Armchair BEA 2013: Final Day

armchair-bea by Puss Reboots

From Armchair BEA:  From Picture Books to Young Adult  Today’s genre is a big one, Children’s Literature. From picture books to middle grade to young adult novels this is a category that encompasses books that young and old alike flock to on a daily basis.  What are your favorites? Why do you love children’s literature? You don’t have to be a kid to appreciate children’s and teen literature, do you?  (Armchair BEA design by Puss Reboots)


Finally, the genre turns to children’s literature.  For Kid LIt Reviews that means picture books and middle grade fiction and everything between.  There have been reviews for board books and early readers but the majority are picture books and middle grade so that is what the day’s questions will focus.

1. What are your favorites?

That is actually an easy question.  All one needs to do is check out the Top 10 of 2013 lists.


On a Beam of Light I Hate Picture Books flood2 Finders Keepers Santa Trap


The Secret Room the house in windward leaves - Copyright Owned by Katherine L Holmes - FINAL-001 dream dealer from jacketflap The Secret of the Village Fool House-of-Secrets

2.  Why do you love children’s literature?

Why do we look up at white fluffy clouds against a solid blue background?  Why do we smile at babies?  Why do we like the holidays?  Why?  Because they are beautiful, fun, interesting, eye-catching, and wonderous.  I think and feel the same about kid’s books.  What I have read ranges from the simply awful to the absolutely and stupendously magnificant.

Picture Books:  I love illustrations.  I love the colors and shades.  I love the details, especially the small or unneeded that the illustrator took the time to add.  Those details add to the fun or give extra information.  Mostly, it shows me that the illustrator enjoys his work and probably considers it more play than work.  I would love to be an illustrator and create these picture books that kids and parents, aunts and uncles, and grandmas and grandpas will enjoy for years.  I would love to create a monster that roars and has nasal drip.  Or a fire-breathing dragon that cannot control when or how far his fire shoots.  And maybe a tiny fairy with see-through wings of pale blue and a wand of gold.  That is why I love picture books for the illustrations.

I find it amazing how much information or how detailed a story the author can tell with 500 words.  Sometimes they tell a nice story with no words, such as Flood and Press This.  Picture book authors can be humorous (That Cat Can’t Stay) or completely silly (When Grandma’s False Teeth Fly).  They can explain the mysterious (The Shepherd Girl of Bethlehem), express feelings (I’d Choose You), and cope with illness (Nowhere Hair).

Most importantly, picture books are the doors to life-long reading.

Middle Grade:  Middle grade books are amazing in many ways.  MG novels, such as House of Secrets, take us to mysterious worlds or to a time long ago (The Cheshire Cheese Cat).   We can immerse ourselves in the pages and become ninja warriors (Jack Templar, Monster House),  musketeers (The Wee Musketeers), or dragon masters (Jonah and the Last Great Dragon).  A middle grade story can have us solving family mysteries (The Templeton Twins), saving small creatures (Freedom Pen), and fending off bullies (

Middle grade books are a test of persistence when they reach 500 pages.  Some can be read in one sitting and others cannot, but we do it anyway because the pages won’t stop turning and the story gets better with each passing chapter.  Many MG stories read as if the author were sitting by a campfire telling his tale.  They flow naturally and keep kids reading on their own.  The last middle grade book  I’ve read was A Girl Called Problem.  It took me to a place I have never been and a culture I knew little about.  For me, middle grade novels reach out and grab me, pulling me into a world of 8 to 12-year-olds.  It has been awhile since I was any of those ages and I am amazed at the subjects in these books.  I do not remember one middle grade book I read as a kid.  Not one.  Maybe I am making up for a time lost.

Whatever the reason, I love middle grade books and the places they take me, the things they teach me, and the joy they bring me.

The biggest reason I like children’s literature is because after I enjoy the story I get to tell you about the book, be it a picture book or a middle grade novel.  Love ’em or hate ’em, children’s literature will never go away.  What I read years ago can be read now and today’s new book will be tomorrow’s classic.  How great is that?

Today is the final day of Armchair BEA.  Next year maybe I’ll be writing from New York.  I would love to talk with the authors, grab tons of soon-to-be-released books, and marvel at all the excitement.  If not, maybe I’ll win a book next at Armchair BEA 2014.



