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Despite all the TV shows, video games and apps competing for your child's attention, it's hard to beat the satisfaction of a good book. The American Library Association recently announced its annual awards and honors -- check out the list to find some great new reads to enjoy with your kids.
Randolph Caldecott Medal for the most distinguished American picture book for children:
A Ball for Daisy, illustrated and written by Chris Raschka (Swartz & Wade, ages 3 to 7). In this wordless tale, told in emotionally rich, watercolor-and-gouache images, a little dog loses her beloved red toy -- and gains something far more meaningful.
Caldecott Honor Books:
--Blackout, illustrated and written by John Rocco (Hyperion, ages 4 to 8). A summer power outage (inspired by the Northeast/Midwest blackout of 2003) disrupts -- and enriches -- a city family's everyday life.
--Grandpa Green, illustrated and written by Lane Smith (Roaring Brook, ages 5 to 9). The cheeky author-artist behind 2010's pejorative-punctuated It's a Book delivers a gorgeously illustrated, unexpectedly earnest meditation on family, growing up and growing old.
--Me … Jane, illustrated and written by Patrick McDonnell (Little, Brown; ages 4 to 7). Using anecdotes from the autobiography of pioneering primatologist and conservationist Jane Goodall, the book portrays a curious young Jane exploring her small English town with her cherished stuffed chimp, Jubilee.
Coretta Scott King (Author) Book Award recognizing an African American author and illustrator of outstanding books for children and young adults:
Heart and Soul: The Story of America and African Americans, written and illustrated by Kadir Nelson (Balzer + Bray, ages 9 and up). Narrating in a warm, grandmotherly voice, Nelson traces the difficult history of blacks in the U.S. from colonial times through the Civil Rights movement.
King Author Honor Book recipients:
--The Great Migration: Journey to the North, written by Eloise Greenfield, illustrated by Jan Spivey Gilchrist (Amistad, ages 3 to 8). Free verse and collage artwork depict the exodus from the south of more than a million African-Americans in the years between 1915 and 1930.
--Never Forgotten, written by Patricia C. McKissack, illustrated by Leo and Diane Dillon (Schwartz & Wade, ages 4 to 8). The moving story of an 18th-century West African boy kidnapped and sold into slavery highlights the importance of family through a series of poems and woodcut-style illustrations.
Coretta Scott King (Illustrator) Book Award:
Underground: Finding the Light to Freedom, illustrated and written by Shane W. Evans (A Neal Porter Book, ages 4 to 8). The eloquent use of color—dark greens and blues for oppression, bright yellows and gold for freedom—illuminates the challenges and triumphs of the Underground Railroad.
King Illustrator Honor Book recipient:
--Heart and Soul: The Story of America and African Americans, written and illustrated by Kadir Nelson (Balzer + Bray, ages 9 and up). Powerful, masterfully rendered portraits and historical scenes complement Nelson’s King Award–winning text.
Pura Belpré (Illustrator) Award honoring a Latino writer and illustrator whose children's books best portray, affirm and celebrate the Latino cultural experience:
Diego Rivera: His World and Ours, illustrated by Duncan Tonatiuh, written by Duncan Tonatiuh (Abrams, ages 5 to 9). Using digital collage resembling both the work of the celebrated Mexican artist and the Mayan and Aztec murals that inspired him, the engaging book recounts Rivera’s life and encourages youngsters to paint their own stories.
Belpré Illustrator Honor Books:
--The Cazuela that the Farm Maiden Stirred, illustrated by Rafael López, written by Samantha R. Vamos (Charlesbridge, ages 5 to 8). Vibrant, folkloric images detail the making of a barnyard-collaborative arroz con leche (rice pudding), modeled on the nursery rhyme “The House that Jack Built” -- and complete with the full recipe at the end.
--Marisol McDonald Doesn’t Match / Marisol McDonald no combina, illustrated by Sara Palacios, written by Monica Brown (Children’s Book Press, ages 4 to 8). An exuberant, bilingual, Peruvian-Scottish-American girl defies others’ expectations and celebrates her atypical heritage in a colorful ode to originality.
Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Award for most distinguished informational book for children:
Balloons over Broadway: The True Story of the Puppeteer of Macy’s Parade, written and illustrated by Melissa Sweet (Houghton Mifflin, ages 4 to 8). Through charming, mixed-media collage, kids learn about Tony Sarg, the man who invented the helium-filled stars of New York City’s traditional Thanksgiving extravaganza, a parade staple since 1928.
Theodor Seuss Geisel Award for the most distinguished beginning reader book:
Tales for Very Picky Eaters, written and illustrated by Josh Schneider (Clarion, ages 6 to 9). The familiar parent-child battle over the likes of "disgusting" broccoli, "repulsive" milk and "slimy" eggs provides imaginative fodder for a humorous take on fussy dining habits.
Geisel Honor Books:
--I Broke My Trunk! written and illustrated by Mo Willems (Hyperion, ages 4 to 8). The latest in the author’s cartoon-like Elephant & Piggie series finds put-upon pachyderm Gerald relating the hilariously Byzantine calamity of the title.
--I Want My Hat Back, written and illustrated by Jon Klassen (Candlewick, ages 4 to 8). When an unfailingly polite bear determines the culprit behind his missing chapeau, he exacts a darkly amusing, Edward Gorey–esque revenge.
--See Me Run, written and illustrated by Paul Meisel (Holiday House, ages 4 to 8). A pack of dogs romps Dick-and-Jane style ("See me run. I run and run") across a great grassy lawn, all the way to a clever surprise ending.