Newbery Medal 2014
The Newbery Medal was named for eighteenth-century British bookseller John Newbery. It is awarded annually by the Association for Library Service to Children, a division of the American Library Association, to the author of the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children.
2014 Medal Winner
Flora & Ulysses
by Kate DiCamillo (Author), K.G. Campbell (Illustrator)
Comic book fan and natural-born cynic Flora Belle Buckman and Ulysses, a flying, superhero, poetry-writing squirrel, join forces to overcome Ulysses’ arch-nemesis, Flora’s mother and encounter a quirky cast of characters. Through poignant, laugh-out-loud episodes, this homage to comic books is a testament to the power of love.
2014 Honor Books
by Holly Black (Author), Eliza Wheeler (Illustrator)
Caldecott Medal 2014
The Caldecott Medal was named in honor of nineteenth-century English illustrator Randolph Caldecott. It is awarded annually by the Association for Library Service to Children, a division of the American Library Association, to the artist of the most distinguished American picture book for children.
2014 Medal Winner
by Brian Floca (Author, Illustrator)
by Aaron Becker (Author, Illustrator)
Finding a magical red crayon, a bored and lonely girl draws a new door on her bedroom wall that leads her to a wondrous but perilous new world. Her drab, sepia-toned, humdrum reality gives way to sumptuous, lushly-hued watercolor and pen and ink landscapes
Flora and Flamingo
by Molly Idle (Author, Illustrator)
by David Wiesner (Author, Illustrator)
The Giraffe, the Pelly and Meby Roald Dahl (Author), Richard E Grant (Narrator)
A story about friendship!
The Ladderless Window Cleaning Company is unique. They can clean any window and make it spotless. They can reach the highest windows and clean them quickly. The Ladderless Window Cleaners consists of the Giraffe who has an ever-extending neck, a Pelican who can carry a large amount of water in its deep retractable beak and a dancing, singing agile, Monkey. Together the three use their very unusual talents to form a business. Now all they need is customers!
To attract customers, they have a wonderful jingle too:
We will polish your glass
Till it’s shining like brass
And it sparkles like sun on the sea!
We will work for Your Grace
Till we’re blue in the face,
The Giraffe and the Pelly and me!
The story of The Giraffe, The Pelly and Me, begins with a boy named Billy. Billy stumbles across an old store that has recently been closed. There he meets these three unusual friends.
As they get acquainted, a limousine drives up to them. The rich duke of the Hampshire House needs his windows cleaned urgently. His huge mansion has 677 very dusty windows which haven’t been cleaned for a long time! No one can reach that high and clean that fast to keep them dust free!
Excited about the opportunity, Billy and the Giraffe, the Pelly and Monkey head over to meet the Duke. As they go about their very first cleaning job, they meet the singing Duchess and a most notorious thief.
Roald Dahl weaves yet another fantastically funny tale. Richard E Grant’s voice over is delightful to listen. His enunciations and tone changes with every character in the tale. Apart from all the usual Dahl quirky parts of the story, what we loved most was the theme of making the most unusual friends in the most unusual places! Moral of the story for us: Friends can be made and found anywhere… even in a rundown abandoned building.
Chitty Chitty Bang Bangby Ian Fleming (Author), Andrew Sachs (Reader)
Story of a Magical Car!
Ian Fleming is best known for his world famous James Bond novels. But he wrote one children’s book– Just One! And he called it “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang”!
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is the name of a very special car. A car that can drive by itself, fly in the air and float in the water! When the Pott family first happened upon this magical car, they weren’t sure if it would be the right car for them. But the Pott family kids knew something was different about this automobile. After all its license plate read “GEN ii” (read: “genie”)
Then one day Mr Pott, the inventor and retired from the royal Navy, decides to take his family on a road trip. As the car fires up, it makes a “chitty chitty bang bang” sound. The kids immediately decide to call their new car after the sound she so often makes.
But soon enough the family finds itself stuck in an enormous traffic jam! Suddenly a knob on the dashboard of the car lights up saying “Pull the knob!”. Mr.Potts is speechless but obedient. As he pulls the knob, something magical happens!
As the family continue on their vacation, little did they know what surprises lay in store for them and how valuable this clever little car would prove to be. In typical “Ian Fleming” style, this adventure novel will take you to an isolated island, to a gangster’s lair and get you caught in their web! Will Chitty Chitty Bang Bang come to the rescue?
Widely known for his role as a Spanish waiter in “Fawlty Towers” (sitcom), Andrew Sachs is a brilliant reader of this classic tale. His clear narrative is perfect for this story telling. His delivery heightens the humor and adds to the fun factor! Listen to an excerpt here.
