Spotlight on 2002 Book Sense Children's Book of the Year Finalists

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Finalists for the Book Sense Book of the Year were announced on February 13. Detailed below are the finalists in the two Children's categories -- Children’s Literature and Children’s Illustrated.

Independent booksellers chose the finalists from a list of titles that were all Book Sense 76 top ten picks in 2001. Ballots for the Book Sense Book of the Year Awards were mailed to booksellers at the end of February along with ballots for the 2002 ABA Officers/Board of Directors. The results of the voting for the Book Sense Book of the Year Awards will be kept secret until the winners are announced at the Celebration of Bookselling on Friday, May 3, at this year's BookExpo America, held at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York City.

Ballots for the Book Sense Book of the Year may be returned in the same envelope as the Board ballots, and must be postmarked by April 3, 2002. Booksellers can also print out the Book Sense Book of the Year ballot by clicking here. This ballot may be faxed to KPMG at (212) 872-6750, Attn: Charlene Laniewski. The deadline for faxes is April 10, 2002.


Angus, Thongs, and Full-Frontal Snogging, Confessions of Georgia Nicolson, Louise Rennison (HarperCollins)

Rennison, British comedian and writer, offers the confessions of a British teen in a diary reminiscent of Bridget Jones’s. Rennison capitalizes on the language gulf between America and England, teenagers and adults, by ending the book with a glossary of teenage slang.

Angus … has won numerous awards including the 2001 Michael L. Printz Honor Book, 2001 Best Books for Young Adults (ALA), and 2001 Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Readers (ALA). Rennison lives in Brighton, England, where she is a roving reporter and columnist. She has two goldfish, Finn and Bjork, who are her biggest fans.

From the Book Sense 76 Recommendation:
"This is a hilarious and brazenly honest account of the very complicated world that is the life of a 14-year-old London girl." -- Danielle Morgan, Village Books, Bellingham, Washington

Love That Dog, Sharon Creech (Cotler Books/HarperCollins)

Newbery Medal winner Sharon Creech's Love That Dog, a short novel written in free verse, explores the transformation of a poetry-phobic boy into an appreciative poetry reader and writer under the caring tutelage of a life-changing teacher. Many "boy" poets, including William Carlos Williams, Robert Blake, Robert Frost, and Walter Dean Myers, are mentioned and all selections are reprinted at the book’s end.

From the Book Sense 76 Recommendation:
"‘I don’t want to write poetry. Girls do.’ So begins the saga between young writer, Jack, and his encouraging teacher, Miss Stretchberry. This short novel, written in poetry form, allows us to follow along as Jack finds pride in writing. What a gift this book is to aspiring authors and their teachers." -- Marilyn Smith, Hawley-Cooke Booksellers, Louisville, Kentucky

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, Ann Brashares (Delacorte)

First-time novelist Ann Brashares chronicles the lives of four teenage best friends as they attempt to maintain contact, while separated over the summer, by writing about their adventures on a single pair of second-hand blue jeans passed among them. Four very different characters (and different sizes) find much-needed comfort in the pants, and in their friends. Brashares was inspired to write the book by a friend who spoke nostalgically of a summer abroad when she and another friend shared a pair of pants.

From the Book Sense 76 Recommendation:
"The only thing four 15-year-old girlfriends have to connect them throughout a long summer apart is a pair of $3.49 thrift store jeans -- jeans that miraculously fit each girl perfectly. The magic traveling pants will be sent to each girl twice, in the hopes that the girl wearing the pants will have an incredible adventure, make lasting memories, and remember the power of love and friendship." -- Nikki Mutch, UConn Co-op, Storrs, Connecticut

Witness, Karen Hesse (Scholastic)

This free-verse novel relates a true incident of prejudice, community, and eventual compassion when the Ku Klux Klan wields power over a small town far above the Mason-Dixon Line. The characters’ responses to unexpected violence fracture the community and force them to confront their beliefs and assumptions. Hesse, who has previously won the Newbery Medal, offers readers grist for reflection and discussion.

From the Book Sense 76 Recommendation:
"A remarkable book, written in poetic form using 11 different voices, telling of the effect of the Ku Klux Klan on a 1924 Vermont community. Suspenseful, scary, yet often funny and thrilling, it is the saga of ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances. How they then react and survive is both tragic and heroic. A wonderful new novel from Hesse." -- Marge Grutzmacher, Passtimes Books, Sister Bay, Wisconsin

You Read to Me & I'll Read to You, 20th-Century Stories to Share, Janet Schulman, ed. (Knopf)

A companion to Schulman's The 20th-Century Children's Book Treasury (Knopf), this anthology of 26 of the last century’s most memorable picture books and early chapter books (some excerpted) is aimed at children who may already read independently. In her introduction, Schulman urges parents to keep on reading to older children: "It is certainly true that most children continue to enjoy being read to long after they have mastered the skill themselves."

