leaf, is finally given a history by this recent immigrant artist. She draws upon motifs of ancient folklore - talking animals, animals and trees helping mankind, merciless natural forces - to create a memorable story about the protective function of the leaves and the coming of summer to Canada. Using somber, wintry colors that convey the mood of a northern climate, Zeman divides some full-page spreads into smaller frames to capture the dramatic events of the tale. (5+)
Canada (English) - 1998 - 56
Zhang, Song Nan (text/illus.)
Cowboy on the steppes
Toronto: Tundra Books, 1997.  p.
Mongolia - China/History 1968-1969 - Herdsman
As a part of China's re-education program during the Cultural Revolution, the author's brother, a student in Beijing, was sent to Inner Mongolia. The diary of his year within a commune of nomadic herdsmen is the basis for this illustrated children's book. The diary entries describe Yi Nan Zhang's gradual assimilation into the clan, his learning how to care for livestock, and the hard way of life on Mongolia's steppes. They also reveal something of the growth of a young man (now a journalist in Beijing) taken far away from his own world. The stunning color pencil drawings enhance the appeal of his unusual experiences. (8+) ☆
USA (English) - 1998 - 57
The iron ring
New York: Dutton, 1997. 283 p.
King - Debt - Quest - Good/Evil - Talking animals - Growing up - Indian/Folktale - Adventure
When a young king, Tamar, loses everything he owns in a dice game, an iron ring, symbol of his bondage appears on his finger and he must set off for the distant kingdom of his victor. In the course of his quest, his entourage grows to include talking animals and characters from different castes. Together they fight battles and savour happy moments together. The narrative is filled with Indian folktales and driven along by Tamar's adherence to a code of honor, dharma. At the end of his epic adventure, he has learned much about life and honor. Alexander is a master storyteller who entertains and enlightens his reader with all the literary techniques of good fantasy. (11+) ☆
Special Mention - USA (English) - 1998 - 58
Cowan, Catherine (transl./reteller)
Paz, Octavio (story)
Buehner, Mark (illus.)
My life with the wave
New York: Lothrop, Lee & Shepard/Morrow, 1997.  p.
Ocean wave - Friendship
This deliciously absurd tale by the Nobel Prize winner, Octavio Paz, is beautifully rendered in fullpage color paintings, which speaks to the fantasy in all of us. On his first trip to the seashore, the boy narrator is befriended by a small but most playful wave. The wave cajoles the boy's father into taking her home with them and at first all goes well. But when the wave's wild moods and ghastly nightmares become unmanageable, they have to return her to the ocean. Buehner's illustrations capture the nuances of this poetic, yet straight forward text and expands on them exquisitely with many ironical touches. A delightful gem to be reread many times. (4+)
Special Mention - USA (English) - 1998 - 59
Gallo, Donald R. (ed.)
No easy answers. Short stories about teenagers making tough choices
New York: Delacorte, 1997. 323 p.
Conflict - Moral choice - Guilt - Atonement - Growing up
This anthology contains sixteen short stories, written for this collection, by some of the leading writers for young adult in the U.S. and Canada. As the title makes clear, each of the protagonists is faced with a choice between alternative actions. Often the difficulties lie in the conflict between ambition or fulfillment of a dream and the reality of hurting other people. The situations they find themselves in involve drugs, pregnancy, blackmail, handicapped victims, or revenge. At the end of each short story, a two-page biographical sketch lets the reader know what other books by the author are available. (12+)
Special Mention - USA (English) - 1998 - 60
Hausherr, Rosmarie (text/photos)
New York: Scholastic, 1997.  p.
Family - Adoption - Divorce - Single parent
Many varieties of family structure are presented here in fourteen double-spread pages. Each portrait includes a photo of a child with the members of his or her family and one of a typical favorite activity - whether gardening, repairing a bicycle, visiting Dad in prison, or playing games on the computer with an older foster brother. Short, descriptions reveal the many ways families may be formed (including bi-racial and same gender parents) and formed again after change (divorce, separation, adoption). (7+) ☆
Special Mention - USA (English) - 1998 - 61
Hearne, Betsy (text)
Andersen, Bethanne (illus.)
Seven brave women
New York: Greenwillow, 1997.  p.
Genealogy - Biography - Courage
With the intention of showing that history is also »her« story and our common history is not necessarily one of war and aggression, this picturebook biography gives brief portraits of seven women ancestors, telling what made each of their lives remarkable and memorable. This short firstperson chronicle of one woman's family history, which is also set in a wider context of world events that are mentioned in passing, makes a lasting impression. The naive-abstract double-page oil paintings capture the main elements of each life and the times. (5+) ☼
Special Mention - USA (English) - 1998 - 62
Sun & Spoon
New York: Greenwillow, 1997. 135 p.
Grandmother - Death - Grandfather - Bereavement - Family life
Two months after his grandmother's death, Spoon (his family nickname) realizes that he needs to find a special memento to remember her by. This gentle story of his search is set against the background of warm, caring relationships. But even these need to be cultivated, like the family garden, and the grief of both grandson and grandfather lead them to a new understanding. Henkes has a remarkable talent for depicting the nuances of his subject in dialogues, inner reflections that ring true, and simple situations weighty with meaning. His natural, crafted prose seems to flow effortlessly. (9+)
Special Mention - USA (English) - 1998 - 63
Koller, Jackie French (text)
Lewin, Betsy (illus.)
No such thing
Honesdale: Boyds Mills, 1997.  p.
Bedtime - Monster - Fear
When a little boy moves into an old house he has trouble falling asleep because of the monsters living under it. In this delightful twist on a familiar plot, both little Howard and the charming little green monster exasperate their mothers with their fears until they finally find the courage to talk to each other and discover neither wants to harm the other. In an open-end conclusion they call out to their mothers once again - and the reader must guess what will happen. Full page watercolors with bold black contour strokes capture the universal child's nighttime fears with a dose of humor. (4+)
Special Mention - USA (English) - 1998 - 64
Lelooska, Chief (reteller/illus.)
Normandin, Christine (ed.)
Echoes of the elders. The stories and paintings of Chief Lelooska
New York: Dorling Kindersley (DK) in assoc. with Callaway Editions, 1997. 38 p.
Kwakiutl/Tales - North America/Northwest coast - Animals/Myths
This beautifully designed oversized book of five animal tales is a tribute to the decades of oral storytelling and intensive efforts to preserve the Northwest Coast Indian culture by Chief Lelooska, a descendent of the Cherokee who was adopted by the Southern Kwakiutl tribe. The large two-dimensional ornamental renderings of the animal protagonists enhance the lengthy, didactic but entertaining stories. A compact disc included with the book gives proof of the famous storytelling powers of Chief Lelooska, who died in 1996. (8+) ☆
Special Mention - USA (English) - 1998 - 65
Myers, Walter Dean (text)
Myers, Christopher (illus.)
New York: Scholastic, 1997.  p.
Harlem - African-Americans
This stunning picture book is a visual and lyrical hymn to the persistent hopes and dreams of African-Americans living in Harlem, that famous section of New York City. Harlem was an important gathering point where jazz and Black culture began to blossom in the early part of the 20th century. Its pulsating vitality is given bold expression in the assembled multi-media collages by the artist son of Walter Dean Myers, the wellknown young adult writer who grew up in Harlem. (6+) ☆
(Caldecott Honor Book 1998)
Special Mention - USA (English) - 1998 - 66
Beethoven in Paradise
New York: Frances Foster/Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1997. 153 p.
Father/Son - Grandmother - Music - Expectations - Conflict - Friendship - Identity
Twelve-year old Martin lives with his parents in a trailer park name Paradise. His permanently unhappy father has placed all his hopes in Martin becoming a „normal" boy he can be proud of. But Martin is a loner whose real natural talent lies in music. His grandmother and a neighbor encourage him in different ways to develop himself, and after numerous angry scenes and much anguish, he is finally able to stand up to his father. O'Connor captures the sweltering atmosphere of this close, lower-class setting and depicts the hopes and limitations of the main protagonists with great sensitivity. (10+)
Special Mention - USA (English) - 1998 - 67
Pinkney, Andrea Davis (text)
Pinkney, Brian (illus.)
New York: Hyperion Books for Children, 1998.  p.
Ellington, Duke - Jazz - African-Americans
The picture book biography of the world's most famous jazz pianist, band leader and composer, Duke Ellington (1899-1974), is told succinctly for children in an upbeat contemporary vernacular with African-American idioms that capture the natural swing, wit and esprit of modern times. The musical rhythm of the text is reflected and extended in the ideally suited, brightly colored twopage spreads done in Brian Pinkney's hallmark scratchboard paintings. The reader is offered factual information but may also feel inspired to hear and learn more about this musical genius and about jazz. (6+) ☆
South Africa (English) - 1999 - 21
Camp, Lindsay (text)
Coplans, Peta (illus.)
Hippo's River Café
Cape Town/London: Tafelberg/Andersen Press, 1998.  p.
Laughing - Friendship - Tolerance
Cheetah and Hippopotamus are best friends and love to laugh over Cheetah's corny jokes. But Cheetah, who is rather vain and lazy, has no interest in helping Hippopotamus build his riverside café and sulks away while Hippopotamus works himself to exhaustion. When the café nearly fails due to Hippopotamus' bad temper, they find the perfect solution for a joint venture. The naive, stylized pencil and watercolor illustrations for this animal fantasy tale capture the dynamic quality of the text. Camp is an advertising copywriter in England and Coplans an international illustrator living in Cape Town. (4+)
South Africa (English) - 1999 - 22
Grobler, Mari (text)
Pulles, Elizabeth (illus.)
Lulama's magic blanket
Cape Town: Tafelberg, 1997.  p.
Counting - Colors - Imagination - Blanket
Lulama has a patchwork blanket that her mother made for her from garmets once worn by members of her family. When she plays with it outside, she and the blanket can become anything she imagines. The dynamic, colorful scenes designed partly with torn tissue paper show Lulama dancing and whirling while pretending to be a tortoise, a snake, a teacher, a preacher or a housewife. When she lays down for her afternoon nap, the magical blanket also becomes a counting scheme, helping her drift off to sleep. This is a delightful and imaginative read-aloud story. It has also been published in Xhosa, Zulu, and Afrikaans. (3+)
South Africa (English) - 1999 - 23
Cape Town: Maskew Miller, 1993. 153 p.
Xhosa/Folklore - Oral tradition - Legends - Taboo
This is a collection of folktales, myths, legends, idioms, proverbs and poetry the reflect the rich heritage of the Xhosa oral tradition. They include stories told by the fireside, examples of the eloquence of the Xhosa language, explanations of taboo words for different groups of people, and cultural beliefs related to animals and insects. The elements of folk wisdom and morality are still considered relevant for the modern generation. (12+) ☆
Swaziland (English) - 1999 - 24
We have our dreams
Manzini: Macmillan Boleswa, 1997. 111 p.
South Africa - Immigration - Big City - Friendship - Foreigner - Disappointment
This is an absorbing, tragic novel about the adventure- filled struggles of two young men from the Congo and Mozambique who have come to Johannesburg in the hopes of finding success and fortune. But instead they find themselves facing the underside of life in a big modern-day city, while trying to hold on to their dreams. Despite the appearance of African names and terms, this fast-paced story is highly readable due to the universality of the relationships between the major characters. And it gives insight into the alternatives available to people in a society beset with change and corruption. (14+)
Australia (English) - 1999 - 25
Ringwood: Puffin/Penguin, . 182 p.
Single mother - Brother/Sister - Responsibility - Neglect
Angus has problems with sex but what he really wants most is to be a kid and play Bumface the pirate. His childhood has been turned topsy-turvey by a vain TV star mother, currently between partners and rarely at home, who counts on twelveyear old Angus to manage the daily routines for himself and his two younger siblings. In depicting the many entanglements, crises and disasters that ensue over several weeks, Gleitzman has a gift of creating comic, exaggerated situations with serious undertones to entertain and touch the reader. For this witty social satire in no way overshadows his compassion for a child's dilemmas in a modern adult world. (10+)
Australia (English) - 1999 - 26
Howes, Jim (text)
Harvey, Roland (illus.)
Islands in my garden
Port Melborne: Roland Harvey Books, 1998.  p.
Play - Garden - Adventure - Hide-and-seek - Nature
Even before the story starts Roland Harvey begins to entertain the reader with a zany menagerie of miniature portraits (a cicada, a lady bird, a centipede, a bread roll [deceased], and even Harvey and Howes themselves) on the frontispiece. In beautifully composed watercolor spreads that invite intensive inspection - to find the natural processes but also quirky jokes - Harvey provides the appropriate nature settings for Howes' five-line verses about all the things that can be discovered in the space of one backyard. (5+) ☼
Australia (English) - 1999 - 27
McDonald, Meme (text/photos)
Pryor, Boori (text)
St. Leonards: Allen & Unwin, 1998. 74 p.
(Little Ark Book)
Growing up - Frog - Friendship - Security - Boy/Girl - Haunting spirit
Drawing upon childhood memories of family life with ten brothers and sisters, school bullies, learning to fish with father, flirting with girls and, most of all, overcoming fears of a bad spirit lurking in their house at night, Boori Pryor writes a fictionalized first-person narrative about a boy and his green tree frog. The book's considerable charm is enhanced by a most unusual style of design: different typefaces, often reflecting the emotional content, and various uses of atmospheric black-andwhite photographs throughout the book. (10+) ☼
Australia (English) - 1999 - 28
Marsden, John (text)
Gouldthorpe, Peter (illus.)
Melbourne: Lothian, 1998.  p.
Mountain-climbing - Snowstorm - Supernatural - Ghost
This beautiful pictorial ghost story for older readers unites a free verse narrative with perfectly suited realistic pictures of the Australian bush. Narrated in the first-person plural, the text and illustrations begin with a panoramic view of six teenagers hiking high in the mountains on a sunny day. After being caught in a surprise blizzard and taking refuge - for three snowbound days - in an old cabin already being used by a mysterious young man, the group continues its journey. With the discovery that the hut had burned down in a blizzard forty years ago, the suddenly spooky narrative comes to an end with a chilling breeze. A masterpiece of the supernatural! (10+)
Australia (English) - 1999 - 29
St. Lucia: University of Queensland, 1998. 221 p.
Aborigines - Race relations - Friendship - Cultural identity - Family guilt - Stolen children - Growing up
This is the author's third book about members of a contemporary Aboriginal family. Gracey and her white friend, Angela, finish school and begin university together but soon follow different paths. Angela falls in love while Gracey's life becomes increasingly politicized and alienated from fellow white students. Angela's discovery of her family's involvement in a case of a stolen child weighs upon her relationship with Gracey. Moloney draws his characters with great perception and insight into their conflicts and inner turmoil. While the historical background is fascinating, the emotional involvement created by the narrative make this book as absorbing as its predecessors. (14+)
Special Mention - Australia (English) - 1999 - 30
Toft, Kim Michelle (text/illus.)
Sheather, Allan (text)
One less fish
St. Lucia: University of Queensland, 1997.  p.
ISBN 0-7022-2947-4 (paperback)
Counting - Fish - Great Barrier Reef - Environmental protection
Using the melodic chant of a counting rhyme which descends from twelve to zero, the authors present a multi-faceted introduction to the dangers facing the ecosystem of the Great Barrier Reef, which is the habitat of twelve stunningly beautiful species of fish. The young reader can actively follow the countdown by noting the disappearance of one fish at each number and comparing the nearly identical illustrations on the recto and verso sides of a page. The countdown chant on the recto shows the playful fish confronted with an intruder. In a brief text on the verso, facts about the effects of human behavior on marine life are discreetly presented below the illustration. Along with the informative text, an attractive layout and a glossary of scientific terms on the last page, the book's most stunning feature is the brightly coloured silk-screen paintings of marine life. Taken together, all these features synthesize into a captivating reading experience and will encourage reflection and re-reading. (5+) ☼
Special Mention - Australia (English) - 1999 - 31
Broome: Magabala Books, 1997. 168 p.
Australia/History 1900 - Stolen children - Cultural identity - Racial tension
Set in a period of Australian history when children of mixed racial parentage were given up or taken forcibly by white authorities for preferential treatment such as better schooling, this story tells about one family caught between the fronts. Attempting to keep her children but unable to flee with them, a mother sends her son and half-white daughter to hide in the bush. After dangerous adventures, they are finally brought to the ancestral village. A tribal rebellion is barely avoided when authorities try to enforce their policies. The Australian setting and cultural background of the Aboriginal way of life are especially well-drawn. (12+) ☆
Special Mention - Australia (English) - 1999 - 32
Wild, Margaret (text)
Argent, Kerry (illus.)
Miss Lily's fabulous pink feather boa
Ringwood: Viking, 1998.  p.
Loneliness - Friendship - Confidence - Quest
In this parable-like tale about individuality and the quest for fellowship, a small Australian creature, that thinks itself to be The Last Potoroo, spends a month at a guest house run by a huge, warm-hearted, merry-making crocodile. Miss Lily's gentle sympathy and tacit understanding of the shy, lonely Potoroo finally inspire it to go off in search of other Potoroos. The exquisite watercolor illustrations beautifully capture the house's ambient and the emotions of the main characters in this strikingly well-designed, oversized picture book. (6+)
India (English) - 1999 - 33
Agarwal, Deepa (ed.)
Guha, Tapas (illus.)
There's another way! Stories of peace, love & friendship
New Delhi: Madhuban Educational Books/Vikas, 1998. 103 p.
(My great collection)
Everyday life - Tolerance - Peace
Ten well-known writers for children have contributed stories to this anthology that reveal the many ways in which an attitude of tolerance and goodwill can make a difference in human relationships. The child protagonists either learn a lesson about life or make a difference to others through their behavior. Well-drawn black-and-white illustrations capture highlights of the stories. (10+) ☆
India (English) - 1999 - 34
Stories for a winter night
New Delhi: Indus/HarperCollins, 1996. 83 p.
(Peacock for the young)
Everyday life - Honesty - Adventure - Friendship
These five anecdotal short stories are set in different areas of India, revealing different styles of life and often simple lessons about life that are gathered from memorable encounters in everyday life. Swapna Dutta creates dialogues and situations that come alive and make for easy reading pleasure. (10+) ☆
New Zealand (English) - 1999 - 35
I am not Esther
Dunedin: Longacre, 1998. 159 p.
Religious sect - Single mother - Mother/Daughter - Abandonment
When the dark sad secret of her childhood, the reason for her banishment from her family and their fundamentalist religious sect, threatens to be- come known, a widowed mother sends her daughter Kirby back into that very family and disappears. The psychological strains which follow for both mother and daughter are gradually revealed through Kirby's first-person narrative of her new life. The author creates a convincing tale about family relationships and how people deal with pain, authority and conflicting emotions, giving insight into various alternatives. (14+)
New Zealand (English) - 1999 - 36
Clarke, Mere (text)
Smith, Manu (illus.)
Whirikoki and his seal
Wellington: Huia, 1997.  p.
New Zealand/Legend - Seal - Man/Animal - Friendship - Death - Oil
When surveyors recently drilled for oil on the Manga-tai-Kapua hills, they found only shallow pools. In the legend told in this picture book it is explained that the oil seeped into the hills after a seal, who had accidentally fallen asleep too long under the sun with his human friend, injured himself on the rocks and died. The few Maori words used in the text to give the story an authentic atmosphere are explained within the story. The double- spread illustrations use varying perspectives and strong, luminous colors to capture the beautiful New Zealand landscape. (4+)
(Te Kura Pounamu Award, 1998)
Special Mention - New Zealand (English) - 1999 - 37
Dunedin: Longacre, 1998. 160 p.
Post-apocalypse - Good/Evil - Love - Death - Grief - Friendship - Survival - Nomad
With the inner strength gained through his years of survival in a post-apocalyptic barren land and the wise teachings of his old companion (Because we were the travellers, 1997), Ish is able to overcome his grief at the murder of his dearest friends and intended wife. He befriends a slave castrated by the cruel leaders of the Salt People and they continue their odyssey in search of a peaceful, settled life while being relentlessly pursued by the enemy tribe and endangered by new enemies. This vivid, engrossing adventure story, told in the first-person, depicts a bleak, danger-filled life where survival is only possible through sheer will-power and belief in the future. (12+)
Special Mention - New Zealand (English) - 1999 - 38
Leaving One-Foot Island
Wellington: Mallinson Rendel, 1998. 73 p.
Family/Separation - Outsider - City life/Rural life - Cook Islands - Island - Diary
Tuaine has grown up in a sheltered, tight-knit family with her grandparents on Aitutaki (One-Foot Island), one of the Cook Islands. Because of her high marks at school, a New Zealander teacher recommends that she go to Auckland to complete her schooling. After two months with her widowed aunt's family, Tuaine begins to record in an excercise book - inspired by Anne Frank's diary - her experiences of being caught between two worlds as she tries to adjust to a new school life and to the stressed family life in a impoverished family in a big, cold city. The story has a naturalness of language and an authenthic ring that gives immediacy to the feeling of being a guest and a stranger in a foreign place. (12+) ☆ ☼
Philippines (English) - 1999 - 39
Arcellana, Francisco (text)
Alègrè, Hermès (illus.)
Makati City: Tahanan Books for Young Readers, 1997.  p.
ISBN 971-630-079-4 (paperback)
Childhood memories - Gift - Death - Memory
This is an adaptation of a classic story first published in 1938 by the Philippine's National Artist for Literature when he was only 22 years old. It is a moving story told in the first person about an incident in a girl's family. The gift of specially-made mats which are brought back from a business trip helps reveal to the narrator her father's love for all his children, and his sorrow for those already dead. The painterly, stylized illustrations by a young artist, Hermès Alègrè (*1968), are done in bright, rich colors which capture the love and warmth of close family life. (6+) ☆
Philippines (English) - 1999 - 40
Blanco, Marivi Soliven (text)
Santos, Reinard P. (illus.)
Philippine fright. 13 scary stories
Manila: Tahanan Books for Young Readers, 1996. 103 p.
Philippines/Folktales - Supernatural - Trickster
These thirteen spine-tingling stories draw upon legends and frightful supernatural creatures in Philippine folklore but are clearly set in modern times in the Philippine islands. The humorously told tales are spiced with Philippine words whose meanings are apparent in the context of the story. The graphic artist's background in cartooning is apparent in these bluish or violet two-tone grotesque drawings. (8+)
Philippines (English) - 1999 - 41
Flores, Karen (text)
Justiniani, Mark (illus.)
The chair king
Manila: Tahanan, 1997.  p.
Giant - Chair - Wish - Search - Trickery
A lazy, dreamy giant becomes obsessed with finding a chair to fit him. After rampaging the cities and countryside he stumbles upon a remote village, Purok Palukit, which is famous for its hand-made production of especially long-lasting chairs. In spite of his rampaging fit a little girl recognizes there is nothing to fear in the mad, selfish giant. While he sleeps, the villagers unite their talents to create a chair big enough for him - and use his vanity to trick him. The story is well-matched in the fullsized, luminous caricaturist illustrations. (4+)
Special Mention - Philippines (English) - 1999 - 42
Reyes, Severino (text)
Lumbera, Bienvenido (comp.)
Cordero-Fernando, Gilda (transl.)
Gamos, Albert (illus.)
The best of Lola Basyang. Timeless tales for the Filipino family
Manila: Tahanan, 1997. 244 p.
More than 400 tales were written under the pseudonym of Lola Basyang (a well-known storytelling old matriarch in Manila) by the businessman, folklorist, dramatist and editor Severino Reyes (1861- 1942) and published in the vernacular Tagalog in a weekly magazine, »Liwayway«. Twelve of the best stories appear here for the first time in an English translation, which tries to preserve the richness and the spirit of the original, along with an introduction which explains the special qualities of these narratives and the author's intention to capture the nighttime storytelling ambience. The reader will recognize familiar folktale themes (such as Cinderella and Bearskin) woven into these elaborate, well-structured tales. Albert Gamos received an honorable mention at the 1985 BIB and was a runner-up at the 1992 Noma Concours for Picture Book Illustrations. His richly detailed twotone pictures in decorative frames resemble the elaborate illustrative style of the late 19th century. (8+)
Great Britain (English) - 1999 - 43
London: Picadilly, 1998. 141 p.
ISBN 1-85340-408-X (paperback)
Dream - Romance - School drama - Romeo and Juliet - Growing up
Charlotte spends her school-days day-dreaming of high-flung romantic scenes with a handsome but unattainable boy in her class. Her dream is partly fulfilled when, as the understudy for an injured „Juliet", she steps into the leading role of Shakespeare's play. Acting opposite her dream-man Romeo she gives a smashing performance. But, alas, she wins neither the leading man nor her second choice. The story's appropriately ambiguous ending is a humorous admission of teenage fickleness. The irony of the non-parallel plots of play and real-life, and the familiar behavior of parents, brother and best friends contribute to the realism of this very entertaining comedy-of-errors novel. (12+)
Great Britain (English) - 1999 - 44
London: Belitha Press, 1998. 32 p.
(The world reacts)
Famine - Relief assistance - International politics
This highly topical information book presents twelve cases studies and eyewitness accounts of hunger found in different parts of the world in the 1990s. Each double-page spread presents a typical feature of this terrible plight, documented by photographs and boxed texts with a few key statistics and technical terms (which are explained in a glossary). The addresses and Internet sites of organizations such as the Red Cross and the Red Crescent are included in a section addressed to the reader. Notable for a clear accessible style of presentation, this series also includes books on war, earthquakes and floods. (10+) ☆
Special Mention - Great Britain (English) - 1999 - 45
Witnesses to war. Eight true-life stories of Nazi persecution
London: Viking, 1998. 127 p.
Germany 1933-1945 - Persecution - Childhood/War - Stolen children - Survival
Along with the story of Anne Frank, the world's best-known story of a childhood destroyed by political persecution and war, this book by an awardwinning British journalist depicts the devastating experiences of seven other children who were born in Germany, France, Czechoslovakia, Poland and England and survived terrible ordeals in World War II. Leapman writes highly readable accounts of their experiences - at once informative and moving - based both on his interviews with them and general background information, which can also provide a well-grounded, sober introduction to the Holocaust. The intention of the book is to speak to the humanity of every (young) reader, preparing them for the sad realization that »war and conflict persist, in Europe and elsewhere, and children are still the innocent victims.« (14+)
Special Mention - Great Britain (English) - 1999 - 46
MacDonald, Alan (text)
Williamson, Gwyneth (illus.)
Beware of the bears!
London: Magi, 1998.  p.
Fairy tale - Bear - Visitor - Wolf - Mistake
In this clever continuation of the famous fairy tale about Goldilock's visit to an unattended house, her victims, the three bears, seek revenge. After Little Bear follows her to a house across the forest, Mother Bear and Father Bear join him to ransack the unlocked house. The merrily colored watercolor illustrations of their zany antics - in sets of three, of course - make great visual entertainment. When Goldilocks comes back to retrieve her forgotten teddy bear, they all just barely escape discovery by the house's real - big, bad - owner. The surprise ending may encourage the young story-hour listeners to create further possible sequels. (4+)
Special Mention - Great Britain (English) - 1999 - 47
Manning, Mick (text/illus.)
Granström, Brita (text/illus.)
Out there somewhere it's time to...
London: Watts, 1998.  p.
World - Time zones
In the cheerful watercolor illustrations of these double-spread scenes of everyday activities in cities or spots around the world, the concept of time is introduced to young readers. They show what different people are doing simultaneously because they live in different time zones of the earth. Each picture is accompanied by short texts in two type faces, a running story narrative and an informative fact about the place. A world map with picture captions and a glossary of helpful words conclude the book. The author-illustrator team won the silver Smarties Award in 1996 for another book in this series. (5+) ☆ ☼
Special Mention - Great Britain (English) - 1999 - 48
Llandysul: Pont Books/Gomer Press, 1997. 206 p.
Handicap - Shyness - Parental conflict - Romance - Arthritis
A teenage girl lives with her parents in a ruined mansion in a remote area of Wales. She has become too shy to meet new people or go to school, fearing others' reactions to her severely disfiguring rheumatoid arthritis. By chance a young man with dreams of becoming an architect becomes a regular visitor to the house on a school assignment and helps Mary overcome her fears and face family secrets. The author, a school librarian, draws on historical events in a real mansion in Wales to create an authentic Welsh setting. (13+)
(Tir na n-Og, 1998, Shortlist; NASEN Special Educational Needs Children's Book Award, 1998)
Special Mention - Great Britain (English) - 1999 - 49
Onyefulu, Ifeoma (text/photos)
My grandfather is a magician. Work and wisdom in an African village
London: Frances Lincoln, 1998.  p.
Nigeria - Family life - Herbal medicine - Grandfather/ Grandson
This picture information book presents a child's view of his family's professions in a village of southeast Nigeria. The boy's first-person narrative is accompanied by attractive photos of adults at work. In his childlike way, the boy ranks the skills of his grandfather, an expert in tribal medicine, above all the other important professions (such as lawyer, baker, or blacksmith) he observes and hopes to continue one day in his grandfather's footsteps. A brief afterword gives scientific details about the herbs presented. This very personal approach to a multidisciplinary topic (family, professions, medicine) represents an interesting way of portraying cultural facts to children. (6+) ☆ ☼
Special Mention - Great Britain (English) - 1999 - 50
Stannard, Russell (text)
Levers, John (illus.)
Ask Uncle Albert. 100½ tricky science questions answered
London: Faber and Faber, 1998. 197 p.
Science - Nature - Curiosity
The author, a former professor specializing in high energy nuclear physics, offers another volume in his highly acclaimed series of question-and-answer books for young readers on scientific subjects. Here one finds 100 questions grouped in 19 categories of subjects ranging from the universe, materials, time, computers to human and animal life. Stannard writes in a conversational style, directly addressing his real-child correspondent, and cites both facts and various scientific opinions as well as giving his own conjectures. He often draws connections between other numbered questions and has added 38 quiz questions to chew on throughout the text. This informational book makes for most entertaining reading. (10+)
Ireland (English) - 1999 - 51
Milano, Ed (text/illus.)
It's a jungle out there
Dublin: Wolfhound, 1997.  p.
Cat - Outdoors - Self-identity - Hide-and-seek
In this inner monologue a white cat describes its backyard »jungle kingdom«. In the luxuriant stylized pictures of natural hiding places, animal life, and other shadowy shapes, the viewer shares the cat's perspective of a wide world of danger and mystery. This picture book gently triggers the imagination and invites repeated readings (a ladybug is also hidden on each double page spread), not only as a bedtime story. The author-illustrator has achieved remarkable harmony between text, illustration and book design. (4+)
(Bisto Book of the Year Award, 1998, Shortlist)
Ireland (English) - 1999 - 52
Dublin: Poolbeg, 1997. 140 p.
Father/Son - Family conflict - Music band - Career choice - Boy/Girl - Growing up
Joey is a gifted musician who writes the music and lyrics for the rock band with his three mates and a new talented girl singer. But his widowed father has other career hopes for his clearly intelligent, but academically lazy son. Along the way to proving that his choice can bring financial rewards, Joey has to fool his Da and re-examine his flippant manner of dealing with family and friends. This début novel, written when the author was only fifteenyears old, captures the teenage attitude and jargon and the Irish melody of speech to create an authentic, entertaining tale of growing up. (12+)
Ireland (English) - 1999 - 53
Dublin: O'Brien Press, 1997. 175 p.
(Other world series)
Nightmare - Magic - Good/Evil - Witch - Dreaming - Mystery
A three-year old boy is plagued by the same terrifying dream with increasing frequency. He cannot find the words to explain to his parents how the evil figure Pooshipaw can have such a hold over him. His grandmother consults with an old woman who has magical powers, including mind-reading. The witch helps the boy - and his twelve-year old Dutch-Irish cousin, who has different worries - to overcome the hold of the evil spirit in his dreams, while the dull, baffled parents try to solve the riddle of her identity. This engrossing horror story has strong, believable characterizations and adds color to the realistic plot with Irish words and lilting speech patterns.
(Bisto Book of the Year Award, 1998, Overall winner)
Special Mention - Canada (English) - 1999 - 54
Toronto: Doubleday Canada, 1998. 165 p.
Interracial marriage - Search for identity - Grandfather - Prejudice - African slavery
Zack's adolescent discontent with life in his last year at school is compounded by a move from the middle of an exciting big city to a remote rural area. It is gradually assuaged when he takes on a school project that leads to historical detective work involving African freed-slave settlers and also gets romantically involved with a girl. His identity as the son of a black blues singer and a white Jewish historian was never an issue, but his new knowledge about the treatment of the former slaves leads him on a secret odyssey to meet his mother's estranged father in Mississippi. In a taut and plausible plot, the first-person narrator makes decisions that help him to gain maturity and a better understanding of other people. While the family rift is left open in the end, Zack is now ready to face adulthood and pursue academic studies. Much ground is covered in this well-constructed novel, made especially readable by the witty, perceptive narrative tone. (14+)
Special Mention - Canada (English) - 1999 - 55
O'Brien, Lisa (text)
MacEachern, Stephen (illus.)
Lights, Camera, Action. Making movies and TV from the inside out
Toronto: Owl Books/Greey de Pencier, 1998. 64 p.
Film-making - Television production
As a creator, writer and producer of TV shows for children as well as an acting teacher, the author brings a well-grounded insider's perspective on a topic which is of great interest in the modern media age. This information book is packed full of facts and vignettes organized into six chapters. The attractive layout of the landscape-sized pages uses a wide variety of visual presentation styles, lively cartoon- like illustrations, and different type fonts to set off the many different capsules of information. Throughout the book terms are explained clearly and quiz questions given which reveal interesting film trivia. (10+)
Special Mention - Canada (English) - 1999 - 56
Raskin, Lawrie (text/photos)
Pearson, Debora (text)
52 days by camel. My Sahara adventure
Toronto: Annick, 1998. 88 p.
Sahara - Travel - Adventure
A Toronto man's boyhood fascination with the desert (triggered by a Donald Duck comic and nurtured later by David Lean's film of Lawrence of Arabia) and his unwavering pursuit of his evermore concrete dreams led him to the Sahara. Finding an old road sign »Timbouctou 52 Jours« inspired him to seek out this ancient, mysterious city. Here he documents his journey in exquisite photographs, hand-drawn maps, and a running narrative interspersed with boxed explanations on topics related to the people, language and geography of the desert. The layout design of text and illustrations is pleasantly varied and adds a special dimension to this travel adventure book. (10+) ☆
Special Mention - Canada (English) - 1999 - 57
Toronto: Key Porter, 1998. 120 p.
Single mother - Siblings - Growing-up - Peer pressure - Love relations
Three sisters, each very different from the other, ranging in age from thirteen to seventeen have a close relationship, partly due to their divorced mother's long working hours. They have a ritual of sharing their experiences in nighttime truth-only »telling« sessions. As each in turn recounts the events of recent weeks during one summer holiday, issues arise - drinking too much alcohol, going along with a group decision one disagrees with, coping with ego problems of a boy one likes, keeping a gay friend's secret, having sex - that make them grow up and see things better by talking them over. This first-person narrative flows easily and gives much food for thought. (12+)
Special Mention - Canada (English) - 1999 - 58
Toronto: Douglas & McIntyre, 1998. 174 p.
(A Groundwood Book)
Boy/Girl - Child/Death - Friendship - Outsider - Imagination - Bat - Child neglect
When summer holidays arrive and his best friend, Tom, is gone to camp, Terrence finds himself drawn to Lucy, a strange girl his age who hangs around the same city park and thinks she is a bat. Not only does he begin to understand and enjoy her make-believe world, he also gets caught up in the crisis triggered in part by her family's chaotic and neglectful style of life. The situation escalates when she hides for days in a cave and he is torn between feelings of loyalty and concern for her wellbeing. This first novel is an absorbing read with a child-like (first-person) perspective, sharply observed details, and wide cast of believable characters. (10+)
(Groundwood twentieth anniversary first novel for children contest winner, 1997; Governor General's Literary Award, 1998, Shortlist)
Special Mention - Canada (English) - 1999 - 59
Wynne-Jones, Tim (text)
Petričič, Dušan (illus.)
On Tumbledown Hill
Red Deer: Red Deer College Press, 1998.  p.
(Northern lights books for children)
Monsters - Hide-and-seek
The theme is monsters (or else »painting-on-awindy- afternoon-amidst-chaos«). The literary form consists of sentences, each having one word less than the previous one. The eye-catching graphic format is made up of six rows of black block-letter words, one word to a square, which progressively disappear to reveal more of the underlying illustrations. The zany scenes of events on Tumbledown Hill are done in pastel watercolors, the whimsical narrative has a melodic, lyrical flow. At the end of the day the protagonist's painting and the story converge at a question which every young viewer will delight in answering. This two-layered anecdotal tale is a congenial collaboration between an esteemed writer and a talented artist who began his artistic career in Yugoslavia. The book is highly suitable for reading aloud and intensive looking over and over again. (4+)
USA (English) - 1999 - 60
Cazets, Denys (text/illus.)
Minnie and Moo go to the moon
New York: DKInk, 1998. 48 p.
(A Richard Jackson Book)
Cow - Tractor - Farm - Adventure
Moo and Minnie, two cows, are very best friends. Moo has a wild imagination and a daring spirit, while Minnie, though a bit more sensible, always goes along for the adventure. Here Moo suggests they could drive the farmer's tractor and after ransacking the barnyard it takes them flying over a hill, to land, apparently, on the moon. The hilarious Laurel and Hardy style conversations between Moo and Minnie are sure attention-holders in this very attractively designed and charmingly illustrated beginning reader chapter book. (5+) ☼
USA (English) - 1999 - 61
Johnson Stephen T. (illus.)
City by numbers
New York: Viking, 1998.  p.
Counting - City landscape
This is a picture book album of highly realistic paintings of completely natural scenes in Manhattan which, upon closer observation, reveal the numbers one to twenty-one (chosen in commemoration of the coming century). As explained in a preface, the artist hopes to inspire the viewer to see in fresh and playful ways, to make new discoveries of his or her own surroundings, to »transcend the mundane« and find beauty hidden in urban buildings and scenes. (6+)
USA (English) - 1999 - 62
Painters of the caves
Washington, D.C.: National Geographic Society, 1998. 48 p.
Chauvet Cave (France) - Cave painting - Prehistoric man
In 1994 three amateur cave explorers discovered 300 paintings in a cave in the linestone hills near Avignon which were created by Stone Age painters thousands of years ago. Though not the only such find, it is the best preserved cave found yet. Along with brilliant photographs and other documentary illustrations, Lauber gives an account of what scientists have learned and are still seeking to learn - through art, fossils and buried artefacts - about the world's common ancestors, the first »modern humans«. This is just one of several equally beautiful information books for young people published by the National Geographic Society this year. (10+)
USA (English) - 1999 - 63
Restless spirit. The life and work of Dorothea Lange
New York: Viking, 1998. 122 p.
Lange, Dorothea (1895-1965) - Photography - USA/ Social history - Woman/Career
This richly illustrated biography of a strongminded, sometimes difficult photographer is not only well-written but also enriched with warm per- sonal observations. As a child Partridge, along with her parents, was a member of the intimate circle of Lange's family friends. Lange's life exemplifies the complexities a woman faces in the male working world and as a devoted - but never subservient - mother and wife. The challenging circumstances of her personal life and her professional idealism as a documentary photographer of some of the great social tragedies of the 20th century in the U.S. will inspire young readers on several levels. (12+)
USA (English) - 1999 - 64
Parzival. The quest of the Grail Knight
New York: Lodestar/Dutton, 1998. 127 p.
Perceval (Legend) - Grail - Knight - King Arthur - Curse - Fool - Redemption - Middle Ages
The consummate storyteller and 1998 Hans Christian Andersen Award winner Katherine Paterson retells the chivalric tale of an errant knight and the Holy Grail as a parable. According to the 25,000- line epic poem by one of the greatest German medieval poets, Wolfram von Eschenbach - which goes beyond the Round Table version of Percival - Parzival is an innocent fool who endures many trials before finally achieving redemption. Paterson succeeds in creating a very readable tale without resorting to modernisms of speech. Yet it retains the humor of the source tale and portrays a character whose misadventures and human frailities seem maddeningly plausible. (10+)
USA (English) - 1999 - 65
Ten minutes till bedtime
New York: G.P. Putnam's, 1998.  p.
Hamster - Tourism - Imagination - Bedtime - Internet
In a highly inventive story that begins on the frontispiece with a hamster viewing the Internet advertisement for a »10-minute bedtime tour« in Napville, we follow a nearly wordless animal fantasy story that is marked only by the taciturn, newspaper-reading father's countdown. In each full-page, increasingly action-filled illustration, the megaphone-wielding hamster-host and pajamaclad boy as chief entertainment attraction prove to be an enormous success with vacationing hamsters, who arrive in a caravan made up of every possible kind of vehicle. In her brilliant water-color compositions, Rathman proves again and again that one picture = 1000 words! (4+)
USA (English) - 1999 - 66
New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1998. 233 p.
(Frances Foster Books)
Punishment - Family history - Friendship - Reading - Survival
In short chapters and unadorned sentences containing dry wit - perhaps reflecting the barren Texas landscape - Sacher tells a heart-warming story of a boy whose bad luck finally runs out. Caught with stolen shoes that had flown off a bridge, Stanley is sent to a detention camp in the desert which is run by a cruel, single-minded director who forces the inmates to dig holes daily in search of a buried treasure. The mystery of the treasure happens to be bound up with Stanley's grandfather, whose story forms a parallel narrative. Stanley's hesitant friendship with Zero, their daring survival adventure and ultimate triumph form a wonderfully worked plot that makes very satisfying reading. (10+)
(Newbery Medal, 1999)
USA (English) - 1999 - 67
Shulevitz, Uri (text/illus.)