PICTURE BOOKS: On a Beam of Light  by Jennifer Berne – Chronicle Books for Kids / I HATE Picture Books! by Timothy Young – Schiffer Publishing / Flood by Alvaro F. Villa – Capstone Young Readers /   Finder’s Keepers by Robert Arnett & Smita Turakhia – Atman Press / The Santa Trap by Jonathan Emmett & Poly Bernatene – Peachtree Publishers

MIDDLE GRADE BOOKS:   The Secret Room by Antonia Michaelis & Brigit Brandt – Skyhorse Publishing / The House in Windward Leaves by Katherine L. Holmes – Couchgrass Books / The Dream Dealer by Marita Phillips – Neve Press /  The Secret of the Village Fool by Rebecca Upjohn & Renné Benoit – Second Story Press / House of Secrets by Chris Columbus & Ned Vizzini – Balzer + Bray

21 thoughts on “Armchair BEA 2013: Final Day

  1. Loved this post and your passion for children’s literature! Hope you get to be typing from NYC next, too.

    And I seriously need to get House of Secrets read, am hearing really great things. A future classic indeed.

    p.s. sweet on how you got on the list for Timothy Young’s I Hate Picture books!!


    • Thanks Deb. Ten years ago I would have thought someone nuts if they told me I would be doing this let alone loving it. Most of it comes from the readers, bloggers, authors, illustrators, publishers, and everyone else I have met while doing this.

      Schiffer Publishing is a nice publishing house. They sent me Timothy Young’s first two picture books and I fell in love with his style. I Hate Picture Books is so different than the other two. It’s so much better, more colorful, and more alive. If I couldn’t get one from Schiffer, I would have hunted Timothy Young down for one. I had to have it for review. Now I need to buy me a copy.


  2. WOW! You have such a great list of both kid’s and MG’s it’s really amazing. My youngest loves to read, even if she has dyslexia, so we often read together, she reads the pages on the left, and me those on the right… But since French is her mother-tongue, there are none of those you mentioned on her list of books to read.
    Thanks for stopping by my Archair BEA wrapup post earlier.


    • Have you read Knees? That is the main title. It is about living with dyslexia from a child’s perspective. You can get it from That publlisher also has bilingual books and books printed in dual languages. Thanks for stopping by. I wish your daughter could read some of the listed books. I bet she’d enjoy them.


      • No, I haven’t read Knees, but I’ll get it now, as it would be great to understand her a little better. I need to check if I can find any of the titles in French… or I could propose to translate 🙂
        Thank you so much for the link!


        • Wow. Translating the books might open up a whole new world for you as a translator. I am curious, sorry I have always been this way. You read and speak English and French? Your daughter only speaks French? How did this happen. (You can always ignore me.)


          • I’m Norwegian, but live in the French-speaking part of Switzerland. So I read and write fluently in Norwegian, English and French. The language we speak at home is French, and she won’t start learning English for a few more years…
            I’m not a translator, though, but it would be fun to see if they’d let me do it anyway 🙂 I’d even do it for free!


  3. Wow – this was a perfect topic for you! I’m not a big kid’s lit reader, but I like some YA. I like mixing things up. Happy BEA!


    • I reviewed young adult when I first started, then separated the blogs putting YA by itself. There are too many adult topics to review them with children’s books and running two review sites got to be too many late nights, early mornings, and long afternoons. 😀


  4. I have read The Secret Room (did you know the sequel is out, or just about to be out?), and I’ve heard of House of Secrets, but the others you pictured are new to me–I’ll look out for them!


    • No, this is news to me. I will check it out. The publisher was to send me a copy, so I am interested in this news. Thanks. All the books mentioned are great books. Of course, “great book” is subject.


  5. I too love those children’s books. Wasn’t I Hate Picture Books a blast? It was great seeing so many old favorites there. What is great about them is that I can enjoy them, but then I get to share them with children and watch their eyes light up. I love my job (teacher librarian).


    • I was so excited about I HATE Picture Books that I emailed the publisher the moment I heard Timothy Young announced it on his blog, or maybe it was at Tara Lazar’s Picture Book Idea of the Month blog. She emailed back “that’s not for months, but you’re on the list.” Woohoo!

      I think Timothy Young gets better with each book he finishes. Makes me very excited to get his next book.

      You are very lucky. I think it would be so cool to work at the library in the children’s department. Can I ask? What is a “teacher librarian?” I think I should know this, but it is the first time I have seen those words together as a job position. OH, and thanks for stopping by just seconds after I linked up to Armchair BEA!!


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