Vol 1, Issue 12 December 2021

Happy Holidays! Thank you for joining us for this first year of ChildrensLit Now. We hope you have found some extraordinary books for your library, whether it's a home, public, school, or education library. We've loved sharing this year’s great books coming out from fabulous authors and illustrators, new and older, from small publishing houses to large publishing houses and new independent publications. In addition to book reviews, ChildrensLit expanded offerings by adding an Indie Author Promotions Service and revamped Booking Service, all to get great books in front of children everywhere. Thank you again for joining us on these new journeys.

In our first newsletter, January 2021, we shared, "Our mission is to review a wide variety of children's and young adult titles from a wide variety of voices. We do so with several goals in mind. One, that every child and teen find themselves represented in literature. Two, that they learn about and respect others that are different from themselves. Three, that they are exposed to enjoyable fiction and nonfiction to help educate, provide understanding, and inspire." We hope the book reviews we shared this year reflected this mission. We move towards 2022 with the same mission in mind.

This month's issue of ChildrensLit Now will give librarians, reading specialists, and event coordinators an opportunity to participate in our revamped Booking Service. In addition, check out nine great books to add to your collection and a chance to follow our 25 Days of Children's Christmas Literature.

From the ChildrensLit Now family to yours, may your winter holidays be filled with kindness and joy.

Shelley Oakley

Subscribe to ChildrensLit Now Newsletter

Booking Service

Are you looking for a great author or illustrator to speak to your class, school, or library? In-person or virtually?

Children's Literature's revamped Booking Service provides a straightforward way to discover authors and illustrators for speaking engagements. This FREE service helps event coordinators connect with authors and illustrators and is not limited to specific publisher representation. And, instead of paying a fee to use this service, your total budget goes towards a fantastic event for your organization.

  • Search by Author or Illustrator name.
  • Search by filters such as dates available, state, fee, and audience.
  • Connect directly with authors, illustrators, or their direct booking agent.


Invite Chrysa Smith to Your School

Author Chrysa Smith is available for both in-person (Pennslyvania and bordering states) and virtual visits.

Chrysa provides several different types of presentations, including presentations for children, workshops, keynotes for adults, and panel speaking. Find out more about Chrysa's presentations, including fees, availability, and more through Children's Literature's Booking Service.

ChildrensLit Notable Reviews

My Christmas Wish for You
By: Lisa Swerling and Ralph Lazar
Publisher: Chronicle Books
ISBN: 9781452184364
Reviewer: Megan Honeycutt

This book has an easy-to-understand rhyming scheme that is perfect for young readers. With a theme of hope and kindness, the story makes readers feel as if the authors are speaking to them individually about their wishes and hopes for Christmas. While this is a short and quick read, it is cheery, hopeful, and magical in its own right. The adorable illustrations will make readers want to snuggle up with family in front of a fireplace, a lighted Christmas tree, and a big cup of hot cocoa. Characters of different races and ethnicities are presented in childlike drawings, making it easy for all young readers to relate to the illustrations. Many different aspects of the holiday season are presented throughout, including snowmen, crackling fires, hot chocolate, and Santa. Emphasis is placed on themes of friendship and hope during the holidays. This title is sure to be a family favorite, read as a tradition each holiday season.

Santa's Journey
By: Jennie Bradley
Illustrated by: becker&mayer! kids
ISBN: 9780760371954
Reviewer: Lisa Jacovsky

This cute story about how Santa Claus brings his gifts each Christmas Eve is an easy read for any child or toddler. Its simple rhyming pattern will appeal to young children, as will the beautiful vibrant illustrations on each page. Formatted as a layer-by-layer book, this title has a cut-out of Santa on the front, and each turn of the page removes another layer of Santa. At the start, he is in his full Santa Claus robes, and as the story proceeds, pieces of his clothes are taken away to reveal, at the end, Santa in pajamas. This approach is a fun and different way to capture a child's attention and ensure they will want to read the book again. It gives the book a sensory component, as readers can touch and feel the layers of the pictures throughout. A wonderful addition to any family's library.

