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  • 2017 Comstock Read Aloud Honor Books


    Rules of the HouseRules of the House written by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Matt Myers, and published by Disney-Hyperion, 2016.

    Are you a rule follower? Or do you think it’s more fun to break the rules? This book is about two siblings who are at opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to following the rules. Ian always follows the rules, while his older sister Jenny doesn’t think rules are important that is until their family goes on vacation to a cabin in the woods. Both Ian and Jenny learn some new things about following and breaking rules, as well as a thing or two about appreciating and standing up for each other. 

    This book was read to preschoolers through fourth graders. Children of all ages loved this book, they commented on the pictures and the story, and many groups asked to hear it again. One reader commented on the emotions that her listeners expressed. They enjoyed the suspense they felt when Jenny opened the forbidden door, and felt sympathy for her even though she didn’t follow the rules. Several readers commented on the discussions of “rules” that ensued after reading the book to children, and they appreciated that the lesson was presented in a very engaging way. 

    Mac Barnett has written several children’s books, including two Caldecott Honor books, Sam & Dave Dig a Hole and Extra Yarn. He won the 2015 Comstock Read Aloud Book Award for his book, Sam & Dave Dig a Hole. His books have also received the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award, the E.B. White Read-Aloud Award, and two of his books were named among the Ten Best Illustrated Books of 2015 by the New York Times. Mac proclaims that his job is “lying to children,” but he does so in a way that moves readers to the place where lies and truth intersect in “wonder.” That place “where a story, no matter how strange, has some semblance of the truth, and then you’re able to believe it…” Barnett lives in Oakland, California. (ERIKA JOHNSON) 


    Seven and a Half Tons of SteelSeven and a Half Tons of Steel written by Janet Nolan, illustrated by Thomas Gonzalez, and published by Peachtree Publishers, 2016.

    Following the tragic events of September 11th, 2001, pieces of steel wreckage from the World Trade Towers in New York City were sent to various organizations across the country including the US Navy.  Workers used the steel beam they received to create a remarkable memorial in the bow of the USS New York. This story is a gentle reminder of the terrible events of that day and helps teach us that something special can be built out of an unimaginable tragedy.  

    Children responded with many comments such as: “Best book ever,” “It’s sad someone would try to destroy a country,” and “I liked that I learned something new.” Readers shared that the children leaned in or moved closer to see the beautiful pictures and had many questions while the book was being read. Despite the sad nature of the topic, children were very interested in talking about and learning more about the events related to 9/11.    

    A lifelong lover of books and seeker of good stories, Janet Nolan believes a good story is a gift that keeps on giving. She is the author of both fiction and nonfiction picture books for children. Nolan lives with her husband and their dog outside of Chicago.

    Born in Cuba, illustrator Thomas Gonzalez now resides in Georgia. As an artist and painter, Gonzalez not only illustrates children’s books, but also directs the marketing campaigns of several national companies. The book’s beautiful illustrations were created in pastel colored pencil and watercolor. (MARILYN LABRENSZ AND LISA STAIGER)