March 24, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

SLJ Best Books 2011 Picture Books

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We are pleased to present this year’s 65 choices for the Best Books of 2011, chosen from the more than 6000 books reviewed this year. Novels were a standout, particularly those for teens, with themes of leadership, coming-of-age, and facing tough situations presented in powerful narratives with memorable characters. Fantasy and science fiction genres made a strong showing for middle grades and YA, featuring taut page-turners and selections laced with humor. And we were impressed by the number of novels with exciting visual components that enhanced the storytelling. This was a particularly fine year for nonfiction across the board, from forensic scientists tackling what George Washington really looked like to the collective power of one community to determine its source of energy to 19th-century voyagers setting out to circumnavigate the globe. Spectacularly illustrated memoirs made a great showing, including those from Claire Nivola and award-winning illustrators Allen Say and Ed Young. Stunning art appears in all genres, from Vicky White’s evocative work in Can We Save the Tiger? to Shane W. Evans’s outstanding and haunting Underground: Finding the Light to Freedom to extraordinary and highly appealing picture books from masterful veterans and exciting newcomers to the field. We think you’ll find something here to engage all of your readers and enhance your collections in all areas. The month in which the original review appeared follows each annotation.–Trev Jones


SLJ1112BB_WEB_Mouse_and_Lion.1(Original Import)BURKERT, Rand, retel. Mouse & Lion. illus. by Nancy Ekholm Burkert. Scholastic/Michael di Capua Bks. Tr $17.95. ISBN 978-0-545-10147-9.
Gr 2-6–Skitter-scampering, deed-bragging, can-do Mouse takes center stage in this rousing rendition of Aesop’s well-known fable. Awash with sun-warmed colors and breathtaking natural details, the elegant artwork portrays the delightful dynamic between two characters–one minute and one majestic–who prove to be equals in courage and kindness. (Aug.)

SLJ1112BB_WEB_mine.1(Original Import)CRUM, Shutta. Mine! illus. by Patrice Barton. Knopf/Borzoi. Tr $16.99. ISBN 978-0-375-86711-8.
PreS-Gr 2–As an intrepid toddler struggles to take possession of a passel of playthings, he is keenly observed by a frolicsome pup and a winsome infant who is preparing to make her move. The characters’ spot-on body language and facial expressions create a virtuoso visual portrayal of nascent social skills. (June)

SLJ1112BB_WEB_3BySea.2(Original Import)GREY, Mini. Three by the Sea. illus. by author. Knopf. Tr $17.99. ISBN 978-0-375-86784-2; PLB $20.99. ISBN 978-0-375-96784-9.
PreS-Gr 2–Three pals–an eye-patch-wearing black cat, a white dog, and a little gray mouse–share an idyllic existence until a foxy stranger blows ashore and subtlety sows the seeds of discontent. This tale of friendship tested and ultimately enriched unfurls with perfect pacing and comically detailed artwork in luxuriant seaside hues. (Apr.)

SLJ1112BB_WEB_Henkes_WhtRabb.1(Original Import)HENKES, Kevin. Little White Rabbit. illus. by author. Greenwillow. Tr $16.99. ISBN 978-0-06-200642-4; PLB $17.89. ISBN 978-0-06-200643-1.
PreS-Gr 1–A venturesome bunny investigates the spring countryside, wondering what it would be like to be green as the grass, tall as a fir tree, or motionless as a rock, before returning safely home to his mother. An affectionate ode to the power of imagination, lushly illustrated and lyrically told. (Feb.)

SLJ1112BB_WEB_BallDaisy.1(Original Import)RASCHKA, Chris. A Ball for Daisy. illus. by author. unpaged. Random/Schwartz & Wade Bks. Tr $16.99. ISBN 978-0-375-85861-1; PLB $19.99. ISBN 978-0-375-95861-8.
PreS-Gr 2–A gray-and-white pup and her red ball are constant companions until a poodle inadvertently deflates the toy, taking the air out of Daisy as well. Raschka’s nuanced illustrations brilliantly depict joy, shock, disbelief, sadness–and, with the gift of a blue ball–renewed contentment. (Aug.)