From the Book Sense 76 Recommendation:
"What a joy! A true treasure that not only includes No Kiss for Mother but also Flat Stanley with the original illustrations by Tomi Ungerer. So many great stories, and a tremendous value to boot!" -- Amy Nina Baum, Red Balloon Bookshop, St. Paul, Minnesota


The Dinosaurs of Waterhouse Hawkins: An Illuminating History of Mr. Waterhouse Hawkins, Artist and Lecturer, Barbara Kerley, illustrated by Brian Selznick (Scholastic)

For extinct creatures, dinosaurs certainly have a tenacious and lively hold on contemporary children. However, in the pre-Jurassic Park era of the 19th century, nobody knew of the dinosaurs’ existence until Victorian artist and sculptor (Benjamin) Waterhouse Hawkins attempted to recreate what dinosaurs looked like based on fossil remains. The exhaustive research done by author and illustrator is demonstrated throughout the text, detailed illustrations, and footnotes. Despite the inaccuracy of much of Hawkins’ work, the passion and spirit of this visionary man is striking.

From the Book Sense 76 Recommendation:
"This stunning picture book reveals the amazing true story of an unknown figure in the history of dinosaur research. A brilliant, fascinating book!" -- Dana and Marianne Harper, Brystone Children’s Books, Fort Worth, Texas

Olivia Saves the Circus, Ian Falconer (Atheneum)

Falconer’s Olivia, a Book Sense Book of the Year Award winner and a Caldecott Honor Book in 2001, among many other awards, is back to impress all with her many talents. The book is notable for the double-page gatefold that opens for all to witness Olivia on the trampoline and on the flying trapeze.

From the Book Sense 76 Recommendation:
"I love this even more than last year’s Book Sense Illustrated Children’s Book of the Year winner, Olivia. Her irrepressible character is so perfectly portrayed." -- Rose Joseph, Magic Tree Bookstore, Oak Park, Illinois

Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon, Patty Lovell, illustrated by David Catrow (Putnam)

First-grader Molly Lou Melon has buckteeth that you can stack pennies on and a bullfrog voice, and it gets worse. She’s a "SHRIMPO" and extremely clumsy, but her grandmother continually tells Molly Lou that if she believes in herself, the world will believe in her, too. Catrow illustrates the book with pencil and neon-green-tinged watercolors.

From the Book Sense 76 Recommendation:
"A sweet storybook saved from being too sweet by the funny illustrations. The important message: Be true to yourself and proud of yourself." -- Leslie Reiner, Inkwood Books, Tampa, Florida

Take Me Out of the Bathtub: And Other Silly Dilly Songs, Alan Katz, illustrated by David Catrow (Margaret McElderry Books/S&S)

Alan Katz, a comedy writer who has worked on children's programming for Disney and Nickelodeon, has created his own "silly dilly" versions of beloved childhood tunes. "I'm Filthy, I'm Dirty" is sung to the tune of "It's Raining, It's Pouring," and parents have songs to celebrate, too: "Go, Go, Go to Bed" is a remake of "Row, Row, Row Your Boat." Catrow illustrates the silly words with even sillier watercolors (Catrow also illustrated Book Sense Book of the Year-nominated Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon).

From the Book Sense 76 Recommendation:
"My co-workers and I have hardly been able to conduct business lately. We have been lying on the floor convulsive while singing the songs in this book. The illustrations by Catrow are absolutely wonderful." -- Alicia Greis, Colorado College Bookstore, Colorado Springs, Colorado

The Water Hole, Graeme Base (Abrams)

The author of Animalia and The Eleventh Hour: A Curious Mystery has created a unique counting book with messages about conservation and limited resources. Ten animals from 10 different countries come to slake their thirst at a single water hole. The water hole literally shrinks from page to page as a concentric cutout oval. Silhouettes in the borders of the creatures indigenous to each country, and hidden in the dense background, bear close scrutiny.

From the Book Sense 76 Recommendation:
"Here is a treasure of a book to come back to again and again. With each reading, I find more details in these stunning illustrations, which surprise and delight, in this story of a disappearing water hole. This multi-layered creation combines counting and hidden pictures, geography and zoology, an important environmental lesson, and exquisitely detailed art." -- Mari Enoch, The Bookloft, Great Barrington, Massachusetts