If you love a good tale spun around gadgets, gangsters and some action, then this is a story for you! Ian Fleming’s humorous tale is imaginative and timeless! A classic really.
The Tale of Despereaux
Being the Story of a Mouse, a Princess, Some Soup and a Spool of Threadby Kate DiCamillo (Author), Graeme Malcolm (Reader)
“This is the story of Desperaux Tilling, a mouse in love with music, stories, and a princess named Pea. It is also the story of Miggery Sow, a slow-witted serving girl with a simple, impossible wish. These characters are about to embark on a journey that will lead them down into a horrible dungeon, up into a glittering castle, and ultimately, into each other’s lives.
And what happens then? Listeners, it is your destiny to find out. ” (listen a sample here.)
So begins Graeme Malcolm, in his deep, rich voice as he narrates the story of a tiny mouse born with extraordinarily large ears. Malcolm’s narration is inviting and appealing. His voice has the quality of drawing you in and keeping you there with his story. His narration is nuanced and almost lyrical as he moves from one character to another and smoothly transitions his style accordingly. With such powerful opening paragraph and superb narration, we were HOOKED!
There are four important central characters to this story, but the story begins with the birth of Despereaux Tilling, the mouse.
Despereaux Tilling is a small but smart mouse with large ears. But it wasn’t the ears that were his problem, it was his intelligence. Because like all other mice, Despereaux, wasn’t interested in just eating things and hiding away.. Despereaux wanted to read and become an adventurer. Little does he know that his love for finer things, will lead him to fall in love with a real princess, get him thrown into a dungeon full of evil rats and finally put his love and honor to test in a dangerous situation.
This is also the tale of a slow minded girl called Miggery Sow who has been “clouted” so many times on her ears that she is nearly deaf. Miggery is a peasant girl whose one dream is to be a real princess on day. Her ambition will take her on a comic yet frightening journey into the dungeons where she will need to decide who is a friend and who is a foe.
Then there is the tale of the Princess Pea. A clever little girl who has lost her mother to an accident caused by rats. From the day her mother passed away, rats and soups (which was her mother’s favorite food) were banned in the kingdom. Princess Pea will be tested for her kind and forgiving heart and her love for all things good.
And finally there is the villain, the rat named Roscuro, who like Despereaux was “different” than the other rats, but in a more evil way! He will find a way to take his revenge, but you must read this tale to know how and why!
In this tale of intrigue and adventure, the paths of these four characters will cross in the most unusual way. Kate DiCamillo masterfully weaves this tale of desire, honor and love! Ultimately you cannot but help fall in love with these characters. You will truly find yourself in an adventure to seek the truth amidst treachery, deceit and temptations.
A classic tale NOT to be missed!
The Secret Gardenby Frances Hodgson Burnett (Author), Finola Hughes (Reader)
“.. if you look at it in a way, the whole world is a garden.”
Frances Hodgson Brunett’s “The Secret Garden” was written in 1911 but is a timeless tale and is a classic children’s read.
The Secret Garden is the story of a 10 year old girl, Mary Lennox. Mary Lennox is a sour girl. She is the most disagreeable looking child anyone has ever seen. Thin faced and with a thin body, with thin hair and a sour expression on her face, Mary Lennox never smiles. Her hair and face is yellow and she has always been ill one way or the other.
Her father who held an important position in the English Government in India, has no time to look at her or talk to her. Her mother who is a great beauty of her time, cared only about herself and her parties. The mother has left the child to be reared by the aayah’s (servants) of the house. The aayah’s were strictly told to keep the child away from the parents if they were to keep the parents pleased. Governess’ were provided to teach, but none of them stayed long enough as they grew to dislike the child very much! It was no wonder then, that Mary grew up to be an unloved and a sour child.
So when Mary Lennox suddenly finds herself to be an orphan, she does not shed a tear. When she finds herself being shipped off to an uncle who is hunch-backed and lives in an old desolate place, Mary simply looks disinterested. But Mary is secretly intrigued by the stories about Misselthwaite Manor and its inhabitants.
And there is a surprise waiting for Mary at Misselthwaite Manor. A magic of sorts.. the magic of beautiful vast moors, the magic of a little robin who befriends her and the magic of The Secret Garden. Surprisingly, Mary finds herself making the most unusual of friends. Martha, the housemaid, who tells her stories about her mother and brothers and sisters all living in a small cottage at the edge of the moor. Ben Weatherstaff, the Manor gardener, who talks to Mary about the robins and the gardens. And Dickon, a 12 year old boy with a pony who is Martha’s brother, who shows her to grow things.
Mary meets her uncle, who is heartbroken and lives as a recluse. And later in the story she meets Colin, her cousin, who like herself needs some of the special magic that makes Mary a little less contrary.
