Best Multicultural Books, William C. Morris Finalists, YALSA Nonfiction, Anniversary of “Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey”

stella by starlightThe Center for the Study of Multicultural Children’s Literature ( has named its best books for 2015: .

YALSA Nonfiction Nominees: YALSA, the Young Most DangerousAdult Library Services Association, has nominated five books for its annual Award for Excellence in Nonfiction. The award will be announced at the upcoming ALA Midwinter conference in January 2016. Check out their website for the nominees and other related information:

2016 William C. Morris Finalists Announced: Five finalists were Simonannounced as possible contenders for the 2016 William C. Morris Award, “which honors the year’s best books written for young adults by a previously unpublished author.´ The winner will be announced at the upcoming ALA Midwinter conference in January 2016. For more information: .

Out of the Ordinary

Christmas MiracleWojciechowski, Susan. The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey: Deluxe 20th Anniversary Edition. Illus. by P.J. Lynch. [40p.] Candlewick, 1995/2015. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-7636-7822-7.

     This oversized, lavishly illustrated holiday picture book for older readers would be a lovely gift book but is also a good choice for most large libraries. The story concerns a shy, widowed woodcarver who is asked to create some figures for a Nativity scene. The widow and young boy who asked for the figures help Jonathan Toomey overcome his grief, in a tale set in the mid-1800’s American Midwest.

In many ways, the story is as much about the adults as the young boy Thomas; in fact, this was adapted into a film starring Tom Berenger and Joely Richardson in 2007. If the movie is shown on TV in December, that could inspire requests for the book.

The anniversary edition is larger in size than the original, which really benefits the dramatic illustrations. Achieved using dark watercolors, Lynch’s work is slightly reminiscent of Ted Rand’s style, and realistically depicts the characters and setting with abundant details, especially in the clothing and homes. The palette relies on shades of brown, giving the work the feeling of a sepia photograph.

The other new elements in this edition are the notes from the author and the illustrator, which are at the end of the book, each describing their research, process, and other inspirations. A note on the back jacket guides the reader to the free downloadable Grammy-nominated audio recording of the book, read aloud by James Earl Jones, which is available on the publisher’s website.

Many libraries will find this anniversary edition a good choice for a replacement copy, or to add to collections in need of more family Christmas read-alouds.

Penny Peck, SJSU iSchool

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