It’s hard to choose a new book for your children- especially with such a wonderful, wide range out there and recommendations coming at you thick and fast from all sources, reputable or not. Of course word-of-mouth suggestions are often the best, but it’s nice once in a while to find something new and feel comfortable that you have made a good choice for your child.

The Randolph Caldecott Medal annually recognizes the preceding year’s “most distinguished American picture book for children”. The Caldecott and Newbery Medals are the most prestigious American children’s book awards, and so, despite the fact that I am not American myself, I love to look and see who has won, read the excellent stories and admire the wonderful illustrations of not only the winners but also the other ‘Honor (sic.) Books’.

Author-illustrator Dan Santat’s “The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend,” a fantasy featuring an island for pretend playmates, received the Randolph Caldecott Medal for best picture book. Kwame Alexander’s “The Crossover,” a novel in verse about basketball and coming of age, won the John Newbery Medal for the year’s best children’s book.

The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend, introduces us to Beekle, the imaginary side of the story: a boy who undergoes an emotional journey looking for his human. Santat uses fine details, kaleidoscopic colours, and exquisite shapes to convey the emotional essence of this special childhood relationship. “Santat makes the unimaginable, imaginable,” said Caldecott Medal Committee Chair Junko Yokota.

In The Crossover, the twelve-year-old narrator Josh Bell uses the rhythms of a poetry jam to emulate the “moving & grooving/popping and rocking” of life on the basketball court with his twin brother, J.B. This powerful novel in verse paints an authentic portrait of a closely-knit family on the brink of crisis. An amazing, fun, fast- paced book, it is especially appealing to boys- encouraging them to read and get involved in a story.

Many of the other books which were mentioned in honours also have fabulous storylines and stunning visual images. For me, though, the best are the picture books, and these are the others honoured:

Nana in the City,” written and illustrated by Lauren Castillo.
The Noisy Paint Box: The Colors and Sounds of Kandinsky’s Abstract Art,” illustrated by Mary GrandPré, written by Barb Rosenstock.
Sam & Dave Dig a Hole,” illustrated by Jon Klassen, written by Mac Barnett.
Viva Frida,” written and illustrated by Yuyi Morales.
The Right Word: Roget and His Thesaurus,” illustrated by Melissa Sweet, written by Jen Bryant.
This One Summer,” illustrated by Jillian Tamaki, written by Mariko Tamaki.
Both winning books were out of stock on Amazon.com after the announcements early last week.

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