New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1998.  p.
Snow - City life - Imagination - Transformation
Shulevitz' keen artistic sense of color contrasts - here grey vs. white - and a talent for lyrical descriptions of everyday occurences and, lastly, an imaginative way of depicting dynamic activity are combined in a sparely told tale of snow falling. Can enough snowflakes „survive" to cover the whole city? The little boy protagonist believes they will succeed, contrary to all weather forecasts, and when they do he dances about happily with Mother Goose characters that have come to life. The watercolor illustrations of a fairy-tale like city and stylized, impish characters accompany a laconic text. (3+)
(Caldecott Medal, 1999, Honor Book)
USA (English) - 1999 - 68
The lost boys of Natinga. A school for Sudan's young refugees
Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1998. 44 p.
Sudan - Civil war - Refugee - Relief assistance - Lost childhood
In one of the refugee camps that was established in 1993 by rebel soldiers in southern Sudan for boys uprooted by their country's civil war, there is a school offering formal and informal classes run by an American relief organization. Walgren, a journalist who has reported on the Sudan war since 1989, spent nearly two months in the remote site of Natinga under extreme conditions to document the way children and youth are growing up, caught between the fronts, living from day-to-day, but preparing for a better future. Her descriptive text is filled with details of personal fates and the difficulties of coping with these needs, giving a clear indictment of war. (12+) ☆
Special Mention - USA (English) - 1999 - 69
New York: Hyperion, 1998.  p.
School - Ethnicity - Sushi - Rejection - Curiosity - Friendship
In this charming animal fantasy Yoko is a Japanese girlcat who attends first-grade at a multi-cultural school. When Yoko unpacks her Sushi at snack-time, her fellow classmates join together in a chorus of teasing. Inspite of the teacher's intermediary efforts, only one child is finally tempted to try Sushi (and loves it) at their International Food Day. Wells relates a common childhood experience - differentness and rejection - based on experiences of her own and of her daughter as young school children. She chose to make Yoko an animal because she finds they »are better than humans in conveying certain ideas and feelings«, and a cat to reflect her quiet, sweet nature and emerging independence. True to her intent, as stated in the journal »Book Links« (September 1998), Wells superbly succeeds in expressing the »emotional connection« between her characters in carefully colored, precisely composed picture portraits. (4+) ☆
South Africa (English) - 1999 - 235
Vos, Philip de (text)
Grobler, Piet (illus.)
Karnaval van die diere.
(Carnival of the animals)
Kaapstad: Human & Rousseau, 1998. 32 p.
Music - Animals
Very original and sparkling short sketches based on the famous piece of music »Carnival of the Animals« of Camille Saint-Saëns. The lion, the cock, the hinny, the turtle, and many more animals, but also the nasty piano player and fossils are briefly typified. Finally, they all come together in the big finale. The artist Piet Grobler made a splendid illustration for every animal (and of course, also for the nasty pianist), where he freely handles the interpretations of the text. In all respects, the book is a very successful picture art book, that will fascinate readers and viewers of all ages. (8+)
Ghana (English) - 2000 - 21
Aidoo, Ama Ata
The girl who can and other stories
Legon, Accra: Sub-Saharan Publishers, 1997 (repr. 1999). 146 p.
(Distr. excl. by African Books Collective, Oxford)
Everyday life/Ghana - Women's rights - Bravery
This is a collection of short stories dealing with women in different social and family situations in modern-day Ghana by a long-standing creative writer and teacher. In each story she adopts a different narrative style and covers themes ranging from an electoral victory, a young woman passing a pilot test, a mother struggling with common family crises while her husband spends his nights elsewhere, or a high-placed NGO founder reflecting on the meaning and practical implications of »global village.« These memorable stories celebrate the uprightness and self-consciousness of women in a world that favors men. They stand out as African writing through their fresh, real-life imagery and the natural voice of the narrators. (14+) ☆
Kenya (English) - 2000 - 22
Makotsi, Ruth L.
The boy who became a frog
Nairobi: East African Educational Publishers, 1999. 25 p.
(Sparrow readers; 18)
(Distr. excl. by African Books Collective, Oxford)
Folktale - Marriage - Man/Frog - Transformation - Good/Evil
Strong and boastful, Sudi and the beautiful orphaned Difna grow up in the same household. When they are old enough, each is sought after as a marriage partner, but they want only to marry each other.When Sudi refuses to marry the ugly daughter of the village medicine man, he is turned into a frog. But Difna waits for him and after the drowning death of the evil medicine man, good triumphs over evil. The elaborate twists of plot of this folktale make it enjoyable reading. (8+)
Nigeria (English) - 2000 - 23
A son among daughters
Ibadan: Heinemann Educational Books, 1998. 41 p.
Father/Son - Self-assertion - Lost/Found - Adventure
Chijioke is the seventh child, and long-awaited only son of a happy, devoted couple, important members of the Okpo village. He takes after his kind and generous parents, but is also spoiled by them and his six sisters. His only fault is his obstinacy. This leads him to disobey and follow his hunter father into the woods one day. Soon lost, he experiences several adventures before he finally comes upon the cottage of a man-eating witch. After several attempts, he manages to run away from her and slowly work his way through the bush, back to his village. The incidents of this story are vividly told and hold the reader in suspense. (10+)
South Africa (English) - 2000 - 24
Brandt, Marianna (text)
Riet, Samantha van (illus.)
Bristow-Bovey, Darrel (transl.)
The mealie-cob doll
(Afrikaans orig. title: Die mieliestronkpop)
Cape Town: Tafelberg, 1998. 36 p.
Birthday present - Wish - Disappointment - Art competition
Matilda's mother has not been selling enough hot corn-on-the-cob (mealies) at their street stall to be able to buy the frilly blue dress Matilda dreams of for her birthday. Instead, her grandmother sews her a very charming doll using an old corn cob that a customer presented to Matilda with the words »May it bring you happiness«. At school Matilda draws a striking portrait of her new doll - despite the scorn of some classmates - and wins first-prize in the art competition. With the considerable prize money she can buy the dress and gifts for others. This well-plotted and attractively illustrated tale depicts the universal feelings and challenges of childhood - desire, jealousy, rivalry and contentment. It is produced in a sturdy paperback edition. (8+)
Zimbabwe (English) - 2000 - 25
Makura, Tendai (text)
Pasirayi, Thomas (illus.)
The talking walking stick
Harare: Zimbabwe Publishing House, 1999. 13 p.
(Distr. excl. by African Books Collective, Oxford)
Folktale/Zimbabwe - Selfishness - Greed - Murder
When a family of four sets off by foot on a sixday journey to visit the mother's parents, father always eats the greatest part of their provisions. After five days they find a tree that yields only two figs, which the two children cajole from their mother. In a flash of temper the father kills her, and to keep this murder secret, he must commit one murder after the other. Arriving at the village, his walking stick continues to sing of his evil deeds and the villager elders punish the murderer. This story demonstrates that the truth will always come out. Though the simple black-and-white illustrations are of uneven quality, the story is well-written and the typography attractive. (8+)
Australia (English) - 2000 - 26
Base, Graeme (text/illus.)
The worst band in the universe
Melbourne: Viking/Penguin Books Australia, 1999.  p. + 1 CD
Music - Innovation - Power struggle - Banishment
The internationally known author-illustrator of numerous memorable and elaborately detailed picture books has taken yet another direction of storytelling and reader entertainment. With a CD of fascinating and lively rock music thats fit perfectly with the plot and theme of the text, Base offers his readers a contemporary, illustrated form of rock opera. The plot of this allegorical space fantasy is told in epic verse. It involves a young upstart musician who dares to improvise, is banned to another planet, forms a band with other renegades and finally confronts the (quite unmusical) Musical Inquisitor in a show-down. Fans of films like »Star Wars« will love the weird space creatures and space worlds depicted here in neon pastel double-page spreads, and all readers will enjoy the engaging story of a young hero. (8+)
Australia (English) - 2000 - 27
Sink or swim
South Fremantle: Fremantle Arts Centre Press, 1999. 200 p.
Homeless child - Crayfish - Adventure - Trust - Friendship - Growing up
A tough, street-wise teenager Brazza, on the run after the latest battering at home and living by stealing, encounters an old craggy fisherman on a remote seacoast who needs a deckhand and decides to take a gamble on the boy. In this fastpaced adventure story - full of vivid details about the dangers of sea, weather and equipment, of illnesses and accidents - the two of them gradually learn to trust each other, admit their need of each other, and become a team that can deal with the many challenges of small-boat pot fishing. Brazza begins to get help in reading and sets his aim on the exams for a fishing-boat skipper. The novel is a well-told gripping story of friendship and growth despite adversity. (11+)
Australia (English) - 2000 - 28
Angels passing by
Ringwood: Puffin/Penguin, 1999. 83 p.
Parents/Son - Bully - Self-assertion - Dog - Growing up
The only son of a fairly old, rather eccentric father and definitely non-assertive mother - and »brother« to a very spoiled dog -, twelve-year old Tom tells his own story of learning to deal teasing at his new school from bullies who call him a »loser«. He gradually learns to put his parent's own »loser« behavior into a perspective he can understand and accept. This involves taking a long trip to his mother's childhood home, only to find it very much changed and unromantic; his telling off the bullies; and his anonymous growing of a marijuana seed which his mother eventually discovers and innocently protects. This is a quiet, funny novel about growing up under rather normal circumstances and its thoughtful, brave hero will appeal to many readers. (10+)
Australia (English) - 2000 - 29
Ingpen, Robert (text/illus.)
Once upon a place. Paintings, drawings and notes on imaginary places
Port Melbourne: Lothian, 1999. 48 p.
Fantasy - Imagination - Journey
This is a companion work to »Fabulous places of myth« which Lothian Books published in 1998 with a text by Michael Cave to elucidate Robert Ingpen's imaginary visual journeys to Camelot, Atlantis, Valhalla and the Tower of Babel. The readers who share the artist's fascination with the places of the imagination will once again find much to savour in the exquisite pencil character sketches and elaborate watercolor paintings of Chaucer's pilgrims, Hamelin's Pied Piper or the hero's banquet at Tara. Ingpen's personalized text cites excerpts from the stories that fascinate him, and celebrates the powerful effect that stories can have on readers. (12+)
Australia (English) - 2000 - 30
Stony heart country
Ringwood: Penguin Books Australia, 1999. 208 p.
Economic rationality - Unemployment - Friendship - Compassion - Growing up
A widely-travelled upper-class teenager comes to live in a small town in western Victoria for three months where his father has taken the task of conducting an economic feasibility study of a local clothing factory having economic problems. As it is the sole major employer, the local residents cannot help feeling threatened. Aaron finds enemies, but also experiences important supportive friendships that help him ultimately to understand more about tolerance and about himself. Metzenthen uses a social background of economic turmoil and corporate ruthlessness quite purposefully. He skillfully develops strong character portraits and allows the reader to get quite close to Aaron's inner feelings and reflections. (14+)
Australia (English) - 2000 - 31
Overend, Jenni (text)
Vivas, Julie (illus.)
Sydney: ABC Books, 1999.  p.
Home birth - Siblings
The child narrator of this lovely picture book relates the events of a very special day in his family - the home birth of their newest member. In the double-page spreads done in Julie Vivas's characteristic style of warm pastel pencil drawings, each stage of preparation and actual birthing is described in realistic, through artistically simplified detail. The judicious use of white spaces and shifts in dominant color tones helps to convey the suspense, climax and happy, restful conclusion of a momentous event for all six family members. Some readers may shy away from the book's explicit detail, but this is a welcome alternative to information books that explain scientifically »where babies come from.« (6+)
Australia (English) - 2000 - 32
Wharton, Herb (text)
Hurley, Ron (illus.)
St. Lucia: University of Queensland Press, 1999. 136 p.
Aborigines - Childhood memories - Growing up
This is the first young adult book by a notable writer of Aborigine and European descent whose main theme is his boyhood on the Warrego River in Queensland, 600 km west of Brisbane and many years as a drover (cattle or sheep driver). In this storyteller style of memoir Wharton looks back fondly at his strict upbringing by poor, illiterate but decent and caring parents and extended family members. Though he enjoyed school and loved the power of language, his education into life began already in his early teens as a drover; his lifelong curiosity and interest in learning supplied him with the wide range of stories that today fascinate his readers and listeners. This is a very readable, brilliantly-told tale of an rich, adventurous life. (12+)
India (English) - 2000 - 33
Chandran, Hira Nirodi (text)
Gaidhane, Shankar (illus.)
Hyderabad: Gul Mohar/Orient Longman, 1998. 160 p.
Countryside - Drought - City life - Runaway - House servant
Eleven-year old Chikka lives with his older married brother and helps with the rice-farming most of the time, though he still likes to run off and play with his friend or listen to the old neighbor man's stories. But when a drought makes it difficult for the family of four to make ends meet, Chikka impestuously runs away to Bangalore. With luck he finds a post as kitchen helper in a kind family and will be able to send some money back to his family each month. This simple story of a poor uneducated school boy who dreams of a better life and is willing to work and take risks, has likeable characters and an evenly paced plot of adventure and variety. First published abroad in 1962, it still has a fresh feeling and a positive outlook on life. (10+) ☆
India (English) - 2000 - 34
Iyengar, Gita (text)
Biswas, Pulak (illus.)
New Delhi: National Book Trust, 1998. 39 p.
(Nehru Bal Pustakalaya)
Moving house - Neighbor - Friendship - Ancestors - Time travel
When a boy and girl discover an old photograph album, a woman in one of the pictures begins to speak to them. As they turn each page new episodes in the lives of the boy's relatives come to life before their eyes. Suddenly they find themselves drawn into the photographs and following along with the children of past times, learning bits of India's social history. The attractive pen and wash illustrations capture highlights of their experiences. (10+)
Special Mention - India (English) - 2000 - 35
Ravishankar, Anushka (text)
Ramanathan, Rathna (illus.)
Anything but a grabooooooberry
Chennai: Tara Publ., 1998.  p.
Poetry/English - Daydream - Imagination - Nonsense
The green and red graphic illustrations of this book play with the words and ideas of a simple, melodic nonsense poem about »what I want to be.« Beehive is written letter for letter into a honey cone, the word elephant looks like one, the letters of the rocking chair move up and down. Both the poem and the highly imaginative play with shapes and forms are so enchanting that one wants go right back to the beginning. This recently founded publishing house is developing an ambitious program of well-designed books for all age groups. (4+)
Special Mention - India (English) - 2000 - 36
Sadykov, Turat (text)
Roy, Subir (illus.)
Singh, Varyam (transl.)
New Delhi: Children's Book Trust, 1998. 32 p.
(Transl. from Kirghiz)
Folk tale/Kirghizia - Hero
Late in life an old, rich man became father to a child. Shortly before the birth of the child who would be named Manas a wandering doctor and seer who was passing by fed the mother meat from an ancient animal that destined the child to have extraordinary powers. Even as a child he used his incredible strength to perform useful, heroic deeds that are still told today. This attractively illustrated booklet contains three tales that reveal the customs and traditions of the pre-dominantly Muslim, worldly open mountainous country of Kirghizia, which became an autonomous republic after nearly 130 years of Russian rulership. (8+) ☆
Special Mention - India (English) - 2000 - 37
Saxena, Ira (text)
Gayen, Prithvishwar (illus.)
The virus trap
New Delhi: Children's Book Trust, 1998. 144 p.
School - Computer software - Hacker - Theft - Detective
Anshuman attends a special school well-equipped with modern computer facilities where he and his two friends spend so much time that they are considered »geeks«. Computering is also the special bond between Anshuman and his adopted uncle Deepak, a computer company executive who develops network software. When it becomes clear that someone is trying to steal or sabotage Deepak's new systems software, Anshuman and others become the target of attacks. While tracking down the culprits, he realizes that he needs to expose the thief with the help of a computer virus. This is fast-paced, action-filled mystery story that is filled with the details and jargon of the computer world. The manuscript won first prize in a writer's competition by the Indian IBBY section. (12+)
New Zealand (English) - 2000 - 38
Dunedin: Longacre Press, 1999. 182 p.
Family conflict - Romantic love - Outsider - Intolerance - Vandalism - Murder
Sixteen-year old Michael has gone to several different schools and already learned to take risks in order to gain recognition from his peers. As he narrates the events of one school year we become acquainted with a wide cast of characters - parents, teachers, and pentacostal Christians - in his new town and school. The one who causes him to change his perspective on life is Lester, a motocycle-riding tramp who camps out in town. Gradually Michael tracks down details surrounding Lester's past and the town's hidden guilt. The unwinding of the mystery, set alongside Michael's attempts at romance and moral justice, makes a compelling story about coming of age. This is a promising debut novel by a young New Zealand teacher and writer. (14+)
New Zealand (English) - 2000 - 39
Cowley, Joy (text)
Bishop, Gavin (illus.)
The video shop sparrow
Wellington: Mallinson Rendel, 1999.  p.
Bird - Prisoner - Rescue - Nature - Indifference - Political power
Upon returning a video cassette to a shop that is closed for holidays, two boys sight a sparrow that has been accidentally locked inside. When their first efforts to have family, neighbors or friends open up the shop meet with indifference and fatalism regarding a single common bird, they take the problem to the small town's mayor who is holding a press conference. She immediately finds a solution and puts them all in the headlines. The very attractive, landscape-sized pen-and-wash illustrations are filled with details that enhance the text with irony and subtle clues. This apparently simple, realistic plot will appeal to children and also spark reflection about ecology and human values. (8+)
Special Mention - New Zealand (English) - 2000 - 40
Holcroft, Anthony (text)
Preiss, Leah Palmer (illus.)
A visit to the orchards of heaven
Christchurch: Hazard Press, 1998. 76 p.
Fairy tale - Desire - Character - Justice - Contentment
This is a delightful collection of nine literary fairy tales narrated as only an experienced storyteller can do. There is magic and suspense in each plot, mostly set in realistic but different places around the world. In some tales the main character is a magician or witch; in others the hero - a child, a young husband, or old man - encounters a creature - a bird, a leprechan, or enchanted dancer - who uses supernatural powers for good or evil purposes. A common thread in these tales is the lesson of contentment. The heroes often experience the consequences of following temptation and impetuous desire and, in most tales, finally recognize the satisfaction to be had at home and in human companionship. Each tale is distinct enough in setting, cast of characters and unpredictability of plot to remain memorable. Illustrated only with singular, characteristic vignettes, these tales need only their words to create lively pictures in the mind of the reader or listener. (8+)
Special Mention - New Zealand (English) - 2000 - 41
Mataira, Kāterina (text)
Huége de Serville, Sylvia (illus.)
Raglan: Ahura Enterprises, 1999. 31 p.
Father - Daughter - Separation - Dance - Imagination
Kereana and her mother experience terrible unhappiness when their father and husband leave them behind in New Zealand to work overseas. When Kereana takes up practicing Maori dances, the waiata-a-ringa, the pain in her heart begins to subside. Soon she enters school and learns the welcoming songs and dances of the kapa haka group, but still feels sad that her father never sees her. Her grandmother suggests that she could imagine her father in the audience and this helps Kereana become a very good performer. This read-aloud story about adjusting to separation is universally appealing, while the colorful pencil illustrations opposite each page of text provide an appealing view into a modern Maori childhood. (5+) ☆
Great Britain (English) - 2000 - 42
London: Orchard, 1999. 248 p.
Foster child - Africa/England - Civil war - Growing up
A boy from a village in a civil-war torn East African country is given a home with a family in south London. As an eyewitness to the atrocious murder of his father, mother and younger sister, an accidental survivor, he wants nothing more than the chance to return to his country and return to life as a guerilla warrior and revenger. But the street life and rivalries in south London seem to hold certain parallels and keep Kaninda's mind flashing back to his previous life. This novel makes his traumas terribly palpable, showing the ugliness of war, and also the possibility of developing new bonds of friendship and gaining insight into the futility of fighting. Ashley draws lively characters and uses street dialect to make the story come alive. (14+)
Great Britain (English) - 2000 - 43
Tell me no lies
London: Macmillan, 1999. 196 p.
Family secret - Mother/Child - Separation - Guilt
This engrossing narrative is composed of alternating chapters portraying the parallel lives of Gemma, an unpopular and difficult girl, and the newcomer and soon popular boy Mike. Because of her secret hobby of collecting newspaper photos of mothers - she believes her mother is dead - she recognizes Mike and finds old newspaper reports about how his mother allegedly murdered his father. When she blackmails him with this secret, a dangerous spiral of events is set in motion. Only a number of coincidences lead to unspoken truths in both of their situations come to light. This is a page-turning novel that compels sympathy for both protagonists and affirms the need for truth and honesty in family relationships. (10+)
Great Britain (English) - 2000 - 44
Daly, Niki (text/illus.)
London: Lincoln, 1999.  p.
(Also publ. in New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1999)
Mistake - Dressing up - Africa - Family life
A young South African girl gets so caught up in the excitement of preparations for a family wedding that she wraps herself up in her mother's newly bought material and parades around the township. Alas, it is soon dirty and torn and her mother terribly sad. But all turns out well when a photo of proudly parading »Kwela Jamela - African Queen« appears in the newspaper and she receives enough money to replace the material - with even enough left over for a second dress, too. The exuberant realistic double-spread watercolor illustrations that are Daly's trademark actually tell the charming story themselves. They present lively outdoor scenes and close family and neighborhood interaction in a rural community. (4+)
Great Britain (English) - 2000 - 45
Dare to be different. A celebration of freedom in association with Amnesty International
London: Bloomsbury, 1999. 75 p.
Difference - Freedom - Equality - Justice - Change
This attractively designed anthology contains 13 beautifully illustrated stories and poems by some of the leading writers and illustrators for children today which reflect the ideas and ideals by the human rights organization Amnesty International. Some stories are re-tellings or legends such as Pandora's box, or Daniel and the lions, or literary fairy tales such as Oscar Wilde's »The happy prince«. Other stories, such as Bernard Ashley's »Only a stone« or Susan Gates' »Butterflies and swimmers«, depict events in everyday life, in which children learn important lessons about the consequences of their actions. Poems by Langston Hughes and James Berry deal with freedom and equality. (8+)
Great Britain (English) - 2000 - 46
Donaldson, Julia (text)
Scheffler, Axel (illus.)
London: Macmillan, 1999.  p.
Forest - Enemy - Monster - Self-assertion - Imagination - Surprise
Mouse has many potential enemies when he walks through the forest. By cleverly claiming to be meeting the ferocious and dreadful looking Gruffalo, the mouse scares off the fox, the owl, the snake with descriptions of this imaginary beast; but suddenly a real Gruffalo appears out of the blue and the mouse must use his wits once again. The clear and simple pictures of each episode are suitably stylized to help make this rhyming picture book a great read-aloud story about self-assertion. (4+)
Great Britain (English) - 2000 - 47
Doyle, Malachy (text)
Teckentrup, Britta (illus.)
Well, a crocodile can!
London: Lincoln, 1999.  p.
Comparison - Animals - Reading
In this charming fold-out and lift-the-flap picture book young children learn about the surprising, special features of a wide variety of animals - elephant, flea, camel, chameleon, gibbon, crocodile - that human beings do not have. In the final doublepage spread the special abilities of people to sing, write draw and read - with humorous self-reference to this very picture book - conclude the comparison. The bright, pastel line-and-wash drawings are filled with small details that round out the design of the book. (4+)
Great Britain (English) - 2000 - 48
Edwards, Becky (text)
Armitage, David (illus.)
My brother Sammy
London: Bloomsbury, 1999.  p.
Siblings - Differentness - Acceptance
In his first-person narrative of several lines overlayed on each double-page spread, a schoolage boy describes clearly his feelings of frustration and sadness about his younger, handicapped brother, Sammy, who cannot share in the same everyday activities and pleasures. At an angry climactic moment, the boy's perspective suddenly changes when his brother responds to him, and they begin to share moments of togetherness. This emotionally touching storyline is complemented by soft pastel watercolor illustrations that focus not on Sammy but on the narrator and his struggle to come to terms with his feelings and his own role as a special brother. (5+)
Great Britain (English) - 2000 - 49
Wake up, World! A day in the life of children around the world
London: Lincoln in assoc. with Oxfam, 1999.  p.
(Also publ. in New York: Henry Holt, 1999)
Everyday life/Child - Comparison
This striking photographic picture album takes a world-wide view of how children live today. The wide diversity of life-style and comfort is set off against the commonality of their interests. The family life, school life, free time and dreams of eight children from eight different corners of the world - Australia, Vietnam, India, Russia, Ghana, United Kingdom, Brazil and the United States - are presented in double-page spreads. Excellent color photographs of the children's activities are accompanied by first-person quotations or informative statements. On the back fly-leaf a brief geo-social description of each country provides a wider contextual framework. (5+) ☆
Great Britain (English) - 2000 - 50
London: Andersen Press, 1999. 152 p.
Bullying - Peer pressure - School trip - World War II - Normandy - Fascism
Danny looks and acts differently than others of his age, he likes classical music and can't play football. At his new school he is immediately the brunt of bullying by a group of boys led by a policeman's son and model pupil. Toby, the son of Danny's family friends, wants to be accepted by the other boys and goes along with their bullying. The situation reaches a crisis on a school trip to Normandy when Danny disappears; Toby fears he may have committed suicide and must deal with his feelings of guilt and helplessness. This is a very direct, powerful story about ordinary school children from middle-class families who go too far. The novel deals with powerlessness and maliciousness in a believable, incisive narrative. (12+)
Great Britain (English) - 2000 - 51
Llandysul: Pont Books/Gomer Press, 1999. 115 p.
Family life - Romantic love - Disappointment
A novel about a boy's first, disappointing love relationship is a rare thing. The emotional impact of Iestyn's first sexual encounter with an older girl who is his sister's best friend is strong and painful. When he realizes that she only played around with him on a whim, on a dare, he is completely shattered. The author succeeds in giving a convincing portrait of an adolescent boy at a decisive time of life, depicting his confused feelings over this first failed relationship and his gradual recovery, against the backdrop of an uncertain and undecided future. The language and local scenery depict a believable working-class family in modernday Wales. (14+)
Great Britain (English) - 2000 - 52
Wonders never cease!
London: Piccadilly Press, 1998. 139 p.
Bereavement - Career choice - Romantic love
Jason will be finishing school at sixteen but doesn't know what he wants to do with his life. He begins to find a sense of direction by getting involved in local community controversies and through his tentatively romantic friendship with a 23-year old single mother. In the end her young daughter becomes a welcome part of Jason's family, which still bereaves the leukemia death of Jason's sister. In this at times filmscript-like novel, the frequently alternating perspective on events is depicted in changing type-faces and graphic inserts of newpaper cuttings. Jason is a quite likeable protagonist and the various strands of the story about everyday life in ordinary, workingclass surroundings are engagingly told. (14+)
Great Britain (English) - 2000 - 53
Walker, David (text)
Rolph, Mic (illus.)
A leaf in time
London: Portland Press, 1999. 32 p.
(Making sense of science children's books)
Energy - Ecology
This paperback information book provides an understandable survey of our world's energy system in order to impress upon the reader the need for more careful use of our essential resources. Beginning with the production of oxygen by plants, the author - an emeritus professor of photosynthesis - describes in simple terms the biochemical principles of light energy. He describes the changes in our living habits that have led to excess use of energy and forecasts coming problems of energy usage in a compellingly manner. The colorful and diverse, at times gently humorous illustrations are oriented to reinforce the text. Refreshingly simple in layout and design, this book offers a sound introduction into an important topic. (10+)
Ireland (English) - 2000 - 54
Benny and Omar
Dublin: O'Brien Press, 1999. 237 p.
Moving house - Tunesia - Friendship - Orphan - Assistance
When his father changes jobs, Benny Shaw moves with his family from Ireland to Tunesia and begins school at a - to his mind, weird - progressive private school where his smart-alecky personality does not fit in. When Benny gets to know a young Tunesian orphan boy who lives in a shack outside the Westerners' compound, he becomes involved in adventures and dangers that have serious consequences for both of them. Colfer drives his plot with many techniques including Benny's wittily boyish humor as well as Omar's brand of English-via-TV-films. Colfer, himself a teacher who has worked in Arabian countries, has already written a sequel (»Benny and Babe«) set in western Ireland that will satisfy the fans of this bestselling novel. (10+)
Ireland (English) - 2000 - 55
Is anybody listening?
Dublin: Wolfhound Press, 1999. 188 p.
Child abuse - Mystery - Social involvement - Telepathy
At first 17-year old Laura thinks someone is playing a joke on her, but as she hears the same voices increasingly often, she has to take their calls for help seriously - Sanjid, a young Indian boy held as a slave carpet weaver, and Rose, a Brazilian slum teenager. In a diary, Laura records incidents of magically linking up to each of them in her mind, while she becomes more and more shaken by the violence and dangers in their lives. Overly excited, she is admitted to hospital with an asthma attack and a young doctor helps her save Sanjid. Using magical realism, this compelling novel intertwines lives on different continents to awaken the readers' concern for child abuse. Addresses of international aid organizations are given in an appendix. (14+)
Canada (English) - 2000 - 56
Bedard, Michael (text)
Tait, Les (illus.)
The clay ladies
Toronto: Tundra Books/McClelland & Stewart, 1999.  p.
Childhood memories - Sculpture - Neighbor - Grandmother/Grandchild
A young child describes an overnight stay with his grandmother and the memories she shares with him of two important adult role models in her own childhood. Next door to her lived two unusual women sculptors in a large old house-cumstudio who always welcomed child visitors. The text tells how the women hold respect for children and nature, are able to heal wounded animals and give children the opportunity to appreciate beauty and details, and sense the satisfaction of shaping ideas from lumps of clay. The meticulously composed full-page picture scenes of each visit are shown on the opposite page and support the story beautifully. (8+)
Canada (English) - 2000 - 57
Khan, Rukhsana (text)
Gallinger, Patty (illus.)
Muslim child. A collection of short stories and poems
Toronto: Napoleon Publ., 1999. 69 p.
Muslims - Religious customs - Sayings
This collection of 21 entries - stories, poems, sayings and activities - offers children outside the Muslim world a very wide range of information at the story and the information level (in part, through extensive explanations in side-bars). The way that Muslim children learn to practice the beliefs of their ancestors are depicted in quite realistic narratives that show how their religion effects their daily lives and how they themselves grow in understanding. The reader will also gain much understanding for a culture that is still widely unfamiliar in many countries. (8+) ☆
Canada (English) - 2000 - 58
Leedahl, Shelley A. (text)
Slavin, Bill (illus.)
The bone talker
Red Deer: Red Deer Press, 1999.  p.
(Northern lights books for children)
Old age - Neighbor - Help - Time - Memories
This literary folk tale ends, in a surprising twist, as an homage to the wide prairie land of central Canada. It starts with the decline of an old woman who was so old that »she talked to her bones as if they were her children« and continues in a wry, lyrical style, telling of all the neighbor's efforts to keep her involved in life and all her stubborn refusals. But when a mere child offers her two scraps of cloth, she slowly finds a smile and begins to sew again. People from near and far bring her more pieces of cloth, each holding special family memories. The superb oil painting illustrations are filled with stylized characters representing Canada's immigrants. (8+)
Canada (English) - 2000 - 59
Marchand, Barbara (illus.)
Kou-Skelowh = We are the people. A trilogy of Okanagan legends.
Penticton: Theytus Books, 1999. 88 p.
Folktale/Canada/Okanagan - Origin of life - Names - Animal/Man
These three traditional legends of an Aboriginal tribe in British Columbia were first translated in the 1980s for educational use within the tribal setting. They tell how the chiefs of the Animal and Plant people prepared for the coming of a new people, mankind, by arranging for them to have food and songs; how before the coming of humans the Great Spirit gave all the animals names and their own unique tasks; and how a dream taught the turtle how to free all the animals from their slavery to the eagle. These animal fables make for lively storytelling and are impressive cultural documents of a deep respect for nature and natural processes. The stylized pen-and-ink wash illustrations reflect the spirit of the texts. (8+)
Canada (English) - 2000 - 60
Munsch, Robert N. (text)
Martchenko, Michael (illus.)
We share everything
Markham: Scholastic Canada, 1999.  p.
Kindergarten - Sharing - Gender roles
A six-year old boy and girl begin their first day at kindergarten with a power struggle over toys, books, and activities. Repeatedly, their teacher exhorts them to share everything. But when they take her quite literally and share - exchange - their clothes as well, they seem to have broken a terrible taboo. And all the children in the kindergarten agree that their teacher must change her way of seeing things! This is a delightful read-aloud picture book with a catchy refrain that captures the child-like spirit of play, spontaneity, and fun in both text and illustration. (5+)
Canada (English) - 2000 - 61
Trottier, Maxine (text)
Morin, Paul (illus.)
Toronto: Stoddart Kids, 1999.  p.
Childhood memories - Neighbor - Canada/History 1941-1942 - Japanese-Canadians - Internment
The first-person narrator recalls her own personal experience of losing a friend through the politics of war. While visiting her grandmother on the Pacific coast one summer, the girl befriends an older Japanese man who has a magnificent garden of stones, blue irises (flags) and, in the middle, a fish pond. Although Canadian born, Mr. Hiroshi is forced to give up all this and taken away to an internment camp. Soon new people move in and change the garden entirely, but the young girl manages to save some flowers and stones - as the start of a new garden that can grow better with time. This beautifully illustrated picture book contains a poignant story whose impact grows with re-reading; an excellent starting point for reflection and discussions. (8+) ☆
Canada (English) - 2000 - 62
Wallace, Mary (text/illus.)
The Inuksuk Book
Toronto: Greey de Pencier, 1999. 64 p.
Arctic - Inuit - Stone - Communication
This beautifully designed information book explains various aspects of the past and present life of the Inuit, the aborigines of Canada's arctic regions. While the well-written text draws upon many authoritative sources to give a wide and carefully selected array of details in twelve thematic chapters, the combination of various-sized color and black-and-white photographs on each page draw the reader into a fascinating world where human beings and nature interact at a very basic level. An inuksuk, a stone structure that communicates knowledge, plays an essential role in survival and in transmitting cultural values. Inuktitut symbols, words and sounds are clearly explained in an appendix. (10+) ☆
Canada (English) - 2000 - 63
Wyatt, Valerie (text)
Petričié, Dušan (illus.)
Earthlings inside and out. A space alien studies the human body
Toronto: Kids Can Press, 1999. 63 p.
Physiology - Anatomy
At first inspection upon his arrival space pilot Danoid from Planet Memo finds that Earthlings have built-in helmets, speakers, primary manipulatives, and outer coverings that are alive and growing. The book is structured as an entertaining but highly informative interview between Danoid and 10-year old Pete that describes the amazing features of our bodily functions and compares them with other possibilities. Each page is illustrated with a variety of humorous cartoon sketches and clear scientific displays. In each chapter there are easy-to-implement experiments, while an index facilitates later reference. The graphic design and high standard of illustration are perfect complements to an appealingly imaginative text. (8+)
Canada (English) - 2000 - 64
Ye, Ting-xing (text)
Langlois, Suzane (illus.)
Share the sky
Toronto: Annick Press, 1999.  p.
China - Prejudice - Canada/Immigrant - Difference - Kite
Fei-fei lives with her grandparents in a village in Asia while her parents establish a new life in North America. With her mind (and night-time dreams) filled with prejudices and reservations voiced by her relatives, Fei-fei is finally sent off to join her parents in a strange new city. To her great surprise and joy she finds children with similar interests and needs at her new school - and, best of all, the same love for kite-flying - a symbolic motif in this book. She is able to reassure her grandparents that they are living under the same sky. The illustrator employs a diversity of perspectives to convey feelings and impressions. The text is printed in boxed insets except on the very last page, when Fei-fei feels a part of her new surroundings. (5+) ☆
USA (English) - 2000 - 65
Andersen, Hans Christian (text)
Pinkney, Jerry (adapt./illus.)
The ugly duckling
New York: Morrow, 1999.  p.
Swan - Difference - Outsider
The distinguished prize-winning illustrator Jerry Pinkney offers beautiful, stunningly detailed watercolor illustrations of this well-known tale about loneliness and belonging. Pinkney draws upon both an English translation of the Andersen tales and Andrew Lang's well-known retelling, but adds his own touches. Notable is the artist's choice of text elements and their placement on each double-page spreads in which he often favors dramatic close-up portraits of the ducklings, swan and other significant protagonists. (4+)
USA (English) - 2000 - 66
New York: Greenwillow Books, 1999. 185 p.
Death - Family history - Self-assertion - Vermont/History 1910
Thirteen-year old Harriet and her mother had led a simple but close and happy life together only miles away from the farm where her long-dead father grew up. After her mother suddenly dies in an accident, her will states that Harriet is to live at the farm with her father's stern, sharp-tongued sister and her cuckold husband. Gradually the girl learns of the illnesses, deaths and disappointments of the older generation. This first-person narrative describes Harriet's and Aunt Sarah's struggles to adjust to each other, and it also succeeds notably in portraying Harriet's mourning, her maturing view of herself, her friendships with the people around her in the village and the farm, and the gentle pace of rural life of an earlier era. (12+)
USA (English) - 2000 - 67
Holt, Kimberly Willis
When Zachary Beaver came to town
New York: Holt, 1999. 227 p.
Texas - Friendship - Obesity - Marital problems - Vietnam War
A thirteen-year old boy describes the events of turbulent summer in his small Texan town in the early 1970s. The arrival and weeks-long stay of Zachary Beaver, »the fattest boy in the world«, in a trailer in a parking lot near the center of town, is a significant, though exceptional event in his life, but forms a cohesive thread around which many other happenings and excellently characterized relationships can be bound together. The flowing first-person narrative maintains a child's guileless view of events, but reveals his difficulties in dealing with emotional situations such as the extended absence of his mother and the war death of his best friend's older brother. The author quite believably captures a sense of small-town boyhood on the verge of adolescence. (10+)
USA (English) - 2000 - 68
Napoli, Donna Jo (text)
Tchen, Richard (text)
New York: Dutton, 1999. 197 p.
Rumpelstiltskin - Father/Daughter - Braggery
The well-known fairy tale of the small man who spins straw into gold is re-told here from the beginning - before the spinner got a rumpled leg and became alienated from his fellow men - to the end. The authors spin an elaborate plot filled with fine character studies - of the future queen, her drunk father, the greedy king, Rumpelstilskin and several others - to reveal how people respond to challenges in their lives, and how the long-reaching consequences of their acts affect a whole community. Greed and braggery play a decisive role and give shape to the plausible course of events. Readers will enjoy the suspense, the unexpected turns in plot, and reflecting upon the underlying social and moral issues. (12+)
Special Mention - USA (English) - 2000 - 69
Philip, Neil (ed.)
McCurdy, Michael (illus.)
War and the pity of war
New York: Clarion Books, 1998. 96 p.
Poetry/English - War - Heroism - Idealism
This anthology by a British writer and folklorist draws together a wide and well-chosen range of poems from all historical epochs. In a valuable introduction he points out his criteria and intentions. Because of the wisely limited number of entries, the reader can become absorbed in the subject matter without feeling inundated. The poems include translations from Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Japanese, Ojibwa, Polish, and Russian. Most striking is the layout of each page. The large, solidly black sanserif typeface on stark white paper and generous linespacing please the eye, while the scratchboard illustrations and ornamental vignettes by the distinguished illustrator set an aesthetic accent. This is a highly commendable and very moving treatment of a perennial, tragic theme. (12+)
Special Mention - USA (English) - 2000 - 70
Silverman, Erica (text)
Gaber, Susan (illus.)
New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1999. 34 p.
Folktale/Jewish - Cinderella <motif> - Kindness - Wisdom
When Raisel's grandfather, a Talmudic scholar, dies, she must give up her learning and find work as the kitchen helper of a well-to-do rabbi in the town. In return for her kindness, a beggar woman grants her three wishes which she wisely uses to win the heart of the rabbi's son. First she attends a Purim party dressed as Queen Esther in order to meet him. But he must also use his wits to answer her clever riddle. The full-page pastel colors use a variety of perspectives to characterize persons and situations. This is a memorable, culturally centered re-telling of the Cinderella tale with an intelligent female protagonist. (8+) ☆
Special Mention - USA (English) - 2000 - 71
Wiesner, David (text/illus.)
New York: Clarion Books, 1999.  p.
School excursion - Cloud - Empire State Building - Innovation - Adventure - Friendship
This wordless picture book follows one boy's bizarre adventure with a playful, perhaps bored, but uncommonly persistent young cloud when they meet on the top of the Empire State Building. After a bit of playful teasing the cloud carries the boy off to the central cloud terminal of sector 7 (which designs and routes clouds off the eastern coast of North America) and soon has him shaking up the old, staid cloud designers with blueprint patterns of exotic fish. Wiesner uses panels of different sizes to portray the fast-paced events, and his visualization of the renegade young cloud is completely delightful. Fans of Wiesner's previous wordless fantasy picture books or of Raymond Brigg's »The Snowman« will be especially enchanted. (6+)
Special Mention - USA (English) - 2000 - 72
Wolf, Bernard (text/photos)
Cuba: After the revolution
New York: Dutton, 1999.  p.
Cuba - Family - Everyday life
Photojournalist Bernard Wolf prefaces his beautiful photo-essay about life in contemporary Cuba with a two page summary of Cuba's long and difficult political and economic history. This is, of course, essential to establishing the context of the problems of daily life in Cuba today and the lack of knowledge about Cuba in many countries of the world. Wolf focuses on one artistically talented family in the days around the New Year celebrations. One to three excellent, often candid photos per page, draw the viewer into family life, while the accompanying text comments on the social significance of those events. By going beyond the factual documentation, the photographer opens up the readers' hearts and minds to the life and customs of this politically isolated island country. (10+)
Ghana (English) - 2001 - 22
Asare, Meshack (text/illus.)
