The List of Lists Begins: Best Children's Books of 2009

Last year I started compiling all the year-end "best of" lists in newspapers, magaziness, and other sources. I added in many of the various children's literature prizes throughout the year, too. (You can peruse "The Best of the Best: Kids' Books '08" right here.) A person who chooses titles from these lists will read—and give and recommend to children—many good books. 

In the process, I discovered that there is no such thing as awards season. Children's books are honored and feted throughout the year from the Newberys and Caldecotts in January to the Cybils in February to the American Horticultural Society/Junior Master Gardeners' "Growing Good Kids" in July to the Children's Book Council of Australia's Books of the Year in August. I'll admit to a soft spot for March's National Science Teachers Association's Outstanding Science Trade Books for Students K-12. Those are books I would have loved as a kid. I tried to be comprehensive, but I know that I missed some lists and prizes. 

It's time to start the roundup for books published in 2009. I hear that School Library Journal is working away on its "best of," as we speak. The magazine's Twitter update said recently,"SLJ Best Books update: Not much I can say yet - they're working on it. 'But is it a BEST book?' is the primary debate."

The first two entries for Chicken Spaghetti's "Best Children's Books of 2009: The List of Lists"  are the finalists for the National Book Award in "young people's literature" and the long list for the Amercican Association for the Advancement of Science Prizes for Excellence in Science Books for children (currently linked to School Library Journal until the AAAS puts it up on its own site). 

I'll keep the big list under Pages, to the right, across from the chicken portrait at the top.

A "Boy Year," for The Book Whisperer

Donalynn Miller, a Texas language-arts teacher who also writes a blog at Teacher Magazine, is having a "boy year," in which guys make up about 2/3 of her middle-school students. She's loving it.

Go see what they're reading, and contribute your book recommendations in the comments. It's fun checking out what other teachers and parents are suggesting, too. My boy is currently engrossed in Encylopedia Horrifica and is thrilled that he received The Encyclopedia of Immaturity as a gift recently.

Link: "Boy Year," at The Book Whisperer

via Jen Robinson at PBS Parents' Booklights blog

Troubles in China for Disney?

Disney books are made in China? Not at Space Mountain? Who knew? Looks like the company is coming under some criticism...Read on at CNN.

NEW YORK (CNN) - The National Labor Committee, an anti-sweatshop advocacy group that once exposed labor abuses in apparel produced for Kathie Lee Gifford's clothing line, made new charges Thursday against The Walt Disney Company, releasing a videotape alleging that two Chinese factories making books for Disney operate under unsafe conditions.

Link via  Maud Newton and Boing Boing.

Green Authors

Some authors, like Katherine Hannigan (Ida B), are asking for their books to be printed on "environmentally friendly paper," according to USA Today. And what is environmentally friendly paper? Paper that smiles as it hurls itself out the car window? Did I miss something? When did "recycled" run off?

This Land Is Your Land

Summer is library book sale season in New England,  and today I went fishing for treasures and got completely carried away.  Again. Under my too-large stack of children's titles, I weaved down the sidewalk to the car, stopping along the way for a cold Coca-Cola because I needed some quick energy.  I'm coming awfully close to literary stage mother. Again. Wheeeeeee, look at all these great books for me, myself, moi my son, wheeeeeee!

That said, my best find was the anthology From Sea to Shining Sea: A Treasury of American Folklore and Folk Songs. The illustrations are by Caldecott winners and honorees. So now not only can I treat my family to my reading "Paul Revere's Ride" and "Brer Rabbit in Mr. Man's Garden,"  I can also bewitch them by pounding out  "The Rock Island Line" on the piano. And please don't tell me anyone would rather hear Dan Zanes' version of "Rock Island Line." I won't believe it. What happened? Why is everyone running from the room with his hands over his ears?

At the sale I also couldn't resist the paperback The Dumb Bunnies' Easter, written by Sue Denim and illustrated by Dav Pilkey, because it had a medallion on the front cover that said, "This book is TOO DUMB to win an award." One of the endorsements on the back quoted Kirkus Reviews, "Let's not elevate this by calling it wit." Both of those quotations tickled me. My son was happy to get a copy of Max and Ruby's First Greek Myth: Pandora's Box. Since he's already read all the Edith Hamilton, we might as well move on to Max and Ruby. Ha. He's  new to mythology, and I think  some beloved characters can introduce him to it.

I vow not to get carried away at book sales any more. I'm going to buy only wonderful  things in pristine condition  if I buy anything at all. Really.

Book Fraud

Be careful. It's a jungle out there. A woman in Catskill, New York, has been indicted for  scamming would-be authors of children's books. Journalist Michael Hill reports,

"So often the worst aspect of these scams is that they're not just stealing the money, they're stealing the dreams," said C.E. Petit, an Urbana, Ill., lawyer representing people who claim they were defrauded by [the woman].

Link via the  Chicago Tribune; you may need to register first.

Celebrate the 4th

Happy Fourth of July, everyone! Let freedom ring! O Say Can You See! Our  country 'tis of thee! She's a Brick (huh) House!  With liberty and justice for all! She's mighty, mighty, just lettin' it all hang out! She's a grand old flag!

Oops, did a few Commodores' lyrics slip in there?

In honor of our nation's birthday, I am directing you to a site with the  slightly loony but incredibly fun idea of releasing books into the wild and seeing where they go. Free books!  It' called BookCrossing and I am mulling over participating. See what you think. And have a fabulous 4th.

Go, Big Blue

The University of Michigan sounds like my kind of place. Never mind that I"m a wee bit too old to live in the freshman dorms. A program at the school recruits students to write and illustrate children's books. Read more at The Ann Arbor News; the end of the article includes new titles by or about Michiganders.

The Budding Scientist?

In a funny and honest  article from the Guardian, writer Tim Dowling considers science books. He brings home a heap of them for his kids and includes several listed for the Aventis prize, a U.K. award. Dowling writes,

Looking over the Aventis shortlist, it seems that the magic formula for attracting children is common knowledge. All the books are large in format and slim, with eye-catching graphics and lots of boxed-off text. Each has the look of a mildly disappointing birthday present.

My youngest child, who is five, regards all books with suspicion. When presented with six shortlisted science books, he burst into tears and stormed out of the room, although he later came back and snatched the one about earthquakes off the pile.