2009 Finalists: Middle-Grade Fantasy & Science Fiction

11 Birthdays
by Wendy Mass
Nominated by: Maggi Idzikowski

Amanda’s 11th birthday is the worst ever, and when she wakes up the
next morning, she discovers that she and her ex-friend Leo are doomed
to repeat the same day over and over–and over!  Amanda and Leo’s
attempts to live the day the “right” way to break the spell are funny,
entertaining, and absolutely believable, whether they are ditching
school or auditioning for a rock band.  This is a deliciously fresh
look at how making small changes in your life–or even in one day–can have big consequences, both ordinary and magical.
Eva Mitnick

Dreamdark: Silksinger (Faeries of Dreamdark)
by Laini Taylor
Putnam Juvenile
Nominated by: Melissa

The Dreamdark series, by National Book Award nominee Laini Taylor,
opens a window on a world of fierce winged faeries determined to
restore their race to its former glory.  In Silksinger, Maggie
Windwitch, Whisper Silksinger and their motley allies are driven to
reach beyond their abilities to guard the sleeping Djinn Azazel from a
host of conniving characters and gruesome devils.  On panoramic display
in Silksinger are Taylor’s gifts for rich language and imagery,
suspenseful plotting, and intricate world-building.  Even as readers
thrill with vertigo while flying alongside Maggie and her crow
brothers, they will feel secure in this master storyteller’s hands.
Brian Jung

Farwalker’s Quest, The
by Joni Sensel
Bloomsbury USA
Nominated by: Joan Stradling

Ariel finds a telling dart, an artifact that hasn’t been in use for
hundreds of years and carries a message that only a specific recipient
can read.  That sends her on an adventure to see who could have sent
such a message and why this messaging system has started back up.
Farwalker’s Quest takes readers on a journey that is filled with many
thoroughly developed characters.  Joni Sensel weaves an enchanting
story that is easily remembered by readers long after the story is done.
Cindy Hannikman

Odd and the Frost Giants
by Neil Gaiman
Nominated by: Susan the Librarian Pirate

In a village in ancient Norway, winter isn’t ending, and when Odd–a
fatherless boy with an injured leg and an infuriating smile–encounters
a fox, a bear, and an eagle in the forest, he finds out why.  The
animals are gods exiled from the city of Asgard by a Frost Giant, and
Odd takes on the task of defeating him.  How he does so is surprising
and satisfying, one of many lasting pleasures in this short novel by
Neil Gaiman.  We loved the inventive use of Norse mythology, the
humorous bickering of the gods trapped in their animal forms, and, of
course, cheerful and clever Odd himself.  It’s a story beautifully
told (and illustrated, by Brett Helquist), perfect for reading alone
or reading aloud: quite simply, it shines.

Anamaria Anderson

Prince of Fenway Park, The
by Julianna Baggott
Nominated by: Doret

When 12-year-old Oscar Egg discovers his dad’s secret life as a half-human, half-fairy living a magical existence under Fenway Park, he
decides it’s his duty to break the spell that has cursed the baseball
stadium.  He gets a little help from Babe Ruth and Jackie Robinson, among
others.  The secret and seedy underbelly of Fenway Park, with all its
magical creatures wearing Red Sox caps, has a compelling atmosphere
that pulls readers right into the story and has them rooting for Oscar
and the Red Sox.  Not just for baseball fans, this fantasy combines
Pookas, hot dogs, Banshees, and home-runs into an exciting and unusual
adventure for all readers.
Eva Mitnick

Serial Garden, The: The Complete Armitage Family Stories (Junior Library Guild Selection)
by Joan Aiken
Big Mouth House
Nominated by: Charlotte

The Serial Garden is a collection of twenty-four
stories about the magical adventures of two very likable English
children, Mark and Harriet Armitage. The stories are a brilliant mix
of the ordinary and the fantastical–in the world of the Armitage
family, the mundane concerns of English village life are mixed
seamlessly with witches, druids, unicorns, enchanted gardens, and
much, much more.  At times hilariously funny, at times surprisingly
poignant, this book is perfect for any child or grown-up looking for
delightfully extraordinary fantasy.  Aiken was a tremendously
creative writer, and these stories are some of her most imaginative
and skillful writing.

Charlotte Taylor

Where the Mountain Meets the Moon
by Grace Lin
Little, Brown
Nominated by: EM

Prompted by her father’s fantastical stories and by an encounter with
a talking goldfish, Minli sets off on a quixotic search for the Never
Ending Mountain where she will ask the Old Man on the Moon to change
her parents’ dreary lives.  Woven into Minli’s journey are evocative
folktales, each which could stand perfectly well on its own, but which
beautifully resonate when brought together within Minli’s quest.
Simply told, yet intricately developed, Grace Lin’s Where the Mountain
Meets the Moon
is finally a story about believing in stories and how
that belief can alter ones fate.
Brian Jung