Legon, Accra : Sub-Saharan Publ., 2000. 47 p.
Creation - Body parts
Set in Africa, this story of creation has a different twist. Nana creates the various parts of the human being – the head to hear, smell, think and talk, hands, legs and stomach. Each part is sent to fend for itself in different landscapes – the plains, the fields, and the sea. One day, Nana sends a parrot to bring news of the parts. When he learns that the head shouted insults, the hands turned to fists and the legs kicked his messenger, he resolves to join the parts and makes them into a »Person«. The award-winning artist's watercolour illustrations amplify the mythical quality evoked by the formulaic, rhythmical text. (5+) ☆ ☼
Ghana (English) - 2001 - 23
Dadson, Fredericka (text)
DeGraft-Johnson, Ato (illus.)
Donkoh, Wilhelmina (text)
The just king : the story of Osei Tutu Kwane Asibe Bonsu
Accra : Woeli, 2000. 32 p.
Ghana - Asante Kingdom - Osei-Tut Kwamina
In this little booklet, 12-year-old Kwaku listens to his grandfather as he tells him the story of Osei Tut Kwamina, leader of the Asante kingdom – now part of Ghana, 200 years ago. A mystery starts when the royal graves are looted. The king pursues the wrong-doers, things escalate, finally involving the Asantes in war with the Fantes and the British. This true story vividly told and illustrated brings the events alive, transporting the reader into a world of intrigue, suspense and retributive justice while addressing important ethical issues. (8+) ☆
Kenya (English) - 2001 - 24
The adventures of Mekatilili
Nairobi : East African Educational Publ., 1999. 130 p.
(Secondary readers ; 12)
Kidnapping - Christian missionaries - Anti-colonialism
This novel is based on the real story of Mekatilili Wa Menza, a girl famous for fighting against the British colonialists. Mekatilili, a headstrong girl, is kidnapped and taken to a Christian mission. But she knows of her calling, she feels that she will be a leader of a people proud of its own culture and history. So she escapes and returns home to inspire her friends and family. Fact and fiction intertwine as the plot unfolds against the rich cultural backdrop of the Mijikenda people of Kenya. (8+)
Australia (English) - 2001 - 25
Applegate, Cathy (text)
Huxley, Dee (illus.)
Hunters Hill, NSW : Scholastic Australia, 2000.  p.
Rain - Draught - Joy of life
One can sense the burning heat, taste the dry air, and even hear the quiet of the first double-spread which extends in heavy, glowing tones of red. »It hasn't rained for two whole years«, we learn from the young girl. The farm is for sale, and they wait. Then, her skin prickles with goosebumps, and it starts raining, pouring and gushing down in torrents as she laughs and runs and swirls around. Told (and felt and smelled) from the perspective of the girl, the sensuous text draws in the reader who will share in the shifting emotions, while the pastel and coloured pencil illustrations build up the growing tension, capture the exaltation of the highly dynamic climax and release the reader soothed. (5+)
Australia (English) - 2001 - 26
Ringwood, Victoria : Puffin Books, 2000. 216 p.
Orangutan - Conservation - Borneo
After Ian Foster and Abbie, an orphaned orangutan, are nearly killed in a cyclone, Abbie is repatriated to a national park in Indonesian Borneo by Ian and his parents. Once Abbie has adjusted to the wild, the Fosters return to Australia. For the next five years both mature physically and mentally – Ian, at home and school, Abbie, in the jungle. Each, however, still thinks of the other and Ian returns to Borneo at the time of the great loggers' fires. Abbie is able to save herself and her baby from poachers just in time for her reunion with him. The authentic background assists the demonstration of the intelligence and appeal of orangutans, and highlights the threat of their extinction because of human greed. (14+)
Australia (English) - 2001 - 27
Hathorn, Libby (text)
Rogers, Gregory (illus.)
Milsons Point, NSW : Random House Australia, 2000.  p.
Hamelin - Music- Gift - Moral dilemma - Fairy tale
Inspired by a poem by Robert Browning, this deeply stirring picture book revisions the tale of the Pied Piper and tells it from the perspective of »the one who was left behind«. This boy receives a gift from an old man: a flute with which he can free all the children. The narrative derives its strong impact from its break with the conventions of the »Erlösungsmärchen«: the reader's expectations are shattered and the hope of salvation, expressed in the text, is dispelled by the uncanny illustrations. The text's enigmatic riddles, the stark, prop-like illustrations and the effective use of perspective leave enough room for reflection. (10+)
Australia (English) - 2001 - 28
St Lucia, Queensland : Univ. of Queensland Press, 2000. 243 p.
(UQP young adult fiction)
Sport - Friendship - Trust - Stereotypes - Sex
Xavier's life revolves around rugby football until he meets Nuala Magee who fascinates him with her confrontational personality. While he competes on the football field, she leads a fight against both male and female stereotypes, wearing men's clothes. They start a challenging relationship constantly threatened by gossip, Xavier's obsession for rugby and Nuala's past experiences. Both have to reassess their identity with the help of their mutual friend Alex, who dies of leukemia. The problems of adolescent relationships, especially when affected by rumours and peer pressure, are emphasised in this strong novel in which sport is a metaphor for romance. (14+)
Special Mention - Australia (English) - 2001 - 29
Tan, Shaun (text/illus.)
The Lost Thing
Port Melbourne, Victoria : Lothian, 2000.  p.
Essence - Belonging - Naming - Identity - Aesthetic pleasure
The story begins when Shaun, a passionate bottle top collector, encounters something defying classification: without a name and without an apparent purpose, the »Lost Thing« is completely out of place in the mechanical world of busy Suburbia. Shaun tries to find somewhere it belongs. Finally, they come upon a realm of free aesthetic pleasure which literally turns the book upside down: weird, incongruous shapes reminiscent of works by Dalí, Miró or Bosch populate the large double-spread. At last, the »Lost Thing« feels at home. This highly original, ingeniously designed picture book pays a homage to Art – to our capacity for noticing the special. The striking visual narrative combines a painterly style with a clever use of comic conventions. Breathtaking perspectives, humorous lines and a continually varying layout result in a complex layering of visual and verbal narratives. (8+)
Special Mention - Australia (English) - 2001 - 30
Wild, Margaret (text)
Brooks, Ron (illus.)
St Leonards : Allen & Unwin, 2000.  p.
ISBN 1-86448-465-9. - 1-86448-933-2
Dog - Bird - Friendship - Betrayal
Magpie's wing was burned in a bushfire, but oneeyed dog rescues her and a partnership forms: »I will be your missing eye, and you will be my wings«, Magpie exclaims, as Dog carries her on his back. But one day, lonely, envious Fox appears. He tempts Magpie to leave Dog. They »fly« across the grasslands, into the desert, where Fox abandons her, so that she and Dog »will know what it is like to be truly alone«. Thinking of her friend, Magpie starts the long, slow journey home. Wild's lyrical text complements Brook's superb mixed media and collage illustrations; imaginatively placed hand-lettering adds interest. This is a marvellous, multi-layered, thought-provoking tale of friendship, loneliness, betrayal and guilt for all ages. (6+)
India (English) - 2001 - 31
Ghose, Vijaya (ed./select.)
The carpenter's apprentice
New Delhi : Katha, 1999. 131 p.
(A Rosalind Wilson book)
This delectable book offers a fine collection of short stories by some of India's foremost writers. They first appeared during the late 80s in »Target «, a well-known and much-loved Indian children's magazine. Very short, the poignant narratives do not look for the spectacular but focus mostly on the joys and pains of everyday life: growing up, dignity of work, school performances, social inequity. They throw little spotlights on different lifes and experiences of Indian children. The volume pays homage to Rosalind Wilson, long-standing editor of »Target«, who has made an immense contribution to children's literature in India with her keen sense for talent and her discerning editorial skills. (8+) ☆
India (English) - 2001 - 32
Sen Gupta, Poile (text)
Biswas, Pulak (illus.)
Gurgaon : Scholastic India, 2000.  p.
Monsoon - Rain
In India the coming of monsoon – or the rainy season – is an event in itself. The author uses her imagination to tell little children what monsoon puddles were regarded as in a time not so long ago. The simple text and the dynamic watercolour illustrations work closely together. This charming picture book encourages the reader to discover beauty in very simple things. (4+)
India (English) - 2001 - 33
Sen Gupta, Subhadra (text)
Guha, Tapas (illus.)
History, mystery, dal and biryani : stories of the past
New York; New Delhi: Scholastic, 2000. 131 p.
This set of ten historical stories that take readers of today on a delightful journey into India's past – walking the sheets with ordinary people of those times and getting a close look at the life styles of children during those times. They prove that children of the past were not really very different from the children of today when it came to adventure, mystery, food, in fact a solid sense of good values! Charming black-and-white illustrations capture the highlights of these timeless narratives. (12+)
Special Mention - India (English) - 2001 - 34
Wolf, Gita (text)
Ravishankar, Anushka (text)
Sen, Orijit (illus.)
Trash! : on ragpicker children and recycling
Chennai : Tara Publ., 1999. 112 p.
Ragpicker child - Child labour - Environment
Despite its title, this book is a true gem in the Indian publishing landscape: attractive book design, intelligible lay-out with information-boxes, lucid and sound definitions, startling colour-illustrations using intriguing photo-collage techniques, and humorous treatment of serious issues. It tells the story of Velu, a young ragpicker and addresses the problems of child labour and environment. »Trash!« evolved from a series of workshops conducted with ragpicker children and was produced in collaboration with »Books for Change«, an initiative in publishing aiming at raising controversial issues, informing children about social realities and sharing ideas for a better world. (8+) ☆
New Zealand (English) - 2001 - 35
Beames, Margaret (text)
Hitchcock, Sue (illus.)
Oliver in the garden
Auckland : Scholastic, 2000.  p.
Cat - Night - Light - Darkness
If you think that the new media will bring about the »death of the book«, have a look at this picture book and judge for yourself. One follows Oliver the cat through the nightly garden as he chases mice, climbs trees, and has a surprising encounter with a possum. The greatest fascination emanates from an intricate play with light, shadows and darkness: the pale moon light, the strong yellow light from the window or the warm, red glow of the fireplace to which Oliver returns in the end. Even the clearly written text seems to glow with its white letters standing out against the pitch black, glossy paper. The simple narrative and the computer generated illustrations explore a new aesthetics somewhere between the computer screen and the pages of a book. (4+)
New Zealand (English) - 2001 - 36
Scarface and the angel
Dunedin : Longacre Press, 2000. 93 p.
Identity - Encounter - Friendship - Self-acceptance
There are two sides to Damon. You can see it in his face: a big scar runs down one side. Only when he meets Esther, an old gypsie woman, does he realise how deep it cuts. Esther possesses the gift of listening and Damon, without knowing why, starts telling her his life. The reader has to piece together the fragmental narrative, continually reassessing it, just like Damon learns to take a new look at his self, the wounds of his past healing in the act of narration. – Good Face, Bad Face – this is a well paced, edgy novel with strong language, resonating with biblical and Shakespearean allusions. Good Face, Bad Face – in the end, Damon learns to turn the other cheek and the scar has disappeared. (14+)
New Zealand (English) - 2001 - 37
Wolfe, Richard (text)
Wolfe, Pamela (illus.)
Glenfield, Auckland : Random House New Zealand, 2000.  p.
Dressing up - Hotel - Mystery - Imagination
Following the award-winning success of »Mouse Opera«, the Mouseholes are back to stage their next adventure: On holidays with their brand new Chevrolet, they arrive at a Grand Hotel. In their room they discover that their suitcase is missing. How will they dress for dinner now? Manager O'Rodent and Chief Inspector McWhisker search the hotel – in vain. But thanks to the Mouseholes' creative use of imagination, the evening is saved. The bright and humorous illustrations express a love for drama and dressing-up and share in the storytelling: a wordless doublespread illustration holds the clue to the mystery. Told in narrative verse, this story is full of little jokes and puns that will amuse the reader. (6+)
Great Britain (English) - 2001 - 38
Oxford : Oxford Univ. Press, 2000. 114 p.
Vietnamese orphan - Adoption - Nightmare - Memories
When Ho, a Vietnamese orphan boy, was adopted by Amy's grandparents, he had no language to articulate himself – only screams (»Ho-yells«), and no memories to share – the past only visited him at night with haunting, terrible nightmares of flames, smoke, death and mutilation. But his new family knows that »everybody needs to know the story of their life, even if it has to be invented«. So, they piece together fragments of information, constructing stories of »what might have been«. In this multiple viewpoint novel contrasting different versions of the stories (terrible night-time tales, happy endings, conflicting personal memories), Andersen reflects on our need to understand our past by telling stories – and its healing or damaging impact. (12+)
Great Britain (English) - 2001 - 39
Burgess, Melvin (text)
Brown, Ruth (illus.)
London : Andersen Press, 2000.  p.
Boy - Bird - Freedom - Ownership - Imprisonment
»The Birdman« is a picture book for older children. Brown's mystically subtle and beautiful illustrations perfectly complement a gothic tale of transformation. The Birdman, who sells caged birds, shifts between villain and hero as this tale interrogates the moralities of freedom and ownership. The boy who buys a caged bird intending to give freedom then becomes entrapped in the desire to own the bird. He is gradually transformed into a bird, and must then endure the knowledge of imprisonment. The Birdman emerges as a moral teacher. This is a fascinating and challenging illustrated text. (8+) ☼
Great Britain (English) - 2001 - 40
Postcards from No Man's Land
London : Bodley Head, 1999. 336 p.
Time-slip - World War II - Amsterdam - Identity
This award-winning title is a time-slip novel set in contemporary Amsterdam and Arnhem during World War II. An adolescent boy returns to the site of his grandfather's war-time experiences and in doing so discovers the key to his own identity. The ghosts of war are laid to rest as the boy learns of the loves and losses fought for in war-torn Holland. Past and present are melded together in a novel which brings human understanding to a point in history where civilian and soldier are caught in conflict which is none of their making. (14+) ☆
(Carnegie Medal; 1999)
Great Britain (English) - 2001 - 41
Henderson, Kathy (text/illus.)
London : Walker, 2000.  p.
This remarkable picture book tells of the aweinspiring encounter between a small boy and a big storm, between man and the forces of nature. The superb mixed media illustrations set it apart from most books for the very young: Henderson experiments with watercolour, opaque white and various printing and crackling effects to capture the force of the gushing water, the splashing waves and the howling wind. A fascinating doublespread witnesses the rising tides of the sea in three dramatic phase pictures. But there are also warm and soft tones to convey the feeling of safety and comfort. (4+)
(Kate Greenaway Medal [Shortlist])
Great Britain (English) - 2001 - 42
Hughes, Shirley (text/illus.)
The Shirley Hughes collection
London : Bodley Head, 2000. 352 p.
Stories - Children's poetry
The Shirley Hughes' Collection brings together time-proven favourites for younger children as well as new work for older readers. Hughes' closely observed illustrations capture a view of life which is particularly English. Her famous Alfie stories depict childhood from the child's and the adult's perspective. Her realistic illustrations subtly portray the loves, trials and tears of the child's world with a deep and gentle understanding. The new Sylkie story for older readers is a mystical tale of the sea, and longing and love. Hughes' verbal and pictorial narratives enable the reader to enter the text as a maker of meaning. (4+)
Special Mention - Great Britain (English) - 2001 - 43
The amber spyglass
London : Scholastic Children's Books, 2000. 548 p.
(His dark materials ; 3) (David Fickling Books)
Good - Evil - Quest for paradise
»The amber spyglass« completes the trilogy »His Dark Materials«. This postmodern science fiction novel journeys between fantastic worlds, including a version of Hades, as Lyra, (the new Eve), and her helpmates seek her dead friend, and the secret of the mystery of »dust«, the source of life. The context is the moral battle of the heavens bringing together Angels, Witches, Ghosts and Bears, in the venture. Pullman spins together moral, philosophical and environmental concerns in lyrical prose which resonates with intertextual references to Milton and Blake amongst others. The parallel narratives produce a gripping adventure story which deals with love, death, loss and a vision of a New Eden as the children venture into their future. (12+)
Special Mention - Great Britain (English) - 2001 - 44
Wilson, Jacqueline (text)
Sharratt, Nick (illus.)
London : Doubleday, 2000. 154 p.
Grief - Death - Feelings of guilt - Self-affirmation - Friendship
Vicky has died but returns as a ghost to haunt her best friend with feelings of guilt. Jade has to learn to cope with grief and to live her own life. This »deadly funny« and subtle book doesn't only confront the reader with the death of a bright, young girl but also with wit and (at times black) humour – which might seem oddly out of place. But Wilson has a rare gift for writing amusingly about sensitive issues: She uses the comic element and the saucy colloquial tone to explore complex emotional themes. The unusual and sometimes unsettling blend of wit and warmth makes this a remarkable read. (10+) ☼
Ireland (English) - 2001 - 45
The cinnamon tree : a novel set in Africa
Dublin : O'Brien, 2000. 208 p.
Landmine - Arms trade - Child soldier - Friendship
The strong smell of cinnamon is the last thing Yola Abonda can remember. When she wakes up, she is in hospital. One of her legs is missing – it was blown off by a landmine. Aubrey Flegg succeeds in grounding the well-wrought and engaging story of a young girl in his extensive knowledge of African culture, compellingly raising the intricate issues of landmines, arms trade and child soldiers. His development of characters, particularly of Yola, is of great skill and psychological insight. An author's note provides additional facts about the political background of the novel as well as internet-addresses of humanitarian organisations. (12+) ☆
Ireland (English) - 2001 - 46
Dublin : Wolfhound Press, 2000. 140 p.
Change - Growing-up - Pig - Travellers
Callum's family are travellers, pig-talkers, mousecallers and tricksters. When their reputation in one village gets too bad, they just pack up their caravan and move on. Young Callum wants to end the family's way of life forever and discovers that change is never as easy as it seems. This is not an easy novel exploring the nature of continuity and change of human existence: familiy traditions, growing up, leaving home, ageing and dying. As strong olifactory sensations mingle with the thoughts and shrill voices of pigs and mice to create a dense text rich in subtle metaphors, Callum listens for his own calling and successfully struggles to find his way. (12+)
Canada (English) - 2001 - 47
Toronto : Douglas & McIntyre, 2000. 170 p.
ISBN 0-88899-419-2. - 0-88899-416-8
Afghanistan - Taliban - Girl - Women's emancipation - Freedom - Loyalty
This compelling and realistic novel is set in Afghanistan, a country devastated by more than 40 years of war and under the yoke of the Taliban, members of an extreme religious group, ever since 1996. When her father is arrested, elevenyear- old Pavana has to become the breadwinner of the family. Since the Taliban has banned women from public life (women cannot go to school, work outside the home or leave their homes without a man), she must transform herself into a boy. The author presents a sensitive portrayal of determined girls and women struggling for survival and fighting for their dignity and freedom. (10+) ☆
Canada (English) - 2001 - 48
Gregory, Nan (text)
Lightburn, Ron (illus.)
Wild Girl & Gran
Red Deer, Alberta : Red Deer Press, 2000.  p.
(Northern lights books for children)
Grandchild - Grandmother - Friendship - Death - Imagination
Perched on her favourite tree, Wild Girl awaits the arrival of her grandmother. For a happy spring and summer, they enjoy a deep friendship. But as the autumn leaves wither, grandmother falls ill. In winter, grandmother has died. Rhythmic, urgent and engaging, the text bears the mark of a true storyteller's craft: little snippets of playful poetry mingle with short sentences of well-paced prose. The illustrator uses layers of pencil drawings, acrylics and oil paints to project the changing moods unto the landscape of the Garry Oak Meadow, a unique ecosystem in British Columbia. Together, words and pictures pay homage to nature and the power of imagination and love which renew Wild Girl's spirits. (6+) ☼
Canada (English) - 2001 - 49
Vancouver : Douglas & McIntyre, 2000. 236 p.
Time-slip - Ireland <1847> - Famine - Identity - Friendship - Family
Abandoned as a baby, 13-year-old Tom has been shuffled from one foster home to another. When he hears rumours that a mass grave has been unearthed on his school grounds, he finds himself inexplicably drawn to it. The grave pulls Tom down into its terrible darkness and beyond, where he discovers that he is in Ireland in 1847, at the height of the potato famine. The Monaghans take him in, and for the first time Tom experiences what is is like to have parents and siblings who care for one another. Tom's journeys into the past provide him with some clues to his family background, and he returns to his present with a renewed sense of responsibility. A final intriguing author's note to this powerful first-person narrative explains that a mysterious mass grave actually was discovered in Liverpool in 1973. (13+)
Canada (English) - 2001 - 50
Lee, Dennis (text)
McPhail, David (illus.)
[Toronto] : Key Porter Books, 2000.  p.
Bug - Nonsense - Poetry
Dennis Lee, praised as the poet laureate of the Canadian children's poetry, returns in this truly delightful book. Using the rhythm of bouncing balls and schoolyard songs, he has created a whimsical world of nursery and counting rhymes, nonsense and two-pence, lyrical lullabies and quirky quatrains literally crawling across the pages. These are accompanied by a parade of psychedelic bugs, a product of the illustrator's overboarding imagination. These bugs counterpoint the verse with their own brand of visual poetry. A friendly boy and his dog take the reciting reader through the welldesigned book. But soon, one feels, the children will shout, chant, sing. (5+) ☼
Special Mention - Canada (English) - 2001 - 51
McKay, Sharon E.
Toronto : Stoddart Kids, 2000. XI, 221 p.
World War I - Infirmity - Heroism - Growing-up - Friendship - Newfoundland
Charlie Wilcox is born into a family of captains and sealers in Newfoundland. But weak and with a club foot, he is not to go to the ice. Charlie is determined to prove himself. He tries stowing away on a sealing ship, only to find he is headed for war! Tending to the wounded at the army hospital, Charlie proves his worth in the trenches of World War I. When he returns home, he is no longer a boy, but a young who has found his way. McKay, great-niece of the »real« Charlie Wilcox, masterfully blends fact and fiction, developing an unforgettable cast of characters against a fully realised setting. Every minor character comes alive, and one can share in the lovable protagonist's excitement, fear and nascent love, admire his determination and heroism and smile at his little worries. This touching historical novel is written with a deep awareness of human emotion and a fine sense of humour. (10+)
(Governor General's Award; 2000)
Special Mention - Canada (English) - 2001 - 52
Schwartz, Roslyn (text/illus.)
The Mole Sisters and the busy bees
Toronto : Annick Press, 2000.  p.
ISBN 1-55037-663-2. - 1-55037-662-4
Sisters - Bee - Laziness - Business
When a busy bee buzzes by, the irresistible Mole Sisters stop doing nothing. They begin smelling flowers and get their noses covered in pollen until they look like flowers themselves. An enormous sneeze, splashing all over the page, puts everything right in the end. The short, lively text brims with imagination and resounds with onomatopoeia. The playful pastel-chalk illustrations capture wonderfully amusing situations, such as the Mole Sisters' noses sticking out of the tall grass. This is a charming new series whose humour and refreshing simplicity will not only delight preschoolers. (4+)
Special Mention - Canada (English) - 2001 - 53
Waboose, Jan Bourdeau (text)
Deines, Brian (illus.)
Toronto, ON : Kids Can Press, 2000.  p.
Sisters - Northern Lights
This is a quiet book, for it cherishes the wisdom of previous Ojibway generations. As the two sisters go out into the night to see the Northern Lights, they remember grandmother's words: »Wisdom comes on silent wings«. Waboose's knowledge of the northern landscape has created a gentle yet powerful story about a journey into a silent night. It is about the bonds between sisters, between generations and between humans and nature. Deines's oil on canvas illustrations capture the chill of a silent northern night, the warmth of the family circle and the radiance of a child's wonder. (6+) ☆ ☼
Special Mention - USA (English) - 2001 - 54
Sir Walter Ralegh and the quest for El Dorado
New York, NY : Clarion Books, 2000. XVIII, 222 p.
Raleigh, Walter - Biography - Great Britain - Court and courtiers - El Dorado - New World - American Dream
This multifaceted biography of Sir Walter Raleigh (or: Ralegh), explorer, writer, court favourite of Queen Elizabeth I and adventurer, is a publishing landmark, questioning some of the assumptions about children's nonfiction and setting new standards. This book reads like a Shakespearean drama: The search for El Dorado is the pursuit of the dream for a better world that still nurtures the American dream. It sets the stage for a man who was both a product of his times and a creator of them. Aronson allows the reader to share in the excitement of discovery and in the pleasures of critical thinking. He doesn't just present his material but shows how he arrives at it. His careful evaluation of well-selected written and visual sources (including maps, Raleigh's poetry and historical reproductions) pays tribute to the complexity of historical issues. Well-documented endnotes and a time line complete this intelligent work of scholarship. (12+) ☆
(Boston Globe Horn Book Nonfiction Award Winner; 2000)
Special Mention - USA (English) - 2001 - 55
Falconer, Ian (text/illus.)
New York, NY : Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2000.  p.
(An Anne Schwartz book)
Pig - Art -Dancing - Singing - Imagination
Falconer illustrates for the New Yorker and designs sets and costumes for renowned opera houses. Now he sets the stage for Olivia, the ever-active porcine heroine of his first book for children. Both his love of drama and keen sense of humour make this a highly delightful book. Olivia is good at lots of things: the little pig with the big ears is constantly on the move, hopping, dancing, jetéing across the pages, singing 40 very loud songs, emulating Jackson Pollock on the bedroom walls, and trying on every single piece her wardrobe holds. Bright, splashes of red are the only touches of colour, accentuating Olivia's high energy. The understatement of the brief and funny text highlights the wonderfully amusing charcoal and gouache pictures. (4+) ☼
(Caldecott Medal [Honor Book]; 2001)
Special Mention - USA (English) - 2001 - 56
New York, NY : Holt, 1999. 108 p.
Imagination - Physically handicapped - Self-perception
»A person's mind is like a pantry. Every poem or book or painting you know is another jar on the shelf«, Elvira tells Courtney. Elvira is old and half-blind, Courtney is 16 and paralysed, but they know of the power of the mind. A Baedeker guidebook from 1910 takes them on an imaginary journey to Italy. In this outstanding multivoiced and richly intertextual novel, entirely written in dialogue, Fleischman uses the open form of drama to reflect on the healing and destructive powers of imagination. »Mind's eye« is food for thought that will sustain your mind. (14+)
Special Mention - USA (English) - 2001 - 57
Joey Pigza loses control
New York : Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2000. 195 p.
Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder - Father - Son - Baseball - Alcoholism
This is a believable, sometimes sad story about a boy with Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, who needs medication to maintain emotional equilibrium. Joey is the product of a broken home. For the summer, he goes to visit his father, who is a larger version of himself – also hyperactive. His father lives vicariously through him, and wants Joey to be the success that he is not. He cannot give the boy the kind of leadership he deserves, because of his alcoholism. At one point, he decides his son is well enough and takes him off the drugs. That's when the pandemonium breaks loose. Joey, the »wired« narrator, is a likeable character in a desperate situation. This book is a great read that will appeal to both boys and girls. (10+)
(Newbery Medal [Honor Book]; 2001)
(Sequel to »Joey Pigza swallowed the key« )
Special Mention - USA (English) - 2001 - 58
Harley, Avis (text/illus.)
Fly with poetry : an ABC of poetry
Honesdale, Pa. : Wordsong, Boyds Mills Press, 2000. 48 p.
Alphabet - Poetry - Imagination
This clever and original ABC-book by the Canadian writer Harley invites all readers to explore the playful ways of poetry, to experiment with its forms and techniques and to ponder the potential of poetic language. Each letter of the alphabet introduces a poetic term, gives an accurate definition and exemplifies it with humorous verse: A demonstrates the abecedarian and the acrostic, B the blank verse, S the sonnet. Readers can discover and create meanings as they explore the images and ideas of each poem and as they absorb the various forms, meters, rhymes, and arrangements. Pleasant illustrations contribute to make this highly inspiring book accessible to children. (10+)
Special Mention - USA (English) - 2001 - 59
Isadora, Rachel (text/illus.)
1 2 3 pop!
New York, NY : Viking, 2000.  p.
Counting - Pop-art
Count up to 3 and you will face three monkeys on a bold Lichtenstein-inspired background of huge yellow dots covering eyes, ears, and mouth respectively. Count from 1 to 1,000,000, and this dynamic book will give you plenty to see (4 medieval gargoyles, 8 supermen and -women), to hear (Pop! Boom! Cock A Doodle Doo!) and to talk about (How many ants does it take to carry a burger?). From 1 man on the moon to 1,000 jellybeans to 1,000,000 stars, the intriguing images give vibrant visual life to numbers. Following the success of »ABC pop!«, Isadora continues the homage to pop-art. Not only children will respond to the graphic energy, surprising colour choices and striking rhythm of this book. (4+) ☼
Special Mention - USA (English) - 2001 - 60
Konigsburg, Elaine L.
Silent to the bone
New York, NY : Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2000. 261 p.
(A Jean Karl book)
Mutism - Emotional problems - Remarriage - Friendship - Shame
SIAS – that's short for »summarise in a sentence«, a game Branwell and Connor used to play. Used to, because Branwell is struck mute when his infant half-sister falls into coma. The novel is narrated by Bran's best friend, Connor, who uses a set of handwritten flash cards to cut through the silence. As the skilfully crafted novel unfolds layer after layer, the reader has to join Connor in his effort to reconstruct what happened on the day of the accident and to understand the causes leading up to it. SIAS: This gripping psychological novel that reads like a mystery »breaks the silence« by intelligently addressing the problems of shame, jealousy and remarriage. (11+)
Special Mention - USA (English) - 2001 - 61
Sitting Bull and his world : Tatan'ka Iyota'ke
New York, NY : Dutton Children's Books, 2000. 246 p.
Sitting Bull - Indians/North America
How does one understand a nation without a recorded history? How does one evaluate the life of the vanquished when the records come almost entirely from the victors? These two critical questions guide Marrin's careful and compelling reconstruction of the life and times of Sitting Bull, great leader of the Plain's Indians and witness of his nation's ethnocide. Marrin, author of a number of award-winning works of nonfiction, is well aware of the »danger of judging one society by the ideas of another«. Consequently, he gives a nuanced portrait of a »uniquely American story« – which is that of the first Americans as well as that of the later arrivals. Includes notes, suggestions for further reading, and an index. (12+)
(Boston Globe Horn Book Award [Nonfiction Honor Book]; 2000)
Special Mention - USA (English) - 2001 - 62
Rappaport, Doreen (text)
Collier, Bryan (illus.)
New York, NY : Hyperion Books for Children, 2000.  p.
(Jump at the sun)
ISBN 0-7868-0350-9. - 0-7868-1229-x. - 0-7868-2291-0
Slavery - Abolitionists - Parker, John <1827-1900>
Stylised drawings complement the text of this dynamic book chronicling the work of a conductor on the Underground Railroad. Collier uses vivid collage and watercolour to bring to life this story of a freed slave who risked his neck many times to go to Kentucky and transport slaves to freedom in Ohio. The reader feels like he is actually on the scene as Parker steals a Black baby from the slavemaster's bedroom. We know a lot about Sojourner Truth and Harriet Tubman: here is a less well known Black figure who became prosperous, employed Blacks and Whites, and never gave up on his enslaved brothers and sisters, helping to freedom as many as 900 slaves. A worthwhile book that dishes up a slice of life for the American Black Man, enslaved or free, during slavery times in the 1800s. (6+) ☆ ☼
Special Mention - USA (English) - 2001 - 63
Sís, Peter (text/illus.)
New York : Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2000.  p.
(Frances Foster books)
New York - Neigbourhood - Multiculturalism
Sís is known to take his readers on visual adventures to explore mysteries of far-away places. In this book, Madlenka, the little girl-protagonist, just goes around the block of her Manhattan-neigbourhood. And yet, she can say: »I went around the world«. She shares the news of her loose tooth with a French baker, an Indian news vendor, German Ms. Grimm or her Egyptian school friend. Sís evokes this urban microcosm with his distinctive, multi-layered style and ingenious layout. Die cuts open windows to fascinating worlds – rich, intriguing tableaus of cultural icons. The meaningful play with perspectives reflects the relations between the individual and the universal, the countries of origin and multicultural New York. (5+) ☆ ☼
Special Mention - USA (English) - 2001 - 64
Winter, Jonah (text)
Winter, Jeanette (illus.)
Once upon a time in Chicago : the story of Benny Goodman
New York, NY : Hyperion Books for Children, 2000.  p.
ISBN 0-7868-0462-9. - 0-7868-2404-2
Goodman, Benny - Music - Jazz - Immigrants
This truly poetic picture book is more than a homage to Benny Goodman. It is an engaging story about a quiet boy who cannot put his love for his Jewish immigrant parents into words – until he finds his very own way of expression: music. The clarinet consoles him and his family when the father suddenly dies, and it can make people all over the world want to get up and dance. The story of the legendary »King of Swing« has found its own congenial expression in the wellpaced words and naive pictures of the awardwinning mother-and-son team. Even the »swing« of the music is suggested by swinging borders, whose chromatic scales perfectly capture the emotional rhythm. (8+) ☼
Nigeria (English) - 2002 - 21
Oyefeso, Kolap (reteller)
Modder, Rosalie-Ann (illus.)
The goddess of the kitchen and other stories : folktales from Africa
Ibadan [et al.] : Spectrum Books, 2000. 64 p.
This small book contains a collection of twenty traditional African folktales, many of them about indigenous animals, selected by Nigerian author Kolapo Oyefeso. In order to allow children to quickly grasp the message of the short moralistic tales, he rewrote them in simple English. This collection stands out because of its beautiful illustrations. Painted by the author's wife in bright colours, the illustrations, resembling traditional African paintings, picture typical landscapes and animals, people and their everyday life. Thus, this book also introduces non-African readers to the country's nature and culture. (4+) ☆
Special Mention - Australia (English) - 2002 - 22
Base, Graeme (text/illus.)
Ringwood, Victoria [et al.] : Viking, 2001.  p.
Animals – Seasons – Wildlife – Counting
Famous Australian illustrator Graeme Base has created yet another ingenious picture book. His delightful mixture of counting book, puzzle book, story, and information book, »The Waterhole«, offers children of all ages something to enjoy. The colourful doublespreads invite readers to examine different landscapes, each one typical of a particular continent or region and its wildlife. Yet, while various animals gather on the pages for a drink, the waterhole in the middle slowly dries up. So, in the end, the animals are forced to leave; they return, however, as soon as the rains start pouring down announcing the end of the dry season. The simple storyline is interspersed with humourous sidecomments from the animal »protagonists«. And with its additional animals depicted in the tiny page borders, which can also be spotted melting into the landscapes of the main picture, this stunning book provides readers with new delights every time they return to it. (4+) ☼
Special Mention - Australia (English) - 2002 - 23
Carmody, Isobelle (text)
Woolman, Steven (illus.)
Port Melbourne, Victoria: Lothian Books, 2001. 46 p.
Imaginary travel – Dream – Other World – Outsider – Love
Ken, an avid comic collector, also likes to draw his own comics. His new story, however, suddenly gets out of control: He is summoned to his fantasy world by dream magic and asked to help his heroine fight against an evil sorceress. The only person who can save him is Alyssa, a girl from his class. Together they manage to bring both stories – the imagined one and their own – to a happy ending. In this unusual mixture of fantasy novel and comic, where reality and dream are hard to tell apart, text and illustrations are closely intertwined; even the colour of the paper changes from cream symbolizing the »real« world, where Ken is in control, to black with white print when he is plunged into dangerous adventures in his fantasy world. (12+)
Special Mention - Australia (English) - 2002 - 24
A new kind of dreaming
St Lucia, Queensland : Univ. of Queensland Press, 2001. 229 p.
(UQP young adult fiction)
Juvenile delinquency – Social integration – Outsider – Friendship – Murder
After having been arrested for car theft, 17-yearold Jamie is sent to Port Barren, a small desert town, to live in isolated care. At first, his plans are to quietly serve his two-year sentence with as little fuss as possible. Yet, from the moment of his arrival, he feels ill at ease. The children at his new school carefully keep their distance, the social worker seems to be afraid of something, the local police officer, Butcher, tries to arrest him without proper reason, and Jamie keeps hearing a girl's voice in his head. Made suspicious by the strange events, the boy starts to ask questions about the town's past; all of a sudden, the easy-going narrative of the beginning picks up speed and does not release its grip on the reader until the very last page. (14+)
Special Mention - Australia (English) - 2002 - 25
The crowded beach
North Melbourne, Vic. : Spinifex Press, 2001. 218 p.
(Young adult fiction)
Domestic violence – Father – Alcoholism – Murder – Coping with fear – Everyday life
This sequel to Laurene Kelly's highly praised first novel »I started Crying Monday«, sensitively and convincingly describes the turmoil of feelings the two protagonists are struggling with. After their mother and younger siblings are killed in a family tragedy, Julie and her brother Toby are forced to move to their aunt's place in Sydney and start anew. Whereas Julie tries to adjust to the hectic city life as quickly as possible and forget about the past, Toby desperately misses his friends and the relaxed country-living. Both of them have to cope with their fear of the violent father, fight their loneliness, and deal with the normal burdens of teenage life. Yet, at the end of this novel with its quiet and very subtle descriptions of the protagonists' insecurity and sudden mood changes, Julie looks at her life with new optimism. (12+)
Special Mention - Australia (English) - 2002 - 26
Feeling sorry for Celia
Sydney : Pan Macmillan Australia, 2000. 262 p.
(Pan : Fiction)
Friendship – Divorce – Sexual relationship – Disappearance – Suicide attempt
Elizabeth's life is a chaos. Her mother is hardly ever at home but leaves messages for her everywhere, her father refuses to introduce her to his new wife and son, her best friend Celia disappears yet again and leaves Elizabeth worrying about her, and, to make matters worse, the boy she is in love with falls for her best friend. If it wasn't for her new penfriend Christina, Elizabeth might even take the advice of the Association of Teenagers and hide away in the fridge forever. This hilarious novel in »real« and imaginary letters and notes, written in a witty and ironic style, makes the readers laugh out loud on every page. But beneath the funny surface some serious issues, such as divorce and suicide, are also tackled. (12+)
Special Mention - Australia (English) - 2002 - 27
Russell, Elaine (text/illus.)
A is for aunty
Sydney, NSW : ABC Books, 2001.  p.
(1. publ. 2000)
ISBN 0-7333-0729-9; 0-7333-0872-4
Australia – Aborigines – Everyday life
The letters in this unusual ABC book cleverly serve as an impulse triggering off Russell's memories of her life as a child in an Aboriginal mission. She recalls happy moments, such as a billycart race with her brothers and friends, and tells about daily routines at the mission. A closer look at her powerful pictures, painted with bright acrylic and gouache in naïve style, also reveals her being one of the few fair-skinned Aborigines; as she mentions in the short biographical sketch included in the back of the book, these children were often taken away from their families by the white government at that time. An additional treat for the readers is the book's dustjacket, which can be unfolded to a large format and put up on the wall as a poster. (4+) ☆ ☼
Special Mention - Australia (English) - 2002 - 28
Willow tree and Olive
Sydney, NSW : Hodder Headline Australia, 2001. 260 p.
(A sceptre book)
Immigration – Outsider – Sexual abuse – Friendship
Born in Australia as the child of Greek parents, Olive sometimes feels torn between two worlds. One day, triggered by a lecture Olive attends at school, suppressed memories of some past event suddenly surface and cause a mental breakdown. Step by step, through Olive's letters to her psychologist and her poems and thoughts, the reader discovers that she was raped at the age of five. In order to recover and face the past, she travels to Greece for a few months. This time, her bond with nature and Greek culture and tradition enable her to leave the past behind and look towards a new future. The powerful and moving story is told in fragments of poetry and prose that the reader has to piece together as Olive slowly starts healing. (14+)
India (English) - 2002 - 29
Agarwal, Deepa (text)
Roy, Atanu (illus.)
What's right, what's wrong
New Delhi : Save the Children, 2001. 44 p.
Children's rights – Education – Child labour – Poverty – Hunger – Violence
The six stories in this small booklet all describe the everday life of poor children in India, with each of the children fighting against a particular problem. The topics touched on range from a boy's struggle for better education, to a family's close escape from a devastating flood, and a girl's frustration and fear when her little baby sister is killed after birth, simply because she is a girl. Written in a simple language, the stories, aimed at readers from 8 to 14, clearly suggest how improvements may be achieved. Small boxes at the end of each story do not only contain additional facts and information about the particular problem embedded in the narrative, but also ask the reader to question the treatment of children in poor countries like India. (8+)
India (English) - 2002 - 30
Dutta, Arup Kumar (text)
Basu, Suddhasattwa (illus.)
The counterfeit treasure
New Delhi [et al.] : Scholastic, 2001. 172 p.
India/Meghalaya – Counterfeit money – Adventure – Village community – Trust
Travelling to Meghalaya (a beautiful Indian region near Bangladesh) with their father, twelve-year-old Paloma and her brother Arnab stumble into an exciting adventure. Soon after their arrival, they befriend Yuri, a local girl, and together they secretly start exploring a cave nearby. When they discover that a gang of counterfeit printers has hidden away their treasure there, events get out of control; still, the children are saved and return home as »heroes«. Arup Kumar Dutta not only tells a vivacious and gripping detective story, he also acquaints the readers with the life and different cultures in a rural region of India. The detailed landscape descriptions will certainly arouse the readers' interest in the country. (10+) ☆
Special Mention - India (English) - 2002 - 31
Wolf, Gita (text)
Rao, Sirish (text)
Ramanathan, Rathna (illus.)
