ALA Notable Children’s Books

ala notable

“Each year a committee of the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC) identifies the best of the best in children’s books. According to the Notables Criteria, “notable” is defined as: Worthy of note or notice, important, distinguished, outstanding. As applied to children’s books, notable should be thought to include books of especially commendable quality, books that exhibit venturesome creativity, and books of fiction, information, poetry and pictures for all age levels (birth through age 14) that reflect and encourage children’s interests in exemplary ways.” From the website

extra yarn

Barnett, Mac. Extra Yarn. Illustrated by Jon Klassen. Balzer and Bray, 2012. 40 pages. $16.99 ISBN-13: 978-0061953385

A young girl finds a magical box of neverending yarn.

Picture Book Fantasy

Age Range 4-9

5 out of 5 for quality, 4 out of 5 for popularity.

ALA Notable Children’s Book, 2013

Boston Globe-Horn Book Award, 2012

Caldecott Honor, 2013

On a walk in the woods Annabelle finds a box of yarn. She knits a sweater, then one for her dog. Since the yarn is not running out, she just keeps knitting, covering her classmates, the townspeople, dogs, trees, houses, cars. When a duke comes and tries to but the box of neverending yarn, Annabelle refuses. He sends robbers to steal it, but when he gets it home, its magic is gone, until it finds its way back to Annabelle.  The book is beautifully and simply illustrated primarily in blacks, browns, and whites, except for the sweaters, which are printed in bulky textures with muted rainbow hues. The story is charming and subtly funny, but it is the illustrations that make this a truly worthwhile read. The faces are simple but expressive, and the scenes well designed, using the whitespace and block printing to excellent effect.  I picked this up because the artist is one I enjoy, his illustrations are funny, but without wackiness that could be offputting. This book was enjoyed by my five year old and all the adults he convinced to read it to him.


I Want my Hat Back by Jon Klassen

Magic Box by Katie Cleminson

Princess Hyacinth by Florence Parry Heide

Discussion Questions

  1. Why doesn’t Annabelle sell her box to the Duke? Would you have sold the box?
  2. Do you think Annabelle will suffer from the family curse?

Book Talking

When you start a project, you know that it will come to an end, don’t you? What if you liked to paint and the paintbrush never went dry? For Annabelle it is knitting, and she finds a box of yarn that never goes empty.


Artist Website

Interview with artist at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast

Author Website

Interview with book author and illustrator on



crayons quit

Daywalt, Drew. The Day the Crayons Quit. Illustrated by Oliver Jeffers. Philomel, 2013. 40 pages. $17.99 ISBN-13: 978-0399255373

A box of crayons send letters to their owner Duncan with hilarious requests.

Comedic Picture Book

Age Range: 4-9

Rating 5 out of 5 for quality, 5 out of 5 for popularity.

ALA Notable Children’s Book, 2014

When Duncan sits down to color, he finds letters from many of his crayons. Red feels overworked, Grey wants to color small pebbles, not just elephants, Blue is used down to a nubbin. Orange and Yellow are fighting over who is the correct color of the sun, Green loves his work, but wants Duncan to make up his mind about the whole sun business so his friends will stop fighting. Peach has been stripped of his paper and feels nude. Each letter is written by the crayon and illustrated with the crayons hopes (Black wants a black beach ball, and not just to be an outline). The voices of the crayons are hilarious and kids will love the humor and the sentiment of crayons with personality. This book is getting a lot of attention, and I looked it up after hearing a number of good reviews. There are some concerns about it, one reviewer suggested that only referencing pink and peach as flesh tones makes this book a bit of ethnic insensitivity. I can see that a little, but not enough to devalue the book, which I fund utterly delightful and hilarious.


Dragons Love Tacos by Adam Rubin

Those Darn Squirrels by Adam Rubin

Mr. Tiger Goes Wild by Peter Brown


Book Discussion

1. Why is the blue so tiny? What does Duncan do to help him?

2. What would your green crayon say to you?

Book Talking

What would your crayons say if they could talk? Would they like your pictures, or maybe they would have some things to say about them!


Interview with Author at Kidlit411

Artist Website

Oliver Jeffers: Picture Book Maker


Alex Awards


‘The Alex Awards are given to ten books written for adults that have special appeal to young adults, ages 12 through 18. The winning titles are selected from the previous year’s publishing. The Alex Awards were first given annually beginning in 1998 and became an official ALA award in 2002.” From the YALSA Website


night circus

Morgenstern, Erin. The Night Circus.  Doubleday,  2011. 400 pages. $28.95 ISBN-13: 978-0385534635

A mysterious circus travels the world at the end of the 1800’s and is the venue of a magical competition between Marco and Celia.

Fantasy Fiction

Age Range: 15 and up

Rating: 4 out of 5 for quality, 4 out of 5 for popularity

Locus Award for Best First Novel, 2012

ALA Alex Award, 2012

Mythopoeic Fantasy Award Nominee for Adult Literature, 2012

Celia is sent to her father the magician at age 6 and almost immediately is signed up for a competition of magic and illusion as her father’s player. When or how the competition will begin is unknown, as is the identity of her competitor.  The story follows her competitor, Marco and soon the competition begins, the venue a travelling circus that opens only at night and follows no set schedule. Celia works there as an illusionist, but Marco must set up his feats of magic and illusion from afar. The descriptions are beautiful  and rich, the plot slow and meandering. This book is lovely and a perfect autumnal read. It won an Alex award because while the characters are adults, the appeal to a teen audience is obvious with its dark, mysterious setting and the forbidden love of the two competitors. The Cover art is appealing, but I have wanted to read this circus book since it came out, and was so excited to have it be a book I could read for a class on award winning books. It also won an award by an organization devoted to promoting literature and the study of the works of the Inklings, which makes it even more appealing to me.


Jonathan strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clark

Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

Book Discussion Questions

  1. How does the author create such a magical environment, how does the circus make it more mysterious?
  2. It seems like the death of the characters was inevitable, did they escape it? What do you think happens to them?


There is magic in this book, Illusions and fantastical gardens held together in a circus that is a goth dream. Everything is in black and white, magic and mystery is everywhere.


Author Website

Article about author in the StarTribune



Knisley, Lucy. Relish: my life in the kitchen. Turtleback, 2013. 176 pages.  $30.60. ISBN-13: 978-0606324311

Lucy tells the story of her life through her foodie experience in this series of comics.

Genre: Graphic Memoir

Age Range: 14 and up

Rating: 5 out of 5 for quality, 3 out of 5 for popularity.

Alex Award, 2014

Lucy Knisley was raised by foodies, her mother an excellent chef and caterer, her father a lover of all things fine.  She writes these fun comic chapters to illustrate the importance of food in her life, and to give omage to her mother, especially. Raised first in New York City and then in Upstate New York, Lucy developed tastes for both complex, rich, unusual foods, as well as the McDonald’s French fry. Her stories are sweet and funny, the illustrations perfect for the lighthearted and earnestness of her voice. Each chapter has an illustrated recipe at the end which add to the design and complete feeling of the book: she is trying to pass on her love of food to the reader. Although written for adults, this memoir is perfectly suited to young adults and even children (my 5 year old is enjoying it and requesting it over and over).


Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood by Marjane Satrapi

Calling Dr. Laura: A graphic memoir by Nicole J. Georges

They Draw and Cook: 107 Recipes Illustrates by Nate Padavick and Salli Swindell

Book Discussion

  1. How effective is the life story through food stories? How does it help you get to know the character?

Book Talking.

Here is a book for food lovers and comic book fans. Also, learn how to make chai.

Author website

Interview with the Graphic Novel Reporter

Castles and Cooks Interview