By Helen Foster James, Ed.D., Kathleen Krull, and Peter Neumeyer, Ph.D.Good times lie ahead for family read-alouds or cozy-corner reading by oneself. This year's best bets round up irresistible "touch" or "listen" board books, silly rhymes and storylines, clever pop-ups that beckon exploration, and fact books that both satisfy and pique curiosity. Peruse your favorite bookstore for the following titles and read for yourself why each is a winner!
Note: For your convenience, when available, these award winning book may be purchased online at Amazon.com. Click on the title or image of a book to launch the appropriate Amazon link.
Amelia to Zora: Twenty-Six Women Who Changed the World, by Cynthia Chin-Lee, illustrated by Megan Halsey and Sean Addy, Charlesbridge, 2005, $15.95. These biographical sketches of fascinating women, ranging from Helen Keller to Maya Lin, are brilliantly illustrated in this nonfiction book that will spark family discussion.
Flush, by Carl Hiaasen, Knopf, 2005, $16.95. In this fast-moving book with plausible teen dialogue, young Noah Underwood and his sister, Abbey, have good evidence that the corrupt skipper of a gambling boat is dumping raw sewage into Florida's offshore waters.
Maritcha: A Nineteenth-Century American Girl, by Tonya Bolden, Abrams, 2005, $17.95. Excellent, well-researched photo essay on the life of an ordinary black girl born in poverty in 1848 who went on to become the first African-American to graduate from a Rhode Island high school.
The Misadventures of Maude March … or Trouble Rides on a Fast Horse, by Audrey Couloumbis, Random House, 2005, $15.95. Well-written, fast-paced Wild West story starring 11-year-old Sallie and her "outlaw" sister Maude.
Toulouse-Lautrec: The Moulin Rouge and the City of Light, by Robert Burleigh, Abrams, 2005, $17.95. This biography of Henri Toulouse-Lautrec captures the famed artist's life and work with opulent information presented in an accessible text and complemented by photographs of his paintings.
Transformed: How Everyday Things Are Made, by Bill Slavin, Kids Can Press, 2005, $24. Did you know that the first candles were sticks dipped in animal fat, that yogurt was enjoyed by the Mesopotamians in 5,000 B.C., and that kitty litter was originally composed of dry clay pellets? This book tells the story of more than 50 everyday products with clear text and ample illustrations.
Fantastic Feats and Failures, by the editors of YES! magazine; Kids Can Press, 2005; $15.95. From the Eurotunnel and the beautiful Sydney Opera House to
The Jumbo Book of Needlecrafts, Judy Ann Sadler and contributors; Kids Can Press, 2005; $16.95. Knitting, crocheting, embroidery, quilting and sewing are arranged in sections with quick introductions and easy project ideas for beginning and seasoned crafters.
Media Madness: An Insider’s Guide to Media, by Dominic Ali, illustrated by Michael Cho; Kids Can Press, 2005; $14.95. This busy, bright and browseable compendium includes factoids explaining how a new song needs a “hook” (an attention grabber) and manufacturers pay to place logos into video games.
Real Spirit, by Elizabeth Chobanian, illustrated by Carol Yoshizumi; American Girl, 2005; $9.95. Girls will love this helpful book of step-by-step directions and color photographs to help them keep physically and emotionally healthy.
Uncover the Human Body, by Luann Colombo; Silver Dolphin, 2003; $18.95. This fascinating book comes with a built-in human body model and explains the interrelated human body systems including skeletal, digestive, respiratory and more.