Ladha, Rachana (illus. concept)
In the dark
Chennai, India : Tara Publ., 2000.  p.
Fairytale – Perspective
In this witty version of a well-known traditional Sufi folktale (folktales with a similar plot also exist in other countries) five men bump into a huge and very strange object on their way home one pitch dark night. Since each of them has his own opinion about what he has encountered (a wall, an octopus, a bugle, etc.), the stubborn men soon start quarrelling. Only the next morning, when the sun rises and reveals the object's true identity, do they become aware that neither of them had adequately named it – even if neither of them was wrong, either. This small square book is a handcrafted treasure with simple, two-colour pictures printed in silkscreen technique. Each picture depicts only that part of the mysterious object, which perfectly matches the respective person's description; thus, it leaves the readers as puzzled as the protagonists. The pictures and the short calligraphic text, written on handmade paper, and the small bag in which this book is sold, make it a special treat for children and book collectors alike. (4+) ☼
New Zealand (English) - 2002 - 32
Dunedin, New Zealand : Longacre Press, 2001. 173 p.
Outsider – School trip – Friendship – Earthquake – Survival – Murder – Revenge
When Marko wakes up in a psychiatric ward, he cannot remember what happened to him during the last few days. One thing he is sure of, though, is that the doctor is going to kill him if he does not strike first. Marko's descriptions of his present confinement, as well as of the coast-to-coast adventure- schooltrip and the earthquake leading to his situation, are told in alternating chapters with different typography and tense. Step by step, he relates a story of murder and disaster which seems too appaling to be true. Left to judge for themselves whether they can trust the first-person narration, the readers are inevitably drawn into the gripping thriller, the outcome of which is still uncertain at the end. (14+)
New Zealand (English) - 2002 - 33
Tipene, Tim (text)
Campbell, Henry (illus.)
Taming the taniwha
Wellington : Huia, 2001.  p.
School – Bullying – Friendship – Maori
If it wasn't for James, the class bully, Tama would love going to school. His mother, aunt, and uncle come up with various suggestions how to »tame« this monster. Yet, neither telling the teacher nor trying to fight the bully seems a good idea. So when his grandfather suggests being friendly and inviting James to Tama's home, he considers this a crazy idea. To his great surprise, however, the frightening green monster slowly turns into an amiable boy – literally and visually. In Campbell's bright acrylic pictures many harmless objects assume the shape or colour of the terrifying taniwha and thus clearly mirror Tama's fear. Accordingly, as soon as Tama and James have become friends, the frightening shapes disappear. (5+) ☆
Special Mention - Great Britain (English) - 2002 - 34
Noughts & Crosses
London [et al.] : Doubleday, 2001. 446 p.
Class society – Discrimination – Justice – Terrorism – Love
Sephy and Callum have always been best friends; but their friendship and growing love is threatened in this fictional class society. Being a Cross, Sephy, the daughter of an ambitious and ruthless politician, leads a comfortable life, whereas Callum's family are noughts, second class citizens, who have hardly any rights. When Callum and three other nought teenagers are accepted into Sephy's high school as a test case, hostilities break out and she suddenly finds herself forced to take sides. Confronted with hatred and prejudices from both noughts and Crosses, Sephy's naïve view of the world changes rapidly. In the end, when Callum's fight for justice fails and Sephy is left with their unborn child, she sets her hopes on a better future. Through the reversal of traditional roles – the ruling Crosses are black while the suppressed noughts are white – this thought-provoking novel of racism, discrimination and love encourages the readers to challenge traditional conventions. (14+) ☆
Special Mention - Great Britain (English) - 2002 - 35
Blake, Quentin (text/illus.)
Tell me a picture
London : National Gallery Co., 2001. [ca. 120] p.
Arts – Artist – Painting – Museum
In 1999, while Quentin Blake was Britain's first Children's Laureate, he initiated an unusual exhibition in London's National Gallery. He selected 26 paintings by famous artists and well-known illustrators and arranged them on the museum walls (at a child's eye-level) in alphabetical order from Avercamp to Lisbeth Zwerger. On the walls between all these art works, he painted crowds of children looking at the pictures and added their comments. The children's typical straightforward remarks invited Gallery visitors to express their own spontaneous feelings about the paintings. This book »recreates« the exhibition, adding suggestions of how to use the book and giving further information about the artists and their pictures in a short appendix. (6+)
Special Mention - Great Britain (English) - 2002 - 36
Doyle, Malachy (text)
Hess, Paul (illus.)
Hungry! Hungry! Hungry!
London : Andersen Press, 2000.  p.
Boy – Monster – Goblin – Eating – Fear
The two protagonists of this humorous picture book, a small boy and a »grisly, ghastly goblin« are certainly having a weird conversation reminiscent of Little Red Riding Hood's talking to the wolf. The large-format colourful illustrations depict the scenes from unusual angles, zoom in on the ugly green goblin and out again, and follow the monster chasing the boy through all of the rooms of his cozy home; thus, they highlight the child's growing uneasiness and fear about being eaten. The monster's repetitive chant »Hungry! Hungry! Hungry! «, set in huge letters printed in bold type, further increases the tension – until it is suddenly resolved into a completely unexpected and highly amusing twist. (4+)
Special Mention - Great Britain (English) - 2002 - 37
Journey to the River Sea
London [et al.] : Macmillan Children's Books, 2001. 296 p.
Orphan – Amazonas/1910 – Indians/Brazil – Adventure
Two years after her parents' death, Maia's guardian has finally managed to dig up some distant relatives. Therefore, Maia suddenly finds herself whisked away from her safe girls' school in London and put onto a ship heading for the Amazonas jungle. Her excitement and curiosity, however, are soon smothered. Arrogant and greedy Mrs. Carter and her mean, envious twin daughters make Maia's life miserable. Nevertheless, when Maia befriends an Indian boy and helps him escape from two dreadful »head-hunters«, the long-awaited adventures finally begin. Set in the 1910s, the engaging novel easily transports readers back in time. The humorous language and the slightly ironic characterisation, make this gripping adventure story an entertaining read. (10+)
Special Mention - Great Britain (English) - 2002 - 38
Kelly, Mij (text)
Jay, Alison (illus.)
William and the night-train
London : Hodder Children's Books, 2000.  p
ISBN 0-340-73308-x; 0-340-73250-4
Boy – Sleep – Waking up
Everybody aboard the night-train is sleeping – except wide-awake William. He is so anxious to get to tomorrow as quickly as possible that he squirms and kicks and runs around waiting for the train to take off. Kelly's short lines of text and Jay's characteristic vibrant pictures brimming with funny details perfectly capture William's excitement and restlessness. Painted in rich warm colours, an absurd accumulation of people, animals, and objects are crowded together inside the train, such as a boxer in leopard-trousers, an elephant with two monkeys on its back, and a huge ice-cream cone. Children will eagerly follow William around the train, and maybe, just like William, they may finally fall asleep. (3+)
Special Mention - Great Britain (English) - 2002 - 39
The kite rider
Oxford [et al.] : Oxford Univ. Press, 2001. 212 p.
China/13th century – Mongols – Rebellion – Father – Death – Obedience – Circus
Twelve-year old Hayou grows up in a society based on strict obedience and respect towards the elders – values he never dares to question. But after his father's death life becomes extremely difficult. Joining the Jade Circus as its new attraction – he rides a kite among the clouds – offers him a chance to escape from his problems, travel the country, and earn his own money. In this engaging novel, McCaughrean convincingly describes the hero's feelings and adventures, making the readers experience life in 13th century China through the eyes of a young boy who is constantly exploited by his greedy uncle and learns, step by step, that it is always better to rely on your own judgement than to blindly obey other people. (12+)
Special Mention - Great Britain (English) - 2002 - 40
London [et al.] : Corgi Books, 2001. 271 p.
England – India/Punjab – Multicultural society – Family – Traditional education – Conflict
Manjiit, or Manny as he calls himself, was born in Leicester into a strictly traditional Punjabi family. His father, a proud man with a lot of racial prejudice, expects his sons to honour the old family traditions and, if necessary, he will use force to make them obey. But Manny wants more from life than an arranged marriage at seventeen and a future set out for him by his parents. His anger and frustration are easily shared by the readers as they follow Manny's fight to free himself from family expectations and live his own life – even if this means a complete break with his family. Although the teenage slang seems strained at times, the author's fresh style and the quick pace of the narration make this a strong first novel. (14+) ☆
Special Mention - Great Britain (English) - 2002 - 41
Spates, Tracy V.
Picture the world : children's art around the globe
London : Milet, 2001. 63 p.
Children's art – Cultural diversity – Everyday life
This large-format book does not only contain fascinating examples of children's art, it actually takes the reader on an informative journey around the world, visiting eight different countries. In each chapter, several pictures created by children of the respective country are presented. In addition, a small map, photographs of people, buildings, animals, etc., as well as examples of local folk art offer a brief introduction to the countries with small units of text providing further insights. Each section ends with a suggestion for an interesting arts activity for children to try out. This is a truly innovative and enjoyable way of looking at cultural diversity around the globe and enhancing children's creativity. (6+) ☆
Special Mention - Great Britain (English) - 2002 - 42
Tadjo, Véronique (ed./illus.)
Talking drums : a selection of poems from Africa South of the Sahara
London : Black, 2000. 96 p.
ISBN 0-7136-5815-0; 0-7136-5397-3
Sub-Saharan Africa – Poetry – Animals – Independence
»Talking Drums« is a vivid collection of traditional and contemporary African poetry beautifully illustrated by Véronique Tadjo. Her black ink drawings, reminiscent of traditional African paintings, perfectly complement the short moving verses. Arranged in seven chapters entitled Our Universe, The Animal Kingdom, Love and Celebrations, People, Death, Pride and Defiance, and The Changing Times, this collection tells the story of Africa, its creation and history, its people and their fight for independence, from an African point of view. The authors' love for their countries can easily be perceived in each text. A map of Africa and a glossary of African words are added for further information. (8+) ☆ ☼
Special Mention - Great Britain (English) - 2002 - 43
Ward, Helen (text)
Anderson, Wayne (illus.)
The tin forest
Dorking, Surrey : Templar Publ., 2001.  p.
Loneliness – Dream – Happiness
»There was once a wide, windswept place, near nowhere and close to forgotten, that was filled with all the things that no one wanted.« The old man living in this sad grey place dreams of turning it into a beautiful tropical forest. Step by step, he creates a jungle of tin trees, flowers, and animals, and – because he never stops dreaming – his dearest wish finally comes true. Ward's quiet and poetic text is perfectly complemented by Anderson's stunning colour-pencil drawings. The monochrome illustrations at the beginning ingeniously depict the garbage heap's icy greyness and the tin forest's artificiality. With the arrival of the first two real birds, however, the setting is slowly transformed into a colourful garden of joy and happiness. (4+) ☼
Ireland (English) - 2002 - 44
Dunbar, Robert (ed.)
Skimming : [fiction from top Irish writers]
Dublin : O'Brien Press, 2001. 155 p.
Ireland – Everyday life
»Skimming« is a rich and powerful anthology of short stories written by some of the most important contemporary Irish authors for children, such as Siobhán Parkinson, Eoin Colfer, and Mark O'Sullivan. Each of the stories has its own strong voice and distinct style and touches on a different theme. Topics range from the amusing attempts of a father to remove a spider from his daughter's bedroom (making the whole holiday home collapse on his head) to the moving account of a shy young boy who befriends an old tramp and defends him when a teenage gang attack the old man. Despite its diversity, however, the collection forms a cohesive whole by portraying children and teenagers who are trying to cope with their lives in a sometimes hostile world ruled by adults. (10+) ☼
Ireland (English) - 2002 - 45
Breaking the silence
Dublin : Wolfhound Press, 2001. 165 p.
(Young adult fiction)
Sexual abuse – Friendship – Fear – Feeling of guilt
In this powerful, engaging novel for young adults, the author approaches a topic that is still considered a taboo: the sexual abuse of boys. At the age of thirteen, now seventeen-year-old Declan was abused by a group of older boys from his basketball team. When they also rape his best friend Doc three years later, who dies shortly afterwards in a car crash, Declan is overwhelmed by feelings of guilt. The author sympathetically describes the protagonist's desperate attempts to regain control of his life; he portrays the boy's panic whenever he meets his tormentors, and makes the readers share his physical and psychological pain. With the help of two new friends, Declan eventually summons the courage to face his past. (14+)
Canada (English) - 2002 - 46
Kositsky, Lynne (text)
Lightburn, Ron (illus.)
Matthews, Sharon (illus.)
Rachel : a mighty big imagining
Toronto, Ontario [et al.] : Penguin Books, 2001. XI, 64 p.
(Our Canadian girl) (Juvenile fiction)
Nova Scotia/1783 – Slavery – Emancipation – Gender role
The story of ten-year-old Rachel is one of four in a new series of Canadian historical fiction. Aimed at young girls, the series features strong heroines in various historical settings. Black-and-white-illustrations, a historical map of Canada, and a timeline add to the retro-Victorian make-up. Rachel has fled slavery and come to Nova Scotia to be free. As she experiences poverty and prejudice, her family's love and an Indian girl's friendship, she understands that freedom exists above all in the mind. Kositsky draws a compelling portrait of one of the lesser-known chapters of Canadian history that will inspire girls to read on. They will find related information and activities at the supporting website www.ourcanadiangirl.ca. (8+)
Canada (English) - 2002 - 47
Ruurs, Margriet (text)
Bonder, Dianna (illus.)
A pacific alphabet
Vancouver [et al.] : Whitecap Books, 2001.  p.
In recent years, many Canadian children's books have explored their country's mountains, prairies, and northern regions from A to Z. This quirky picture ABC-book takes you on a rollicking journey along the Pacific coast. Ruurs' alliteration-packed verses overflow with the rich fauna and flaura while Bonder's bright, capricious pictures brim with deliciously absurd imagination and humour. Odd, delightfully grotesque characters populate the pages. Children will rejoice at the rich sounds of the verse and love to plunge into the pages to identify many hidden objects that start with each letter. (6+)
Canada (English) - 2002 - 48
Sheppard, Mary C.
Seven for a secret
Toronto, Ontario [et al.] : Douglas & McIntyre, 2001. 189 p.
(A Groundwood book)
ISBN 0-88899-437-0; 0-88899-438-9
Coming of age – Gender role
Women's lives in Cook's Cave, Newfoundland, long followed the same course: school until age 14, pregnancy, marriage to a fisherman, children, housework, trouble with a drinking husband or loss of a beloved husband in a storm. In 1960, things are changing: Melinda, Rebecca and Kate, cousins and best friends, are promising and very different young women. That summer they have to make decisions which will determine their futures somewhere between tradition and emancipation. Melinda's authentic, saucy voice lends this firstperson narrative freshness and gives a vivid portrait of three Newfoundland-generations. (14+)
Special Mention - Canada (English) - 2002 - 49
Toronto, Ontario : HarperCollins, 2001. 168 p.
(Young adult fiction)
Coming of age – Imagination – The Evil – Reality/Fantasy
»You are on the cusp […] between boy and man, the dreaming and the reality«. That's what Abram Harsich, an uncanny stranger who mesmerises a little Saskatchewan prairie town, explains to Robert. The eleven-year-old still possesses the deep intuitive understanding of a child which allows him to unravel the mysteries surrounding the disappearance of his little brother. But he equally has the strength to confront Harsich, who steals children to collect their »dust« – their souls. In this intellectually and emotionally engaging novel, Slade masterfully explores this realm of transition in which the boundaries between reality and fantasy blur. He draws on elements from horror tales and science fiction, fantasy and coming-of-age stories. Action-packed and yet full of reflexion, Slade's writing brims with dazzling imagery and literary references ranging from the Bible to science fiction. This is a thrilling page-turner of high literary quality. (12+)
(Governor General's Award; 2001)
Special Mention - Canada (English) - 2002 - 50
Swanson, Diane (text)
Clark, Warren (illus.)
Nibbling on Einstein's brain : the good, the bad & the bogus in science
Toronto [et al.] : Annick Press, 2001. 104 p.
ISBN 1-55037-686-1; 1-55037-687-x
Science – Fraud in science – Scientific literacy
Science determines many choices we make and the way we understand the world. However, not everything that looks like science is reliable. It is difficult to distinguish between sound science that is based on proper research and phony science that is false or misleading. That is why this book advocating scientific literacy is particularly welcome. It doesn't give answers but shows what questions to ask. It doesn't accumulate facts but demonstrates how to evaluate them. It's a guide to critical thinking, teaching awareness of media and mind traps. Swanson's accessible writing, Clark's zany illustrations and the effective layout make this book – complete with assignments, index, glossary, and references – an enjoyable interactive read. (12+)
Special Mention - Canada (English) - 2002 - 51
Calgary, Alberta : Red Deer Press, 2001. 208 p.
Emotional trauma – Guilt – Friendship
Fragmented memories trouble Dani's mind as she regains consciousness in Riverwood Psychiatric Clinic. Distant ones of her loving mother, haunting ones of her father, and powerful ones of the »Game« she and her sister Kelly used to play – a game of Good against Evil which holds the key to her emotional trauma. With the help of Doctor Thurber and new friends, Dani can finally confront it. Toten effectively explores various narrative techniques to convey the psychological complexity of guilt, angst, craving for love and acceptance: nonlinear unfolding of the plot, shifting points-ofview, inclusion of letters and interviews. In short: a stirring, well-crafted novel. (16+)
(Governor General's Award; 2001, Finalist)
Special Mention - Canada (English) - 2002 - 52
Watt, Mélanie (text/illus.)
Leon the chameleon
Toronto, ON [et al.] : Kids Can Press, 2001.  p.
Difference – Colour – Loneliness
Leon the chameleon is different from all the other chameleons. On a green leaf, he turns red, on yellow sand, he turns purple, and in the blue pond, he turns orange. No wonder Leon feels lonely! Apart from illustrating the principles of complementary colours in a strikingly original way (the book started off as a university project on colour theory), Leon himself learns an important lesson: What makes him different is also what makes him special. Watt's vibrant acrylic and black ink illustrations perfectly capture Leon's moods and strongly bring the message of acceptance and self-confidence across. (4+) ☆
USA (English) - 2002 - 53
Allen, Scott (text)
Pickering, Jimmy (illus.)
Los Angeles, CA : Smallfellow Press, 2001.  p.
Pumpkin – Imagination – Halloween
Do you really think a pumpkin is only for eating? Or would you only use it for carving a lantern on 31st October? Then it is high time you consulted this delighting picture book which offers heaps of congenial ideas of how to put this versatile vegetable to use. From a boat rowed by black cats, to arachnid apartments, or a witch's cauldron, a pumpkin always comes in handy the author says, inviting readers to create their own pumpkininventions. The crazy suggestions, put forth in (sometimes slightly jerky) rhymed verse, are accompanied by equally crazy full- and double-page illustrations in which the colours black and orange dominate – as is certainly apt for a scene set around Halloween. This is a highly entertaining book of nonsense! (4+)
Special Mention - USA (English) - 2002 - 54
A step from heaven
Asheville, NC : Front Street, 2001. 156 p.
America – Immigration – Alcoholism – Poverty – Coming of age – Multicultural society
When four-year-old Young Ju's family emigrate from Korea to America, she firmly believes they are going to heaven. Soon, however, she comes to realize that life in this foreign country is going to be all but »heavenly«. She is torn between her desire to assimilate and to obey her father who is determined to strictly hold on to Korean traditions. The short chapters, written in a powerful authentic language, give a compelling portrait of the family's struggle against poverty and disappointments, especially against the father's growing despair and violent alcoholism. Despite the family's bitter loss when the father finally leaves them to return to Korea, the engaging novel ends on a hopeful note with the mother and brother buying their own home and Young Ju looking forward to studying. An Na's moving narration inevitably draws the readers into her story and makes them share the protagonist's painful growth from a shy and fearful little girl into a confident young woman. (12+) ☆
(Michael L. Printz Award; 2002)
Special Mention - USA (English) - 2002 - 55
Deans, Sis Boulos
Racing the past
New York, NY : Holt, 2001. 151 p.
Father – Son – Alcoholism – Violence – Death – Bullying – Running
At first, running all the way to school and back each day is simply a way of avoiding school bully Bugsie's attacks. Yet, one day Ricky realizes that running also helps him to cope with his own problems. A mixture of present thoughts and past memories welling up inside the boy provide a deep insight into the family's extremely painful life. Through his running, Ricky starts fighting the memories of his dead father's alcoholic rages and regular beatings which still haunt him and his younger brother Matt. The engaging emotional narration also reveals that he is fed up with being the town's scapegoat for anything bad that happens. So when he finally manages to race the schoolbus, he wins in more than just one way. (10+)
Special Mention - USA (English) - 2002 - 56
New York : Scholastic Press, 2001. 161 p.
Vermont/1924 – Racism – KuKluxKlan – Everyday life
In 1924, when the KuKluxKlan settles down in a small Vermont village, hatred suddenly spreads among formerly friendly neighbours. The father of little Esther, a Jewish girl, is shot at, the well belonging to the Sutters, an Afro-American family, is only just saved from poisoning, and law-abiding citizens are turned into criminals. Award-winning author Karen Hesse makes eleven ordinary village people voice their secret feelings in a uniquely convincing and touching language. Written in free verse, the short texts illuminate the events from different angles and implicitly comment on each other. The small black-and-white photographs of the protagonists at the beginning of the book lend authenticity to the short novel. (10+)
Special Mention - USA (English) - 2002 - 57
Hoose, Phillip M.
We were there, too! : young people in US history
New York : Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2001. VII, 264 p.
(Melanie Kroupa books)
America <USA>/1492-2000 – Development – Young people
There is certainly no shortage of books about American heroes who have contributed to the history of the USA since its discovery more than 500 years ago. Hardly any of these books, though, mention the role that young people played in it or honours their amazing achievements. Hoose now comes to their rescue. In chronologically arranged chapters, each with its own introduction, this extraordinary book brings to life the boys who sailed with Columbus, the Cherokee girl who developed a written language for her people, or the »newsies« (small boys and girls selling newspapers on the streets) whose strike almost brought down the big publishers. Black-and-white photographs, maps, and memorabilia accompany the well-written, informative text. (12+) ☆
Special Mention - USA (English) - 2002 - 58
Everything on a waffle
New York : Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2001. 149 p.
Orphan – Foster home
Deep in her heart, eleven-year-old Primrose Squarp simply knows that her parents have not drowned in that terrible typhoon. In a uniquely confident voice, the orphan herself talks about life with old mothball-scented Miss Perfidy, who usually leaves the room in the middle of Primrose's sentences, and about her new home with adventure-loving Uncle Jack. Luckily enough, there is always Miss Bowzer at her small restaurant, The Girl on the Red Swing, where everything is served on a waffle. She lends an open ear to all of Primrose's problems and offers advice as well as a number of delicious recipes. Canadian author Polly Horvath's lovable heroine, and all the other eccentric characters, will win over the readers of this magnificent novel in no time at all. (10+) ☼
Special Mention - USA (English) - 2002 - 59
Janeczko, Paul B. (select.)
Raschka, Chris (illus.)
A poke in the i : [a collection of concrete poems]
Cambridge, Mass. : Candlewick Press, 2001. 35 p.
This hilarious anthology presents a selection of concrete poems from the last four decades ranging from simple to complex ones, from a single word to longer texts, from nonsensical lines to serious and thought-provoking poetry. The poems are arranged on a new page each and are perfectly complemented by Chris Raschka's stunning illustrations. His vivid collages of rich watercolours, ink, and patterned paper torn into different shapes, lend freshness to the poems, often adding new meanings to them or giving them an unexpected twist. Pictures and poems alike will inspire young (as well as older) readers to play with the language and let their imagination lead them to new horizons. (8+) ☼
Special Mention - USA (English) - 2002 - 60
Scieszka, Jon (text)
Smith, Lane (illus.)
Baloney (Henry P.)
New York, NY [et al.] : Viking, 2001.  p.
School – Being late – Excuse – Imagination
Although Henry P. Baloney obviously lives on some foreign planet, he is faced with a very common human problem: He desperately needs a believable excuse for being late for his class. The cheeky little green lad, however, quickly comes up with such an absurd and confusing story that his stern-looking teacher cannot but marvel at his imagination. The numerous weird-sounding expressions taken from 13 different languages (such as Finnish, Swahili, or Esperanto) as well as the imaginative mixed-media illustrations, which depict an alien world in varying formats, further add to the tale's crazy and funny atmosphere. (6+)
Special Mention - USA (English) - 2002 - 61
Turner, Sandy (illus.)
New York, NY [et al.] : Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2001.  p.
Christmas – Santa Claus – Invisibility – Dog
As its name suggests, the Silent Night is supposed to be peaceful and quiet. The small white dog in this picture book without text, however, furiously tries to make the sleeping family notice a particularly brazen »burglar«. Unfortunately, the intruder in his bright red cloak is invisible to everyone but the dog. This barking security guard gets so carried away by its own agitation that one double-page is completely covered in barks. Sandy Turner's turbulent sketchy black charcoal drawings on a creamcoloured background ingeniously depict the dog's desperate attempts to corner the enemy (the dog is often drawn in various positions within the same cartoon-like picture) and the family's wordless astonishment at their pet's incomprehensible behaviour. Simply hilarious! (3+) ☼
Special Mention - USA (English) - 2002 - 62
Waldman, Neil (text/illus.)
They came from the Bronx : how the buffalo were saved from extinction
Honesdale, Pa. : Boyds Mills Press, 2001.  p.
Indians/USA – Buffalo – Extinction – White settlers – Wildlife conservation
This impressive large-format picture book opens with an elderly Comanche woman; while sitting on an Oklahoma hilltop with her small grandson in 1907, she recalls her people's former way of life, the importance of the buffalo, and the animal's near extinction by the Whites. On every other page, her narration is interrupted by a second story commemorating the efforts of a group of Wildlife Conservationists to bring the American bison back from the brink of extinction. In order to achieve their aims, they ship a herd of buffalos from the Bronx Zoo to the plains of Oklahoma. The unusual earth-colour illustrations in the style of old handcoloured photographs graphically unite both stories while lending historical authenticity to the informative and engaging text. (4+) ☆ ☼
Special Mention - USA (English) - 2002 - 63
Wiesner, David (text/illus.)
The three pigs
New York : Clarion Books, 2001.  p.
Fairytale – Pig – Wolf – Adventure
Everybody knows the story of the three little pigs. In this hilarious new version of the classic fairy tale, however, when the big bad wolf arrives to blow down the houses and swallow the poor little chaps, a big surprise awaits him. The pigs have jumped out of their own story onto the dazzling white pages of the book. They fold the page with the puzzled wolf into a paper plane, and embark on new adventures. David Wiesner's ingenious illustrations show the cartoon-like pigs suddenly turn into »real-life« ones. They grow fur, climb into different traditional stories, liberate new friends on their way, and ultimately control their own fate. The discrepancy between the well-known text and the illustrations, which picture an altogether different story, reveals the author's humorous play with conventions. (4+)
(Randolph Caldecott Medal; 2002)
Special Mention - USA (English) - 2002 - 64
Wolff, Virginia Euwer
New York, NY [et al.] : Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2001. 264 p.
School – Friendship – Coming of age – Love – Lower social class
In this powerful and riveting sequel to »Make Lemonade «, Verna La Vaughn ponders over all of life's absurdities and obstacles, wondering why life at fifteen can't be as easy as it used to be when she was a little girl. Her best friends, Myrtle and Annie, have recently joined some dubious religious club, the boy she is in love with turns out to be gay, her mother has to work hard to save money for LaVaughn's future at college, while she herself isn't quite sure yet whether going to Grammar-Build-Up classes is really worth slipping away from her familiar background. In this touching novel Wolff uses the unusual form of free verse, lending an immediacy to the girl's inner feelings and doubts which the readers easily understand. (14+)
(Michael L. Printz Award Honour Book; 2002)
Mongolia (English) - 2002 - 210
Dašdondog, Žambyn (text/photos)
Oyunbayar, Namsrain (transl.)
Ulaanbaatar : Golden Tale Partnership of Children's Books, 2001. 32 p.
(Transl. from Mongolian)
Mongolia – Animals – Sculpture – Legends
Inspired by the animal stone sculptures of Terelj, created through erosion, the well-known Mongolian children's book author Žambyn Dašdondog wrote several legends. They are based on Mongolian folktales and have rat, lizard, snake, jumping mouse, hedgehog, badger, marmot, fox, and wolf as their protagonists. All the legends deal with the contact between animals and humans. In many cases, the characteristics of these animals differ considerably from the ones attributed to them in European fables and fairytales. (8+)
Kenya (English) - 2003 - 23
The Salem Mystery
Nairobi [et al.] : East African Educational Publ., 2001. 135 p.
(Secondary readers ; 13)
Woman – Murder – Teenage boy – Investigation
On his way home after an ordinary day, Kahiu is arrested by two ill-tempered police officers and has to accompany them on their beat. Suddenly, they stumble upon the site of a brutal murder. Out of curiosity, the boy and his best friend Opiyo start investigating the mysterious case on their own and are drawn into an intricate mystery-solving adventure putting their own life at risk more than once. This exciting detective story is one in a series of »Secondary Readers« aimed at students in lower secondary school. It conveys an authentic atmosphere of life in a Kenyan town and is nicely rounded off by simple black-and-white drawings. (12+)
Special Mention - South Africa (English) - 2003 - 24
Gordon, Marguerite (ed.)
Madiba magic : Nelson Mandela’s favourite stories for children
Cape Town : Tafelberg, 2002. 140 p.
Africa – Folktale – Anthology
This beautifully produced anthology contains 32 stories from South Africa and other African countries. A few of the tales are new stories written in the style of traditional folktales, while most of them are ancient folktales which have undergone several changes through the centuries and are presented here either in their orally transmitted form or as retellings by various authors. Each of the magical short tales is accompanied by a magnificent full-page illustration, painted by well-known children’s book artists as well as by some talented new illustrators, and by one or two beautiful small black-and-white vignettes created by Teresa Williams. A short one-sentence-introduction preceding each tale and an appendix at the back of the book give additional information about the importance of the tale’s theme or protagonist and its popularity and about the tales’ illustrators and authors or retellers. This folktale treasure chest will delight young and old readers alike. (4+) ☆ ☼
Australia (English) - 2003 - 25
Barlow, Maisie (Yarrcali) (text)
Anning, Michael (Boiyool) (illus.)
Jirrbal : rainforest dreamtime stories
Broome, Western Australia : Magabala Books Aborig. Corp., 2002. 59 p.
Australia/North Queensland – Aborigines – Everyday life – Fable
The Jirrbal people of Ravenshoe in North Queensland belong to an Aboriginal tribe whose lifestyle was influenced by the rainforest region in which they lived. Sadly, their rich storytelling tradition almost died out with the arrival of white settlers. For this book, published by a small publisher who promotes the works of indigenous people, Jirrbal elder Maisie Barlow selected four typical moral fables. The ancient dreamtime stories tell of Jirrbal life, introducing important traditional values to modern- day children. The simple tales are accompanied by Michael Anning’s delightful colour-pencil illustrations. A two-page English/Jirrbal dictionary and the author’s childhood memories provide an interesting insight into Jirrbal culture. (4+) ☆ ☼
Special Mention - Australia (English) - 2003 - 26
Cree, Laura Murray
Awesome! : Australian art for contemporary kids
St Leonards, Sydney, NSW : Craftsman House, 2002. 128 p
Australia – Modern Art
Modern art is sometimes difficult to access. Pejorative remarks from adults like »My Kids could do better than that!« are fairly common. Children, however, with their boundless imagination, are usually more inclined to discover the interesting ideas lying behind seemingly simple artefacts. In short, informative texts, Laura Murray Cree presents 55 outstanding Australian artists by introducing child readers to one of their typical works. Paintings, photographs, sculptures, and installations are carefully selected and show the immense variety of ideas and projects that contemporary artists realise. The attractive full-page reproductions of the works, as well as the appealing mixture of basic information, short quotations, and interesting texts, make this book an entertaining read for everybody. To all those who are anxious to find out more, an appendix gives some additional facts about the artists and offers suggestions for further reading. (8+) ☼
Special Mention - Australia (English) - 2003 - 27
Crew, Gary (text)
McBride, Marc (illus.)
Sydney, NSW : Hodder Children’s Books Australia, 2002.  p.
Curiosity – Inventor – Immortality – Eos and Tithonus
After Old Ridley has died, Joachim finally gets the chance to inspect his wondrous, castle-like home which he had secretly been spying on for years. The strange neighbour, who was rumoured to be a mad inventor, had always lived a reclusive life. Full of admiration, the boy wanders through the empty house, up to the attic – and there, a dubious surprise awaits him. Inspired by the ancient Greek myth of the Goddess Eos who fell in love with Tithonus, a mortal youth, this mysterious tale ponders on a man’s desperate search for immortality. The eerie atmosphere of Gary Crew’s magical text is ingeniously captured in Marc McBride’s amazing fantastical illustrations teeming with bizarre details. (10+)
Special Mention - Australia (English) - 2003 - 28
When you wake and find me gone
Camberwell, Victoria [et al.] : Penguin Books, 2002. 424 p.
Australia – Mother – Daughter – Secret – Ireland – Irish Republican Army – Father
When her older sister Leonie is seriously injured in a car accident, Kit has no idea that her whole life is about to be turned upside down: Yet, suddenly she learns that her sister is in fact her mother and that her father was some Irishman involved in political underground activites in Belfast. Leaving her secure Australian country home, the fairly naïve twenty-year-old girl travels to Ireland on a quest for her parents’ secret and steps into a world of violence and political extremism. The readers of this thought-provoking young adult novel follow Kit on her painful journey of (self-)discovery and learn a lot about Ireland’s recent past and the conflicts still troubling the country. A truly fascinating and insightful read. (14+) ☆
Special Mention - Australia (English) - 2003 - 29
The slightly true story of Cedar B. Hartley (who planned to live an unusual life)
Crows Nest, NSW : Allen & Unwin, 2002. 226 p.
Girl – Everyday life – Friendship – Brother – Running away – Acrobatics
In this light-hearted novel, author Martine Murray has her twelve-year-old heroine, named after a tree by her then-hippie mother, talking about daily life in a small Australian town. While chatting on about her friends and »enemies«, her quirky neighbours, her run-away brother Barnaby who keeps sending peculiar postcards, and her friend Kite, an acrobatic »bird-person«, Cedar B. Hartley reveals some truths about love, life, and herself. Her witty straightforward first-person narration, intertwined with poetic images, immediately wins over the readers’ hearts and makes this an impressive debut novel. The tiny black-and-white line drawings accentuate the cheerful atmosphere of the text. (12+)
Special Mention - Australia (English) - 2003 - 30
Tan, Shaun (text/illus.)
The red tree
South Melbourne, Victoria : Lothian, 2001.  p.
Sadness – Depression
Everybody knows that feeling when a »day begins with nothing to look forward to and things go from bad to worse«. In Shaun Tan’s moving picture book, a little red-haired girl is almost overwhelmed by her feeling of loneliness and isolation, and she simply cannot see a meaning to her life. At the end of the day, however, quite unexpectedly, a ray of hope is finding its way into her heart. The multiaward- winning illustrator’s detailed, surrealistic mixed-media collages in mainly dark colours capture the girl’s despair in a unique way. The sparse text blends in perfectly with the breathtaking pictures, leaving ample space for the readers to find their own interpretation of this quiet story. (4+) ☼
Special Mention - Australia (English) - 2003 - 31
Sydney : Pan Macmillan Australia, 2002. 386 p.
(Pan : Fiction)
Friendship – Quest – Happiness – Fate
In his new novel, highly acclaimed Australian author Markus Zusak, weaves a fascinating mixture of humour, irony, suspension, violence, and sex (or rather the fervent wish for it), into a gripping narrative which is sure to hold every reader under its spell. After having »accidentally« foiled a bank robbery, 19-year-old cab driver Ed Kennedy’s life takes an unexpected turn. Mysterious messages scribbled on playing cards arrive at his house: three addresses, three names, etc. Although Ed does not have a clue what he is supposed to make of this, he starts off on a quest delivering »messages« to these people which deeply influence their lives as well as his own. This unusual crossover novel will appeal to teenagers and adults alike. (16+)
India (English) - 2003 - 32
Sen Gupta, Subhadra (text)
Guha, Tapas (illus.)
A clown for Tenali Rama
New Delhi; New York [et al.] : Scholastic, 2002. 108 p.
India/1510-1530 – Time travel – Temple dancing – Stone Carving
One afternoon, while selling coconut water and little stone carvings to passing tourists, fourteen-yearold Basava and his younger sister Sivakka suddenly find themselves magically transported back into the beginning of the 16century when Hampi, their small home village, was the famous city of Vijayanagar ruled by great King Krishnadeva Raya. During the next few days, the two teenagers meet many interesting people, explore fascinating temples and palaces, and take part in the bustling city life. This engaging time travel adventure makes the splendour of a long forgotten era come alive and tells children a lot about Indian customs and traditions as well as about the everyday life in those times. (10+) ☆
New Zealand (English) - 2003 - 33
Right where it hurts
Wellington, New Zealand : Mallinson Rendel, 2002. 132 p.
Teenager – School – Pressure – Selfmutilation – Friendship
When Slade meets Mallory on the first day at his new school, he immediately dislikes her for impersonating everything he hates about snobby rich people. Yet, not long after, he gets to know the shy and insecure girl hiding behind a mask of conceitedness and superiority and realises that she desperately needs help. Slowly crumbling under the immense pressure her successful parents put on her, Mallory punishes herself for her »failures« by cutting or burning her arms until, one day, it is almost too late. In his disturbing young adult novel, written in a cool and cheeky authentic teenage voice, wellknown writer David Hill points out the dangers of parental pressure and also attacks the »ideal world« of upper-class families. (14+)
New Zealand (English) - 2003 - 34
Spider : a novel
Dunedin, New Zealand : Longacre Press, 2002. 245 p.
Mother – Son – Teenager – Coming of Age – Friendship – Piano Competition
Matthew »Spider« Trent is seventeen, long, lean, and lanky, and has just been voted Number Ten on a teen magazine’s list. Now it is time for a new challenge – such as the big piano competition. But has he got what it takes? And does he really want to spend his future as a great pianist? These are questions that neither his two best buddies nor his secretly adored Moana can answer for him. In a stream-of-consciousness-like authentic first person narrative, the teenage hero pours out his heart. The insight which William Taylor gives his readers into the world of music, the description of the strong mother-son relationship, and his unusually open approach to the sex industry, makes this a thoughtprovoking yet funny coming of age novel. (14+)
Great Britain (English) - 2003 - 35
Agard, John (ed.)
Nichols, Grace (ed.)
Various illustrators (illus.)
Under the moon & over the sea : a collection of Caribbean poems
London [et al.] : Walker Books, 2002. 77 p.
Poetry – Anthology
This colourful collection of poetry introduces its readers to the exotic Caribbean world. Divided into five different parts, the book tells about everydaylife on a Caribbean island, conjures up the magic atmosphere of storytelling by the fireside, makes the mouths water with texts about typical food and drinks, and compares stories from within the land with impressions of those who have left for faraway countries. Each chapter is superbly illustrated by a different artist using a variety of style and techniques: subtle collages, watercolour illustrations with a folkloric touch, comic-like pictures, and naïve style paintings. In their unique way, all the illustrators convey the picture of a colourful and sunny place with a rich cultural tradition. (8+) ☆
Great Britain (English) - 2003 - 36
London [et al.] : Young Picador, 2002. 232 p.
Mother – Daughter – Anorexia
Carmen’s career-oriented mother Maria has always been on some diet or other, yet doesn’t acknowledge that she has a serious eating problem. On the contrary: With her constant nagging and patronising, she even manages to make Carmen believe herself to be a fat teenager. All of a sudden, she brings her daughter to her hometown Birmingham for a fresh start, whisking her far away from the soothing influence of her stepfather. A vicious circle of starving, eating in secret, and throwing up begins. Set in a typically British middle class environment, this disturbing teenage novel explores the complex chain of cause and effect in a dieting obsession from an unusual angle. In this case, it is the mother who is highly anorexic rather than her teenage daughter. (12+)
Great Britain (English) - 2003 - 37
London : Livewire, 2002. 181 p.
Stepfather – Domestic violence – Secrecy – Escape
Briony cannot remember exactly when it started, but slowly matters are getting out of hand and she is afraid that her increasingly violent stepfather may go too far one day. While she tries to keep her family life secret from her school friends, her increasing fear for her mother almost overwhelms her. This stirring novel focuses on the all too common issue of domestic violence. Through the eyes of sixteen-year-old Briony, the readers witness her stepfather’s frequent outbursts of fury and her mother’s blind excuses, which leave the girl helpless and desperate. On the publishers website at www.the-womens-press.com readers interested in the topic can find useful information as well as links to help organisations. (14+)
Great Britain (English) - 2003 - 38
Frome, Somerset : Chicken House, 2003. 220 p.
Son – Father – Alcoholism – Accident – Friendship – Betrayal
Told in retrospective, the witty and ironic, highly reflective matter-of-fact first-person narrative traces the events of one week in the life of Martyn Pig – »Martyn with a Y, Pig with an I and one G« – who leads a monotonous existence next to his alcoholic father. Although his Dad uses him as servant, cleaning maid, and pinchball, the boy never meant to kill him. And he didn’t – not intentionally anyway; it was simply a silly accident. Yet, despite his clever plans, getting rid of the body is not as easy as it always seems in detective novels. And when everything finally seems to work out well, there is a nasty surprise looming in the dark. This puzzling and sinister yet deadly funny debut novel contains many unexpected twists. (14+)
Special Mention - Great Britain (English) - 2003 - 39
Child, Lauren (text/illus.)