I will leave you to read the rest of the story or listen to it or watch it. Either way, the story will enamor you.. leave you to seek out your own secret garden. I will leave you to fall in love with this story because one can make such promises of stories like these! It is no wonder then that “The Secret Garden” has been called the greatest Children’s story ever written.
We read The Secret Garden, written by Frances Hodgson Brunnett and illustrated by Inga Moore. I have to say this is one of the most beautiful book I have ever seen. The art work is marvelous and inspiring. We also heard the audio book, narrated by the most talented Finola Hughes (Best known for her award worthy work in TV series General Hospital). Her outstanding narration of the story alternating between British English and Yorkshire English is charming and adeptly executed.
This is a story of re-awakening of spirits, of growing to love and live and finding happiness in most unusual places and people. Drawn on strong characters, Frances Hodgson Brunnet’s “The Secret Garden” is a must read, a classic that you will read and want to read across generations!
The Hundred Dressesby Elenor Estes (Author), Christina Moore (Narrator)
A story about Bullying!
There is so much going on in this book. Friendship and bullying, courage and regret, peer pressure and forgiveness. It is no wonder that the book is a Newbery Honor Book.
This is a story of 3 girls. Peggy and Maddie are best friends. They are classmates and are inseparable. Wanda Petronski, however, is a loner. She has no friends. She comes from a shabby part of town and wears the same shabby blue dress every day to school. One day in an effort to “blend in”, Wanda mentions that she actually has One Hundred Dresses of all kinds all lined up in her closet. This little lie sends her classmates into peals of laughter. From then on at every recess, Wanda Petronski is asked over and over again about her infamous one hundred dresses.
While Peggy and Maddie are part of the “daily routine”, Maddie really wishes it would stop. She understands why Wanda said what she said and wishes Wanda would just stop talking about her dresses. But at the same time she does not have the courage to say something about it. She also does not want to be singled out by the others.
One day Wanda stops coming to school. A note from her dad explains that they are moving to a big city where people with names like “Petronski” are not “funny”. Maddie lives the next few days with a heavy guilty conscious. She hopes that she gets a chance to make amends with Wanda.
Elenor Estes does a brilliant job in capturing different view points on the single topic of bullying. She captures beautifully the situation as well as the nuances of emotions. On one hand Elenor highlights the intense guilty conscious of the character of Maddie and on the other hand she brings out the desperation of a singled out lonely girl Wanda and her need to “fit in”.
This is a book for every girl and boy. The language used in this book is meant for 3rd graders. But one can easily listen to the audio book and follow along. Christina Moore’s narration is superb to say the least. A gem of a story, so true to real life situations and so thought provoking, that you the reader will stop and think how you can make the most of this learning experience for your child!
A must read !
Classics of Childhood, Vol 1. Classic Stories and Talesby Various Authors (Author), Various Readers (Narrator)
Great language and wonderful stories!
RThis is a wonderful collection of children’s favorite Classic stories. included in this 1 Audio CD are following stories:
1. Puss in Boots read by Robby Benson
2. A Day at Santa’s Workshop read by Betty White
3. Elfis, the Elf who saved Christmas read by Brian Austin Green
4. Jack and the Beanstalk read by John Ritter
5. Peter Pan read by Sandy Duncan
6. The Wild Swan read by Michael York
7. The Elves and the Shoemaker read by Michael York
This is almost 4 hours worth of storytelling read by professional stage and screen actors/actresses. This is a great collection for children 3 to 5 year olds. Some of the stories are short enough for a quick ride, others a little longer.
Our favorite was the Puss in Boots and the Wild Swan stories. The music in the background is just right and not too loud to distract you and creates a good “atmosphere” while the story is read out. Great Classics told by professionals!
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderlandby Lewis Carroll (Author), Michael York (Narrator)
Down the Rabbit Hole!
There is little to say about this beloved children’s classic story about a girl called Alice and her adventures in Wonderland. We have read this book in many versions in many formats for a long long time! But when we picked up this audio CD set from our library, we were delighted to find ourselves once again Down the Rabbit Hole!
Emmy and Grammy nominated and award winning screen and stage actor Michael York takes you on a journey through Wonderland. Almost instantly we were transported to the world of the Mad Hatter and the Queen of Hearts. York’s superb narrative of this classic tale is a keeper! You will enjoy the many accents York takes on as he narrates the story. Adults and children will equally enjoy listening to this evocative and enduring tale.
This 3 CD set consists of the original unabridged version of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland story. It is 3 hours and 7 minutes long. Blackstone Audio has kept the narrative in focus and not included any music or sound effects on the CDs which could distract the listener from the core of the story.