Children’s Book Nook, by Erin Thompson

Please welcome Erin, from Black Bear Books, who has agreed to be our Children’s Literature columnist. Twice a month, she’ll keep us abreast of what’s going on in the Children’s Book world. Erin and I had coffee in the children’s section the other day, and I learned a lot about her passion for kid’s books. If you have any questions, or are looking for a topic for someone special, Erin can help you find whatever you need.

Black Bear Books also offers a Children’s Story Hour from 3-4 on Sundays. You can bring your laptop and go online with their free WiFi access, have a cup of great coffee, ad chat while your children are being entertained!

It’s hard to know where to start when you’re writing about Kid’s and Young Adult literature – there’s just too much to choose from! This month was easy though, the American Library Association (the ALA) recently announced their 2008 award winners, including the John Newberry Medal (for an exceptional contribution), the Randolph Caldecott Medal (for excellence in illustration) and the Theodore Seuss Geisel Award (for a distinguished American contribution to beginning readers), among others. These books are always a great choice, especially if you’re not sure what to get.


This year’s Caldecott Medal was awarded to “The Invention of Hugo Cabret”, by Brian Selznik. This book is awesome! It is appropriate for ages 9-12, and even though it looks intimidating, make sure to page through it before you decide; more than half the pages contain beautiful black and white illustrations. It’s the story of Hugo, an orphan who lives in the walls of a busy Paris train station. Anonymity and secrets are key to his survival until he encounters an eccentric, bookish girl and a bitter old man who runs a toy booth in the train station. Hugo’s undercover life and his most precious secret, are put in jeopardy. A cryptic drawing, a treasured notebook, a stolen key, a mechanical man and a hidden message from Hugo’s dead father form the backbone of this intricate, tender and spellbinding mystery.

Caldecott Honor Books included:

“First the Egg” by Laura Vaccaro Seeger; ages 4-8

“Henry’s Freedom Box” by Ellen Levine, illustrated by Kadir Nelson; ages 4-8

“Knuffle Bunny Too” by Mo Williams; ages 3-6

“The Wall: Growing Up Behind the Iron Curtain” by Peter Sis; ages 8+


The 2008 Newberry Prize was awarded to “GOOD MASTERS! SWEET LADIES! Voices from a Medieval Village” by Laura Amy Schlitz and Illustrated by Robert Byrd. Appropriate for ages 10+. Maidens, monks and millers’ sons — in these pages, readers will meet them all. There’s Hugo, the lord’s nephew, forced to prove his manhood by hunting a wild boar; sharp-tongued Nelly, who supports her family by selling live eels; and the peasant’s daughter, Mogg, who gets a clever lesson in how to save a cow from a greedy landlord. There’s also mud-slinging Barbary (and her noble victim); Jack, the compassionate half-wit; Alice, the singing shepherdess; and many more.

Newberry Honor Books included:

“Elijah of Buxton” by Christopher Paul Curtis; ages 9+

“Feathers” by Jacqueline Wilson; ages 8+

“The Wednesday Wars” by Gary D. Schmidt; ages 10+


The 2008 Theodore Seuss Geisel Award was given to “THERE IS A BIRD ON YOUR HEAD!”, written and illustrated by Mo Williams and recommended for ages 4-8. In “THERE IS A BIRD ON YOUR HEAD!”, Gerald discovers that there is something worse than a bird on your head — two birds on your head! Can Piggie help her best friend?

Theodore Seuss Geisel Honor Books included:

“First the Egg” by Laura Vaccaro Seeger; ages 4-8

“Hello, Bumblebee Bat” by Darrin Lunde, illustrated by Patricia J. Wynne; ages 3-6

“Jazz Baby” by Lisa Wheeler, illustrated by R. Gregory Christie; ages 3-7

“Vulture View” by April Pulley Sayre, illustrated by Steve Jenkins; ages 4-8

You can find these books, plus other Mom Squad recommendations, in the Kids Section at Black Bear Books.

Erin Thompson, 26, is a relatively new transplant to Boone. After
graduating from Elon University and spending a few years in Baltimore, she moved back to the area to pursue her Master’s degree in Public Administration. She started working in her family’s bookstore, Black Bear Books, and fell in love with the book industry, especially on a small-town scale. She especially enjoys introducing children and young adults to the books she enjoyed as a kid and is always happy to make a recommendation.

Leave your favorite children’s book title in the comments, and we’ll see about getting it on the Mom Squad Recommended table at Black Bear Books!

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