Who’s afraid of the big bad book?
London : Hodder Children’s Books, 2002.  p.
Boy – Fairytale – Adventure – Escape
In this follow-up to the successful Beware of the Storybook Wolves, bookworm Herb accidentally falls into his big book of fairy tales one night and is immediately confronted by an enraged little Goldilocks who screams blue murder at the intruder. Herb quickly takes to his heels and finally finds himself in a huge hall where the queen and king are angrily discussing the annoying absence of Prince Charming. When they spot Herb, the little culprit responsible for all the mischief, they set off chasing him. At the last minute, he manages to escape back to his room and »spends the rest of the night putting the storybook back to rights«. The wild illustrations, full of details and rendered in Lauren Child’s trademark collage-style – sketchy ink drawings, photographs, and fabric samples slotted together – are combined with different size typefaces which ingeniously depict the story’s twists and turns. An intriguing and imaginative picture book for readers of all ages. (4+) ☼
Special Mention - Great Britain (English) - 2003 - 40
Duffy, Carol Ann (text)
Stewart, Joel (illus.)
London [et al.] : Macmillan Children’s Books, 2002.  p.
ISBN 0-333-96063-7. - 0-333-96064-5
Farm animals – Everyday life – Underwater world
In her first picture book, award-winning poet Carol Ann Duffy tells a whimsical surreal tale about farm animals living a quiet life under the sea. The musical, rhymed verses are perfectly complemented by Joel Stewart’s exquisite illustrations in rich colours. Fluffy white sheep in »new-washed fleece« are calmly floating through the mysteriously green water feeding on seaweed while, on another page, a bright yellow octopus energetically waves violin, trumpet, and saxophone beating the time for the farm horse and the dolphin waltzing away in the distance. At the end of the day, »the creatures there fall fast asleep«. This imaginative bedtime book will easily carry its readers into the magical depths of the sea. (4+)
Special Mention - Great Britain (English) - 2003 - 41
London : Orion Children’s Books, 2002. 186 p.
(A Dolphin paperback)
Stepfather – Violence – Escape – Mother – Son – Racism
Ever since Danny and his mother Cathy moved in with Chris a few years ago, life has been hell. The overly jealous and possessive man watched their every move and frequently beat them up as punishment for some small »disobedience«. One night, they finally escape. Yet, when they arrive at his grandparents’ house it seems like the black boy and his white mother have got out of the frying pan into the fire: In this small Northern England town, a group of racist teenagers do their best to prove how unwelcome Danny is in the neighbourhood. The gripping narrative unfolds in short sequences written from the various protagonists’ points-of-view and immediately draws readers in. This is a fastpaced, thought-provoking novel about violence and racism. (12+) ☆
Special Mention - Great Britain (English) - 2003 - 42
Across the nightingale floor : tales of the Otori, Book One.
London [et al.]: Macmillan, 2002. 294 p.
Adolescent – Family – Murder – Revenge – Loyalty – Love – Fate
Sixteen-year-old Takeo, who was raised among »the Hidden«, a peaceful religious people, witnesses his family and the whole village being slaughtered by cruel soldiers. The boy is saved and adopted by kind Lord Otori and is taught everything a future lord must know, including the history of the different clans and the art of sword-fighting. Under the guidance of a mysterious teacher, he slowly discovers his supernatural skills which mark him as a member of »the Tribe« and will determine his future life. Set in an imaginary feudal country, which resembles medieval Japan and its customs and traditions, this gripping and powerful novel (the first book of a trilogy) tells a passionate tale of loyalty, honour, love and revenge. (14+)
Special Mention - Great Britain (English) - 2003 - 43
Patten, Brian (text)
Riddell, Chris (illus.)
The story giant
London : Collins, 2002. 222 p.
Giant – Storytelling – Children – Saviour – Folktale
For centuries, the story giant has been collecting all the stories from around the world. To try and find the only tale that is still missing from his collection, the giant summons four children from the four corners of the world to his remote moorland castle. As they share all the tales from their different cultures, he becomes weaker and weaker... Into this magical frame story, Brian Patten weaves more than fifty tales ranging from Aesop’s fables, Arabian folktales, and Japanese legends, to Aboriginal myths and Celtic fairytales. This colourful mixture written in a quiet and engaging style, is accompanied by Chris Riddell’s humorous caricaturelike ink drawings, ingeniously depicting the quirky storyteller and his various protagonists. (8+) ☆ ☼
Special Mention - Great Britain (English) - 2003 - 44
London : Scholastic Children’s Books, 2002. 293 p.
City – Fight for Survival – Adventure – Quest – War – Class society
In this thrilling futuristic fantasy adventure, cities are roaming the vast barren plains of planet earth on huge platforms. According to their principle of Municipal Darwinism, the larger »traction cities« feast on weaker ones to survive, and Tom, a third class Historian’s apprentice who has lived on London all his life, is convinced that this is just as life is supposed to be. However, when he meets scarfaced revengeful Hester, gets pushed off his home onto the bare earth, has to flee dubious slave traders, and learns of a nasty plot to kill thousands of people, his life and thinking are turned upside down. In this fast-paced debut novel, Philip Reeve creates a gripping fantasy adventure and – at the same time – addresses some serious issues such as class society, violence, and war. (11+)
(Nestlé Smarties Book Prize; 2002)
Special Mention - Ireland (English) - 2003 - 45
A – Z and back again : a little bit of this and a wee bit of that!
Ballintogher : Kids’ Own Publ. Partnership, 2002.  p.
(A kids’ own book for young children)
Kids’ Own Publishing Partnership, a small publishing house in Ireland, promotes the creative skills of children as writers and artists through various projects. One of their aims is to make the culture of »Travellers«, Ireland’s nomadic people, visible to others. For this outstanding example of children’s creativity reminiscent of Andy Warhol’s famous pop-art works, a group of children from two different schools have worked together with their families in a series of workshops. Using sponges, potatoes, and other everyday objects for different types of prints, they created the letters from A to Z and drew a few accompanying objects starting with each letter. With the help of photocopies, they decided on the final layout and design of the largeformat brochure. For the photo-gallery on the book’s endpages, they worked with digital photographs and computer. With the guiding assistance of an adult artist, they have thus created a fascinatingly colourful alphabet book. (2+) ☆ ☼
Special Mention - Ireland (English) - 2003 - 46
Dublin : O’Brien Press, 2002. 141 p.
Parents – Divorce – Son – Anger – Self-confidence
Gyr, named after the gyrfalcon, a protected bird of prey, loves roaming the countryside of his family’s new home on a hill outside a small Irish village. Yet, when he learns that his parents are thinking about getting divorced and that his father will be staying in London, he is outraged and feels utterly lonely. Suddenly, an enchanting stranger enters his life: By introducing the boy to his world and the warriors of ancient Ireland, Finn MacCumhail (a well-known Irish legendary hero) slowly lets Gyr find his own path in life. In this engaging children’s novel, where the real and fantasy worlds naturally blend into each other, the boy’s quest for love and self-confidence is told in a convincing third-person narrative with a magical touch. (10+)
Canada (English) - 2003 - 47
Edwards, Wallace (text/illus.)
Toronto, Ontario [et al.] : Kids Can Press, 2002.  p.
Alphabet – Animals
Truth often lies in paradox – as, for example, in the fact that the rigid structure of the alphabet continuously seems to inspire unconventional ABC-books. In his first book for children, Edwards unites an exotic menagerie of »alphabeasts« in a mansion lavishly decorated with elaborate tapestries, intricate carpets and extravagant draperies. Each letter features an unpredictable guest in an incongruous setting engaged in an even more unexpected activity. This surreal feast for the eyes will fascinate young and old and lead to reflections on the uncanny boundaries between wilderness and civilisation. (6+)
Canada (English) - 2003 - 48
Victoria, BC [et al.] : Orca Book Publ., 2002. 264 p.
Scapegoatism – Peer pressure – Friendship
A tribute to Robert Cormier’s »Chocolate War«, this tense novel explores the destructive dynamics of peer pressure and scapegoatism: At the beginning of the new school-year, fifteen-year-old Sally Hanson learns that she is the so-called »winner« of the reputed lottery set up by the Shadow Council – a student body terrorising the entire high school. Victim of the Council and shunned by all the students, Sally tries to face the darker side of human nature without losing faith in herself or her friends. Trust in her brother and in the powers of music help her to stay true to herself. Goobie’s keen sense of observation shows in her poignant psychological analysis and in the resourcefulness of her striking imagery. (12+)
Canada (English) - 2003 - 49
Search of the moon king’s daughter : a novel
Toronto, Ontario [et al.] : Tundra Books, 2002. 309 p.
Sister – Brother – Poverty – Child labour – Class society – England/1830-1836
This gripping novel draws a shockingly realistic portrait of the appalling living conditions of the poor in comparison with the safe and comfortable life of the upper classes in 19century England. After her father’s death, Emmaline, her mother Cat, and her deaf baby brother are thrown out of their small country cottage and forced to move to a nearby mill town where, one day, Cat has her hand smashed in a terrible factory accident. To get hold of laudanum, the pain-killing drug, the girl’s desperate mother eventually sells the small boy into servitude as a chimney sweep. Emmaline, now 15, immediately sets off to find and save her brother and encounters a lot of cruelty but also kindness, hope, and even a small miracle. (14+)
Special Mention - Canada (English) - 2003 - 50
Hana’s suitcase : a true story
Toronto, Ontario : Second Story Press, 2002. 111 p.
(The Holocaust remembrance series for young readers)
ISBN 1-896764-55-x; 1-896764-61-4
Holocaust – Persecution of the Jews – Quest – Holocaust Education – Japan/Canada
Fumiko Ishioka, director of the Tokyo Holocaust Center, felt that the best way to teach children about the past is to show them physical objects that tell the story of the people connected to them. When a suitcase with the only information »Hana Brady, May 16, 1931, Waisenkind (orphan)« arrives in Japan from the Auschwitz Museum in the year 2000, the quest for Hana’s story begins. This inspiring and deeply moving documentary brings together the three stories of Fumiko’s and the Japanese childrens‘ detective work, of Hana’s childhood in former Czechoslovakia, her deportation to Theresienstadt and her murder in Auschwitz, and finally that of her brother, who survived the Holocaust and came to Canada with nothing but the family photo album to keep the memory of Hana alive. This way, the Holocaust does not appear like a distant chapter of German history but rather like an event of universal impact, which teaches today’s generation to work towards peace, tolerance, and understanding. (10+) ☆
(Shortlisted for the Governor General’s Award 2002)
(CD of original CBC radio documentary available upon request)
Special Mention - Canada (English) - 2003 - 51
Park, Janie Jaehyun (retelling/illus.)
The tiger and the dried persimmon : a Korean folktale
Toronto [et al.] : Douglas & McIntyre, 2002.  p.
Folktale – Tiger – Courage
A persimmon is a fruit given to children in East Asian countries as a sweet treat. But, luckily, the great tiger – powerfully rendered in the illustrations – does not know that. When he comes to a farm house to devour the ox, he hears the »growling« sounds of a little baby who seems to fear nothing – neither wolf, nor bear, nor tiger – except for dried persimmon. The tiger’s misinterpretation results in a wonderful comedy of errors with many an unexpected turn, skilfully reflected in the changing perspectives of the swirling, dynamic pictures. These vibrant and highly expressive illustrations are inspired by the ancient tradition of Korean art and effectively bring this retelling of the Korean folktale to life. (5+)
Special Mention - Canada (English) - 2003 - 52
Yee, Paul (text)
Chan, Harvey (illus.)
Dead man’s gold and other stories
Toronto [et al.] : Douglas & McIntyre, 2002. 112 p.
(A Groundwood book)
Chinese immigrants – Ghost stories
In ten original stories, Paul Yee masterfully conjures up the past of Chinese immigrants who came to the New World to make a living but were haunted by the people, traditions, and values of their old home country. Lovers cruelly separated by immigration laws, strict fathers, and poor peddlers unable to adapt to the New World return as ghosts so that their fates will not be forgotten. Told in the popular form of ghost stories, they provide a link between traditional Chinese folklore and modern North American short stories, and create a powerful »New World Mythology«. The award-winning illustrator takes up the strong images of the texts and heightens their intensity in eerie and evocative plates which add to the bibliophile nature of this thoroughly designed book. (16+)
(Shortlisted for the Governor General’s Award 2002)
USA (English) - 2003 - 53
New York : Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2002. 150 p.
(Frances Foster books)
Adoption – Sister – Brother – Holidays – Island – Loon
No-one in their right mind would give their child such a stupid name; and Dillon Dillon is sure his own parents are no exception. So why on earth did they do it? His tenth birthday seems to be just the right moment to finally ask for the truth – a truth that changes Dillon’s life forever. In this unspectacular, tender novel, award-winning picture book author Kate Banks makes the readers share the adopted boy’s inner thoughts and confused feelings. They accompany him to the small lake island where he becomes friends with two nesting loons, and witness his slow healing process: Seeing his own fate mirrored in that of the orphaned baby loon, the boy eventually comes to accept his adoption and regains his grip on life. (10+)
USA (English) - 2003 - 54
Collins, Ross (text/illus.)
New York, NY : Bloomsbury Children’s Books, 2002.  p.
Boy – Sleep – Disturbance – Fictitious characters
It is night-time and little Ben is dozing off when the Sandman pops in through the window. Yet, before he can complete his good night song, bossy Tooth Fairy interrupts him, followed by two Ghosts, the Thing-Under-the-Bed, and – last but not least – Santa Claus. Loudly arguing about who is to have a go at the little boy first, this motley crew creates such mighty havoc that, eventually, Ben himself throws them out to get some sleep. The exuberant cartoon-like illustrations, depicting the chaotic scenes from various angles, zooming in and out, perfectly complement the witty text. Acclaimed Scottish illustrator Ross Collins has created a hilarious bedtime book which is sure to reduce children’s night fears to giggles and laughter. (4+) ☼
USA (English) - 2003 - 55
Gray, Margaret (text)
Cecil, Randy (illus.)
The ugly princess and the wise fool
New York : Henry Holt, 2002. 167 p.
Princess – Beauty – Ugliness – Friendship – Wisdom – Fairytale – Parody
When Princess Rose is born, the whole kingdom of Couscous is in a state of shock: She is not excessively beautiful, as any princess simply must be. No. She is not even remotely pretty. Despite this, everyone adores the friendly buck-toothed girl. One day, however, handsome (and empty-headed) prince Parsley passes the castle looking for a bride – and suddenly Rose longs for beauty... In this hilarious debut novel, Margaret Gray employs a variety of metafictional remarks and absurd exaggerations to create a parody on fairy tale conventions which will make readers laugh out loud. Even if the moral is clear right from the start, the funny text and the comical black-and-white illustrations provide an entertaining read from beginning to end. (8+) ☼
USA (English) - 2003 - 56
Grifalconi, Ann (text)
Nelson, Kadir (illus.)
The village that vanished
New York : Dial Books for Young Readers, 2002. [40 ] p.
Africa – Village – Slave trade – Threat – Trick – Escape
Written in the style of a traditional African tale narrated by an old storyteller, this touching story celebrates the courageous behaviour and quick thinking of a small Yao girl and her mother. When cruel slave traders approach their tiny village, Njemile and her young daughter Abikanile persuade the neighbours to wipe out all traces of the village and flee deep into the forest. Thanks to the girl’s trust in the ancestral spirits, they escape successfully. The eloquent and expressive prose text, is enhanced by fascinating illustrations: Detailed pencil and oil drawings coloured mainly in warm shades of brown, green, and orange, beautifully capture the atmosphere, the colourful flora, and the rich fabrics worn by the African women. (6+) ☆
USA (English) - 2003 - 57
New York : Alfred A. Knopf, 2002. 292 p.
(A Borzoi book)
ISBN 0-375-82181-3; 0-375-92181-8
Moving house – School – Bullying – Runaway boy – Burrowing owl – Protection – Environment
Roy’s family has just moved again – this time to flat and boring Coconut Grove in Florida. As the new kid he is easy prey for Dana Matherson, the thick-headed school bully. Life seems miserable. But when, thanks to Dana, he spots a mysterious barefooted boy running away from the school bus, follows him, and becomes friends with the runaway’s stepsister, Roy is in for a lifetime adventure. Carl Hiaasen’s first novel for young readers features a motley crew of characters who team up to save the dens of some tiny burrowing owls from destruction. During their fight against the greedy manager of a pancake chain, the engaging story builds up suspense and takes some comic twists, before it is resolved in a slapstick denouement. This delicious comedy is sure to be a hoot. (11+)
USA (English) - 2003 - 58
Howitt, Mary (original text)
DiTerlizzi, Tony (illus.)
The spider and the fly
New York [et al.] : Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2002.  p.
Fly – Spider – Trick
The famous old cautionary tale of the deceitful spider who talks the naïve little fly into entering his parlor and then turns her into a delicious spiderdinner is still very popular today. In this version, Tony DiTerlizzi’s superb pictures add another spooky layer to this story. The black-and-silver gouache and graphite illustrations, reminiscent of classic Hollywood horror movies from the 1920s and 1930s, show a delicate young upper-class ladyfly who is easily deceived by the gentleman-like manners of the cunning spider. The gruesome details depicted inside the spider flat further increase the tension of the tale. As a humorous twist, the cruel villain is even granted a »last word« in the book, justifying his behaviour. (6+) ☼
USA (English) - 2003 - 59
Nolen, Jerdine (text)
Catrow, David (illus.)
San Diego [et al.] : Harcourt, 2002.  p.
Boy – Plant – Taking care – Friendship – Family member
»Caring for plants in this program will give you more benefits than you could ever imagine« says Mortimer’s science teacher at school. Yet even he could not have anticipated the drastic changes that Plantcilia (nicknamed »Plantzilla« by the students) undergoes when the third-grader takes the plant home over the summer holidays. As Mortimer showers it with love and attention, Plantzilla grows rapidly and uncontrollably, slowly turning into some human-like creature. A series of letters from happy Mortimer and his increasingly worried mother report the plant’s unusual behaviour. They are surrounded by exuberant double-spread watercolour illustrations which add a caricaturesque touch to the funny and absurd story. (5+)
Special Mention - USA (English) - 2003 - 60
The same stuff as stars
New York : Clarion Books, 2002. 242 p.
Sister – Brother – Neglected children – Family relations – Self-confidence
Andersen-award-winning writer Katherine Paterson has created yet another moving children’s novel which explores problematic family bonds and underlines the importance of friendship and self-confidence. With her beloved father in prison and her mother too preoccupied with herself to care much about anything, Angel Morgan has always looked after her little brother Bernie. Still, when Verna suddenly dumps her two children at the house of their frail great-grandmother in rural Vermont and simply disappears, the eleven-yearold girl almost despairs. Slowly, however, she befriends the village librarian and the mysterious »star man« who both help her to keep her makeshift family together and persuade her not to give up on her dreams. In this engaging story, told in a strong down-to-earth voice, little Angel masters her life with admirable perseverance and optimism boldly facing every catastrophe that comes her way. (10+)
Special Mention - USA (English) - 2003 - 61
Rodrigue, George (text/illus.)
Goldstone, Bruce (text)
Why is blue dog blue? : a tale of colors
New York, NY : Stewart, Tabori & Chang, 2001. [40 ] p.
Rodrigue, George / Blue Dog – Modern Art – Colours
George Rodrigue is a well-known American artist whose various paintings of Blue Dog have captured the hearts of many people around the world for more than 20 years. In this picture book, he ventures to explain to his obviously puzzled audience, why Blue Dog – in spite of its name – does not always have to be blue. Depending on the painter’s associations while working, the dog can actually be any colour imaginable: e.g. »mustard«, if Rodrigue happens to feel like eating a hot dog, or »tan« when he goes to the beach. The imaginative design of the book, with its unconventional typesetting, and the surprising answer at the end, offer readers an exciting peep into the world of modern art. (4+) ☼
Special Mention - USA (English) - 2003 - 62
Steig, William (text)
Agee, John (illus.)
Potch & Polly
New York : Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2002.  p.
Falling in love – Courting – Accident
When Potch meets Polly at a masquerade ball, he falls head over heels in love with her. Unfortunately, however, all his imaginative undertakings to win her heart, misfire and end in disaster. Just as a broken heart seems inevitable, the clever trick of a clown-faced guardian angel manages to bring the two lovebirds together. Award-winning author William Steig and renowned illustrator John Agee team up to create a hilarious picture book which is sure to delight readers of all ages. The fast-paced story with its sitcom humour, perfectly complemented by the sketchy, comic-like illustrations, makes readers immediately empathise with accident- prone Potch and anxiously hope for his successful courting of the outraged Polly. (4+) ☼
Special Mention - USA (English) - 2003 - 63
Tayac, Gabrielle (text)
Harrington, John (photogr.)
Meet Naiche : a native boy from the Chesapeake Bay area
Hillsboro, Oregon : Beyond Words Pub., 2002. 48 p.
(My world: Young Native Americans today)
USA – Native Americans – Traditions – Boy – Everyday life
This non-fiction book is the first in a series called My World: Young Native Americans Today, which aims at bringing the life of present-day American Indians closer to the readers by introducing one particular child in each volume. Here, readers get /USA to know Naiche, a boy whose parents belong to the Piscataway and Apache people. He chats about his everyday life which proves to be very similar to that of other American children. Nevertheless, he is very proud of the cultural traditions peculiar to his family’s ancestors. Various colour photographs accompanied by detailed annotations illustrate the casual text. A few black-and-white drawings and photographs as well as a short appendix provide cultural and historical background information. (10+) ☆
Special Mention - USA (English) - 2003 - 64
Wilson, Sarah (text)
Cameron, Chad (illus.)
George Hogglesberry, grade school alien
Berkeley, Calif. [et al.] : Tricycle Press, 2002.  p.
Boy – Alien – Outsider – Fitting in – Happiness
George, the new kid from planet Frollop II, tries very hard to fit in – even though this is somewhat difficult: Quite involuntarily, he keeps changing into different objects, walks across the ceiling, or floats in midair. When the preparations for the school fall play begin, all his classmates – including George himself – are afraid he is going to mess things up. The charming story, written in a simple, matter-of-fact style with a lot of dry humour, is combined with brightly coloured collage illustrations, depicting the strange little blue boy with his stuck-on nose in all sorts of crazy situations. They easily transport George’s anxiety and his desperate attempts at behaving like a »normal« child – as well as his happiness in the end. (4+)
South Africa (English) - 2004 - 23
Schermbrucker, Reviva (text/illus.)
Conradie, Wayne (photogr.)
They were wrong!
Lansdowne : Early Learning Resource Unit, 2003.  p.
South Africa – Child – Everyday life – Prejudice – Multicultural society
This small picture book is published by the Antibias Project of ELRU – the Early Learning Rescource Unit, a small organisation which aims at improving the lives of South African children. It addresses common prejudices against foreign people and unfamiliar situations in an amusing child-friendly way. In a mixture of brightly-coloured bold paintings expressing the unfounded speculations and colour-photographs depicting actual real-life scenes, the author shows how a young boy is not intimidated by the ridiculous warnings from some of his friends but rather sets out to discover the truth for himself. This committed booklet encourages its readers to be openminded and think critically. (4+) ☆
Special Mention - South Africa (English) - 2004 - 24
Cape Town : Tafelberg, 2002. 159 p.
Grandfather – Quarrel – Reconciliation – Friendship – Colonialism – Slavery – Rebellion – Freedom – South Africa/1900
When Jedro is punished for getting into a fight with the class bully and sent to stay a few days at his granddad’s place in the countryside, the boy is prepared for a dead-boring weekend. How was he to know that the old man would suddenly conjure up an exciting tale that was to have a profound impact on Jedro’s life? Embedded in a moving frame story, the author offers young readers the gripping account of the life of a courageous black boy who decides to fight against slavery and unjust laws passed by the white government in 19century South Africa. Narrated in a direct and engaging style, the tale about Koot’s rebellion and his struggle against three banes prophesied to him by an old medicine woman immediately captivates the (fictional and real-life) audience. At the end, children will reluctantly surface from an enthralling read that also offers some insight into the life of black people in South Africa a century ago, their ancient culture, and the power of storytelling. (12+) ☆
Tanzania (English) - 2004 - 25
Bgoya, Walter (text)
Steinberg-Mund, Christine (illus.)
The story of the crow and the frog
Dar es Salaam : Mkuki na Nyota Publ., .  p.
Crow – Frog – Race – Deception
In this small square picture book, Walter Bgoya presents a variation of the motif about the race between a hare and a hedgehog well-known worldwide through the Grimm brothers’ folk tale collections. This time, it is a young crow who proudly thinks himself superior to an old frog and challenges the amphibian to a race. Thanks to a little frog girl’s clever plan, however, the crow is taught a lesson and forthwith both species respect each other. The short text is accompanied by humorous colour-pencil drawings. The bustling pictures nicely illustrate how an utterly astonished and confused crow is eventually defeated by a group of slyly grinning, jumpy little frogs. (4+)
Australia (English) - 2004 - 26
Grant, Joan (text)
Curtis, Neil (illus.)
Cat and Fish
South Melbourne, Victoria : Lothian, 2003.  p.
Differentness – Friendship – Tolerance
Normally, cats and fish belong to different worlds. Yet, when this book’s two protagonists meet, they immediately become close friends and venture out together. After a while, Fish starts feeling homesick for the sea. Since Cat does not seem too enthusiastic about living under water, they simply decide to settle at the shore where both worlds meet and to await their next adventure. This poetic story of two unlikely friends is beautifully expressed in Escheresque black-and-white illustrations. The dream-like pictures with their varied patterns, rendered in pen-and-ink technique, offer readers a humorous and imaginative interpretation of the enchanting text. (3+) ☆
Australia (English) - 2004 - 27
King, Stephen Michael (text/illus.)
Milli, Jack and the Dancing Cat
Crows Nest, NSW : Allen & Unwin, 2003.  p.
Girl – Talent – Imagination – Self-confidence – Differentness
Milli, an exceptionally creative and skilled girl, lives in a village where people are only interested in practical, useful things and therefore do not appreciate her special talent. To please them, shy Milli works as an ordinary shoemaker until one day, Jack and the Dancing Cat arrive. The two unusual wandering minstrels entice her imagination and give her the courage to pursue her dreams. Vivid watercolours with fine black outlines, reminiscent of Quentin Blake’s pictures, accompany the humorous text and perfectly capture the beauty of the whimsical shapes Milli creates out of discarded everyday objects. This lighthearted tale easily persuades readers to believe in their imagination – and in themselves. (4+) ☆
Australia (English) - 2004 - 28
Lawson, Sue (text)
Magerl, Caroline (illus.)
My Gran’s different
South Melbourne, Victoria : Lothian, 2003.  p.
Grandmother – Grandson – Alzheimer’s Disease
Charlie is aware that his grandmother is different from those of his friends and classmates. She doesn’t bake cakes or sell flowers, she doesn’t knit scratchy jumpers or travel all around Australia, nor does she visit football matches or work in the garden. All she ever does is sit in her rocking chair and stare out of the window – because »she can’t remember who she is.« Nevertheless, the young boy completely accepts her as she is and clearly doesn’t love her any less for it. The delicate washy watercolours in subdued tones and the sparse text written in a quiet, repetitive style create a moving story of a child’s love for his grandmother who suffers from Alzheimer’s disease. This courageous picture book is a true gem for young and old readers alike – which may also spark off discussions about and provide understanding for a serious problem. (4+) ☆ ☼
Special Mention - Australia (English) - 2004 - 29
Malbunka, Mary (text/illus.)
When I was little, like you
Crows Nest, Australia : Allen & Unwin, 2003.  p.
Australia/1960s – Aboriginals – Mission settlement – Childhood
In 2000, students and members of staff at Papunya School got together to create the award-winning Papunya School Book of Country and History. Now, one of them, Aboriginal artist Mary Malbunka, returns to tell readers about her own childhood at Papunya. In a simple and engaging style, interspersed with Luritja expressions – Mary’s mother tongue – she recalls arriving at the government settlement as a five-year-old. She shares memories of everyday life at the settlement such as going to school, searching for sugarbag (i.e. wild honey), climbing trees, and listening to the stories of the elders. Her short tale is accompanied by colourful acrylic and watercolour pictures, carried out both in traditional and in European styles of art, that conjure up a lively picture of an Aboriginal childhood in the 1960s. The short appendix includes a note on the various Aboriginal languages, a short explanation of the language of symbols used in many traditional pictures, and a Luritja-English glossary. _ (6+) ☆
Special Mention - Australia (English) - 2004 - 30
The spirit of Barrumbi
Norwood, SA : Omnibus Books, 2003. 213 p.
Aboriginals – Whites – Intercultural education
In this sequel to her highly praised first novel The Barrumbi Kids, Leonie Norrington describes everyday life in a small Aboriginal community and discusses the conflicts children have to come to terms with if they live in two different cultures at once. The inhabitants of Long Hole still cherish their traditional culture and are taught to respect the ways of the elders. Even though Dale and his parents and siblings have lived there for many years and are regarded as kin by Tomias’ family, tensions between the Aboriginals and the white family suddenly rise when Dale’s headstrong older brother Sean stupidly breaks one of the elders’ important rules and thus almost causes a catastrophe. (10+) ☆
Special Mention - Australia (English) - 2004 - 31
The Marowack Two
Camberwell, Victoria [et al.] : Penguin Books, 2003. 250 p.
Search for identity – Fear – Friendship – Environmental destruction – Resistance
Every time Kira is struck by lightning – 14 times so far – she wakes up in a different hospital bed with no memory of her previous life. To escape this mysterious and terrifying curse, mother and daughter move to Marowack, a small goldmining town in the middle of nowhere, supposedly free of thunderstorms. When the small village forest is in danger of falling prey to greedy politicians, Kira joins forces with 17-year-old Hector and the two troubled outsiders get entangled in a web of political intrigues. Told from alternating points of view, this fast-paced powerful novel traces the story of two scared and angry teenagers who desperately try to come to grips with life’s challenges while they are struggling with their fragile love-hate relationship. (14+)
Special Mention - Australia (English) - 2004 - 32
Fitzroy, Vic. : Black Dog Books, 2003. 346 p.
China – Dragon – Slavery – Escape – Journey – Danger – Search for identity
When a brutal dragon hunter suddenly appears at the secluded imperial palace and threatens to kill the last imperial dragon, young slave girl Ping spontaneously helps the threatened creature escape. This marks the beginning of a long, perilous journey across the country to mysterious Ocean during which Ping slowly learns to accept her new duty as true dragonkeeper and to trust in her inner strength. Set in ancient China at the time of the Han dynasty, this engaging fantasy novel about friendship and betrayal portrays the metamorphosis of the shy insecure protagonist into a courageous trustworthy young woman. The powerful narrative with its traditional fantasy elements immediately captures the readers’ imagination and does not release them until the very end. (12+)
India (English) - 2004 - 33
Ravishankar, Anushka (text)
Pieper, Christiane (illus.)
Alphabets are amazing animals
[Chennai] : Tara Publ., 2003.  p.
Alphabet – Nonsense
Alphabet books still are one of the most popular picture book types because they offer countless possibilities to authors and illustrators. In this square volume, Indian writer Anushka Ravishankar delivers hilarious alliterating nonsense phrases for each of the 26 letters of the Latin alphabet. From »Anteaters Adore Arithmetic« and »Odd Otters Order Only Onions« to »Zebras Zoom Zig-Zag«, the author has her animal protagonists perform the most unusual and absurd tasks. Christiane Pieper’s vibrant partly cartoonlike illustrations, drawn in black-and-white plus one changing colour, present a crazy menagerie of animals romping about happily on the various double-spread pages. A truly delightful ABC not only for beginning readers. (3+) ☼
India (English) - 2004 - 34
Sen Gupta, Subhadra
Jodh Bai : diary of a Rajput princess
New Delhi; New York [et al.] : Scholastic, 2003. 106 p.
India/1561-1562 – Mughal Empire – Princess – Arranged marriage – Fictional diary
This new instalment in the popular series of historical diaries is set in the middle of the 16century in Northern India. The book describes the everyday life of 14-year-old princess Jodh Bai, daughter of the king of Amber. The amiable and open-minded girl chats about various aspects of life such as daily routines and special festivities, education and political decisions, love and intrigues. Moreover, she relates her fears and worries when she suddenly learns that she is soon to be married to the powerful young Mughal king Akbar. Using a blend of factual and fictional events and characters, the author makes a distant period of Indian history come alive for teenage readers. An informative appendix adds some interesting background information. (12+) ☆
India (English) - 2004 - 35
Swaminathan, Kalpana (text)
Sen, Anita (illus.)
New Delhi [et al.] : Puffin Books, 2003. 194 p.
Dog – Extra-sensory perception – Friendship – Animals/Humans – Threat – Adventure
Normally, Jaldi would just frolic about with her three brothers and enjoy life. Instead, because of her special powers, the little pup is destined for an important ‘job’. Together with her street-wise uncle Musafir and a bunch of new friends, she roams the city streets of Bombay trying to track down the villainous duo JB and BB, who threaten the Bombay Stray’s carefree life. Narrated in the first person from a naive little dog’s point of view, this highly entertaining detective story not only offers a hilarious read but also confronts readers with an unusual view of the world – last but not least because the proud and clever dogs feel they are ultimately superior to human beings, who simply »don’t have much understanding.« (10+)
New Zealand (English) - 2004 - 36
Jones, V. M.
Juggling with mandarins
Auckland : HarperCollins, 2003. 255 p.
Father – Son – Expectations – Disappointment – Ambition – Climbing
In her second children’s novel, the award-winning author carefully portrays a young boy’s struggle against the overpowering influence of his ambitious father. The first-person narrator Pip (named after a Charles Dickens character by his mother) knows he is different from his older brother Nick, an ace footballer. As much as Pip would like to win his father’s respect, he abhors his competitive attitude towards sport. This summer, the quiet boy sets himself a new goal: He learns how to juggle. With great determination, he manages to juggle not only a few mandarins but also, metaphorically, his emotions, relationships, and life’s ups and downs. In the end, he also finds the strength to confront and make peace with his father. (11+)
Great Britain (English) - 2004 - 37
Blake, Quentin (text/illus.)
Mrs Armitage, queen of the road
London : Cape, 2003.  p.
(A Tom Maschler book)
Woman – Dog – Car – Creativity
In 1987, resourceful Mrs Armitage and her trustworthy dog Breakspear made their first appearance in a book, adorning an ordinary bike with thousands of useful objects until it resembled something like a fairground-spaceship. After a short holiday trip to the sea (1997), the vivacious lady is now back on the road. This time she takes a fairly bumpy ride in her latest acquisition: Every time a part of the rusty old car falls off, she simply takes it to the scrapheap musing »Who needs it?« In the end, the remaining chassis decorated with some odd bits and pieces serves as an ace vehicle for the »queen of the road« and her canine partner. As usual, Quentin Blake’s ingenious watercolour illustrations need no more than a few lines and sketchy fields of colour to capture the vigour and vibrancy of this nonsensical story. (4+)
Great Britain (English) - 2004 - 38
Browne, Anthony (text/illus.)
The shape game
[London] : Doubleday, 2003.  p.
Family – Art gallery – Looking at art – Imagination
Award-winning illustrator Anthony Browne has created an ingenious picture book that tells the (autobiographical?) story of a family’s first visit to the famous Tate Gallery in London. There, the initially reluctant family members – as well as the readers of this book – soon discover how much fun looking at art can be. The humorous watercolour illustrations are drawn in the artist’s characteristic, slightly surreal style with an abundance of funny details. By placing the chubby protagonists into settings identical to those of a number of paintings by various artists, Browne offers unconventional interpretations of these paintings and hints at striking parallels between reality and art. The short conversational text inspires children to let their imagination roam. (4+)
Great Britain (English) - 2004 - 39
Deacon, Alexis (text/illus.)
London [et al.] : Hutchinson, 2003.  p.
Extraterrestrial being – Earth – Loneliness – Friendship
Beegu, a small yellow being with long soft ears and three eyes, crashes her spaceship on planet earth. She walks around looking for a friend but is met with indifference or contempt by the adults (and things) she approaches for help. Only a group of children in the playground immediately accept her and give her a warm welcome. In his first picture book, the young British author-illustrator makes the readers see their home planet through the eyes of a stranded alien. Told in a subdued matter-of-fact style, this partly funny partly sad tale of loneliness and friendship (which does end happily for Beegu) comes alive in large format illustrations in warm colours and with a nostalgic touch. (4+) ☆
Great Britain (English) - 2004 - 40
The tears of the salamander
London : Macmillan Children’s Books, 2003. 233 p.
Orphan – Uncle – Fire – Magic – Music – Family feud – Good/Evil – Italy/Middle Ages
Peter Dickinson is one of the most popular British fantasy authors for children. In this riveting novel about a young boy’s destiny involving magic, music, fire, and salamanders, he takes his readers into medieval Italy. After his parents and brother have perished in a terrible fire, 12-year-old Alfredo is whisked away from his familiar life as cathedral choir boy by his uncle whom he only knows by name. At the ancient ancestral home on top of mount Etna on the island of Sicily, mysterious and taciturn Uncle Giorgio teaches him a few things about his family, the masters of the mountain, and their magical powers. When the boy finally discovers the old man’s true character, it is almost too late to save himself and the village people. (12+)
Great Britain (English) - 2004 - 41
Ering, Timothy Basil (text/illus.)
The story of Frog Belly Rat Bone
London [et al.] : Walker Books, 2003.  p.
Boy – Treasure – Hope – Robbers – Protection – Forgiveness
»In a dull, grey, endless place called Cementland ...« a spindly creature in a bright red and white shirt digs through a junk heap searching for treasure. After a promising discovery, followed by some disappointments, a mean robbery, and a clever solution, the boy is eventually rewarded for his patience: The depressingly dull and lifeless scene from the beginning of the book has turned into a garden of Eden bursting with colourful flowers and plants – and the boy has found some new friends. This imaginative story with handlettered text is carried out in outstanding, vibrant illustrations that combine cartoon-like elements and cinematic techniques (e.g. close-ups etc.) with crazy landscapes inhabited by fantastical creatures to create a truly delightful read. (3+) ☼
Special Mention - Great Britain (English) - 2004 - 42
The curious incident of the dog in the night-time
Oxford : Fickling, 2003. 271 p.
Teenager – Asperger’s Syndrome – Murder – Dog
»5 red cars mean that it is going to be a Super Good Day. And 4 yellow cars in a row mean that it is going to be a Black Day (...).« That is how life works for 15-year-old Christopher who suffers from Asperger’s Syndrome, a form of autism. While maths and sciences are child’s play for the boy with his photographic memory, humans and their emotions are all Greek to him. Therefore, when he finds the neighbour’s dog Wellington murdered with a garden fork and sets out to solve the mystery, his neat everyday order is threateningly disturbed and he pushes himself right towards his own boundaries. Written in an utterly convincing voice, the straightforward and perfectly logical narration, interspersed with the odd mathematical discourse, carries readers into the ‘foreign land’ of a highly intelligent boy whose behavioural difficulties can pose severe problems in everday-life situations. This amusing and at the same time sad and extremely touching story certainly challenges a number of prejudices against autistic people. _ (13+)
(Whitbread Book Award; 2003; Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize; 2003)
Special Mention - Great Britain (English) - 2004 - 43
Frome, Somerset : Chicken House, 2003. 320 p.
Boy – Illness – Parallel world – Adventure – Quest
While standing on the Continental Divide in Costa Rica with one foot on the Atlantic and one on the Pacific side of the watershed, 13-year-old Felix, who suffers from a life-threatening illness, suddenly passes out. When he comes round again, he finds himself in a strange upside-down world, where creatures like »brittlehorns« (unicorns) and »fire-breathers« (dragons) exist, but humans are regarded as mythical. With the help of Betony, an unruly »tangle-child« (elf), and the »brazzle« (griffin) Ironclaw, the boy plunges into a dangerous quest searching for a cure for his illness and the way back into the real world. This entertaining fantasy adventure draws young readers into a fascinating parallel universe and offers an exciting and enjoyable read. (11+)
Special Mention - Great Britain (English) - 2004 - 44
Said, S. F. (text)
McKean, Dave (illus.)
Oxford [et al.] : David Fickling Books, 2003. 254 p.
Cat – Family – Outsider – Danger – Rescue – Friendship – Adventure
All his life, Varjak Paw was treated with contempt and ridicule by his brothers, and even his parents are convinced that he isn’t a proper Mesopotamian Blue. But when a mysterious tall man and his two killer cats threaten the proud feline family’s comfortable life-style in the Duchess’s grand house, the small kitten ventures into the unknown outside world, faces cruel cat gangs, learns about the »Way« – a number of secret survival skills – and finds true friends who help him defeat the enemy. This gripping, fast-paced novel about a lonely outsider’s adventurous quest for his identity is accompanied by angular black-and-white drawings that ingeniously capture the story’s tense atmosphere. (10+)
Special Mention - Great Britain (English) - 2004 - 45
Steer, Dugald A. (ed.)
Dr. Ernest Drake’s dragonology : the complete book of dragons
Dorking, Surrey : Templar, 2003.  p.
