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Our Reviewers Choose Their Favorite Children's Books of 2014

Humor, fantasy, sports, can find a little bit of everything on our reviewers "best of 2014" list! Be sure to add them to your TBR list.

The Winner of the National Book Award for Young People's Literature

Jacqueline Woodson describes her childhood and early writing life in this stunning memoir in verse

When Merrill Sees a Pirate Ship in a Parking Lot, She Knows It Won't Be an Ordinary Day

Perfect "for fantasy fans who like a little humor in their tales." 

Authors Write to Their Characters in Honor of Write a Friend Month!

Read what Jane Yolen, Kirkpatrick Hill, Cathy Jenkins and Sharon Lovejoy have to say in their letters to the characters from their books!

Ring in the Holidays with Some Festive Picture Books

Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah or just the snowy weather, here is a collection of charming picture books to get you in the holiday spirit!

Features and Contests

Best of 2014 Lists

This is the time of year when “Best Of” lists are everywhere. Although we at don’t have a “Best Of” list of our own, we’ve compiled a number of them for you here. See which of your top picks appear on these lists and which titles you feel should've been included but weren't. Perhaps you’ll even find some books to add to your reading list as we head into the new year!


December's New Picture Books Roundup


Our December roundup includes I LOVE DOGS by Sue Stainton and New Yorker cartoonist Bob Staake, which celebrates canines of all shapes and sizes; the vibrantly illustrated VICTOR AND VIOLET WRITE THE BEST-EVER BOOKWORM BOOK by Alice Kuipers and Bethany Murguia, where a pair of twins are determined to write the best book in the whole world; and FIRST SNOW by Caldecott Honor-winning author-illustrator Peter McCarty, which features loving animal characters guiding Pedro through his first snow angel, sled ride and snowball fight!


Cool & New Books

In December’s Cool & New roundup, we have A PLAGUE OF UNICORNS by Jane Yolen, where the monks at Cranford Abbey must hatch a plan to stop the unicorns from eating all of their golden apples; THE UNTOLD HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES VOLUME 1: Young Readers Edition, an adaptation of Oliver Stone’s and Peter Kuznick’s groundbreaking book about some little known (and not-so-positive) events in America’s past; and HOUSE OF ROBOTS: My Brother, The Robot by James Patterson, the first book in a new illustrated series about an extraordinary robot in an ordinary fifth grade class.



New in Paperback

The December paperbacks this month are HOW TO CATCH A BOGLE by Catherine Jinks, where ten-year-old Birdie assists Alfred the Bolger, a renowned monster-catcher in Victorian England; and THE CATS OF TANGLEWOOD FOREST by Charles de Lint, where Lillian Kindred is transformed into a kitten and must go on a perilous adventure through untamed lands to make things right.

Latest Reviews

The Map to Everywhere written by Carrie Ryan and John Parke Davis - Young Adult Fantasy

To Master Thief Fin, an orphan from the murky pirate world of the Khaznot Quay, the Map is the key to finding his mother. To suburban schoolgirl Marrill, it's her only way home after getting stranded on the Pirate Stream, the magical waterway that connects every world in creation. With the help of a bumbling wizard and his crew, they must scour the many worlds of the Pirate Stream to gather the pieces of the Map to Everywhere--but they aren't the only ones looking. A sinister figure is hot on their tail, and if they can't beat his ghostly ship to find the Map, it could mean the destruction of everything they hold dear!

Guts & Glory: The American Civil War by Ben Thompson - Youth Historial Nonfiction

From courageous cavalry rides deep into enemy territory to harrowing covert missions undertaken by spies and soldiers, the events of the American Civil War were filled with daring figures and amazing feats. This exhilarating overview covers the biggest battles as well as captivating lesser-known moments to entertain kids with unbelievable (and totally true) tales of one of America's most fascinating conflicts.

What if you could tune your TV to the year 1963, and watch -- live? A new theme park attraction allows visitors to not only observe, but talk with the people of that turbulent decade. For 16-year-old Amy, it's the perfect escape from her own time -- an era she doesn't seem to fit in with. Things get complicated, however, when Amy falls for a 60s teenage boy on the bewitching TV screen. Trying to build a relationship across time proves maddening, especially while computers constantly bleep any language that might impact the future. Fortunately, Amy acquires a "magic clicker" which defeats this annoying restriction. But gaining the ability to speak freely comes with a heavy responsibility: Amy now has the power to alter history!

When some people kill, they are jailed or even executed. When others do, they are celebrated as heroes. Though this example is extreme, it’s just one of many that author and lawyer Teri Kanefield explores in depth. From an examination of what constitutes a crime, why and how we punish people who commit crimes, how the government determines these rules, to how citizens have reacted when they feel laws aren’t fair, this book will challenge young readers’ thinking about law and order, crime and punishment, while giving them specific legal cases to ponder along the way. For ages 12 and up, this examination of the legal system will also include historical photography to help bring each legal case to life.

This is not the kind of history taught in schools or normally presented on television or in popular movies. This riveting young readers’ edition challenges prevailing orthodoxies to reveal the dark reality about the rise and fall of the American empire for curious, budding historians who are hungry for the truth. Based on the latest archival findings and recently declassified information, this book will come as a surprise to the vast majority of students and their teachers—and that’s precisely why this edition is such a crucial counterpoint to today’s history textbooks.

Uneducated as a boy, Thomas Paine grew up to become one of the most influential writers of the 18th century. He brought the world Common Sense, Rights of Man, and The Age of Reason; simply written, verbal battles against political, civil, and religious ignorance.

Providing a historical perspective on all that is going on today, US CONGRESS FOR KIDS examines the major milestones in congressional history, including the abolition of slavery, extending the vote to African Americans and to women, and investigating misconduct in both government and private institutions. Kids will be engaged by the focus on dramatic stories, personalities, and turning points while also benefitting from the clear discussions of Congressional purpose, structure, history, and ongoing issues. Educational, hands-on activities that illuminate the workings of the U.S. Congress include making a House ceremonial mace, creating congressional money, making a capitol dome, and designing a Congressional Medal of Honor.

The kids who grew up to be president were like a lot of other children. Some struggled with schoolwork and got into fights; others pranked their teachers and infuriated their parents. William Howard Taft was forced to take dance lessons. Gerald Ford struggled with dyslexia. Teddy Roosevelt had a bedroom “museum” full of dead animals. Kid Presidents features 20 captivating true stories from the childhoods of American presidents, complete with lively text and more than 200 cartoon illustrations. Laugh-out-loud funny and packed with cool facts, it’s the perfect read for all young future leaders of the free world.