Thursday, May 31, 2012

What Makes a Good Book (Part 1) by Marilyn Courtot

The following is the first in a six part series written by Children's Literature President Marilyn Courtot that we posted back in 2009. Aimed at reviewers and writers, we will be running a new part every month. 

Basic Construction and Illustrations

When evaluating a book for a child, there are a lot of characteristics to keep in mind. But lest you feel overwhelmed, remember that if you have been reading books, especially children’s books, you have probably developed an innate ability to select the good ones. You just may not realize what influences you and why. This, first in a series of columns, will address the features of a good book.

Let’s look at the basic construction of a book. Consider the quality of the fabrication—will it hold up to repeated handling and reading? Look in particular at the binding and cover construction. If the slip jacket is removed, will the cover still have appeal? Is the paper of good quality, or does it tear easily? Look at the book’s size and shape. If the book is for toddlers then keep it small for little hands. Oversized books are usually not appropriate for those under nine—they are just too big and too heavy.

Next, look at the illustrations. Are they clearly reproduced? Are the color registration and clarity acceptable? Although black-and-white helps babies clearly distinguish objects, color is very important for older kids. Colors do not need to be vibrant or garish to appeal to children; studies have shown that pastels are soothing and can encourage learning.

Also, are the illustrations appropriate to the story or text? Do they enhance and exemplify the text, or do they head off in an entirely new direction. Author/illustrator Chris Manson commented that “the children’s book market is really the best place in the publishing industry for full color art. Sometimes it blows away the story.” He believes that illustrations need to be in balance with the story. Illustrations should make the story bigger, but not different. 

Marilyn Courtot 
Publisher and Editor

Monday, May 21, 2012

Summer Audiobooks

The New York Times Book Review section from May 20th featured an article by Judith Shulevitz, “Let’s Go Reading in the Car” that included the following list of recommended audiobooks to check out this summer. Read reviews for these titles with CLCD.

For Ages 4 and Up:

D’Aulaires’ Book of Greek Myths
Read by Paul Newman, Sidney Poitier, Kathleen Turner, and Matthew Broderick

The “Gooney Bird” series by Lois Lowry
Read by Lee Adams

The “Great Brain” series by John D. Fitzgerald
Read by Ron McLarty

The “Judy Moody” and “Stink” series by Megan McDonald
Read by Barbara Rosenblat

Toys Go Out by Emily Jenkins
Read by Melanie Martinez

For Ages 8 and Up:

The “Fudge” series by Judy Blume
Read by the author

Misty of Chincoteague by Marguerite Henry
Read by Edward Herrmann

Shiloh by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
Read by Peter MacNicol

The Trumpet of the Swan by E.B. White
Read by the author

For Ages 10 and Up:

Bloomability by Sharon Creech
Read by Mandy Siegfried

Flush by Carl Hiaasen
Read by Michael Welch

The “Joey Pigza” series by Jack Gantos
Read by the author

Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli
Read by S. Epatha Merkerson

Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool
Read by Jenna Lamia, Cassandra Campbell, and Kirby Heyborne

Friday, May 11, 2012

Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen

Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen is a graduate of the California Institute of Technology with a degree in biology. She never thought that she would grow up to become a writer; it wasn’t until she had her two children that she took time off from being a Ph.D. candidate to pursue a career in writing. Sudipta had her first story published in 2003 in the magazine Highlights for Children. From there, Sudipta branched out into nonfiction, including books on science and biographies. Her most recent book is Half-pint Pete the Pirate, illustrated by Geraldo Valério.

Sudipta visits schools to share her stories and experience, and teaches writing to children and adults. She lives in New Jersey with her family (now comprised of three children, with the addition of son Sawyer in 2006) and an imaginary pony named Penny.

To have Sudipta visit your school or organization email