Dragons – Encyclopaedia
This lavishly produced volume claims to be a facsimile edition of a book originally published in 1896. In a pseudo-serious scientific style, it compares the different types of dragons that exist world-wide, discusses their behaviour, life cycle, habitats, and history, and informs readers how to go about taming and flying these huge beasts. In addition, the appendix offers spells and charms that might come in handy when encountering a dragon. The exquisite cover design, the colourful detailed illustrations, drawings, diagrams, flaps to lift and charts, as well as specimens of dragon skin and samples of dragondust make this book a real treasure for young would-be dragon hunters. (8+)
Special Mention - Great Britain (English) - 2004 - 46
When Isla meets Luke meets Isla
London : Bloomsbury, 2003. 159 p.
Teenager – Friendship – First love – Sister – Death – Grief
Isla doesn’t want to leave Scotland and start all over again in a small South England town where her new classmates pretend they cannot understand her accent. Luke is generally bored with school life and hates his father for abandoning the family. The quick-tempered girl and the quiet boy are immediately attracted to each other, quickly become friends, and have a whale of a time together, until, one day, an accident turns their lives upside down. Told alternatingly in Isla’s slightly sarcastic distinctly Scottish voice and Luke’s analytic yet dryly humorous language, this witty and touching debut novel convincingly describes the ups and downs of teenage life burdened with difficult relationships and the devastating loss of a little sister. (12+)
Special Mention - Great Britain (English) - 2004 - 47
Umansky, Kaye (text)
Mould, Chris (illus.)
Meet the Weirds
Edinburgh : Barrington Stoke, 2003. 77 p.
Family – Neighbour – Differentness – Disapproval – Friendship
Sometimes, books for beginning readers can seem a bit dull. With Kaye Umansky’s ‘weird’ little tale, however, you needn’t worry about this at all. Already from the cover illustration and the title, readers will sense that the Weirds are anything but an ordinary family. When the stuntwomanmother, the inventor-father, and their offspring move into Number 17 Tidy Street, Mrs. Prim and her equally prim husband are immediately suspicious about the new neighbours. Nevertheless, their son Pinchton soon realises that life next door has a lot of funny surprises in store. This hilarious tale full of dry humour and its utterly comical illustrations will have small and big readers shrieking with laughter. (8+)
Ireland (English) - 2004 - 48
Wings over Delft
Dublin : O’Brien Press, 2003. 189 p.
(The Louise trilogy ; 1)
Teenager – Love / Duty – Social class – Painting – Netherlands/1654
The rumours of her engagement to Reynier, an old childhood companion, come as an extremely unpleasant surprise to Louise, daughter of a wealthy Dutch potter. The educated, intelligent girl feels she is used as a pawn in a business deal. Reluctantly, she agrees to have her portrait painted by a well-known artist. In his studio, where the fascinating world of painting enchants her, she meets a soulmate and finally falls in love with him. Through its mixture of historical and fictiEnglish Language tious characters, the novel, which is the first volume of a trilogy spanning three centuries (loosely connected by the portrait of Louise), offers a compelling read and an interesting glimpse into the life in a Dutch village 350 years ago. (12+)
Canada (English) - 2004 - 49
Dinn, Philip (adapt.)
Jones, Andy (adapt.)
Cohen, Elly (illus.)
Peg Bearskin : a traditional Newfoundland tale
St. John’s NL : Running the Goat, 2003.  p.
Folktale – Newfoundland – Longing for child – Ugliness – Love
Read the text and you will hear the authentic voice of a local Newfoundland storyteller; take a closer look at the text and you will see true love for the art of bookmaking: Every single letter has been handset and each paragraph’s place on the page carefully considered. This unique tangibility of voice and type creates a strong sense of place, while the tale of Peg Bearskin itself makes ample use of universal narrative patterns: There are three daughters, three quests, and three husbands. But Peg is a ferociously ugly and thoroughly unconventional heroine who makes sure that the happy end holds a humorous surprise in store. Cohen’s stark black-and-white linocuts reveal the darker side of this traditional folk tale. (6+)
Canada (English/Cree) - 2004 - 50
Highway, Tomson (text)
Deines, Brian (illus.)
Fox on the Ice = Mahkesís mískwamíhk e - cípatapít
Toronto, ON : HarperCollins, 2003.  p.
Cree Indians – Nature – Family – Community
This bilingual picture book is the third in the Songs of the North trilogy. Each volume is centred on one animal – the caribou, the dragonfly, and the fox respectively – and relates one little outdoor adventure of the two Cree brothers Joe and Cody and their dog. The narrative in English and Cree focuses less on plot than on tone and atmosphere. It evokes the vastness of the far North, the beauty of the Manitoba landscape, the happiness of the family, and the simple joys of living in harmony with nature. Deines’s sparkling illustrations perfectly capture the majesty of the Great North and almost seem to reflect the boys’ tinkling laughter. (5+) ☆ ☼
Special Mention - Canada (English) - 2004 - 51
Major, Kevin (text)
Blackwood, David (illus.)
Ann and Seamus
Toronto : Douglas & McIntyre, 2003. 109 p.
(A Groundwood book)
Shipwreck – Newfoundland/1828 – Epic poem – Heroism – Love – Steadfastness
On May 29, 1828, the Despatch, an Irish immigrant ship, runs aground off the shore of Newfoundland. »These are the barest facts. They tell us nothing of the misery and pain.« Oh, but Kevin Major and David Blackwood certainly do, and how! They also tell us about courage, hope, and love. Thanks to young Ann Harvey’s steadfastness, more than 160 lives could be saved from »the hellish clutches of Isle aux Morts.« Adopting the form of a narrative poem, Major creates a dramatic contrast between intimate lyrical passages reflecting the aspirations of the two protagonists and the powerful epic scenes describing the plight and rescue of the shipwrecked. Blackwell’s haunting blue and grey prints vividly reflect all shifts in tone and voice. The generous text layout amplifies the epic rhythm and reinforces the impression that one is reading a timeless tale of love and courage. (12+)
(Governor General’s Award; 2003; Shortlist)
Special Mention - Canada (English) - 2004 - 52
Sadlier, Rosemary (text)
Wang, Qi-Jun (illus.)
The kids book of Black Canadian history
Toronto ON : Kids Can Press, 2003. 56 p.
Black Canadians – Canada/1628–2000
This non-fiction title tells an important story seldom told: the history of Black Canadians. From the first Black slave to arrive in New France in 1628 to the Black singers, artists, and politicians of today, this book offers informative double-pages on key periods, people, or events: the Underground Railroad, the participation of Black soldiers in various wars and revolutions, the Jamaican Maroons, etc. Short personality profiles and »did-you-know boxes« with intriguing bits of information arouse the reader’s curiosity. A section titled »Prejudice and Racism« reminds us that the best way to fight these two evils is to learn more about each other. In this sense, this book makes a true contribution to tolerance. (8+) ☆
Special Mention - Canada (English) - 2004 - 53
Schwartz, Virginia Frances
Markham, Ontario : Fitzhenry & Whiteside, 2003. 268 p.
Kwakiutl Indians – Coming of age – Twins – Salmon – Sacrifice – Atonement
This powerful historical novel about Kwakiutl Indians from the Northwest Coast of Canada has strong mythic resonances. Set in the 15century, it weaves together the story of three adolescents on the brink of adulthood and a Kwakiutl transformation myth. The destiny of 11-year-old Nana and her twin brother Nanolatch is clearly set out before them. According to the Way, the boy will succeed his father as chief of the tribe while Nana will be married off. But thanks to Noh, a slave girl and shaman’s daughter, the two discover that they have to find their own way by listening to the world of the Spirits. Changing the point-of-view between the three protagonists, Schwartz creates a fascinating blend of ancient Indian legends and a modern coming-of-age novel. (12+) ☆
USA (English) - 2004 - 54
New York : Clarion Books, 2003. 218 p.
Girl – Friendship – Family life – Poverty – Abuse – Alcoholism – Kentucky – USA/1960s
In her remarkable first novel for children, Kentucky- born author Shutta Crum conjures up the authentic atmosphere of a small country town in her home state in the 1960s. During the summer holidays, Jessie and her best friend Robert usually roam about, doing what they please. But this time, the resourceful 12-year-old girl not only wants to find out who her father is, she also has to invent a plan of how to raise money for Robert’s desperately needed new glasses. Yet, despite her noble intentions, the quick-tempered heroine seems to stumble from one disaster into another. The fresh and direct first-person narrative paints a vivid picture of an endearing girl’s eventful summer between reassuring family bonds and threatening attacks from outside. (10+)
USA (English) - 2004 - 55
DiCamillo, Kate (text)
Ering, Timothy Basil (illus.)
The tale of Despereaux : being the story of a mouse, a princess, some soup, and a spool of thread
Cambridge, MA : Candlewick Press, 2003. 267 p.
Mouse – Love – Princess – Servant – Rat – Revenge – Adventure – Search for identity
In this fairytale-like novel, renowned author Kate DiCamillo tells a story about love and hate, revenge and forgiveness, light and darkness, starring three very different outsiders. Despereaux, a tiny mouse with a passion for music and literature, falls in love with beautiful Princess Pea and is punished by the mouse council for it. Chiaroscuro, who unlike his fellow rats is fascinated by light, wants to take revenge on the princess for destroying his dreams. And Miggery Sow, a poor dim-witted servant girl, longs to become a princess herself. Guided through the captivating tale by the omniscient narrator, the readers dive into a hair-raising adventure and witness how the protagonists’ lives become intertwined through the rat’s cunning plan. (9+)
(Newbery Medal; 2004)
USA (English) - 2004 - 56
Florian, Douglas (text/illus.)
Bow wow meow meow : it’s rhyming cats and dogs
San Diego [et al.] : Harcourt, 2003. 47 p.
Poetry – Cats – Dogs
After his latest success with Lizards, Frogs, and Polliwogs (Harcourt, 2001), which was termed »toadally terrific« by Kirkus Reviews, Douglas Florian has created yet another hilarious collection of animal poems. This time he focuses exclusively on the all-time favourite pets, dogs and cats (plus their feral relatives). In 21 original poems accompanied by as many delightful full-page watercolour illustrations, he unmasks the characteristic features or habits of »scent-sational« bloodhounds, shaggy sheepdogs, and »fur-ocious« lions and has his audience chuckling all the way through. Whether pet-lovers or not, readers of all ages will enjoy this imaginative and playful homage to »man’s (and woman’s) best friends«. (3+) ☼
USA (English) - 2004 - 57
New York : Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2003. 116 p.
(Frances Foster books)
Teenager – Family problems – Place of refuge
Keesha, Stephie, Jason, Dontay, Carmen, Harris, and Katie have one thing in common: They feel as if their lives were falling apart. Luckily enough, Joe’s house offers the desperate teenagers a safe refuge while they struggle with life’s problems and try to sort things out somehow. In this stunning first novel written entirely in verse, each of the protagonists gets their say – as do some of the adults involved. To express the different perspectives, Helen Frost resorts to two traditional poetic forms, the sestina and the sonnet, with each of the poems written in its own distinct voice in a style reading almost like prose. This fascinating collection of subtly interconnected poems weaves together the depressing stories of seven young people. (14+)
USA (English) - 2004 - 58
Gaiman, Neil (text)
McKean, Dave (illus.)
The wolves in the walls
New York : HarperCollins, 2003.  p.
ISBN 0-380-97827-x. - 0-06-053087-1
Humans – Wolves – Threat – Resistance
After the success of his children’s book Coraline, Neil Gaiman has once again teamed up with illustrator Dave McKean for a scary tale for young readers. In this innovative mixture between picture book and graphic novel, the gripping text, its playful layout, and the distorted computer-generated pictures perfectly complement each other to conjure up a story with an eerie atmosphere. Everybody keeps telling Lucy that »if the wolves come out of the walls, it’s all over.« So the moment this actually happens, the family bolt down the stairs and grudgingly set up camp in their own garden, listening to the frightening romp inside their house. Lucy, however, quietly creeps back inside and devises a strategy about how to turn the tables on the beastly intruders. (6+)
USA (English) - 2004 - 59
Giff, Patricia Reilly
New York : Wendy Lamb Books, 2003. 158 p.
ISBN 0-385-32658-0. - 0-385-90095-3
Ireland/1845 – Potato famine – Poverty – Family – Emigration
Nory is the last one to leave. Just like her family and that of her best friend Sean, she intends to walk all the way to distant Galway and board a ship to America trying to escape the hunger and desperation caused by rotting potato crops in 19century Ireland. Told in chapters alternating between Nory’s and Sean’s perspectives, this compelling sequel to Nory Ryan’s Song describes the two teenagers’ separate, deadly exhausting and dangerous journey to the port as well as their fate on board the crowded vessel where they eventually meet again. Both have to suffer hunger and violence, sickness and cruelty. The two narratives paint an authentic picture of the terrible sufferings people had to endure, making that era come alive for teenage readers. (14+)
Special Mention - USA (English) - 2004 - 60
Hoffman, Alice (text)
Mahurin, Matt (illus.)
New York : Scholastic Press, 2003. 116 p.
Girl – Family – Catastrophe – Loss – Surviving – Grief – Sister – Difference
One day, the nearby city is completely destroyed by a terrifying catastrophe, and 15-year-old Green at once loses her family, her future, and the world as she knows it. Cutting off all her emotions in her struggle to survive, the formerly shy and introverted girl turns into Ash, a tough creature who wears a thorn-studded leather jacket and boots with sharp nails to protect herself from physical and emotional attacks. Written in an exceptionally beautiful poetic style, this quiet novel traces the slow healing process of a teenage girl lost in desperation as she tries to recover her grip on life. The readers are inevitably drawn into the touching first-person narrative and share the grief and loneliness of the protagonist as she eventually accepts her fate and allows some feeling of hope into her heart again. The delicate white-and-green illustrations at the beginning of each chapter perfectly match the slightly mystical tone of the text and make this book a true gem. (14+)
Special Mention - USA (English) - 2004 - 61
McDermott, Gerald (text/illus.)
New York : Dutton Children’s Books, 2003.  p.
Creation of the Earth
Using handmade mulberry-bark paper from Japan, award-winning illustrator Gerald McDermott retells the creation of the Earth in fascinating pictures. The sparse text is written as a first person account of the events with the words printed in various colours mirroring those of the illustrations. Thus text and pictures are not conceived as separate entities but rather blend into a harmonious whole. The large format gesso-and-fabricpaintings, which radiate with a mythical atmosphere, start as dark, monochrome, roughly textured surfaces. As the Creator adds various elements to his new creation, the pictures quickly fill up until they are brimming with colourful plants and creatures who inhabit the earth. (4+)
Special Mention - USA (English) - 2004 - 62
New York : Knopf, 2003. 509 p.
(Inheritance trilogy ; 1) (A Borzoi book)
ISBN 0-375-82668-8. - 0-375-92668-2
(Originally publ. in different form by Paolini International, 2002)
Adolescent – Dragon – Coming of age – Threat – Escape – Fight – Good/Evil
When Eragon, while hunting in a dark mountain range, stumbles across a mysterious blue stone, which turns out to be a dragon egg, he has no idea that his whole life is about to change dramatically. Equipped with an ancient sword and accompanied by his dragon and an old storyteller, Eragon is forced to flee his quiet farmboy life and is plunged into a dangerous quest for magic and power, identity and destiny, Good and Evil. Young author Christopher Paolini started writing his epic fantasy at the age of only 15 and is now working on the second volume of the trilogy. He sends his protagonists on blood-curdling adventures through a convincing alternative world, inhabited by a rich tapestry of characters that not only fantasy lovers will devour immediately. (14+)
Special Mention - USA (English) - 2004 - 63
Potter, Ellen (text)
Reynolds, Peter H. (illus.)
New York : Philomel Books, 2003. 155 p.
Girl – Loneliness – Brother – Grief – Adventure
Another move, another flat, another anonymous apartment building, that’s certainly not what Olivia needs right now. Someone who shares her troubles and drives away her loneliness would be much more along her line. As she meets some of her weird new neighbours (a ghost, a would-be psychic, a former princess, etc.) she slides into the most bizarre adventures. Eventually, she even finds a way to break down the wall of sadness between her father and herself, which they had built English Language /USA German Language up after her beloved brother Christopher’s death. In this entertaining debut novel, Ellen Potter cleverly weaves real and imaginary elements together to create a hilarious yet touching story about an amiable heroine and an unlikely bunch of characters. (10+)
Special Mention - USA (English) - 2004 - 64
Smith, Hope Anita (text)
Evans, Shane W. (illus.)
The way a door closes
New York : H. Holt, 2003. 52 p.
African American family – Father – Unemployment – Leaving – Anger – Forgiveness
Everything used to be perfect for C.J. and his younger brother and sister – until the day when his father, depressed about having lost his job, suddenly walks out on the family. Almost like a photo album, the 34 beautiful poems offer short glimpses into the life of a close-knit African American family and are supported by powerful realistic oil paintings in bright colours on a white background. Narrated in a poetic and direct language from the 13- year-old protagonist’s point of view, the moving texts make the readers empathise with C.J.’s fear, frustration, and anger as he tries to come to terms with the family falling apart – and share his hope and relief when the father finally returns. (12+)
Special Mention - Japan (Japanese/English) - 2005 - 13
Shingū, Susumu (text/illus.)
Cary, Ann B. (transl.)
Kaze no hoshi = Wind planet
Tokyo : Fukuinkan Shoten, 2004.  p.
(Nihon kessaku ehoh shirīzu)
(Japanese and English text)
Wind – Earth
Susumu Shingu has earned worldwide recognition for his moveable objects of art that revolve around wind and water. To complete his various projects, he has travelled to the most remote parts of our planet. This expressive picture book, which looks at the Earth in a colourful and original way from the perspective of the winds, is a result of these travels. Depending on the force and type of wind, the clouds, oceans, deserts, oasis, steppe, etc. show different faces. Birds, jumping dolphins, singing trees, people on horseback or in sailing boats can also feel the invisible winds. In the end, the readers sail on the winds right into space where they realise that both the wind and themselves are part of our beautiful Earth. The pictures are accompanied by texts in Japanese and English. (6+)
Botswana (English) - 2005 - 21
Spitta, Molly (text)
Ille, Stefan (text)
Spitta, Sunhild (illus.)
The croc! : an Okavango adventure
Gaborone : Pyramid Publ., 2004.  p.
(Kalahari Adventure Series)
Crocodile – Boredom – Longing – Adventure – Magic – Transformation
This entertaining little picture book is part of the Kalahari Adventure Series, a collection of »delightful stories about life in Botswana«. Accompanied by bright watercolour illustrations of various sizes and a couple of small two-colour ink vignettes, the text relates the story of Croc, a tiny crocodile living in the Okavango river. Utterly bored by the monotonous life he is leading and appalled by an equally boring future ahead of him, the little fellow enlists the help of a powerful wizard. And help he receives: Even though a magical transformation into a talking hand puppet is not exactly what Croc had in mind, he is finally heading towards a truly promising adventure together with some newly-found human friends. (4+)
South Africa (English) - 2005 - 22
Hendriks, Maria (text)
Grobler, Piet (illus.)
Makwelane and the crocodile
Cape Town [et al.] : Human & Rousseau, 2004.  p.
(Afrikaans edition: »Makwelane en die krokodil«) Girl – Grandmother – Love – Visit – Crocodile – Danger – Trick
This picture book follows the life of little Makwelane who loves singing and playing her musical instrument, a makwelane. One day, she proudly sets off alone along the river to visit her beloved grandmother Gogo. Although the cheerful little black girl is so thrilled about the visit that she almost forgets her parents’ warnings about the sly old crocodile, she cleverly manages to save Gogo and herself from being devoured by the predator just in time, thanks to her instrument. The atmosphere of this short folk tale-like story is beautifully expressed in the bright illustrations by award-winning artist Piet Grobler. He employs rich colours and adds several collage elements to create lively pictures brimming with witty details. (4+)
Australia (English) - 2005 - 23
Fourmile, Trevor (text)
Fourmile, Lillian (illus.)
How the cassowary got its helmet
Thuringowa, Queensland : Black Ink Press, 2004. 31 p.
Animals – Differentness – Outsider – Self-confidence – Courage – Acceptance
The style of both the text and the illustrations of this modern fable about the poor cassowary who is teased by all the other animals for not being able to fly is clearly reminiscent of traditional aboriginal stories. Set in a small region in Northern Queensland, the tale recalls how the shy little bird slowly gains self-confidence and eventually even comes to his distressed neighbours’ rescue, so that they award him the title of »protector of the rainforest«. The short text is accompanied by strong square pictures and some additional smaller drawings in darkish colours (predominantly black and brown) with bold white outlines depicting an array of energetic bush animals. The illustrations easily evoke the vibrant atmosphere of the story. (4+)
(Black Ink Writing and Illustrating Award)
Australia (English) - 2005 - 24
(Moonlight <proper name>)
Camberwell, Victoria [et al.] : Puffin Books, 2004. 198 p.
Mother – Death – Daughter – Silence – Mouse – Ballet – Friendship
This fairy tale-like children’s novel plunges its readers right into a wondrous and sad story set in a distant time and place. Its Cinderella-meets-Despereaux-like plot with a touch of mystery novel reveals the tale of pale Claire-de-Lune who hasn’t uttered a single word since her mother, a famous ballet dancer, died onstage when the daughter was still a baby. Striving to please her heart-broken grandmother, the obedient little girl attends ballet classes and goes on errands, leading a dull, joyless life until she meets tiny Bonaventure. The talking mouse, who is an ambitious dancer, introduces her to a secret world with a mysterious monastery where Claire-de-Lune finally finds a friend and true happiness. (8+)
Australia (English) - 2005 - 25
Jaunn, Adele (text/illus.)
Caruso’s song to the moon
South Melbourne, Victoria : Lothian, 2004.  p.
Cat – Song – Neighbour – Anger – Escape – Family – Rescue
Caruso the cat simply loves music. One night, he decides to sing an aria to the moon, but unfortunately his brilliant performance is constantly interrupted by furious neighbours who are anything but pleased to be disturbed in their sleep. Unhampered by his narrow escape and convinced of his great talent, the unrecognised star prepares himself for a grand finale – and ›accidentally‹ becomes a hero. The short text of this amusing tale with its dynamic layout in varying sizes is carefully arranged on the pictures. Both the text and the vibrant acrylic pictures showing slightly distorted shapes in strong shades of mainly brown, blue, and green contain witty allusions to music and to the notes the cat is singing. (3+)
Special Mention - Australia (English) - 2005 - 26
The whole business with Kiffo and the Pitbull
Crows Nest, NSW : Allen & Unwin, 2004. 257 p.
School – Outsider – Friendship – Death – Family conflict – Drug addiction – Divorce
Calma Harrison, an »exceptionally talented student of English« with a sharp tongue and huge boobs, and Jaryd Kiffing, part-time criminal »of limited academic ability and concentration span, with behavioural problems and freckles«, are an unlikely pair of friends. Yet, friends they are. However, when a new English teacher, the Pitbull, appears on the scene and starts terrorising the class, life suddenly becomes difficult. Kiffo, obsessed with revenge, goes on the war-path, and his friendship with Calma is being severely tested. This hilarious debut novel, written in a highly entertaining ironic first-person narrative, is a stunning mixture of witty teenage school story, exciting detective novel, and moving problem tale. The author cleverly inserts different types of text (such as letters, school reports, fictional horoscopes, etc.) to create a perfect balance of funny and serious elements. With its strong cast of protagonists, this book is bound to have readers hooked from the very first page. (14+)
Special Mention - Australia (English) - 2005 - 27
Laguna, Sofie (text)
McLean, Andrew (illus.)
On our way to the beach
Norwood, SA : Omnibus Books, 2004.  p.
Family – Holidays – Journey – Beach – Imagination
It’s the summer holidays and a family are on their way to the beach in a cosy green travelling van. Although the journey takes several days, there is simply so much to see and do that time flies. Every night in bed, the little girl conjures up colourful images of what the beach might look like, e.g. a blue-pink-purple forest of huge strawberry plants divided by a dark blue river with sparkling stars swimming in it. Soft watercolour pictures in various sizes depict the joyful family trip leading closer and closer to their final destination. The ›real journey‹ is interspersed with slightly surreal double-page spreads full of imaginative details that present different versions of the ›beach‹ as the girl imagines it to be. A magical holiday indeed! (4+)
Special Mention - Australia (English) - 2005 - 28
The spare room
St. Lucia, Queensland : University of Queensland Press, 2004. 165 p.
Australia – Japan – Host family – Secret – Grief –
Cultural difference – Intercultural relationship Even though Akira is anything but thrilled when his strict father decides to send him to Australia for a few months to learn English, he soon comes to realise that this might be his chance to find out what he really wants in life. In the beginning, problems seem almost overwhelming but the young man embraces his new situation with admirable openness and courage. Designed as a long letter written almost a year later, when Akira has long returned to Japan, this warm, sensitive teenage novel tackles problems such as cultural difference, friendship, understanding, and shared grief, while it makes readers share the buzz of emotions the nineteen-year-old Japanese feels during his development from strange outsider to beloved friend. (14+) ☆
India (English) - 2005 - 29
Ravishankar, Anushka (text)
Rao, Sirish (text)
Bai, Durga (illus.)
One, two, tree!
[Chennai] : Tara Publ., 2003.  p.
Counting – Animals – Tree – Nonsense poetry
This amusing nonsense poem starts with »one dizzy ant [that] totters up the tree«. In the blink of an eye, the insect is followed by 2 dreamy lizards, 3 snoopy rats, 4 goofy rabbits, ...and 10 hefty elephants, until the majestic tree is groaning under the weight of a motley crew of animals. The entertaining short repetitive verses inspire children to start counting by introducing them to the numbers from 1 to 10, presented both in words and in figures. The beautiful, bright, tricoloured line-drawings always depict each group of animals twice: first, on their own, set against a whitish background, then, once more as they clamber up the light-grey tree, struggling to find some room. (3+)
India (English) - 2005 - 30
Sen Gupta, Subhadra (text)
Guha, Tapas (illus.)
12 o’clock ghost stories : spooky, scary & plain mysterious!
Gurgaon [et al.] : Scholastic India, 2004. 131 p.
Ghost – Short story
In this thin booklet, Subhadra Sen Gupta offers readers a colourful collection of short stories in which the real world and the supernatural world of ghosts are seamlessly intertwined. However, the protagonists of the various tales do not encounter some scary chain-rattling monsters in the middle of the night, as the book’s title might suggest. Instead, they usually happen to bump into beings from the world beyond in completely ordinary situations, such as while flying a kite, relaxing in a tree, or chopping onions in the kitchen. The funny tales are tinged with the occasional element of suspense that will make them an attractive read for young children. (8+)
New Zealand (English) - 2005 - 31
Bishop, Gavin (text/illus.)
Taming the sun : four Māori myths
Glenfield, Auckland : Random House New Zealand, 2004. 48 p.
Maori – Legend
In his latest book, award-winning New Zealand artist Gavin Bishop, who himself is of Maori descent, offers a retelling of four Maori myths. Accompanied by powerful, fiery watercolour pictures, which slightly differ in style for each of the stories, the short tales relate how Maui tricks the sun into travelling across the sky more slowly, how Maui’s foolish older brothers do not thank Tangaroa for their catch and thus accidentally create Aotearoa, how Kahu manages to kill the terrible taniwha, and how lazy Rona is eternally punished for offending the moon. The concise text and the impressive illustrations create a splendid first introduction to the Maori culture for very young children. (3+) ☆
New Zealand (English) - 2005 - 32
Bunn, Alan (ed.)
Norcliffe, James (ed.)
Re-Draft 3 : a collection of teenage writing
Christchurch, New Zealand : Clerestory Press [et al.], 2003. 96 p.
Short story – Teenage writing – Anthology
In this small booklet, the editors have assembled an impressive, colourful collection of short stories and poems written by New Zealand teenagers. The 47 works included are the winners of an annual writing competition that is offered by the School for Young Writers in Christchurch. With surprising acuteness and complexity, the young writers present their particular vision of the world in texts full of vigour, humour, irony, sadness, or pain. Whether they dwell on more mundane matters such as school routine, part-time jobs, and reality television or offer captivating lyrical and philosophical observations about life in general, these texts take readers on a thought-provoking literary journey. (14+)
Special Mention - New Zealand (English) - 2005 - 33
Wellington, New Zealand : Mallinson Rendel, 2004. 160 p.
Teenager – Car accident – Coma – Guilt – Rehabilitation – Friendship – Responsibility – Forgiveness
One rainy evening, Ryan is driving home, his attention diverted by his friend Vince’s fooling around next to him. Suddenly, a teenage girl stumbles out onto the street – and the car hits her badly. Driven by his feeling of guilt and the fervent wish to atone for his mistake, Ryan takes on an active role in Tara’s rehabilitation program. Yet, the path from waking up from a coma to (almost?) full recovery is anything but smooth for everyone involved. In this touching and at times even shocking novel, told alternatively from Ryan’s and Tara’s points of view, the award-winning author makes readers share the two protagonists’ thoughts as they both try to come to terms with the dreadful events. Even though it may be said that everything wraps up a bit too neatly in the end, David Hill perfectly manages to show how deeply one second of inattention can affect the lives of two ordinary teenagers, their friends, and their families. (14+)
Great Britain (English) - 2005 - 34
Oxford [et al.] : Oxford Univ. Press, 2004. 244 p.
Teenager – Secret – Brother – Death – Cloning – Hiding
One afternoon, in his grandfather’s attic, Dominic stumbles across some old photographs, and suddenly his life is turned upside down. Full of suspicion, the 15-year-old teenager sets out to search for the whole truth and unravels a terrible secret. Through the gripping first-person narrative told in flashback, the readers are immediately drawn into the story and accompany Dominic on his search for his own identity. They directly witness his shock and desperation when he discovers that he is not a ›normal‹ teenager but was secretly cloned from his older brother who died in a tragic accident at the age of 19. Set in England in the not-too-distant future, this breath-taking novel openly discusses the topical issue of human cloning and its various practical and ethical consequences. (14+)
Great Britain (English) - 2005 - 35
Boy 2 girl
London [et al.] : Macmillan Children’s Books, 2004. 275 p.
Boy – Girl – Cross-dressing – Mother – Death – Foster family – School
When Matt’s mother announces that his aunt died and his weird American cousin is going to live with them, the boy senses infinite trouble coming his way. Yet who could have guessed that the absurd test that Matt and his gang set for Sam would get completely out of hand and that Samuel-turned-Samantha would actually enjoy his role play and become Miss Popularity? Told from a multitude of perspectives (male and female, child and adult), this amusing novel describes how in just a few weeks the life of a normal teenager and his friends is turned upside down. The various first-person narratives all add their own view to a story about school and home-life, muddled-up relationships, an almost kidnapping, etc. (12+)
Great Britain (English) - 2005 - 36
The Usborne introduction to modern art
London : Usborne, 2004. 96 p. Internet-linked
Modern art – History – Development – Internet research
With the increasing popularity of the Internet, Usborne Publishing has created something completely new: Internet-linked books. Via their own Quicklinks Website, the publisher offers links to »recommended websites that complement and enhance the information in the book«. This »Introduction to Modern Art«, a particularly attractive example of the more than 200 Internet-linked Usborne titles so far, consists of bite-sized text passages and plenty of pictures and photographs tracing the development of the visual arts from the 1850s to the present. Complete with glossary and index, the eye-catching book invites children to satisfy their curiosity with additional up-to-date information provided by the selected Internet links. (10+) ☼
Great Britain (English) - 2005 - 37
Dunbar, Polly (text/illus.)
London : Walker, 2004.  p.
Child – Favourite colour – Pet dog
Little Bertie’s favourite colour is blue. He has a blue jumper, blue shoes, and even a blue dog collar, but the perfect canine to wear this collar is still missing from his life. So, until such a friend comes into being, resourceful Bertie has to make do with a game of pretence. And, hey presto, a tiny black-and-white spotty dog soon yaps its way into the boy’s life – that’s the beginning of a wonderful friendship. The witty pastel-coloured drawings set against light monochrome backgrounds wonderfully depict the cheerful and inventive protagonist and his little playfellow in all kinds of typical situations. Accompanied by the repetitive, simple text, the tender and lively illustrations will enchant little readers and their parents. (3+)
Special Mention - Great Britain (English) - 2005 - 38
Paver, Michelle (text)
Fordham, John (illus.)
London : Orion Children’s Books, 2004. 236 p.
(Chronicles of ancient darkness ; 1)
Ancient past – Outsider – Demon – Good/Evil – Magic – Boy – Wolf – Friendship
Michelle Paver’s gripping debut novel is the first volume in the »Chronicles of Ancient Darkness« series that follows the dangerous adventures of young Torak as he goes on a quest to fight the evil forces threatening his people. When his father is killed by a ferocious bear-demon, the boy sets off into the forest to fulfil his promise to his father and find the mountain of the World Spirit. He befriends an orphaned wolf cub, is captured by the suspicious Raven Clan people but manages to escape them, only to run into Renn again, a Raven Clan girl, who surprisingly enough joins him on his quest. Paver’s fascinating story about hunters, clan-life, forests, and superstition is told in an urgent narrative voice, with some smaller sections described from the wolf’s perspective. Right from the beginning, it plunges the readers deep into a mysterious ancient world of myth and magic from which they don’t surface again until the last page, eagerly awaiting the next part of the series. (14+)
Special Mention - Great Britain (English) - 2005 - 39
Rosen, Michael (text)
Tullet, Hervé (illus.)
London : Milet, 2004.  p.
English – Alphabet – Children’s poetry
In this entertaining short poem, renowned British poet Michael Rosen invites his readers to accompany him on a dream-journey through the alphabet realm. The imaginative alliterative verses, one for each letter of the alphabet, conjure up a world where »fish find fans«, »kittens kick ketchup«, and »owls open ovens«. They are ingeniously translated into powerful mixed-media illustrations by Hervé Tullet. His wild, sketchy pictures in bright colours with strong black outlines are often reminiscent of children’s drawings and easily evoke the nonsensical chaotic world described in the text. With its air of spontaneity, this amusing picture book will certainly inspire children to add their own alphabet verses to this poem. (4+)
Special Mention - Great Britain (English) - 2005 - 40
How I live now
London : Penguin Books, 2004. 186 p.
Friendship – First love – War – Survival
When 15-year-old anorexic Daisy from New York arrives at her cousins’ home in rural England, she takes some time to settle into the family. While Aunt Penn is on a business trip in Oslo, the five children enjoy an adult- and carefree summer holiday, and Daisy falls in love with her cousin Edmond until suddenly terrorists invade the country, war breaks out, soldiers occupy their farm, and the children are separated. In a desperate attempt to rejoin the others, little Piper and Daisy embark on a dangerous and exhausting journey. Told in retrospect in a touching, quiet first-person narrative, Meg Rosoff’s riveting debut novel, set sometime in the 21st century, focuses on Daisy’s fate and her emotional growth during another potential world war. (14+)
Special Mention - Great Britain (English) - 2005 - 41
Ross, Tony (text/illus.)
Is it because?
London : Andersen Press, 2004.  p.
The new picture book by renowned illustrator Tony Ross tackles a delicate topic. Delivered in the artist’s characteristic style, the witty water colour illustrations offer an amusing interpretation of the simple, short verses. As the young readers witness how the spindly little boy and his pet dog wonder why on earth big Peregrine Ffrogg always bullies the boy, they slowly discover that every story has two different sides. Without providing an easy solution to the increasingly problematic issue of bullying (or any solution at all for that matter), Tony Ross skilfully manages to arouse the readers’ sympathy not only for the victim but also for the bully. This thought-provoking picture book will certainly help initiate fruitful discussions. (4+) ☼
Special Mention - Great Britain (English) - 2005 - 42
Oxford [et al.] : Fickling, 2004. 198 p.
Outsider – Disappearance – Friendship – Courage – Role-playing game
Last Saturday, Abby went missing, and Emma is the last one to have spoken to her. What on earth has happened to her ex-best friend whom she hadn’t seen for over a year? Yet, why should Emma care? After all, she basically hated this gothic weirdo and her ridiculous fascination with fantasy games, didn’t she? Nevertheless, with the help of some of Abby’s friends, the girl goes on a search for her. Step by step, Lee Weatherly’s second novel unravels the tangle of carefully kept secrets that threaten to destroy the teenage girl’s peace at her new school. In a convincing and suspenseful first-person narrative with detective novel elements, the author makes her protagonist realise that, no matter how hard you try, you can’t run from your own fears. (12+)
Special Mention - Great Britain (English) - 2005 - 43
Willis, Jeanne (text)
Slater, Nicola (illus.)
London [et al.] : Macmillan Children’s Books, 2004. 86 p.
Boy – Dumbness – Loneliness – Friendship – Animals – Fighting for rights
Tom is an intelligent and curious boy with an extraordinary ability to acutely observe the world around him. Since he can’t speak, however, most people mistake him for a simpleton. To escape his loneliness, the 11-year-old often visits the zoo animals, detecting a lot of parallels between their situation and his own, and starts to befriend Zanzi, a female gorilla who can use sign language. In a captivating, quiet first-person narrative, the protagonist of this beautiful story shows that many misunderstandings only arise because people are not prepared to take time and listen properly to their fellow creatures. When he conceives a clever yet dangerous-looking plan to fight for his new friend’s baby, Tom eventually manages to open people’s eyes and ears. (10+)
Special Mention - Ireland (English) - 2005 - 44
Cashman, Seamus (ed.)
Askin, Corrina (illus.)
Clarke, Alan (illus.)
Something beginning with P : new poems from Irish poets
Dublin : O’Brien Press, 2004. 160 p.
Children’s poetry – Anthology
This wonderful poetry collection features over 100 new poems by the crème de la crème of Irish poets such as Desmond Egan, Gabriel Fitzmaurice, Seamus Heaney, Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill, and Gabriel Rosenstock, to name but a few. Written exclusively for this anthology, this colourful bunch of works offers a unique opportunity for children and adults alike to dive into the fascinating world of language. If the words alone make for a captivating read, the illustrations by Corrina Askin and Alan Clarke, some bold and bright, some soft and sensitive, turn this into a treasure of Ireland’s rich poetry that no one would want to miss. The appendix provides some useful English translations of the poems written in Irish, an alphabetical index of the poems (both first lines and titles), authors, and illustrators, as well as short biographical notes of all the artists who contributed to this splendid book. (5+) ☼
Special Mention - Canada (English) - 2005 - 45
Aldana, Patricia (ed.)
Paterson, Katherine (foreword)
Dragland, Stan (transl.)
Under the spell of the moon : art for children from the world’s great illustrators
Toronto [et al.] : Douglas & McIntyre, 2004. 80 p.
(A Groundwood book)
Illustration – Children’s poetry – Multiculturality – Anthology
The idea behind this gorgeous anthology was to offer children a colourful selection of works by the best children’s book illustrators from all over the world and thus celebrate high quality international writing and illustration for children. Ranging from Mitsumsa Anno, Quentin Blake, Marie-Louise Gay, and Dušan Kállay to Peter Sís and Lisbeth Zwerger, each of the award-winning artists featuring in this collection chose a short text, poem, children’s verse, riddle, counting-out rhyme, etc. and illustrated this text on a double page. Texts are printed in the original language of the culture they come from and in an English translation. Part of the proceeds from this book will be donated to the International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY), the organisation that – founded by Jella Lepman more than 50 years ago – is striving to fulfil its founder’s greatest dream of creating peace and understanding between people of different cultures through the best of children’s books. (4+) ☆ ☼
Special Mention - Canada (English) - 2005 - 46
Carroll, Lewis (text)
Jorisch, Stéphane (illus.)
Toronto, ON [et al.] : Kids Can Press, 2004.  p.
(Visions in poetry)
Father – Son – Monster – Threat – Hunt – Killing – Nonsense poetry
Lewis Carroll’s (1832-1898) classical nonsense poem about the mysterious Jabberwocky is one of the most well-known English language poems ever. Its enigmatic verses naturally lend themselves to innumerable interpretations. In this beautifully designed little volume, published in the new series »Visions in Poetry«, the Victorian poem is transported right into the 21st century in which public opinion is manipulated by mass media. Here, a war-crazed old man sends his son on a mission to slay the allegedly dangerous monster. The slightly surrealistic, bizarre watercolour, pencil, and ink illustrations by award-winning Stéphane Jorisch perfectly match the scary atmosphere of the text while they leave ample room for the readers’ imagination and interpretations. (10+)
Special Mention - Canada (English) - 2005 - 47
Joe, Donna (text)
Jeffries, Jamie (illus.)
La Fave Kim (illus.)
Ch’askin : a legend of the Sechelt people
Roberts Creek, BC : Nightwood Ed., 2003.  p.
Canada / First Nations – Legend – Bird
This thin square booklet is the latest volume in the »Legend of the Sechelt People« series. Written in a simple style reminiscent of traditional oral storytelling, the picture book relates the tale of Ch’askin, the mystical thunderbird, and its relationship with the Sechelt people, a First Nations tribe from Canada. When they first settle on the Sunshine Coast in British Columbia, the huge powerful bird helps them build their villages and gather enough food until they are self-sufficient. The short tale is complemented by a number of soft atmospheric black-and-white drawings that slightly resemble cave paintings. They are contrasted with clear, sharp, totem-pole-like depictions of the thunderbird. (4+) ☆
Special Mention - Canada (English) - 2005 - 48
Toronto : HarperTrophyCanada, 2004. 274 p.
