Children's Books 2000-2009
Olivia by Ian Falconer
Published in 2000 by Atheneum, New York, Olivia was written and illustrated by Ian Falconer. Along with being an author and illustrator, Falconer is also a costume and set designer for theatre, and he has created over 30 covers for The New Yorker magazine. In the Olivia series, which to-date includes twelve books, Falconer uses a limited color palette of black and white, with occasional splashes of red. His otherwise simple renderings sometimes include the work of famous artists like Degas and Pollock within the story. This minimalist style is reflected in the original Olivia cover, which depicts only the title and main character, not even including the author’s name. A cute story with a plucky porcine heroine, best for children ages 3-7.
It's Okay to Be Different by Todd Parr
Published in 2001 by Little, Brown & Co., It’s Okay to Be Different is a children’s book by American author Todd Parr. Parr is the author of more than 40 children’s books promoting love, kindness and feeling good. It’s Okay to be Different is a popular resource for teaching diversity and tolerance. A great book appropriate for all ages and reading levels.
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by Newt Scamander
Originally published by Bloomsbury in the UK and Scholastic in the US, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is based on a school textbook borrowed from Hogwart’s Library. The textbook describes 85 mythical creatures both created by J.K. Rowling in her Harry Potter series and borrowed from folklore. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, along with Quidditch Through the Ages, were both released in March 2001 to benefit the charity Comic Relief, and to date have raised over 22 million dollars for the UK based nonprofit, whose mission is to drive positive change through the power of entertainment. This book is a direct-tie in that compliments the Harry Potter series, for readers 9 and up.
Eragon by Christopher Paolini
True first editions of Eragon were self-published by Paolini International, LLC in 2002. The author, Christopher Paolini, was born in 1983 and wrote Eragon when he was in his teens. After self-publishing with his parents support, he marketed the book himself before being discovered by Carl Hiaasen. Hiaasen, a popular author of adult and children’s books, helped Paolini sign to Alfred A. Knopf. The first trade US edition was published by Knopf in 2003, and UK edition was published by Doubleday in 2004. The book became one of the best-selling children’s hardbacks in 2003, as well as the paperback edition which was released in 2005. Eragon is the first book in the Inheritance Cycle series and was followed by Eldest (2005), Brisingr (2008) and Inheritance (2011). A movie was released in 2005 starring Jeremy Irons, Joss Stone, and John Malkovich. The Inheritance Series Cycle is best for readers ages 12 and up.
Crispin: The Cross of Lead by Avi
Published by Hyperion, New York in 2002, Crispin: The Cross of Lead was written by the American author known as Avi. The story, about 13-year-old Crispin, is set in Medieval England. After his mother dies Crispin is accused of a murder he didn’t commit, and he must flee his village or be killed. True first editions will have no award seals. This is the beginning book of the Crispin series, which is a middle-reader for ages 10 and up.
Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! by Mo Willems
Published by Disney-Hyperion in 2003, Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! is the first children’s book by author Mo Willems. It became a New York Times best-seller, and received a Caldecott Honor. Willems began his writing career on Sesame Street before publishing his first book, Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!, on April Fools Day. The book, about a bus driver stepping away from his vehicle with the warning not to let the pigeon drive the bus, has become a bestseller. The pigeon currently has over 71k followers on twitter - although most of those followers are probably not the main audience for this title, which is age 2 to 5.
Al Capone Does my Shirts by Gennifer Choldenko
Published by G.P. Putnam’s Sons in 2004, with a reprint by Puffin in 2006, Al Capone Does my Shirts was written by the American author Gennifer Choldenko. This historical fiction takes place on Alcatraz Island in 1935, where Moose Flanagan has moved with his family. His father takes a job as a guard at the famous prison so his sister can go to a special needs school in San Francisco. Choldenko continued the series with three more books, Al Capone Shines my Shoes, Al Capone does my Homework, and Al Capone Throws me a Curve. Al Capone Does my Shirts was a Newbery Honor Book. There is some older content (it does take place in a prison) that makes this read best for ages 12 and up.
