Have You Read a Good Book Lately?

2012 Caldecott and Newberry awards were just announced last week. But if you didn’t get a chance to enjoy 2011 selections, take a few moments to share one of these award-winning books with your child.

2011 Caldecott Award: A Sick Day for Amos McGee

In her Caldecott acceptance speech, first-time illustrator Erin Stead summed up A Sick Day for Amos McGee as “a little book that is about having good and loyal friends.” Readers are introduced to the daily routine of zookeeper Amos McGee as he eats breakfast and takes the city bus to the zoo. At work Amos makes his rounds to the elephant, rhinoceros, tortoise, owl, and penguin. They all depend on Amos’s daily visits for companionship. One morning Amos wakes up with the sniffles. Unable to go to work, he anticipates a lonely day at home. But he is surprised by a return visit from his animal friends, who remind us not only of the value of loyal friends, but also that good friends come in all shapes and sizes. Stead’s illustrations make A Sick Day for Amos McGee a classic picture book. Each whimsical scene involves a combination of woodblock and pencil techniques. As you read with your child, enjoy hunting together for the tiny mouse and the red balloon that are hidden in many of the pictures. A Sick Day for Amos McGee will inspire you to take a trip to the zoo and spend an afternoon with good friends. In fact, it just might make you wish that you were taking a sick day too!

2011 Newbery Award: Moon Over Manifest

This year’s Newbery award-winning novel, Moon Over Manifest, opens as protagonist Abilene Tucker “hops a train” to Kansas. Abilene has grown up riding the rails with her dad. They’re separated when he has no choice but to send her to Manifest, Kansas for a summer. While living with a family friend in the small Midwestern town, Abilene realizes that Manifest—and her father’s past—are shrouded in secrecy. The depression-era adventures in Moon Over Manifest unwind slowly, but the pace of the narrative gives readers the chance to discover Manifest along with Abilene. The purpose of author Claire Vanderpool’s debut novel was simply to tell a story about “real people.” But Moon Over Manifest addresses facets of the American experience that are as important now as they were during the Depression, such as family history, immigration, and community. In fact, the author drew on her own family history to write the novel. She says, “My parents are both Depression-era children. They raised my siblings and me with a can-do attitude: ‘You’ll figure it out. You can make it work. Keep at it. Anything is possible.’” The same can-do attitude is reflected in Abilene as she unravels the town’s mysteries. With determination, gut, and curiosity, Abilene plunges into a series of summer adventures. Middle grade readers will enjoy both the trip back in time and the twists and turns that will keep them reading until the end.