Outsider – School – Beauty contest – Everyday life
Ladies and Gentlemen, please raise the curtain again for the inimitable Alice McLeod, formerly home-schooled weirdo, now on the rocky road to turning into a practically ›normal‹ person. In this hilarious sequel to the bestselling »Alice, I think«, the ambitious journalist-to-be jumps at the chance of becoming (rich and) famous by entering the Miss Smithers beauty pageant. The witty diary relates one disastrous event piling upon the next as the inventive teenage girl, who certainly lacks some basic social skills, braves the wide world of her home town. Female readers devouring this firstperson narrative with its catching dry humour will undoubtedly suffer from severe stomach-ache caused by excessive laughter. (14+)
Special Mention - Canada (English) - 2005 - 49
Lee, Dennis (text)
Kovalski, Maryann (illus.)
Toronto : Key Porter Books, 2004. 70 p.
Whether it is the humour of »To My Friend the Total Loser«, the funny anxiety of »French Kissing With Gum in Your Mouth«, the deep sadness of »The House of Alone«, or the peaceful reflection of »High Summer«, this collection of poems perfectly captures the whole range of feelings that young people know only too well and often struggle with. Renowned poet Dennis Lee’s touching verses and rippling rhythms are ingeniously translated into energetic, semi-abstract, black-and-white pictures rendered in various techniques by well-known illustrator Maryann Kovalski. This attractive square volume with its trendy title and matching design will speak to teenage and adult readers alike. (10+)
Special Mention - Canada (English) - 2005 - 50
Victoria, BC : Orca Book Publ., 2004. 217 p.
Bullying – Violence – Outsider – Friendship
It’s more or less by accident that Zoe ends up with Beck and her gang on the first day at her new school. She is utterly shocked to see that the five girls don’t have any scruples about using outright violence to terrorise the school community. Yet, once Zoe is initiated to the Beckoners, giving them the cold shoulder turns out to be dangerous; succumbing to the gang’s rules may be easier than competing with her classmate April, called »Dog«, for the place of top victim. In a gripping, fast-paced third-person narrative, the author introduces her readers to a brutal scenario of teenage bullying and peer pressure in which even the teachers prefer to turn a blind eye rather than to get involved. Thus it takes all of Zoe’s courage and the help of her new friends for her to join the ›right side‹. (14+)
Special Mention - Canada (English) - 2005 - 51
Oppel, Kenneth (text)
Reid, Barbara (illus.)
Peg and the Yeti
Toronto : HarperCollins, 2004.  p.
Girl – Exploration – Adventure – Mount Everest – Yeti – Friendship
Little Peg, born on her parents’ fishing boat, has always been adventurous. Now that she has set her mind on seeing the top of the world, she packs her fishing rod and travels to Mount Everest. Without any climbing gear but with a lot of determination, the resourceful girl braves the icy slopes, befriends the scary hairy mountain monster, and finally returns to her parents, already pondering her next adventure. Kenneth Oppel’s endearing and funny story about a feisty little heroine is translated into astonishingly vibrant plasticine pictures by renowned artist Barbara Reid. The illustrations, of varying surface texture and brimming with funny details, depict the scenes from unusual angles, while the artist’s trademark style lends them a three-dimensional feel. (4+)
Special Mention - USA (English) - 2005 - 52
Carryl, Charles Edward (text)
Santore, Charles (illus.)
The camel’s lament : a poem
New York : Random House, 2004.  p.
Animals – Comparison – Nonsense poetry
The crabby camel considers it a gross insult that all the other animals are favoured with delicious food, cosy homes, and a pleasing physique, whereas the world obviously couldn’t care less about the poor camel’s needs: »Anything does for me!« In this hilarious 19th century nonsense poem, published in picture book form for the first time, the complaints of the badly-treated desert denizen are uttered in a uniquely affected and sulky voice that immediately assures the readers’ compassion. Charles Santore’s large, bright animal portraits in warm colours set against a white background offer witty snapshots of the comfortable lives of various species. These homely scenes are contrasted with plain double spreads rendered in yellow-cream-brown shades showing the camel’s hard lot. With the odd tinge of exaggerated facial expression, the otherwise naturalistic pictures perfectly capture the verses’ ironic tone. (5+) ☼
Special Mention - USA (English) - 2005 - 53
Coman, Carolyn (text)
Shepperson, Rob (illus.)
The big house
Asheville, NC : Front Street, 2004. 220 p.
Parents – Prison – Siblings – Foster family – Revenge
It’s not the first time that Ivy and Ray’s parents are sent »up the river«. But never before have they been sentenced to 25 years in prison – and both of them. Yet stubborn Ivy and her younger brother are not inclined to quietly wait out their days in the big house under the custody of evil old Marietta, the very person who accused her father of embezzlement. Determined to get the better of their ›kidnappers‹, the resourceful siblings secretly collect evidence against Marietta and her husband. This comical short novel depicts the children’s ingenious ability to think up various plans and uncover mysterious secrets. The fresh tone of the text and the amusing black-and-white illustrations make this a delightful read for young would-be-detectives. (10+)
Special Mention - USA (English) - 2005 - 54
New York : HarperCollins, 2004. 180 p.
(Joanna Cotler books)
Girl – Youth – Running – Everyday life – Grandfather – Friendship – Baby brother
In the past few years, verse novels for the young seem to have jumped up the popularity scale a fair bit – even to the extent that some readers are becoming fed up with that form of writing. Be that as it may, it would be a shame to miss out on Newbery Medal winner Sharon Creech’s new contribution to this genre. Told in a unique poetic voice interspersed with witty side comments and footnotes, »Heartbeat« allows readers a glimpse into the life of 12-year-old Annie just when everything is about to change. With her mother pregnant, her beloved grandfather slowly falling apart, and her best friend Max growing distant and moody, running barefoot and listening to her heartbeat’s comforting »thump-thump« is one thing the amiable and optimistic heroine can still rely on. (10+) ☼
Special Mention - USA (English) - 2005 - 55
Whispering to witches
New York : Bloomsbury Children’s Books, 2004. 296 p.
Boy – Christmas holidays – Friendship – Witch
Joe isn’t very pleased when he learns that he will have to spend his Christmas holidays with his mother, stepfather, and stepsister Esmé in boring old Canterbury. Little does he suspect that he will be thrown headfirst into a thrilling adventure. Together with his new friend Twiggy, a young witch-in-training, he sneaks out at night and rides around on a broomstick trying to locate the missing page from an ancient book of spells before evil witch Logan Dritch gets her hands on it. Set in a modern England where a coven of witches secretly exists next-door to non-magic people, this fast-paced debut novel makes for an entertaining read and will certainly catch young would-be-witches’ and -wizards’ attention. (9+)
Special Mention - USA (English) - 2005 - 56
A sea of trolls
New York [et al.] : Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2004. 459 p.
Boy – Bard’s apprentice – Magic – Viking – Troll
In her new book, popular author Nancy Farmer takes her readers deep into a sinister realm of frightening Viking »berserkers«, dangerous trolls, and various mysterious monsters in 8th century Northern Europe. 11-year-old Jack has hardly started his apprenticeship with the village bard when a herd of Northmen attacks the peaceful Saxon settlement and takes Jack and his little sister Lucy hostage. To increase his magic powers and save Lucy from evil Queen Frith’s revenge, Jack has to go on a dangerous journey to Jotunheim, the icy home of the trolls. Fantasy fans will devour this fast-paced quest in which Norse mythology and medieval history blend well with humorous elements to create a gripping read. (12+)
Special Mention - USA (English) - 2005 - 57
Grimes, Nikki (text)
Young, Ed (illus.)
Tai chi morning : snapshots of China
Chicago : Cricket Books, 2004. XI, 51 p.
China – Tourist trip – Everyday life
More than 15 years ago, well-known American author and poet Nikki Grimes travelled to China with a group of actors. She recorded her personal impressions of this vast country in several atmospheric poems, each of them preceded by a short narrative paragraph relating the situation in which the respective poem was created. Ed Young’s sketchy pen and ink illustrations stem from his own journey to his native country during roughly the same time. Printed in a warm brownish shade and set against a soft background of smooth, cream-coloured textured paper, the quiet texts, the few photographs, and the calm pictures offer a fascinating glimpse into the country’s politics, old and modern culture, and everyday life. (12+) ☆
Special Mention - USA (English) - 2005 - 58
Henkes, Kevin (text/illus.)
Kitten’s first full moon
[New York] : Greenwillow Books, 2004.  p.
Cat – Hunger – Milk – Determination – Disappointment – Reward
A naïve little kitten mistakes the huge full moon shining in the sky for a yummy bowl of milk. She craves for it and comes up with several creative plans for securing her ›prey‹. Yet, however hard she tries, whether she jumps from the top step of the porch, climbs the tall tree in the garden, or leaps right into the pond, the delicious treat stays just out of reach – and the poor feline remains hungry, until... Kevin Henkes’s humorous and suspenseful story is written in a simple repetitive style full of rhythm. The silly misfortunes of the irresistible heroine out on a night prowl are captured in smooth, cartoonlike drawings in black-and-cream shades with bold outlines. (3+)
(Caldecott Medal; 2005)
Special Mention - USA (English) - 2005 - 59
West with Hopeless
New York : Dutton Children’s Books, 2004. 180 p.
Siblings – Journey – Argument – Reconciliation
In this portrait of two different but utterly likeable personalities, the straightforward first-person narrative relates the ups and downs of an adventurous five-day car ride during which two sisters meet a motley crew of eccentric yet kind strangers and get to know each other better. Usually, 13-year-old Carin boards a plane every summer and travels to Reno to spend the holidays at her father’s place. When her mother tells her that this year she will cover the 1,763 miles by car, riding with her older half-sister Hope, the slightly naïve and anxious teenage girl is convinced this trip will turn out to be a disaster. And as if to prove her right, the two don’t get off to a particular good start… but in the end Carin has to admit to herself that Hope isn’t quite so »hopeless« after all. (12+)
Special Mention - USA (English) - 2005 - 60
Sís, Peter (text/illus.)
Train of states
New York : Greenwillow Books, 2004.  p.
USA – Federal States
With his latest picture book, Czech-born illustrator Peter Sís indulged in his love for circus wagons and for his adopted country and created a graphic firework about US history. He invites children aboard a magnificent train consisting of 50 carriages, one for each of the States of the USA. Presented in chronological order from Delaware and Pennsylvania to Alaska and Hawaii (with the US capital Washington D.C. as the caboose), the carriages, which closely resemble ancient circus wagons, give the origin of the state name, the capital, flower, tree, and bird for all of the states, plus some further titbits. This entertaining mixture will certainly spark off children’s eagerness to find out more about the various states. (4+)
Special Mention - USA (English) - 2005 - 61
Stewart, Sarah (text)
Small, David (illus.)
New York : Farrar Straus Giroux, 2004.  p.
Girl – Housekeeper – Friendship – USA/1940s
Well-known husband-and-wife-team Sarah Stewart and David Small have created yet another endearing picture book. The smooth rhymed verses and the moving water colour illustrations, sometimes energetic, sometimes radiating with calmness, follow the daily life of wealthy Annabelle Bernadette Clementine Dodd and her only friend Beatrice Smith, housekeeper and nanny. Since her busy parents are hardly ever at home, Belle and Bea spend all their days together. Bea completes the household chores with energetic and creative little Belle at her side ›helping‹ her, and afterwards, the two of them walk down to the sea and stroll along the beach. This book offers a portrait of a lonely yet happy childhood in the 1940s and of an unusual friendship. (4+)
Italy (Italian/English/French) - 2005 - 123
Cerri, Mara (text/illus.)
A una stella cadente = Upon a falling star = À une étoile filante
Roma : Orecchio Acerbo, 2004.  p.
Girl – Search for identity – Wish
People say that when you see a falling star you should make a wish. That is the starting point for this beautifully-designed small book, an original collection of wishes, hopes, and fears intended for teenage girls. The texts are reduced to one sentence per page printed in Italian, English, and French. They present something like a top ten list of authentic desires of young people not influenced by consumerism, such as »I want to know whether everybody feels clumsy and heavy sometimes« or »I want to discover what is inside all the things that cannot speak.« The female protagonists, roughly sketched, take on fantastic forms like sirens or pear-shaped women; they change shape and hover above a delicate, soft background, while the sentences seem to follow the shapes. (10+)
South Africa (Afrikaans/English/IsiNdebele/IsiXhosa/IsiZulu/ Sepedi/Sesotho/Setswana/SiSwati/Tshivenda/Xitsonga) - 2005 - 231
The rights of a child : in Afrikaans, English, IsiNdebele, IsiXhosa, IsiZulu, Sepedi, Sesotho, Setswana, SiSwati, Tshivenda, Xitsonga
Cape Town : Kwela Books [et al.], 2004.  p.
Forty-five years ago, the United Nations proclaimed the universal Declaration of the Rights of the Child. Nevertheless, many people still don’t know exactly what these rights are. This unique picture book presents the ten principles of the declaration in the eleven official languages of South Africa from Afrikaans to Xitsonga. On the lefthand side of every double page, a full-page illustration depicts one particular principle, the text of which is then given in all the eleven languages in coloured boxes on the right-hand side. This outstanding book can be used in schools all over the world to discuss the basic needs of children. In addition, it is also a kaleidoscope of some of the best illustrators of (South) Africa. (7+) ☆
Botswana (English) - 2006 - 23
Seomeng, Judah (text)
Dunn, Annabel (illus.)
Dimo and the little bush doctor
Gaborone : Pyramid Publ., 2004.  p.
(Kalahari adventure series)
Giant Magic – Humans – Friendship – Trick – Threat
This picture book tells the story of a little boy who travels to some cattle post in the Kalahari Desert to learn about cattle. During his journey together with a young Dimo, one of the giant people with magical abilities who lived in Botswana in ancient times, clever little Iyapane manages to fend off several attacks by the cannibalistic giant and eventually outwits him and returns home safely. This traditional folk tale, based on an oral tale narrated by the author’s grandfather, Samuel Seomeng of Tlhabala, and accompanied by full page digital pictures, is part of the Kalahari Adventure Series. The picture books published in this series strive to present aspects of life and culture in Botswana to children and adults. (4+) ☆
South Africa (English) - 2006 - 24
Walton, Ann (text)
Hinrichsen, Natalie (illus.)
Tell the moon
Cape Town : Tafelberg, 2005.  p.
(parallel ed. publ. in Afrikaans: Roep die maan; ISBN 0-624-03989-7)
Farm Man – Birds – Respect for nature – Happiness
One day, Ben decides to leave the city, move to the mountains, and start a new life in a little house built from clay and reeds. As he prepares the ground for gardening, he takes care not to disturb three pale pink Francolin eggs and to leave an ancient tree, which is the home of many birds, standing in his fields. In return for his kindness, the birds resolve to help Ben during harvest time. This beautiful book with its striking, colourful double-page illustrations, offers an interesting look into the South-African flora and fauna. The fairytale-like story builds up to a climax, when Ben and the Francolin, as the bird representative, both make a promise to the moon that they will try to live together in peace, and respect and help each other. (3+)
Australia (English) - 2006 - 25
Does my head look big in this?
Sydney : Pan Macmillan Australia, 2005. 340 p.
Teenage girl Muslim – Search for identity – Multicultural society – Peer pressure – Self-confidence – Religion
16-year-old Amal faces a huge problem. Not only does she have to deal with all the typical teenager issues like friendship, first love, bullying, or standing out versus fitting in, but she has made up her mind to start wearing the hijab, the Muslim veil, full-time. Naturally, her decision is met with all kinds of prejudice and opposition at her high-brow private school, amongst her friends and enemies, and even her parents are not exactly doing a »cheerleader routine around the family room«. In her moving and witty first novel, interspersed with a lot of autobiographical experiences, the author sketches the convincing picture of a modern Australian-Palestinian-Muslim girl torn between two different cultures and confronts some of the typical clichés about Islam. (14+) ☆
Australia (English) - 2006 - 26
Baillie, Allan (text)
Magerl, Caroline (illus.)
Camberwell, Victoria [et al.] : Penguin/Viking, 2005.  p.
Girl Boy – Beach – Imaginary adventure – Princess – Pirate – Friendship
A little girl spends a day at the beach imagining she is a princess in a wonderful castle. When a naughty pirate arrives on his ship loaded with cannons and tries to destroy her beautiful home, Her Royal Angryness enlists the help of the terrible Belchim and the fearsome Flaphantnim to fight the intruder. In this entertaining tale of a summer day, colourful full-page and double-page pictures ingeniously depict the two children’s creative inventions and the fierce imaginary battle which ends with a simple offer: »Friends«. The vivid, blurry watercolour illustrations imperceptibly blend real and imaginary scenes and eventually leave the protagonists lying peacefully in the sun »Until next time...«. (4+)
Australia (English) - 2006 - 27
Godwin, Jane (text)
Zak, Drahos (illus.)
The true story of Mary who wanted to stand on her head
Crows Nest, NSW : Allen & Unwin, 2005. 47 p.
Girl Otherness – Punishment – Rebellion – Happiness
Mary would simply be an ordinary and amiable little girl if it wasn’t for her peculiar determination to stand on her head forever. Neither of the stern doctors’ and teachers’ cruel remedies proves to be effective, so the desperate parents eventually agree to desert her in the desert – where the unruly child immediately befriends a camel, a mouse, and a lizard and happily spends her days looking at the world upside down. This witty and absurd tale in 31 verses follows in the footsteps of Edward Lear, Lewis Carroll, and Edward Gorey, the masters of nonsense poetry. It is completed by ingenious, darkish mixed-media illustrations and vignettes in all possible sizes, which perfectly capture the mood of the story. (4+) ☼
Special Mention - Australia (English) - 2006 - 28
Heffernan, John (text)
Sheehan, Peter (illus.)
Lindfield, NSW : Scholastic Press, 2005.  p.
ISBN 1-86504-813-5 / -814-3
Island Monster – Happiness – Imprisonment – Freedom
In the middle of the sea, on a beautiful island, live a hard-working tribe who are so wrapped up in their work that they don’t know how to enjoy life. The only exception is a neglected, blind little boy. One day, a friendly sea-monster turns up and befriends the lonely child. Soon enough, bouts of laughter resound across the beach encouraging the grown-ups to join in, too. Wary at first, the adults soon feel an irresistible urge to play and laugh happiness has finally arrived. Yet, when the people anxiously employ ropes and chains to hold on to it forever, the monster and the boy secretly vanish, and all joy disappears with them. This touching, quiet, philosophical story raises the question of whether happiness can be captured. It is expressed in powerful, double-page pictures in which the unhappy people, drawn as plain grey-and-white straight shapes, form a stark contrast to the beautiful green island and the multi-coloured, bubbling, energetic sea-monster. (4+)
Special Mention - Australia (English) - 2006 - 29
Kelleher, Victor (text)
Hurst, Elise (illus.)
South Melbourne, Victoria : Lothian, 2005.  p.
God Search – Child – Religion
Everybody talks about God, but when little Peter wants to know where exactly this mysterious Mr. God lives, he gets nothing but evasive answers from his family. The »kind of ... up there« and »sort of ... around« information leaves the small boy so puzzled that he decides to go out looking for him. After a day filled with surprising revelations, Peter feels he is none the wiser but so what. The witty and enjoyable story is wonderfully expressed in vivid, slightly blurry gouache paintings. They follow the curious bald-headed protagonist in his bright red T-Shirt as he pokes his head around bends, hears about Mrs Patel’s multiple gods, and shares his lolly with a ragged old tramp, only to learn that there may be more than one truth. (4+)
Special Mention - Australia (English) - 2006 - 30
Sydney [et al.] : Fourth Estate, 2005. 434 p.
Teenage girl Rite of passage – Parallel world – Dream – Danger – Secret – Quest
New Zealand writer Elizabeth Knox’s new novel, the first part of the »Dreamhunter« duet, is set in an un-named country yet with a recognisable New Zealand vegetation and landscape – at the beginning of the 20th century. Laura and Rose, two 15-year-old cousins, are about to join the official »Try« to find out whether they belong to the lucky few who can enter the parallel world of »The Place« and follow into the footsteps of their famous parents and other dreamhunters, who retrieve its rich dreams for the benefit of the (affluent) general public. In this compelling, imaginative fantasy adventure, rife with dark secrets, intrigues, and powerful mythical songs, Laura is sent on a truly dangerous quest, which will make readers hold their breath until the very end. (14+)
Special Mention - Australia (English) - 2006 - 31
Sydney, NSW : ABC Books, 2005. 239 p.
(Carradon trilogy; 2)
Futuristic society Government control – Freedom – Slavery
In this compelling sequel to »Bringing Reuben home«, Glenda Millard follows the fate of Judah, Cinnabar, their family, and new-found friends a few years after they have escaped from the domed city of New Carradon, where every aspect of life is controlled by the government. The young couple have settled down peacefully, but when they learn that the so-called Novice Scheme, allegedly a government programme to educate refugees, is in fact abused as a slave business, they are determined to help and put an end to it. This science-fiction novel for young adults cleverly juxtaposes the tightly confined world of technological progress and political corruption and the ideal, democratic, nature-loving community outside the dome as it focuses on the issue of slavery in a futuristic society. (14+)
Special Mention - Australia (English) - 2006 - 32
Porter, Annaliese (text)
Bancroft, Bronwyn (illus.)
Broome, Western Australia : Magabala Books, 2005.  p.
Australia Outback – Animals – Plants
Annaliese Porter’s quiet poem reads like an ode to the Australian outback. The first published picture book by this talented eleven-year-old girl offers snapshots of the life of animals and (Aboriginal) people who have shared this land for centuries. The stunning illustrations by Bronwyn Bancroft, one of Australia’s leading Aboriginal artists, perfectly capture the vastness of the red desert, its changing atmosphere through various seasons and times of the day, and its colourful inhabitants. In bright double-page pictures, which combine a traditional Aboriginal style of painting with modern watercolour illustration, she introduces readers to the exciting world of central Australia. (4+) ☆
India (English) - 2006 - 33
Singh, Vandana (text)
Kamath, Manjunath (illus.)
Younguncle in the Himalayas
New Delhi : Young Zubaan [et al.], 2005. 140 p.
Himalaya Holiday – Adventure – Ghost – Environmental destruction
One particularly hot October evening, Younguncle and his relatives decide they need to escape the stifling heat of their small Indian town and travel to the Himalayas for a refreshing holiday. Yet, soon enough, the three children and their eccen- tric uncle realise that strange things are happening in the mysterious Hotel Pine-Away. Could the weird group of Quantum Banana Spiritualists or the scheming braggart Pradeep Daalmakhni be responsible for it? In this hilarious sequel to the successful »Younguncle comes to town«, Vandana Singh again delights her readers with an enthralling and entertaining story interspersed with witty allusions and comments that will have children and adults laughing out loud. (8+)
Special Mention - India (English) - 2006 - 34
Viswanath, Shobha (text/retell.)
Joshi, Dileep (illus.)
The blue jackal : a Panchatantra classic
Chennai : Karadi Tales, 2004.  p. + 1 CD
Jackal Bullying – Revenge – Trick
This retelling of a classic tale from the »Panchatantra«, an ancient collection of instructive stories, is about Chandarva, a tiny jackal who is bullied by the other jackals in his pack. Desperate for food, he secretly enters a village at night but is spotted and chased by the huge village dogs and falls into a pot of indigo dye. Upon his return, all jungle animals are frightened by this strange bright blue animal and he takes advantage of the situation, pretending to be a creature sent from heaven to rule over the jungle. The beautiful illustrations are created with white paint on a reddish brown or dark blue background in the style of traditional Warli paintings. The double-page spreads, brimming with small vivacious white figures and animals dancing all across the pages, introduce scenes of the daily life in a village to the readers. The audio CD enclosed with the book offers a magical reading of the tale by the well-known Indian storyteller Naseeruddin Shah accompanied by atmospheric music. (4+)
New Zealand (English) - 2006 - 35
Drewery, Melanie (text)
Malcolm, Sabrina (illus.)
Wellington : Huia, 2004.  p.
Māori Herbs – Medicine – Grandfather – Grandson – Teaching
This attractive picture book tells the story of a young boy’s first visit to his grandfather, who seems to know a remedy for any of the child’s ailments, whether it is blisters, cuts, or a blocked nose. The short story, which consists mainly of the conversation between the old man and his grandson, is interspersed with Māori terms and expressions, and completed with small tables of factual information about New Zealand plants and their healing power. Thus, the book is not only a touching tale, but may also serve as a first playful introduction to rongoā, traditional Māori medicine. The text is complemented by striking illustrations with prominent purple outlines and several layers of paint overlaying each other. (6+)
(The New Zealand Post Book Awards for Children & Young Adults; Shortlist 2005)
New Zealand (English) - 2006 - 36
Dunedin : Longacre Press, 2005. 186 p.
Government Experiment – Control – Rebellion – Freedom
In her most recent science-fiction novel, popular author Penelope Todd is dealing with a fairly sinister topic. In order to fight some deadly epidemics, the New Zealand government has just started a nation-wide experiment called »Endorsement «, in which every citizen over the age of 13 gets implanted a tiny metal device to »achieve the perfect balance of chemicals in the human body.« Although it is advertised as a highly beneficial health initiative, some people quickly realise that it will provide officials with the perfect means to monitor and control people, to take away their individuality and freedom. This gripping teenage novel follows teenagers Derik, Marti, and Disco as they join other »abstainers« in their rebellion against a quasi-dictatorial scheme. (13+)
Great Britain (English) - 2006 - 37
Attard, Enebor (retell.)
Holland, Richard (illus.)
Misra, Awadesh (Hindi transl.)
Ali Baba and the forty thieves
London : Mantra Lingua, 2005.  p.
(Hindi and English text)
Thief Secret – Cave – Plot – Happiness
When poor Ali Baba accidentally discovers the secret cave where a bunch of thieves have hidden all their riches, he knows that his fortune is made. Yet, his greedy brother is not quite so lucky. He is killed by the villains who then also try to get rid of Ali Baba but instead come to a sticky end themselves. This attractive bilingual picture book in landscape format provides a concise retelling in English and Hindi of one of the most popular tales from »The Book of One Thousand and One Nights«. Published by Mantra Lingua, a small publisher who specialises in bilingual books, this lavishly illustrated volume is available in 28 different dual-language editions. The energetic collage illustrations full of Oriental patterns perfectly convey the story’s intriguing atmosphere. (4+)
Great Britain (English) - 2006 - 38
London : Andersen Press, 2005. 168 p.
Teenage girl Party – Drugs – Kidnapping
When Debra Cardew, a straight-A student, attends her GCSE party at a nearby pub, she just wants to celebrate. Not one second does the (Goody Two Shoes) girl suspect that some dubious person bides his time to spike her drink and kidnap her. In this riveting new teenage novel, popular author Sandra Glover addresses a number of topics such as alcohol and drug abuse, Internet pornography, and kidnapping. The initially relaxed story in which tension quickly mounts, has protagonists and readers alike running after false clues, checking out various possible suspects, and starting afresh with every new turn of events. Short passages printed in italics allow readers to assess the situation also from the kidnapper’s point of view, yet without giving away his identity. (12+)
Special Mention - Great Britain (English) - 2006 - 39
Gravett, Emily (text/illus.)
London [et al.] : Macmillan Children’s Books, 2005.  p.
Rabbit Library – Book – Wolf – Danger
In this extraordinary picture book debut by Emily Gravett, a rabbit walks into the local library and burrows sorry, borrows – a book about wolves. Walking around with his nose in the beautiful red cloth-bound volume, the little mammal doesn’t notice the dangerous carnivore step out of the book. And neither does he sense it looming behind him until it is too late – or is it? Brimming with witty word play, hilarious details, and clever metafictional elements, the short informative text is accompanied by sketchy black-and-white charcoal illustrations depicting the huge, hungry wolf, while black-and-cream drawings and red collage elements present the little rabbit and his book. The powerful pictures, which tell a gripping story almost contradicting the rather harmless text, culminate in a (potentially) frightening scenario – but also offer an alternative, happily-ever-after ending for the more sensitive readers. This is a must-have for young and old picture book lovers. (4+) ☼
Special Mention - Great Britain (English) - 2006 - 40
Newman, Marlene (text)
Myron’s magic cow
Bath, BA : Barefoot Books, 2005.  p.
Boy Shopping – Cow – Wish – Magic
Since his two siblings are either too busy or too little to help his mother, it is always Myron who gets sent on errands. On his way to the supermarket, he bumps into a bossy blond girl who grabs his shopping money, pushes a rope in his hands to which a huge cow is tied, and jumps into her car with three bears in it, disappearing »down the street in a cloud of smelly black smoke«, before he can react. What is he to do with a real-life cow in the middle of the city and a talking, wish-granting cow at that? The amusing, imaginative story with various fairy tale elements is perfectly complemented by large, sometimes comic-book-like illustrations. The pictures with their angular shapes, rendered digitally in a mixed technique, superbly mirror the surreal touch of the story. (4+)
Special Mention - Great Britain (English) - 2006 - 41
Stower, Adam (text/illus.)
Slam! : a tale of consequences
Dorking, Surrey : Templar, 2005.  p.
(A Templar book)
Boy Carelessness – Chain of events – Chaos
Sometimes, little causes have dramatic effects. Yet, who would have thought that a carelessly slammed front door could cause such a havoc? The beginning of this large, square, (almost) textless picture book, presents an ordinary street in an ordinary town on an ordinary day. A boy steps out of the house immersed in a magazine. As his ears are covered with headphones, he obviously doesn’t hear the warning »Don’t slam the…!« and, completely unawares, he literally sets the ball rolling. Illustrated in brush, ink, and watercolour in a comic-book-like style, the increasingly chaotic pictures are brimming with details. They invite readers to enjoy this absurd, fantastical story, look again and again and discover hilarious little tales within the tale. (4+) ☼
Special Mention - Great Britain (English) - 2006 - 42
Thaxton, Giles (text)
Baines, Nigel (illus.)
Spud goes green : [the diary of my year as a greenie]
London : Egmont, 2006.  p.
Boy Environmental awareness – Recycling
This droll, square little volume is a cross between funny fictional diary and practical guide about environment-friendly behaviour. It presents the story of young Spud, who decides to become a »friend-of-the-planet and looker-afterer-of-nature «, and his resourceful neighbour Adi, who comes up with tons of hands-on suggestions for »going green«. Unlike conventional non-fiction books about the protection of our environment, this amusing account does not only offer step-bystep instructions about how to create a bird table, build a pond, recycle rubbish, or plant seeds, it also includes interesting »Facts of the day«, witty asides, and bright, completely silly, cartoon-like illustrations, which will make readers dissolve into giggles. (8+) ☼
Special Mention - Great Britain (English) - 2006 - 43
Usui, Kanako (text/illus.)
The fantastic Mr Wani
London : Little Tiger Press, 2005.  p.
Crocodile Party – Delay – Hurry – Accident
Mr. Wani, the crocodile, is invited to a party at his friends the frogs’ place in town, yet unfortunately, he is a little late. In his eagerness to make it in time, the accident-prone animal does not only trip over his own feet, but also crashes into and flattens a few other, slightly smaller partygoers, who luckily enough – don’t seem to take it personally, and even offer some smashing ideas about how to speed up the crocodile’s journey. Kanako Usui’s bold full-page and double-page pictures on cream-coloured paper bristle with energy. The comic-book like illustrations in strong, matt colours, which offer unusual perspectives and close-ups reminiscent of an animated film, perfectly express the tone of the crocodile’s amusing adventure. (3+)
(Booktrust Early Years Award for Best New Illustrator; 2005)
Special Mention - Great Britain (English) - 2006 - 44
London [et al.] : Puffin, 2005. 343 p.
Murder Escape – Wooden boy – Foster parents – Quest
Barkbelly has always been different from everybody else, yet neither his human foster parents nor the other village people used to mind. Until the day when the wooden boy accidentally kills one of his classmates. Driven by guilt, Barkbelly runs away to a distant town, but as the kindhearted matron Missus Maddox wisely says – »You can’t forget the past.« So eventually, the young Pinocchio-like protagonist sets off again and braves many an adventure with circus performers, pirates, and giant hedgehogs, on his quest for a place where he really belongs. In her breath-taking debut novel written in a poetic and convincing voice, renowned storyteller Cat Weatherill creates an intriguing world that will enchant young and old readers alike. (8+)
Special Mention - Great Britain (English) - 2006 - 45
London : Hodder Children’s Books, 2005. 184 p.
Brother Illness – Fight for survival – Death
Alexi and his little brother Misha live in a bleak town close to the drained Aral Sea in Kazakhstan, selling fallen rockets and nuclear debris to make their living. When Misha falls seriously ill, the brothers leave for Moscow, where they hope to receive medical treatment, but the hospital turns them away. Alexi is forced to watch his brother die in a deserted sports stadium and eventually returns to his contaminated home town. In a down-to-earth and unsentimental way, Matt Whyman describes the fate of the two boys who strive to cope with their hard life. The »wilderness « that surrounds them is counterbalanced by some positive elements such as the close relationship between the two brothers and their strong connection with the harsh, yet familiar, environment they call home. (14+)
Special Mention - Ireland (English) - 2006 - 46
Dublin : O’Brien Press, 2004. 315 p.
Fantasy role-playing game Village community – Resistance – Suppression
On the planet of New Earth, people’s lives are determined by their success or failure in the roleplaying computer game »Epic«. Thus, prizes won, money earned (or stolen) in the game may win you a place at university or provide you with necessary goods, while being »killed« in a battle in Epic may result in the loss of all your possessions and the need to start at the bottom of society again. This is exactly the fate that Eric’s family faces, but the rebellious teenager desperately tries to find a way to fight the powerful committee of Central Allocations and escape their unfair treatment. In this intriguing debut novel, Conor Kostick, who was also the designer for the first ever live fantasy role-playing game, creates a fascinating futuristic world in which the majority of inhabitants lead a joyless hard life in poverty, while the ruling few accumulate their wealth. Criticism of this system as well as a plea for creativity and individuality are only some aspects hidden in this complex science fiction novel. (14+)
Canada (English) - 2006 - 47
Davidson, Ellen Dee
Montréal, Québec : Lobster Press, 2005. 188 p.
Conformity Outsider – Rebellion
15-year-old Miri lives in Noveskina, a conflict-free society, lead, protected, and suppressed by the Masker. Children become masked at the age of fifteen and have their energy taken away, leaving them apathetic and conformist. Miri runs away to the secret valley, where people have more freedom. There she discovers that she is able to see other people’s voices and sounds and can weave them into a harmonious pattern. The girl returns to Noveskina and, with the help of her new found gift and friends, she frees the city. This fast-paced and powerful science fiction novel examines a number of issues such as conformity and rebellion, mind control, the caste system, false appearances and self-expression, and compassionately portrays a teenager’s struggle to be heard. (14+)
Canada (English) - 2006 - 48
Jocelyn, Marthe (text)
Slaughter, Tom (illus.)
Toronto, Ontario : Tundra Books, 2005.  p.
In their second picture book collaboration, award-winning husband-and-wife team Marthe Jocelyn and Tom Slaughter introduce the concept of opposites to very small children. The simple, ultra-short rhymed text is beautifully translated into brilliant paper-cut illustrations, which will remind readers of picture books by Dick Bruna and Eric Carle or artwork by Matisse. Common oppositions such as »big and small« or »up and down«, easily recognisable for little toddlers, are followed by slightly more complex ideas such as »a square is square, a circle’s round«, which will also be of interest to an older audience. Just as its predecessor »One Some Many«, this work with its luminous animal protagonists is bound to become a favourite with parents and children. (1+)
Canada (English) - 2006 - 49
Kyi, Tanya Lloyd
The blue jean book : the story behind the seams
Toronto [et al.] : Annick Press, 2005. 79 p.
ISBN 1-55037-917-8 / -916-x
Blue Jeans History
This attractive slim non-fiction title traces the history of the Blue Jeans from its origins in the late 19th century to the present day. It discusses the fabric these popular pants are made of, introduces some of the most famous jeans’ designers, such as Levi Strauss and Henry David Lee, talks of the jeans-shortage during World War II, the smuggling of jeans into Russia, Yugoslavia, East Germany, and other countries behind the Iron Curtain, but also raises the issue of fair working conditions and environmental protection. The well-written informative text is complemented by interesting facts printed on jeans-pocket-like boxes. Numerous photographs and old jeans advertisements add a wonderfully nostalgic touch to the book. (12+)
Canada (English) - 2006 - 50
Victoria, BC [et al.] : Orca Book Publ., 2005. 107 p.
Canada Native people – Ethno-cultural separation – Racism – Prejudice
Like the yellow lines dividing Canadian highways, invisible lines run through the village in which 16- year-old Vince has grown up: white people on one side of the river, First Nations people on the other. When Vince’s best friend Sherry starts dating an Indian boy, both communities are in an uproar. Vince gets caught up in the thick of taunts and threats, but soon his alliance begins to shift. He has to re-examine his own prejudices, especially when he discovers his affection for Raedawn, a girl from the reserve. This fast-paced novel is a compelling read and one of the latest titles in the ingenious »Orca soundings« series of short fiction for reluctant young adult readers, written for teens below grade level. (14+)
Canada (English) - 2006 - 51
The crazy man
Toronto [et al.] : Groundwood Books, House of Anansi Press, 2005. 214 p.
ISBN 0-88899-694-2 / -695-0
Canada/1960’s Farm – Girl – Disability – Prejudice
Living on a Saskatchewan wheat farm in the 1960’s, twelve-year-old Emaline is accidentally injured as she runs into a tractor driven by her father while chasing after her dog. Fed up with farm life and weighed down by guilt, her father shoots the dog and leaves his wife and daughter. Emaline’s mother takes on Angus, a patient from the nearby mental hospital and gifted gardener to work their fields. Taking a stand against the little town’s prejudices and hostility, they succeed in keeping the farm and forming a new kind of family. Angus helps Emaline learn to come to terms with her disability and the loss of her father. Poetically told in free verse, the bitter-sweet story has both depth and simplicity and sensitively depicts the emotions the girl goes through as she struggles to move on with her live. (12+)
Special Mention - Canada (English) - 2006 - 52
Watts, Irene N. (text)
Shoemaker, Kathryn E. (illus.)
A telling time
Vancouver [et al.] : Tradewind Books, 2004.  p.
ISBN 1-896580-39-4 / -72-6
Grandmother Granddaughter – Storytelling – Vienna/1939 – Persecution of the Jews – Courage – Book of Esther
This beautifully illustrated picture book offers a touching retelling of the Biblical tale from the Book of Esther. It is set within a double frame story, visually distinguished by the different typefaces and the colours of the illustrations. The book opens with a little Canadian girl listening to her grandmother, who tells her how, one afternoon in 1939, she hurried through Nazi-occupied Vienna to get to the rabbi’s house. She wanted to listen to the old man narrate the Purim story about the secret plot by the Persian king’s evil prime minister Haman against Mordecai and all Jewish people. With immense courage and cleverness, Queen Esther, herself a Jew, manages to uncover the intrigue and protect her people. The rabbi’s storytelling is interrupted by some Nazi officials who plan to imprison him, yet, in the end, the wise man is miraculously saved. The fairy-tale-like pictures, set against a richly patterned background resembling an ancient scroll, perfectly translate the Biblical story’s message of hope. (6+) ☆
USA (English) - 2006 - 53
The Penderwicks : a summer tale of four sisters, two rabbits, and a very interesting boy
New York : Knopf, 2005. 262 p.
ISBN 0-375-83143-6 / -93143-0
(A Borzoi book) Sisters Summer holiday – Adventure – Friendship
As soon as the Penderwick family arrive at their holiday destination, a cosy cottage on the grounds of grand Arundel Hall in Massachusetts, the four energetic daughters tumble headfirst into all kinds of adventures. Together with their new friend Jeffrey, whose snobbish, uptight mother is far from pleased about his acquaintances, sensible Rosalind, headstrong Skye, dreamy Jane, shy little Batty, and their shabby dog Hound roam the gardens and attic of Arundel, escape a fierce bull, and retrieve the lost rabbits, all the time trying to stay out of trouble unsuccessfully of course. In this endearing debut novel with a nostalgic atmosphere, the author invites her readers to share a wonderful summer with an amiable bunch of protagonists. (10+)
USA (English) - 2006 - 54
Carlson, Lori Marie (ed.)
Hijuelos, Oscar (introd.)
Red hot salsa : bilingual poems on being young and Latino in the United States
New York : Henry Holt, 2005. XIX, 140 p.
(English and Spanish text) Hispanic American Poetry – Anthology
A good ten years after her first bilingual collection of poetry, the highly praised »Cool Salsa«, was published, Lori Marie Carlson has once more gathered a colourful array of works by Hispanic American poets. Most of the poems are provided in both English and Spanish, while a few are written in ›Spanglish‹. The five chapters of this inspiring anthology entitled »Language, Identity«, »Neighbourhoods«, »Amor«, »Family moments, Memories«, and »Victory«, offer humorous, thoughtful, moving, and witty glimpses into the lives of young people speaking two languages at the same time. The appendix does not only present English translations for a number of Spanish expressions included in the poems, but also gives short biographical information about the 28 authors. (12+) ☆
USA (English) - 2006 - 55
New York : Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2005. 116 p.
(Frances Foster books)
Boy Cancer – Old woman – Friendship – Death
Since kindergarten, Toby has been in and out of hospital for endless cancer treatments. Now, he is determined to enjoy his holiday in the countryside. He wants to be just a normal boy, escape his mother’s constant worrying, ride around on an old bike, and most important of all – forget about this new lump he can feel growing in his side. He would not have imagined that Pearl, a grumpy old ex-poet who lives on a farm close-by, and her equally ancient cow Blossom become his best friends and manage to teach him a some things about poetry, freedom, life, and death. This touching novel written in a quiet and convincing voice describes how an unusual friendship makes the eleven-year-old protagonist find new courage to face a difficult decision. (10+)
USA (English) - 2006 - 56
Hoffman, Alice (text)
Mahurin, Matt (illus.)