Apple and Magnolia
By: Laura Gehl
Illustrated by: Patricia Metola
Publisher: Flyaway Books
ISBN: 9781947888357
Reviewer: Carrie Hane Hung

Britta firmly believes that her two favorite trees, Magnolia and Apple, are friends. She can see how they interact in friendship. Although her father and Bronwyn do not think it is possible for the two trees to be friends, her nana tells her that "unusual friendships can be the most powerful of all." One day, Britta notices that Magnolia is showing signs of illness. Although her father and Browyn say there's no hope for the tree's survival, Britta is inspired by her nana, who wonders what Britta will do to help Magnolia. In an effort to save the tree, Britta comes up with a plan to utilize the friendship to connect and bond the two trees. Children may enjoy the way Britta has believes in the strength of the trees' friendship and takes action to help solve the problem. The illustrations use soft shades and tones of brown and blue to support the text. The author's note includes a brief explanation of tree communication research; readers will need to independently explore additional resources for further information on the topic.

How Beautiful
By: Antonella Capetti
Illustrated by: Melissa Castrillon
Publisher: Greystone Kids
ISBN: 9781771648530
Reviewer: Judy Liu

A caterpillar's unquestioning and peaceful life is interrupted when a little girl picks it up and calls it an unfamiliar word: "beautiful." In order to satisfy an intense flood of curiosity, the caterpillar decides to ask different forest creatures what "beautiful" means to them. The result is a different answer from each one, all shown in incredibly gorgeous illustrations. "Beautiful" is a tasty honeycomb to a bear, fun dry leaves to a squirrel, a useful mushroom to a mouse, a comfortable chair to a deer, a cozy hole to a mole, and a shiny can to the contrarian blackbird. When nightfall signals a pause in the exhausted caterpillar's search, all the animals look up at the moon and agree on its beauty, allowing the caterpillar to realize and accept that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. A timeless message told in a story perfect for class read-alouds, bedtime stories, and independent reading.

The Wolf's Curse
By: Jessica Vitalis
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
ISBN: 9780063067417
Reviewer: Jean Lee

A dazzling middle-grade fantasy novel by debut author Vitalis. The premise, wholly original, will hook readers from its first page until the very last. The story is narrated by a mysterious and intriguing wolf, whom we learn was a maiden in a previous life. If the narrative voice alone were not enough to fascinate readers, the plot will keep them turning pages to find out what happens to the outcast at the center of the story. Themes of death, grief, and healing are artfully handled as we witness the boy dealing with the loss of his grandfather, the loss of childhood, and the loss of social acceptance. Fantasy is blended with mystery and even a little medieval historical fiction in a middle-grade fantasy at its finest. Readers will be looking forward to future titles by this author, with nothing but the highest expectations for her work.

Julia's House Goes Home
By: Ben Hatke
Publisher: First Second
ISBN: 9781250769329
Reviewer: Heidi Lanni

Julia's house has been seeking a home. Julia thinks she spies the Perfect Spot in the distance, and so they begin to head in that direction. Unfortunately, the terrain is rough, and the house loses its footing. Julia is bumped right out. Finding the front door sign, she determines to follow the path made by her wayward house. She picks up those housemates who were also bounced out, as well as many new friends they meet along the way. When the varied travelers finally reach the Perfect Spot, they have one option: Work together to make the home they want to have in the world. Themes of journeying, belonging, home, community, and creating one's place echo the author-illustrator's other works in a most satisfying way. Fans of Hatke's earlier Julia's house books (Julia's House for Lost Creatures, 2014; Julia's House Moves On, 2020) will be absolutely thrilled by this addition to the series. Readers unfamiliar with the earlier tales may not understand the concept fully and should probably be encouraged to start with the first book. (When they do, they'll be glad they did.) Recommended for public and early elementary libraries.

