Children’s Books of the Year | BECOMING A GENTLEMAN: How tragedy can produce an honorable young man
by Janie B. Cheaney
Posted 2/13/20, 02:19 pm

“This book started with an image: a very formal butler standing on a stoop of a normal suburban house, on the first day of the oldest kid’s sixth-grade year, in the rain,” explained Gary D. Schmidt, author of Pay Attention, Carter Jones (Clarion Books, ages 10-12). “That whole image was there before anything else, and obviously, the question is: Why is he there?”

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Children’s Books of the Year | AGAINST THE ODDS: How God planned the steps of a girl with deformed feet
by Janie B. Cheaney
Posted 2/13/20, 01:55 pm

“Rebeka traced the shape of her curled feet through the blanket that covered her and her little sister, ­Medatrece. Everybody was asleep and she needed to go to the bathroom. She wanted to go by herself, without bothering anybody, but she was also afraid. Wild dogs roamed the Rwandan countryside after dark and could easily get into her yard.”

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Grace and poetry

Children’s Books of the Year | Painful memories, but also hope and faith, inform the work of poet Nikki Grimes
by Janie B. Cheaney
Posted 2/13/20, 01:27 pm

Life for me ain’t been no crystal stair.

In his poem “Mother to Son,” Langston Hughes set one of his most vivid images. It might also describe the early life of another poet whose climb out of childhood was similarly studded with tacks, splinters, and “boards torn up.” In her teens a friend asked Nikki Grimes how she could still believe in God. “What kind of question is that? How could I not? If it weren’t for him, I wouldn’t even be here. I’d either be in prison, or the grave” (Ordinary Hazards).

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