New York : Little, Brown, 2005. 167 p.
Amazon culture Matriarchal society – War – Peace – Loneliness – Search for identity
In ancient times, when many tribes roamed the steppes, the brave Amazon women were constantly fighting wars to defend their huge territory. Their ability to ride horses and their fierce upbringing made them almost invincible. Yet, Rain, who feels rejected by her cold-hearted mother, Queen Alina, starts questioning the cruel life they lead. Assisted by the old high priestess and guided by the spirit of her great-grandmother and her bear-sister, the adolescent girl struggles to find her destiny. In this wonderfully sad and touching, magical novel, told in retrospect in Rain’s quiet, poetical voice, the readers will find themselves whisked away to an unfamiliar yet fascinating past at the crucial moment when the life of the legendary Amazons starts to change forever. (14+)
USA (English) - 2006 - 57
Lester, Julius (text)
Barbour, Karen (illus.)
Let’s talk about race
[New York, NY] : HarperCollins Publishers, 2005.  p.
ISBN 0-06-028596-6 / -028598-2
Individualism Race – Racism – Tolerance
In this stunning picture book, highly acclaimed author Julius Lester directly addresses his audience asking many questions about what defines a person. In a straightforward, easy-to-understand text, he makes young readers understand that everybody in the world is unique and special, and that each person’s life story is made up of innumerable details of which race is just one and certainly not the most important one. His touching plea for tolerance for others is converted into bold, bouncy pictures. Rendered in bright, unusual colours – a red-and-yellow sea, human skeletons in dark purple, orange, and blue – with thick black outlines, the artwork and the text will immediately capture the readers’ attention. (4+) ☆
USA (English) - 2006 - 58
Olswanger, Anna (text)
Goodman Koz, Paula (illus.)
Montgomery : Junebug Books, 2005.  p.
USA/1919 St. Louis – Jew – Wine shop – Burglary
In this picture book, Anna Olswanger tells a funny folktale-like story based on the real event of an almost-robbery at the wine shop of her great-grandfather Elias Olschwanger in St. Louis in 1919. Written in a typically oral storytelling voice interspersed with Yiddish terms and phrases, the tale relates how two dim-witted crooks let themselves be persuaded by the ghost of the Pharaoh who drove the Israelites out of Egypt to steal the kosher wine that Reb Elias had especially ordered for Passover. However, when a talking horse alerts the neighbours and they start making a racket, the frightened fools quickly take to their heels. The amusing story is complemented by brightly-coloured, lively wood-cut illustrations. (6+) ☆
(Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators Magazine Merit Award for Fiction; 1998 [for an earlier version of the story])
USA (English) - 2006 - 59
Poole, Josephine (text)
Barrett, Angela (illus.)
Anne Frank : a picture-book biography
New York : Alfred A. Knopf, 2005.  p.
(A Borzoi book)
ISBN 0-375-83242-4 / -93242-9
(orig. publ. by Hutchinson, London 2005)
Frank, Anne Amsterdam – World War II – Persecution of the Jews
After two other highly praised picture book collaborations (»Snow White« and »Joan of Arc«), Josephine Poole and Angela Barrett have taken on a much more serious topic in this book: The quiet, matter-of-fact narrative follows the life of Anne and her family from her birth until they are discovered in their secret hiding place in Germano-ccupied Amsterdam and deported. The realistic paintings in darkish, subdued shades of colour mainly focus on Anne but also allow (unusual) snapshots of the daily life of persecuted Jews during the Second World War. This touching book offers an intriguing first introduction to the life of Anne Frank familiar to readers world-wide thanks to her famous diary. (8+) ☆ ☼
USA (English) - 2006 - 60
Scieszka, Jon (text)
Smith, Lane (illus.)
New York, NY [et al.] : Viking [et al.], 2005.  p.
ISBN 0-670-05986-2 / 1-415-57784-6
Child Search – Friend – Museum of Modern Art – Art
Well, to be honest, the only »thing« that the little boy had been looking for was his friend Art, whom he was supposed to meet at that New York street corner. But although every single person he asks seems eager to help and sends him from one room to the next in this weird, huge building called MoMA, Art is nowhere to be found instead, he stumbles across modern art in abundance, from Vincent van Gogh to Andy Warhol. In this witty guidebook with a difference, published in an unusually wide landscape format, the highly successful author and illustrator team give little readers a tour of the great artworks from the Museum of Modern Art, while at the same time (implicitly) questioning the term »art« and its definition. (4+)
Special Mention - USA (English) - 2006 - 61
Slonim, David (text/illus.)
He came with the couch
San Francisco : Chronicle Books, 2005.  p.
Family Sofa – Stranger – Help – Friendship
At the rummage sale, Sophie’s family finds just the perfect couch, but the weird blue creature who seems glued fast on it, is not for the world to be persuaded to leave his comfy seat. When the hurriedly called doctor diagnoses an acute case of upholsterosis, they take compassion and try to cheer the gnome up with trips to the Grand Canyon and the Sea yet to no avail. The bright, energetic pictures in various sizes include a wonderful collection of hilarious details, which interpret the brief text in a uniquely tongue-in-the-cheek way. Rendered in oil paints, pencil, and ball point pen, they depict the parents’ desperate attempts at getting rid of the stiff, immovable blue fellow with his purple bristle of hair, as well as their eventual resignation. After everybody has given up hope that the new blue family member will be moved, the ice (or rather the window pane) suddenly breaks, and peace and happiness are restored – until the next unusual piece of furniture is collected... (4+)
Special Mention - USA (English) - 2006 - 62
Young, Ed (text/illus.)
Beyond the great mountains : a visual poem about China
San Francisco : Chronicle Books, 2005.  p.
China Landscape – Nature – Plants – Atmosphere
In this visually stunning picture book, which opens vertically (just like a wall calendar), award-winning US illustrator Ed Young celebrates China, his beloved mother country. Once readers lift the cover page, the 14 lines of the beautiful poem describing the vegetation and landscape of the huge empire become immediately visible. Each line is interpreted in a double-page collage made from cut and torn structured papers. The pictures perfectly express the quiet mood of the verses while they also take up elements of the ancient Chinese characters printed in red on each page. In the back of the book, the author provides the modern equivalents to the ancient characters and rounds off this piece of art with his personal concept of visual poetry. (4+)
Mongolia (Mongolian/English) - 2006 - 241
Dašdondog, Žambyn (text)
Hüd rculuun, N. (illus.)
Janzyn žaal = Boy who sees things in a different way
Ulaanbaatar: Öngöt h vl l, 2005. 31 p.
(Mongolian and English text)
Kindergarten Boy – Critical thinking – Tolerance
In this bilingual book by the well-known Mongolian author Žambyn Dašdondog, a new boy arrives at kindergarten. He doesn’t simply answer questions or complete tasks, but rather wonders what may be behind a question or what the meaning of a task may be. In the beginning, the other children laugh at him, but eventually, they all realise that the new boy cannot be called strange simply because he behaves differently. Such a book is particularly valuable for Mongolia, a country which is on its way to democracy. The youngest inhabitants are the ones who most urgently need to learn about tolerance and understanding for people who are different and think differently. (4+)
Special Mention - South Africa (English) - 2007 - 23
Magona, Sindiwe (text)
Bouma, Paddy (illus.)
The best meal ever!
Cape Town : Tafelberg, 2006.  p.
(parallel Xhosa ed.: Esona-sona sidlo!) Sister – Siblings – Hunger – Imagination – Hope
Night is falling, and Siziwe’s four little siblings are terribly hungry. When Mama left to look after their ill grandfather in a distant village, she asked her eldest daughter to take care of her little monsters. But what is Siziwe to do without so much as a morsel of food in the cupboards. Shall she send the young ones to bed disheartened and desperate? Putting on a bright smile, the girl quickly lights a fire, merrily stirs a big pot of water, and keeps her brothers and sisters so busy with laying the table, brushing their teeth, and changing into their pyjamas that they eventually drop off into the land of dreams with the filling smell of an imaginary »soup of hope« in their nostrils. This heart-warming tale about the power of hope narrated in an easy-flowing voice is translated into tender watercolour illustrations. They perfectly capture the story’s changes of mood from frightened and grumpy to hopeful and satisfied. (5+)
Australia (English) - 2007 - 24
Bauer, Michael Gerard
Don’t call me Ishmael!
Malvern, SA : Omnibus Books, 2006. 277 p.
Teenager – Insecurity – Bullying – Friendship
Ishmael’s life is doomed. After all, what is there to do when you suffer from a mysterious condition called Ishmael Leseur’s Syndrome that triggers abnormal behaviour in otherwise completely ordinary people and leaves you a complete loser? The desperate first-person narrator of this hilarious teenage novel describes in minute detail all the minor and major disasters hitting him over the head during one particularly trying school year. The accumulation of deadly embarrassing accidents in this light-hearted look at problems such as lack of self-confidence, bullying, and the search for a hole in the ground to disappear in, will have young readers giggling from beginning to end. (12+)
Australia (English) - 2007 - 25
St Lucia, Queensland : Univ. of Queensland Press, 2006. 208 p.
Teenager – Everyday life – Unusual event
In this collection of short stories for teenagers, award-winning author Brian Caswell explores a kaleidoscope of different topics. The tales range from the challenges of everyday life, the pitfalls of teenage love, the disappointment and anger against divorced parents to various unusual encounters with forces from outer space, which are in turn moving, heart-breaking, witty, and hilarious. Often ending in a truly Dahl-like twist of events, the stories are all the more enjoyable because readers are taken completely by surprise. The smooth and engaging first-person narrations interspersed with plenty of dialogue make this collection a diverting read. (12+)
Australia (English) - 2007 - 26
The red shoe
Crows Nest, NSW : Allen & Unwin, 2006. 183 p.
Australia/1954 – Post-war society – Daughter – Father – Sister – War trauma – Suicide attempt
In this quiet children’s novel set in 1954, Ursula Dubosarsky describes the everyday life of little Matilda and her family. Matilda’s mother struggles hard to maintain a kind of sane family routine despite the fact that the often-absent father can’t seem to cope with his horrible wartime memories and older sister Elizabeth just suffered a nervous breakdown. In an unpretentious, matter-of-fact style, the curious six-year-old protagonist relates the events around her. The renowned Australian author uses real newspaper clippings cunningly woven into the haunting narrative to paint an authentic picture of small and big events in postwar Sydney and, at the same time, creates a family story filled with a sense of mystery, adventure, tragedy, and wonder. (10+)
(Queensland Premier’s Literary Awards; 2006)
Australia (English) - 2007 - 27
On the Jellicoe road
Camberwell, Victoria [et al.] : Viking, 2006. 288 p.
Mother – Daughter – Search for identity – Orphan – Friendship – Boarding school – Love
As newly-elected house leader, 17-year-old Taylor Markham faces difficult negotiations in the secret territory wars between the boarders at Jellicoe School, the Townies, and the Cadets. Yet, her heart is actually set on something else. Ever since her mother abandoned her six years ago, the troubled and angry girl has been trying to piece her life back together from snippets of fading memories and a weird dream that haunts her every night. Could the unfinished manuscript about five kids who lived in Jellicoe almost 20 years ago hold the missing clues? In her new teenage novel, Melina Marchetta carefully intertwines two mysterious and utterly moving stories about friendship, love, tragedy, and loss that will not release their grip on the readers until the last page. (14+)
Australia (English) - 2007 - 28
Millard, Glenda (text)
Chapman, Gaye (illus.)
Lindfield, NSW : Scholastic Press, 2006.  p.
Girl – Butterfly – Flying – Wish – Imagination
This philosophical, fairytale-like picture book is Glenda Millard and Gaye Chapman’s second collaboration after »Heart of the tiger« (2004). The fragile ink- and watercolour-illustrations whisk readers away into a magical land where the Lord of Flight creates stunningly beautiful butterflies to fill the hearts of people with joy before the dreary winter settles in. When little Kaito (who bears some resemblance to a slightly Japanese Little Red Riding Hood) finally reaches the Mountain of Dreams after a strenuous journey, she is devastated to learn that the floating, fluttering creatures only live for one day. Nevertheless, with a lot of imagination, the girl eventually finds a way to preserve the miracle of flight until spring returns. (4+)
Australia (English) - 2007 - 29
Ormerod, Jan (text/illus.)
Surry Hills, NSW : Little Hare Books, 2006.  p.
Farm – Drought – Survival – Water – Divining rod
In this picture book, acclaimed illustrator Jan Ormerod recalls the difficult life on a droughtstricken farm in the Western Australian bush. The slightly nostalgic, evocative illustrations in bright blue and shades of brown, red, and orange bring the glimmering heat of a typical dry summer day alive, with land, people, and animals sweltering under layers of red dust. To survive, little Dougie and his father have to cart water to the farm every single day, from a well more than an hour down the track. When the boy learns that his grandfather was able to find water with the help of a divining rod, he ignores his sisters’ teasing and his mother’s scepticism and determinedly knuckles down to learn the mysterious art of water witching to save his family. (4+)
Special Mention - Australia (English) - 2007 - 30
Tan, Shaun (illus.)
Melbourne : Lothian Books, 2006.  p.
Journey – Immigrant – Loneliness – Homesickness – Assimilation
Award-winning artist Shaun Tan’s latest offering for young and old readers is an extraordinary graphic novel relating the tale of a young man who ventures out into a strange, far-away country across a vast ocean to seek a better life. With hardly any money and no knowledge of the language or the customs of his chosen land, all that the immigrant can rely on to find food, work, and a place to live are his inner strength and ingenuity plus help from sympathetic strangers. In a sequence of hundreds of sepia-coloured illustrations in varying sizes, this textless masterpiece invites readers to share the protagonist’s homesickness, displacement, and confusion in an enigmatic world devoid of any recognisable, familiar patterns. The graphite pencil drawings, created with a meticulous attention to detail and brimming with fantastic elements, are reminiscent of an old-fashioned photo album that reveals a long-forgotten, secret adventure. (12+) ☆ ☼
Special Mention - Australia (English) - 2007 - 31
Tonkin, Rachel (text/illus.)
Leaf litter : exploring the mysteries of a hidden world
Pymble, Sydney, NSW : Angus & Robertson, 2006. 29 p.
Plant litter – Habitat – Life cycle – Seasons
This non-fiction picture book takes young readers on a trip into nature. In detailed, large-format illustrations teeming with wildlife, the author examines the world on a small patch beneath a tree during the course of one year. While leaves and plants grow, fall to the ground, and start rotting, small animals are born, fight for survival, leave the place, or die. Even small children will delight in naming animals and discovering fascinating scenes by lifting the flaps. The poetic and informative text adds a second level for older children who are interested in changes occurring in the habitat. The »Things to find« appendix invites readers to explore the pages more thoroughly and the glossary provides an abundance of additional information. (3+) ☼
Special Mention - Australia (English) - 2007 - 32
Wild, Margaret (text)
Spudvilas, Anne (illus.)
Woolvs in the sitee
Camberwell, Victoria [et al.] : Viking, 2006.  p.
City – Catastrophe – Panic – Loneliness – Coping with fear – Courage
The city has turned sinister, strange creatures are lurking in the shadows, and to young Ben, life has become a fierce struggle for survival. Only when his sole friend, the elderly next door neighbour, disappears, does the boy, who has been hiding in the basement, summon enough courage to decide: »I will no longer let the woolvs forse me to scrooch [sic].« In this unsettling picture book, readers are left in the dark as to what kind of catastrophe may have hit the city. The sketchy, bold charcoal illustrations set against alarming watercolour backgrounds underline the oppressing atmosphere of the narration, while the misspellings and twisted grammar draw particular attention to the poetic text. This outstanding work naturally lends itself to discussions about war, fear, environmental destruction, or psychosis. (10+)
India (English) - 2007 - 33
Balsavar, Deepa (text/illus.)
Kaushal, Tara (Hindi transl.)
The seed = Bījā
Chennai : Tulika, 2005.  p.
(Bilingual ed.: English and Hindi) Seed – Plant – Imagination
This simple picture book for small children follows a young girl as she discovers a tiny seed on the ground, plants it in an old pot, and carefully looks after it, patiently waiting for something to happen. Once a thin stem sprouts, she excitedly hurries to all her loved ones to share the miracle. Each family member curiously asks her a short question about the minute plant and the girl’s imagination immediately grows wings. The roundish, comic-book-like watercolour illustrations showing the child and her family on the right-hand pages, framed by the sparse text in English and Hindi, are contrasted, on the left-hand pages, by more ornamental portraits depicting wondrous plants into which the small seedling might one day develop. (2+)
Special Mention - India (English) - 2007 - 34
Scott, Nathan Kumar (text)
Balaji, Theertham (illus.)
Mangoes & bananas
[Chennai, India] : Tara Publ., 2006.  p.
Friendship – Hunger – Cooperation – Greed – Trick – Revenge – Folk tale
This retelling of a classic trickster tale features one of the most popular characters in Indonesian folklore, Kanchil the mouse deer. Fed up with the exhausting daily search for food, the clever deer and his best friend Monyet, the monkey, decide to plant their own garden and grow their favourite fruit: mangoes and bananas. Yet when, at harvest time, the greedy monkey quickly starts devouring all of the delicious fruit himself, quick-witted Kanchil resorts to a trick to get hold of his due share. This story told in a cheeky, energetic voice is translated into stunning illustrations in earthy shades. Created in the traditional Indian textile art form of Kalamkari (the process of which is explained in an appendix), the full-page pictures set against monochrome backgrounds follow the protagonists bouncing through their decoratively shaped surroundings. This book stands out both for its artwork and the engaging text. (4+) ☆
Special Mention - India (English) - 2007 - 35
Singh [et al.], T. Bijoykumar (text/retell.)
Suutari [et al.], Amanda (illus.)
First sun stories : unusual folk tales from the North East
New Delhi : Katha, 2005. 88 p.
North East India – Folk tale – Anthology
For this large-format anthology of 14 lesserknown folk tales from the north-eastern part of India, six writers and ten illustrators collaborated. Some of the stories are fairly amusing, such as the creation story from the Ao Naga tribe, which explains why the land of Assam is mainly flat whereas the neighbouring state of Nagaland is rocky and mountainous; other tales are more serious, such as the Assam legend of beautiful Joymala who is abandoned by her unfaithful husband and becomes queen of the elephants. The enchanting tales introduce young readers to the rich storytelling traditions of the so-called Seven Sister States with several tales appearing in print for the first time. (6+) ☆
New Zealand (English) - 2007 - 36
Aslund, Tatiana (text)
Hatam, Samer (illus.)
Moho the ugly pukeko
Auckland : Reed Children’s Books, 2006.  p.
Bird – Otherness – Outsider – Search for identity – Happiness
In this picture book, illustrated with soft watercolours, Hans Christian Andersen’s popular fairy tale »The ugly duckling« is moved to a New Zealand setting. Living among the reeds on the edge of a swamp, a noisy pukeko family is utterly appalled when the last of their eggs finally cracks open and a short-legged, clumsy chick hatches. Moho (i.e. stupid), as they name him, is constantly teased and tortured by his elegant siblings. One day, the sad outsider sneaks off in search for his own place in life – which he finally finds with the takahe colony high up in the mountains. A glossary of Maori terms and a short note on the characteristics of the two species of native New Zealand birds round off this ever-topical tale about fitting in. (4+) ☼
New Zealand (English) - 2007 - 37
Rainforth, Hannah (text)
Teo, Ali (illus.)
Wellington : Huia Publ., 2006.  p.
Favourite colour – Clothes – Family – Stubbornness
One morning, little Barnaby wakes up with an epiphany. He will wear nothing but red from now on! The boy digs up a weird array of family clothing and no matter how much the rest of his family moans and grumbles, he will not be parted from his new uniform, which naturally gets grubbier and smellier by the day. Yet when the terrible stink can no longer be tolerated, purple-haired nanny comes to the rescue. She sews up a wondrous creation complete with dinosaur hood and pockets galore that not even Barnaby can resist – although it is bright yellow. This amusing, rhymed tale of a stubborn little boy is translated into bold, chaotic, computer-generated collages with a cartoon-like touch that perfectly capture the crazy mood of the tale. (4+)
New Zealand (English) - 2007 - 38
Land of milk and honey
Auckland : HarperCollinsPubl., 2005. 160 p.
New Zealand/1947 – Postwar era – British teenager – War orphan – Farm work – Abuse – Escape
This gripping teenage novel relates the story of 14-year-old Jack who comes to New Zealand as a so-called »British war-orphan« in 1947. However, his new »home« is a far cry from the »land of milk and honey« that his father had promised him. The skinny boy gets sent to a dairy farm where he slaves away night and day for a meagre meal and no wages. On top of that, he finds himself abused, bullied, and even tortured by the violent and mean son of the equally cruel farm owners. One night, beaten half to death, he finally escapes this hell and is taken in by a generous old doctor. This captivating and relentless narrative makes the protagonist’s shocking fate and the difficult times it is set in come alive for modern readers. (14+) ☆
Great Britain (English) - 2007 - 39
Dodd, Emma (text/illus.)
What pet to get?
Dorking, Surrey : Templar Publ., 2006.  p.
Pet – Selection – Imagination
A pet is exactly what Jack needs, but which animal should he select as his favourite companion? Although his mother is not opposed to the idea in general, she always finds some fault with her eager son’s perfectly sensible suggestions of an elephant, a lion, or a Tyrannosaurus Rex. (»That would have been a great idea, dear […] but unfortunately [it] has been extinct for sixty-five million years.«) In a witty way, the energetic, computer-generated double-page illustrations in bright colours visualise both the child’s over-sized imaginative friends and the mother’s pragmatically-induced objections. Parents should be careful: The jocular text and bold pictures just might inspire little would-be pet-owners in their own search for a perfect friend. (4+)
Great Britain (English) - 2007 - 40
London [et al.] : Marion Lloyd Books, 2006. 247 p.
Teenager – Foster home – Criminal record – Crocodile – Secret – Murder
For years, Stephen has been living with various foster families and committing quite a few petty crimes ranging from theft to vandalism to arson. Yet his most desperate plan to date involves cruel murder. The victim of this horrible deed, however, is not disclosed to the readers right away; through small clues in the engaging first-person narration, readers slowly learn that the victim is a vicious crocodile that the boy has kept hidden in a storage lake for the past six years. The 17-year-old realises that it is high time that he got rid of the dangerous beast – but this is easier said than done. Written in an authentic voice, this thrilling story focuses on the foster boy’s painful memories and everyday problems, as well as his struggles to free himself of the beast and of his unhappy past. (14+)
Great Britain (English) - 2007 - 41
MacRae, Tom (text)
Odriozola, Elena (illus.)
London : Andersen Press, 2006.  p.
(US ed. by Peachtree Publ., 2006) Boy – Creature – Mischief
Under normal circumstances, Nate is a tidy little boy, good at pouring his milk at breakfast and painting neat pictures at school. But the day when »The Opposite« happens isn’t a normal day at all – in fact, it’s quite the opposite. Milk gets spilled and paint is splashed everywhere by the mischievous creature, and poor Nate gets all the blame; but only until the boy comes up with an ingenious idea to get rid of the troublemaker. Spanish illustrator Elena Odriozola’s trademark illustrations are rendered in cheerful watercolours. The lanky figures, dressed in brightly patterned clothes and set against white or pastel-coloured backgrounds, make this hilariously quirky story come alive for young and old readers alike. (3+) ☼
Great Britain (English) - 2007 - 42
Rayner, Catherine (text/illus.)
Augustus and his smile
London : Little Tiger Press, 2006.  p.
Tiger – Smile – Loss – Search – Happiness
Poor Augustus has lost his smile and no matter where the mighty tiger searches for it, whether he climbs to the tops of the highest trees or dives into the deep blue ocean, his smile is nowhere to be found. Yet then it starts raining – pitter, patter, drip, drop, plop! – and the joyful sound makes the stripy animal realise that happiness (and his smile) is everywhere around him if he just opens his eyes and heart to it. The succinct and poetical text of this tale merges almost inconspicuously with the vibrant mixed-media illustrations. Shown from varying perspectives reminiscent of film techniques, the sprightly tiger bounces through wideopen coloured or white spaces inviting young readers to share his adventures. (4+) ☼
(Booktrust Early Years Awards, Best New Illustrator; 2006)
Great Britain (English) - 2007 - 43
Reeve, Philip (text)
Wyatt, David (illus.)
Larklight or the revenge of the white spiders! or to Saturn’s rings and back! : a rousing tale of dauntless pluck in the farthest reaches of space
London : Bloomsbury Publ., 2006. 399 p.
Space – Spider – Attack – Siblings – Escape – Adventure
This historical science-fiction novel takes its readers on a breathtaking flight through space. When Larklight, a ramshackle old house floating along the orbit around the moon and the home of British siblings Art and Myrtle, is suddenly attacked by elephant-sized evil spiders, they see only one chance of survival. Their escape in a »Daedalus Lifeboat« marks the beginning of many misfortunes, which include crashing unto the surface of the moon, being stung and »canned« by huge moths as food for their voracious larvae, or being rescued by the infamous space pirate Jack Havock. Set in the Victorian era (with a few sci-fi twists) and told in a dryly humorous first-person narration, the book can be enjoyed on several levels. While young adults will savour the numerous allusions to and jokes about famous scientists and writers, children will be captivated by the gripping and utterly silly adventures. Detailed pen-and-ink drawings perfectly capture the fantastical mood of the story. (10+)
Great Britain (English) - 2007 - 44
Star dancer : the book of air
London : Macmillan Children’s Books, 2006. 342 p.
Village – Danger – Girl – Destiny – Druid – Rescue
The night that Tegen is born, stars are dancing across the sky to welcome her into the world, just as it was prophesied by the goddess. Yet though Witton, the chief druid, suspects that this girl (and not a boy) must be the promised »Star Dancer« who alone will be able to protect their people against evil, he closes his eyes against this unwelcome truth until it is almost too late. At the age of 16, Tegen slowly begins to realise her powers and is finally acknowledged by the old druid. The absorbing narrative of this fantasy novel, the first part of a quartet, whisks readers away into a world full of superstition, ancient spirits, intrigue, and mysterious powers in which a girl must struggle to fulfil her destiny against all odds. (12+)
Ireland (English) - 2007 - 45
Dublin : O’Brien Press, 2006. 158 p.
Dublin/1930 – Poverty – Dream – Irish dancing
Life in Dublin in the 1930s is not easy, especially when you’re poor. Twelve-year-old Kate and her three little sisters are not only sneered at and teased by their richer classmates, the nuns at their convent school are not particularly friendly either. Food is scarce and there is not a penny to be spared for dancing classes, let alone fancy dancing costumes. Still, after her first taste of Irish dancing, the young girl is hooked and absolutely determined not to let her talent go to waste. The authentic and moving story written in an easyflowing style offers young readers an interesting glimpse into a time when women did not have many choices and everyday life was bitter struggle for survival for many poor people in the Irish capital. (10+)
Canada (English) - 2007 - 46
On thin ice
Calgary, Alberta : Red Deer Press, 2006. 348 p.
Arctic – Climate change – Cultural identity
Five months after her ragtag family moved to the Artic village of Nanurtalik, 16-year-old Ashley, half French-Canadian and half Inuit, still feels like an outsider. When a blizzard hits the place, two of her classmates are killed in a mysterious accident, and terrifying dreams of a bear-man shaman start haunting her, the teenager becomes aware of her special connection with the legendary spirit bear, Nanurluk, and starts exploring an ancient spirit trail. In this gripping novel told in a fresh voice, Jamie Bastedo cleverly intertwines a realistic story about a teenager’s everyday life in the Arctic with mystical elements and messages about the devastating effects of global warming. (14+) ☆
Canada (English) - 2007 - 47
I am a taxi
Toronto : House of Anansi Press, 2006. 205 p.
(The Cocalero novels) (Groundwood books)
South America – Parents – Prison – Son – Coca trade – Illegal work – Exploitation
Deborah Ellis, author of the highly praised »Breadwinner «-trilogy, once again dishes up a heavy diet for her readers. Set in South America, this novel relates the situation of 12-year-old Diego, whose innocent parents serve a 17-year prison sentence. The boy shares his mother’s prison cell, goes to school, and works as messenger for other prison inmates (providing the only source of income to pay for their food and »rent«). When he loses his job, he grows desperate enough to join his friend for a job in the coca trade but instead is exploited, abused, chased, and almost killed. Readers will quickly become immersed in the breathtaking events of Diego’s realistically described life and eagerly await the book’s sequel. (11+) ☆
Canada (English) - 2007 - 48
Victoria, BC [et al.] : Orca Book Publ., 2006. 271 p.
Sexual identity – Peer pressure – Fear – Courage – Homosexuality – Coming out
For a long time, 16-year-old Dylan has done everything in her power to annihilate her own suspicion that she might be a lesbian. Not only does she dread the wrathful reactions of the tyrannising »phonepatrol « girls and her other classmates if they found out; she simply doesn’t dare acknowledge her own feelings to herself, let alone face the shock and disappointment of her family, her boyfriend Cam, and her best friend Jocelyn, with whom she is secretly in love. Told in a straightforward, authentic voice that slowly reveals the first-person narrator’s inner fights and most intimate thoughts, the impressive coming-of-age novel sensitively portrays the girl’s struggle to find her true identity and accept her sexual orientation. (14+)
Special Mention - Canada (English) - 2007 - 49
Poe, Edgar Allan (text)
Price, Ryan (illus.)
Toronto, ON [et al.] : KCP Poetry, 2006.  p.
(Visions in poetry)
Love – Loss – Despair – Mental illness
The fifth volume in the highly praised »Visions in poetry« series again brings a classic poem alive for modern day readers. »The raven« – a compelling poem about a man’s suffering and slow descent into madness after his true love’s death (and probably Edgar Allan Poe’s best-known work) – was originally published in 1845 but has lost nothing of its appeal. Using a technique called drypoint printmaking, in which the artist crafts an image onto a copper plate with sharp-pointed tools (similar to etching), Ryan Price has created stunning illustrations that perfectly capture the sinister, chilling atmosphere of the timeless text. The slightly distorted pictures show the raven-like protagonist with his spindly arms and huge eggshaped head gloomily brooding inside his hut. The unusual perspectives underline the man’s growing despair when it becomes clear that the threatening figure of the raven will disappear »nevermore«. (14+) ☼
Special Mention - Canada (English) - 2007 - 50
Sawa, Maureen (text)
Slavin, Bill (illus.)
The library book : the story of libraries from camels to computers
Toronto [et al.] : Tundra Books, 2006. 72 p.
Library/3000 BC-2000 AD – Writing – Reading – Book
Over the centuries, books have come in all kinds of shapes and forms – and so have libraries. Whether they consist of clay tablets inscribed with cuneiform, hundreds of leather scrolls in a cave, thousands of books carried by 500 camels walking in alphabetical order, or even virtual documents in cyberspace, they all store and provide important knowledge. In an engaging text that reads almost like an adventure story, this non-fiction book traces the history and development of writing, reading, and libraries from the ancient beginnings in Mesopotamia in 3000 BC to the present day. Short factual paragraphs focusing on particular aspects and a bibliographic appendix offer an entertaining combination of background knowledge, trivia, and information for further reading. (10+) ☼
Special Mention - Canada (English) - 2007 - 51
Scowen, Kate (text)
Szuc, Jeff (illus.)
My kind of sad : what it’s like to be young and depressed
Toronto [et al.] : Annick Press, 2006. 168 p.
Depression – Eating disorder – Mental health
While depression is not at all a recent phenomenon, Kate Scowen points out that »adolescent depression has only been recognized as a medical diagnosis in the past 25 years.« In this non-fiction book, the author discusses this illness, its various manifestations in adolescents, the different problems accompanying it, the possible treatments, and some strategies for dealing with it. The clear text is cut into short paragraphs by quirky black-and-white illustrations, lists of facts, headlines in bold type, and quotations from interviews with young people from 9 to 23. Despite the slightly repetitive style that allows readers to read chapters individually, the book offers a good introduction to affected teenagers, and their friends and families to this topical issue. (12+) ☼
Special Mention - Canada (English) - 2007 - 52
Yolen, Jane (retell.)
Stemple, Heidi E. Y. (recipes)
Béha, Philippe (illus.)
Fairy tale feasts : a literary cookbook
Vancouver : Tradewind Books, 2006. 197 p.
Fairy tale – Recipe – Cookbook
In this unusual fairy-tale-anthology-cum-cookbook, young readers are offered a delicious feast for their eyes, ears, and bellies. Divided into five sections (breakfasts, lunches, soups, dinners, and desserts), the square volume dishes up crisp, modern retellings of twenty popular mostly European folk tales with some worthwhile information about the tales, their origins, and different versions added in the margins. Each retelling is followed by a step-by-step recipe of a meal taken from the corresponding tale, such as »Runaway Pancakes« or »Snow White’s Baked Apples«, including some suggestions for tasty variations and a number of facts about the dish. Vigorous, boldly coloured full-page illustrations and vignettes perfectly complement this family treat. (8+) ☼
USA (English) - 2007 - 53
DiCamillo, Kate (text)
Ibatoulline, Bagram (illus.)
The miraculous journey of Edward Tulane
Cambridge, Mass. : Candlewick Press, 2006. 198 p.
Rabbit – China doll – Odyssey – Change of owner
Ever since he can remember, Edward has been living in the large house at Egypt Street with young Abilene who treated him with respect and loved him dearly. Yet when the vain and coldhearted china rabbit in his fashionable attire goes overboard during the family’s ocean crossing, his comfortable life ends abruptly. Rescued from the bottom of the sea, Edward spends the following years on a dump, as a travelling companion for a hobo, with a terminally ill little girl, and has his head bashed in by a wrathful pub owner, until he happily returns, completely transformed, to the hands of his first owner’s daughter. This quiet, fairytale-like story about the power of true love is told in spare yet lyrical prose and is accompanied by melancholic sepia-coloured drawings. (8+)
USA (English) - 2007 - 54
Jeffers, Oliver (text/illus.)
Lost and found
New York : Philomel Books, 2006.  p.
(orig. publ. in Great Britain by HarperCollins, 2005) Penguin – Sadness – Help – Loneliness – Friendship
When a sad and forlorn-looking penguin turns up on the doorstep of a small boy, the child eagerly tries to help the little animal. But neither the lost-and-found office nor his rubber duck are very forthcoming. So the boy fixes his rowing boat, and the two adventurers float through storms and mountainous waves until they reach the South Pole. Here, they have to say good-bye to each other – or do they? This charming story about loneliness and friendship is told in a quiet text and powerful, bright watercolour illustrations. The moon-faced, spindly-legged child and the smooth black-and-white blob of a penguin make a perfect pair of friends to brave the vast wide world together. (3+)
(Nestlé Smarties Book Prize; 2005)
USA (English) - 2007 - 55
Wait for me
New York : G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2006. 169 p.
USA/Korean immigrant – Cultural identity – Mother – Daughter – Expectation – First love
From the outside, Mina’s life looks perfect: The 17-year-old Korean-American allegedly is a straight-A student, diligently studies for her exams, and willingly helps out in her parents’ dry-cleaning shop. Not even her hearing-impaired younger sister Suna suspects that Mina is trapped in a web of lies woven to satisfy their strict, overbearing mother’s expectations. Yet, when she falls in love with Mexican worker Ysrael, Mina realises that she must face the truth and start living her own life. This riveting, carefully crafted story told in alternating chapters from Mina’s and Suna’s points of view draws readers into the world of a teenager who struggles with a dysfunctional family life and her own dreams. (14+) ☆
USA (English) - 2007 - 56
Newman, Jeff (text/illus.)
Hippo! No, Rhino!
New York : Little, Brown and Co., 2006.  p.
Zoo – Rhinoceros – Sign – Mistake
Poor Rhino is dumbfounded: How can all the dimwitted zoo visitors actually believe that he is a hippo, even though it’s perfectly clear that he is not! And all this because the mischievous zookeeper has (deliberately?) put up the wrong sign in front of his pen. Yet all the outraged pachyderm’s desperate efforts to knock down the hateful sign (including using one of the tick birds on his back as a dart) are useless, until his peace of mind is finally restored by a sympathetic child. The uproarious story is conveyed in boldly coloured mixed-media illustrations with only a few words of text in »rhyme-o«. The graphic pictures, drawn in a style reminiscent of 1950s poster art, depict the animal’s growing frustration and eventual relief. A visual treat for readers of all ages. (3+) ☼
USA (English) - 2007 - 57
Pennypacker, Sara (text)
Frazee, Marla (illus.)
New York : Hyperion Books for Children, 2006. 133 p.
Girl – School – Everyday life – Friendship – Helpfulness – Accident
Ingenious third-grader Clementine seems to suffer a particularly bad week at school. Yet, is it her fault that she is allergic to sitting still, that there are no gifts in the gifted class for math, or that Margaret has a serious hair problem and she helps her chop her mane off? Instead of lecturing and punishing her, adults should be glad that so many »spectacularful ideas are always sproinging up in [her] brain«. This fresh story, written in firstperson and interspersed with a lot of dialogue, describes all the trouble-prone girl’s brainwaves and the ensuing catastrophes. While young readers will giggle at the quick succession of hair-raising events, adults will love the straightforward, dryly humorous style of the diverting narrative. (6+)
USA (English) - 2007 - 58
Prelutsky, Jack (text)
Berger, Carin (illus.)
Behold the bold umbrellaphant and other poems
New York : Greenwillow Books, 2006. 31 p.
Imaginary animals – Portmanteau-word – Poetry
Have you ever heard of the wondrous clocktopus or encountered the panthermometer in its natural habitat? Have you wondered why the bizarre alarmadillos can’t fall asleep or what makes the fearful zipperpotamuses weep? If so, the nonsensical texts in this whimsical collection of poems, introducing the most bizarre creatures imaginable and their strange characteristics, will certainly satisfy your curiosity. The exotic bunch of portmanteau-animals described in sparkling rhymes spring to life in powerful and quirky double-page collages. They confidently stride and leap across the pages buzzing with energy. Young and old readers will gleefully stroll through this eccentric zoo again and again. (4+) ☼
USA (English) - 2007 - 59
Schade, Susan (text)
Buller, Jon (illus.)
Travels of Thelonious
New York : Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2006. 214 p.
(Fog Mound; 1)
Getting lost – Search for home – Friendship
This book, the first part of a trilogy, is an unusual combination of illustrated prose story and graphic novel. It introduces young children to a world where humans have been wiped out by some catastrophe and anthropomorphised animals inhabit the earth. When a torrential rainstorm floods the home of Thelonious Chipmunk and washes him away to the legendary City of Ruins, the inquisitive little animal soon befriends a porcupine living in a deserted human library, a technically well-versed bear, and a cunning lizard. Together, the four friends mount a helicopter and go on an adventurous quest for the idyllic community of Fog Mound. The easy-flowing narrative and the charming drawings in black-white-and-blue will draw in even the most reluctant readers. (8+)
USA (English) - 2007 - 60
A true and faithful narrative
New York : Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2006. 250 p.
London/1681 – Girl – Bookshop – Education – Writing – Professional ambition – Love
Unlike most other girls her age, headstrong Meg isn’t really interested in household chores or in quickly securing a suitable husband for herself. Rather, the well-educated 16-year-old daughter of a bookseller and publisher in Restoration London is fascinated by the power of words, and her greatest ambition is to become a writer like Aphra Behn, the first English professional female writer. Yet, for the time being, all that she can hope to achieve with her passionate scribbling is to collect enough money to free her best friend’s brother, whose ship was attacked by pirates, from slavery in Algiers. In this sequel to »At the sign of the star« (2000), the author follows the fate of an unconventional girl and once again offers readers a believable glimpse into everyday life in 17thcentury England. (12+)
Special Mention - USA (English) - 2007 - 61
Wiesner, David (illus.)
New York, NY : Clarion Books, 2006.  p.
Beach – Camera – Mystery – Photograph
Award-winning author and illustrator David Wiesner’s latest picture book is another true gem. In a quick succession of magical watercolour illustrations in various sizes, this outstanding textless work chronicles a young boy’s adventurous day at the beach. Exploring the edge of the sea, the inquisitive child happens upon an old-fashioned underwater camera washed ashore complete with film inside. He quickly has the pictures developed and gapes open-mouthed at the fantastic scenes opening up before him: an ancient octopus holding a story-telling session in an underwater parlour; or a giant blown-up puffer fish gliding balloon-like across the ocean. In the end, the boy takes his own snapshot (just like other chance owners of the camera seem to have done before) and returns the camera to the sea for the next child to share its miraculous treasures. This fascinating visual adventure won’t release its grip on the readers until they have turned the last page. (5+) ☼
(Caldecott Medal; 2006)
Special Mention - USA (English) - 2007 - 62
Yang, Gene Luen (text/illus.)
Pien, Lark (col.)
American born Chinese
New York [et al.] : First Second, 2006. 233 p.
USA/Chinese immigrant – Outsider – Loneliness – Cultural identity – Search for identity – Self-esteem
This graphic novel cleverly links three seemingly independent plotlines relating the desperate struggles to fit in of Jin Wang, the son of Chinese immigrants; the tale about American teenager Danny whose loud-mouthed Chinese cousin’s annual visit makes him cringe with embarrassment; and the story about the much-beloved Chinese folk hero Monkey King who is unsatisfied with his lowly status and longs to be hailed as a god. All three tales cunningly explore issues like race, cultural identity, assimilation, and self-acceptance. The clear, expressive line drawings, coloured in a cool palette and placed into linear panels in the centre of the pages, make the three stories unfold rapidly until they eventually come together in an unexpected post-modern twist. (12+)
(Michael L. Printz Award; 2006)