Llama Llama Red Pajama by Anna Dewdney
Published in 2005 by Viking, Llama Llama Red Pajama was the first book written and illustrated by American author Anna Dewdney and was a breakthrough success. There have been more than 20 Llama Llama spinoffs, as well as a Ludacris cover, and a Netflix series narrated by Jennifer Garner. The books have sold over 12 million copies. Dewdney died from brain cancer in 2016 at the age of 50, leaving behind many incomplete renditions of Llama Llama, as well as other books that her longtime partner Duncan Reed is working to complete. Llama Llama is an addictive rhyming book that illustrates toddler feelings in knowing ways - great for little ones ages 3 and up.
The Higher Power of Lucky by Susan Patron
Published by Simon & Schuster in 2005, The Higher Power of Lucky won the Newbery Award in 2007. Believing that her guardian is going to abandon her to an orphanage and return to France, ten-year-old Lucky runs away with her beagle. There are references to drugs, and Lucky gets inspiration from 12-step meetings, but the book has been banned mainly based on the use of a word describing a boy dog’s anatomy. The Higher Power of Lucky is the first in the Hard Pan trilogy written by Susan Patron. The other two books in the series are Lucky Breaks (2009) and Lucky for Good (2011). Good for readers ages 10 and up.
The Dangerous Book for Boys by Conn and Hal Iggulden
The Dangerous Book for Boys was published by HarperCollins in the UK in 2006. The guidebook by Conn and Hal Iggulden covers around eighty topics that every boy "from eight to eighty" should know, including how to build a treehouse, grow a crystal, or tell direction with a watch. It reached number one in the UK non-fiction charts several times, selling over half a million copies.
The Wednesday Wars by Gary Schmidt
Published by Clarion Books, New York, in 2007, The Wednesday Wars was written by American author Gary Schmidt. Set in suburban Long Island during the 1967-68 school year against the background of the Vietnam War, the story follows Holling Hoodhood as he struggles beneath his father’s expectations and the pressures of seventh grade. Wednesday afternoons, Holling, a Presbyterian, has nowhere to go while his Catholic and Jewish classmates go to religious studies. He is forced to stay behind and read Shakespeare with his teacher Mrs. Baker, whose husband is in Vietnam. The Wednesday Wars was awarded a Newbery Honor in 2008, and the sequel, Okay for Now, published in 2011, was a finalist for the National Book Award. Best for readers ages 10 and up.
Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney
Diary of a Wimpy Kid is a children's novel written and illustrated by Jeff Kinney. It first appeared on an educational website called FunBrain but was finally published as a book in 2007.
The story is about a kid named Greg Heffley and his attempts to become popular in middle school. The book was named a New York Times bestseller and had a film of the same name released on March 19, 2010.
The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
The first American edition of The Graveyard Book, written by English author Neil Gaiman, was published in 2008 by Harper Collins. The cover and interior illustrations for the US edition, as well as the British adult edition, were illustrated by Dave McKean, and the British children’s edition was illustrated by Chris Riddell. In this young adult fantasy novel, Nobody “Bod” Owens is raised by spirits in a graveyard after his family is brutally murdered. The Graveyard Book won multiple awards, including the British Carnegie Medal and the Newbery Award - the first book to be awarded both. It also won the Hugo Award for best novel. Each of the eight chapters in the book is a short story, set two years apart as the protagonist grows. There are multiple editions of this book, so collectors should look carefully when searching for true first editions. Best for readers ages 9 and up.
The Lion and the Mouse by Jerry Pinkney
Published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers in 2009, The Lion and the Mouse is a wordless rendition of Aesop’s fable illustrated by Pinkney’s intricate watercolors. It was awarded the Caldecott Medal for the most distinguished American picture book for children in 2010. This beautiful work can be shared with any child or adult, ages 3 and up.
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Author Bio: Amy C. Manikowski is a writer, bookseller, trail-diverger, history buff, and pitbull lover. She graduated from Chatham University with an MFA a while ago, and after wandering aimlessly settled in Asheville NC.