White Ravens: USA
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)
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)
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+) ☆
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+) ☼
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+)
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+) ☆
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+) ☆
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+)
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+) ☼
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)
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+)
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 - 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+)
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+)
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)