The Story of Mankind by Hendrik Van Loon (published 1921) was awarded the first Newbery Medal in 1922, an award intended to celebrate the “the most distinguished contributions to American literature for children” that had been published in the previous year. As a volume that hoped to portray history with a conversational style, Van Loon
A First Time for Everything by Dan Santat (First Second, February 2023) is a middle grade graphic novel memoir of Dan’s experiences when he was 13 years old and had the opportunity to explore Europe. Set in 1989, a different era for traveling, the novel captures the essence of that time. The story revolves around
The Mice of Bistrot des Sept Frères by Marie Letourneau is a fun picture book about a restaurant in Paris run by seven brothers. However, it is the one sister who ends up saving the day! The Bistrot is a special place for mice and all the illustrations in it feature anthropomorphic mice. “Anyone who
Elephant Man by Mariangela Di Fiore and Hilde Hodnefjeld (Annick Press 2015) is a difficult picture book meant for older children to read. It is about an obscure deformed man in history, one that was famous in his own way but tragically alone.
My grandfather was born in Hreljin in 1923, when it was Yugoslavia and in what is now Croatia. When I heard about Yugoslavian Ivo Andric’s 1945 novel The Bridge on the Drina, I had hoped for a glimpse of what life was like in my ancestor’s homeland during a tumultuous time. Although my grandfather’s home
F. Scott Fitzgerald’s writing in Tender is the Night (published 1934) is impressive. He writes complex sentences with incredible fluidity and rich vocabulary. This seems to give each sentence, each paragraph, and therefore each page a sense of life. Reading Fitzgerald is an exercise in appreciating the complexities and the beauties of the English language.
One of our family traditions is to read the Biblical account of the first Noel. I have found a fantastic picture book the illustrates the Bible verses for families to do so! The picture book The Christmas Story features paintings by Gennady Spirin. These paintings appropriately remind me of Europe and the Renaissance, and I
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