Children's book awards announced at libraries

Posted: Friday, February 16, 2007

Awards for children's books have been announced - here are a few of my favorites. Check our Web site under Kids Stuff for the complete booklists.

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"The Pull of the Ocean," by Jean-Claude Mourlevat. Winner of the Batchelder Award for books originally published in another country and in another language, this is the story of a tiny boy, Yann, who directs his brothers on a cross-country trek to the sea. Yann is the youngest of the seven boys, a midget, the only non-twin, and uncannily bright despite his family's poverty and his parents' hostility. Reality and fairytale mix freely as he leads his family on the adventure of their lives to achieve a goal of his own. First published in France, where it won the Prix Sorcieres (for middle school readers and older).

"Hattie Big Sky," by Kirby Larson. This Newbery Honor Book and Best Book for Young Adults winner chronicles the adventures of Hattie, a 16 year-old who inherits "the house and its contents, as well as one steadfast horse named Plug and a contemptible cow known as Violet" from an uncle in 1918. The timing couldn't be better, and after years of being shunted from relative to relative, orphaned Hattie takes advantage of her uncle's bequest and goes to Montana with her cat. Thriving despite all the hard work, Hattie finds neighbors who are better than any family she's known before, and finally, she feels like she's got a home at last (middle school readers and older).

"To Dance," by Siena Cherson Siegel, artwork by Mark Siegel. When Siena was little, big spaces made her want to dance. When she was 9, she saw her first real ballet performance, and that ignited a fire that a decade of classes never quenched. This graphic novel tells the story of her ballet life from her first performance in The Nutcracker, to being admitted into the prestigious School of American Ballet and getting fitted for her first pointe shoes. She works hard, hurts a lot, but keeps on going through her parents' divorce and into college, when she takes a break to try something new. But she still dances in big spaces. Tender, yet truthful, this hits all the right notes, both story-wise and visually, and was a Siebert Honor Book this year (for elementary school readers and older).

"Flotsam," written and illustrated by David Wiesner. Wiesner's books are beloved both for their amazing images and for their imaginative and quirky stories. In this wordless book, an inquisitive young beachcomber finds a vintage camera washed up on the beach. When the film from inside is developed, astonishing images of clockwork fish, visiting aliens, and starfish islands are revealed. But the most amazing photo of all is of a girl holding a photo of a boy, holding a photo of another child. The telescoping images stretch back decades. Tickle your brain with this delightful Caldecott Winner (for all ages).

"Quest for the Tree Kangaroo," by Sy Montgomery, photos by Nic Bishop. Tree kangaroos come in several varieties, but all are rare and most live only in New Guinea. This Siebert Honor Book follows an international team of specialists trekking into the forests of New Guinea to capture and tag as many tree kangaroos as possible in two weeks. Along the way, the team encounters birds with poisonous feathers, wears a lot of wet socks, and begins to learn how tree kangaroos live. Ably conveying the excitement of working in the field and making new discoveries, this also emphasizes the rewards of involving local people in conservation and is full of incredible photos that are well-paired with the text (for older elementary school readers and up).

Our World of Film series continues: come prepared to share Afghani or Middle Eastern snacks at 7 p.m. tonight at the downtown library, or come at 7:30 p.m. just for the movie.

On Sunday, Native American storyteller Gene Tagaban will be telling stories and making music at the downtown library from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. All ages are welcome.

The downtown and Douglas libraries will be closed on Monday for Presidents' Day. The valley library will be open normal hours.

As always, placing a hold on our material is easy: Call the Juneau Public Library at 586-5249, or, if you have Internet access, your library card, and a PIN, you may place your own holds by going to our Web site,, and looking at our catalog or at the In the Stacks column on our site. The columns are linked to the catalog: Simply click on the title you want, and you will be ready to place a hold.

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