Welcome to The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books
We are one of the nation’s leading children’s book review journals for school and public librarians. We provide concise summaries and critical evaluations to help you find the books you need for your library’s collection.
by Harmony Becker
Becker’s webcomic, Himawari Share, comes to print in this month’s Big Picture, an immersive graphic novel that explores cross-cultural identity and the power of language to separate and unite. Nao, born in Japan but raised from early childhood in the United States, spends a gap year in Japan trying to reclaim the culture she pushed behind her to fit in with her American friends. Having felt perpetually marginalized in America, Nao feels equally marginalized in Japan, struggling now with a language she once abandoned and questioning whether she even has a right to fully claim her Japanese heritage. Becker is nothing short of brilliant in capturing aural confusion in a print medium, and readers will be tossed into the deep end along with Nao as she navigates layers of culture and language to discover who she is and what she wants. There’s no easy resolution to her search for identity, but Himawari House is still a welcome destination for both its residents and its readers.
It is with complicated emotions that I announce my retirement as editor of the Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books as of this issue. I will be handing the reins over to my supremely capable colleague, Kate Quealy-Gainer, who will serve as interim editor.
I began working at the Bulletin in 1989, becoming editor in 2001. A recent estimate suggested I have reviewed approximately 6500 books in that time and read some or all of 10,000 new books for young people, handling and viewing close to 100,000 books in total. Throughout, it has been a joy and a privilege to work in this field, to daily encounter works of passion and beauty and hilarity, and to contribute in my own way to both supporting frontline librarians who make a difference every day and enriching young people whose lives are so often changed and shaped by books. I have also had the immense good fortune of working for and with editors and writers whose talents never cease to amaze me and who have made my thirty-two years at the Bulletin an era of constant growth and enlightenment.
My departure coincides with our celebration of the 75th volume year of the Bulletin, which is being commemorated in a digital timeline exhibit at https://ccb.ischool.illinois.edu/ccb75/. As the Bulletin prepares to move into its future, take a look at its past, in glorious black and white and on bleed-through onionskin paper. Yet even there the mission and commitment to the value of assessing books for young people are strong and palpable. Long may that commitment continue, and thanks to all of you for reading.
Deborah Stevenson, Editor
Yes, even in the chaos of 2020, there were still plenty of amazing books that crossed our (home) desks. Of course, we had to make some changes and revamped the procedure to share titles digitally but it was gratifying to find our enthusiasm undiminished, and in fact we’ve consciously chosen to go with a generous list this year. Whether for Zoom sharing or private escapism, books matter intensely right now, and it’s stirring to see how many stellar titles appeared this year despite the obstacles.
See the Cat: Three Stories About a Dog written by David LaRochelle and illustrated by Mike Wohnoutka has won the 2021 Gryphon Award. The award is given annually in recognition of an English language work of fiction or non-fiction for which the primary audience is children in Kindergarten through Grade 4. The title chosen best exemplifies those qualities that successfully bridge the gap in difficulty between books for reading aloud to children and books for practiced readers.
The Bulletin is partnered with the Center for Children’s Books, a research center whose mission is to facilitate the creation and dissemination of exemplary and progressive research and scholarship related to youth-focused resources, literature, and librarianship.