SLJ1112BB_WEB_Blackout.1(Original Import)ROCCO, John. Blackout. illus. by author. unpaged. Hyperion/Disney. RTE $16.99. ISBN 978-1-4231-2190-9.
PreS-Gr 2–On a summer night in the city, the youngest member of a family finds that everyone is too busy to play with him. But when the lights go out, and everything shuts down, suddenly there’s time for games and impromptu street and rooftop parties. Luminous, fluid artwork, filled with visual gags that extend the charming story, glows with warmth and humor. (July)

ROHMANN, Eric.Bone Dog. illus. by author. Roaring Brook. Tr $16.99. ISBN 978-1-59643-150-8.
PreS-Gr 2–Gus still grieves for his beloved pet, but the two are reunited when the boy finds himself surrounded by menacing skeletons in a graveyard on Halloween and Ellanow a bone dogturns up to save the day. A spine-shivery tale of enduring friendship told with atmospheric artwork, a pun-cracking narrative, and plenty of heart. (July)

SLJ1112BB_WEB_Bumble_Ardy.1(Original Import)SENDAK, Maurice. Bumble-Ardy. illus. by author. HarperCollins/Michael di Capua Bks. Tr $17.95. ISBN 978-0-06-205198-1.
PreS-Gr 2–In this cautionary tale about partying with a bunch of swine, Sendak’s rollicking rhyme records Bumble the pig’s first (and last) birthday bash at the ripe old age of nine. The sublime watercolors are expressive and expansive and the full-bleed spreads of the unrestrained revelry are priceless. (Aug.)

SLJ1112BB_WEB_Grandpa-Green.1(Original Import)SMITH, Lane. Grandpa Green. illus. by author. Roaring Brook. Tr $16.99. ISBN 978-1-59643-607-7.
K-Gr 3–A boy tells the story of his great-grandfather’s life as he gives readers a grand tour of the man’s glorious topiary garden. Verdant shades predominate but graceful pen-and-ink drawings and colorful accents lend interest and whimsy to the towering constructions. (Aug.)

SLJ1112BB_WEB_LoudBook.1(Original Import)UNDERWOOD, Deborah. The Loud Book! illus. by Renata Liwska. Houghton Harcourt. RTE $12.99. ISBN 978-0-547-39008-6.
PreS-Gr 1–A look at “lots of louds,” from booming thunderstorms to spilling one’s marbles in the library to the deafening silence of parental disapproval. Liwska’s whimsically drawn animals act out the various scenarios with clever and nuanced detail. (May)

SLJ1112BB_WEB_ALongRoad.1(Original Import)VIVA, Frank. Along a Long Road. illus. by author. unpaged. Little, Brown. Tr $16.99. ISBN 978-0-316-12925-1.
PreS-K–A bicycle rider loop-de-loops through countryside and cityscape, winding his way up, down, around, and through various landmarks before starting all over again. Part concept book and part freewheeling adventure, this visual tour de force blends succinct text with supple shapes and silhouettes and whimsical wayside wonders. (June)

SLJ1112BB_WEB_Wardlaw_WonTon.1(Original Import)WARDLAW, Lee. Won Ton: A Cat Tale Told in Haiku. illus. by Eugene Yelchin. Holt. RTE $16.99. ISBN 978-0-8050-8995-0.
Gr 2-5–Wide-eyed and wary, a charcoal-gray stray tells it like it is, from a stay at a shelter to adoption to settling in with a just-right boy, before finally letting down his guard and confiding his true name, Haiku. Terse verse and lithe-lined paintings reveal this feline’s foibles with winsome wit and poignant punch. (Feb.)

SLJ1112BB_WEB_TwinsBlanket.1(Original Import)YUM, Hyewon. The Twins’ Blanket. illus. by author. Farrar/Frances Foster Bks. Tr $16.99. ISBN 978-0-374-37972-8.
PreS-Gr 2–Accustomed to sharing everything, two “look-alike” sisters squabble over their now-too-small-for-both-of-them baby blanket, an incident that leads to new covers, separate beds, and the first steps toward independence. From quarrels to cuddles, simple text and impish artwork convey a heartwarmingly genuine sibling relationship. (Aug.)

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By SLJ Book Review Editors: Trevelyn Jones, Luann Toth, Marlene Charnizon, Daryl Grabarek, Chelsey Philpot, and Joy Fleishhacker.

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