Smithsonian Notable Books for Children, 1997

Smithsonian Notable Books for Children, 1997

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Author: A True Story, written and illustrated by Helen Lester (Houghton Mifflin, $10.95) From the creator of Tacky the Penguin and other hilarious hits, a self-deferential and endearing account of the scribbler's trials. Could be a crossover hit: grown-ups suffering from writer's block surely could benefit from Lester's revelations.

Marven of the Great North Woods by Kathryn Lasky, illustrated by Kevin Hawkes (Harcourt Brace, $16) In 1918, during the influenza epidemic, the author's father was sent away from the outbreak in Duluth to a Minnesota logging camp. This tale of the kindly lumberjacks who looked after a shy and bookish boy is unforgettable.

Junk Pile! by Lady Borton, illustrated by Kimberly Bulcken Root (Philo-mel, $15.95) Hubcap rosebushes, sculptures from fan belts: a young artist discovers beauty in the most unlikely of places, her father's junkyard. Borton's portrait of a plucky heroine, set in Appalachia, is testament to the power of the imagination.

A Street Called Home written and illustrated by Aminah Brenda Lynn Robinson (Harcourt Brace, $18) In an accordion-style foldout book with flaps, the author has re-created the lost world of Mount Vernon Avenue in 1940s Columbus, Ohio. Along the way, she opens doors on the lives of people--the vegetable vendor, the herbalist--who inhabited a thriving African-American neighborhood.

Little Bobo Saves the Day by Serena Romanelli, illustrated by Hans de Beer (North-South, $15.95) The return of the violin-toting orangutan is a welcome diversion indeed: in this episode, Bobo braves the world outside the rain forest to locate medicine for his ailing uncle. A surefire child pleaser.

Jump the World: Stories, Poems, and Things to Make and Do from Around the World written and illustrated by Sarah Pooley (Dutton, $17.99) Don't stay home without it: this whirlwind tour offers tempting TV alternatives for children from 4 to 10 or so.

The Girl Who Dreamed Only Geese and Other Tales of the Far North, told by Howard Norman, illustrated by Leo and Diane Dillon (Harcourt Brace, $22) The novelist and two master illustrators have created a radiant rendition of ten Inuit tales, evoking a world of polar bears and puffins, shamans and snowstorms. From these pages emanate wisdom and compassion in great measure.

The Mother-Daughter Book Club by Shireen Dodson (HarperPerennial, $12.95) Journeying into the life of the mind with your daughter: Dodson's primer on reading together features reading lists and discussion guides.

Treehouse Tales by Anne Isaacs, illustrated by Lloyd Bloom (Dutton, $14.99) From their perch in a chestnut tree, at once their lookout and hideaway, three Pennsylvania farm children from the 1880s find adventure and emergent selfhood on the frontier. This high-spirited round of stories has the makings of a classic.

The Adventures of Odysseus retold by Neil Philip, illustrated by Peter Ma-lone (Orchard, $17.95) The ultimate adventurer, his exploits recast vividly by a writer-folklorist, beckons us to set out on the long voyage to Ithaca. The paintings shimmer with the light of the Aegean.


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