A Soft Place to Land
By: Janae Marks
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
ISBN: 9780062875877
Reviewer: Molly Callender

Marks (From the Desk of Zoe Washington, 2020) has crafted another heartwarming novel about family, friendships and the challenges of growing up. Joy Taylor has moved from the only home she's ever known to a cramped apartment with her parents and little sister. To make matters worse, her mom and dad are fighting more and more. As if struggling with a new school and home isn't enough, the family's financial difficulties mean that Joy can no longer take her beloved piano lessons. Her dream of becoming a film score composer seems nearly impossible. A bright spot in the building is her neighbor Nora. The girls become fast friends, and even begin a dog walking business together. Joy is hopeful that if she can save enough money, maybe she can afford lessons again. As their friendship grows, Nora takes Joy into her confidence and shows her the Hideout. It's a secret room under the apartment building, and only the kids who live there know that it exists. Nora invites Joy to use the Hideout, but she must keep it a secret. One night, tensions rise in the family, and without thinking of the consequence of her actions, Joy runs to the Hideout. This decision spirals into more problems for Joy. Experiencing the consequences of her actions, she feels even more alone and depressed than before. Realizing that she has the power to improve her situation, Joy takes matters into her own hands. The author has created a story where Joy navigates the challenges of early adolescence in the most authentic way. Readers will connect to the effortless prose, gently woven plotlines, and believable characters. A perfect read for middle-grade classrooms.

Bisa's Carnaval
By: Joana Pastro
Illustrated by: Carolina Coroa
Publisher: Orchard Books
ISBN: 9781338617627
Reviewer: Sarah Swan

Clara is really excited because her favorite religious celebration is Carnival, or Carnaval in Portuguese. She and Bisa (her great-grandmother) always decide on a special theme for the celebration. This year, they are planning the best one ever. The reader watches Clara and her Bisa make matching costumes called fantasias for the whole family to wear, ornamented with buttons and other bling. Unfortunately, Bisa can't walk or dance in the festival parade anymore; luckily, she can watch from her balcony and cheer the family on. One of the nice things about this book is the smattering of Portuguese words strategically placed alongside the English words to give the reader knowledge of a new language. The illustrations are sweet, and the feeling of festivity is palpable throughout the book. Beginning readers can sound out most of the words, and younger children will enjoy having the book read to them.

One Moment in Time: Children Around the World
By: Ben Lerwill
Illustrated by: Alette Straathof
Publisher: Happy Yak
ISBN: 9780711263536
Reviewer: Lisa Czirr

At any given moment, someone is waking up to eat breakfast, while someone else on the other side of the world is fast asleep in bed. Through this informative picture book, readers will get a quick snapshot view into the lives of eleven different children all around the world ''at exactly the same time.'' From Mexico to Ghana, and all the way to Australia and back again, a variety of different time zones and cultures are represented. Each double-page spread depicts a specific area of the world, with Javier in Mexico eating his breakfast, for instance, while Meera in India flies a kite. The book excels at looking beyond differing physical features and adding in small cultural details, such as language, food, clothing, and the different environments where the children live. Along with a description of each child's activities and the time of day, a short block of text provides brief information about the culture, along with follow-up questions. These questions relate the material back to the reader, asking them about the weather where they live, their favorite sports, and other ways in which they can compare their lives to those of children in distant countries. The illustrations are a good balance of cartoonish and realistic, with cultural details and some occasional humor. Overall, this book is a well-done representation of both differences and commonalities in children around the world.

ChildrensLit Facebook ChildrensLit Twitter

ChildrensLit Highlights

Are you an author or illustrator looking for more ways to speak at libraries and schools? There is still time to sign up for Children's Literature's newly updated Booking Service. Our updated Booking Service program allows event coordinators to find a variety of authors and illustrators for events and school visits, in-person or virtually, regardless of specific publisher representation. All with no fee-per-event from Children's Literature for the author/illustrator. Your yearly subscription is all it takes to participate. https://tinyurl.com/3wb8mwtm.
© All rights reserved.