2010 Finalists: Fantasy & Science Fiction (Middle Grade)

Call, The (The Magnificent 12)
by Michael Grant
Katherine Tegen Books
Nominated by: Ben

Michael Grant has crafted a great beginning to a new series that is guaranteed to leave you wanting more action, more plot development, more laugh-out-loud humor and the next book in the series. The Call follows a 12-year-old boy named Mack who is just a “medium” regular old boy with nothing special about him. However, he soon learns he is one of 12 Magnifica and it is up to him to track down the other eleven kids to stop the evil forces. This book will have you reading right through until the end as you come across some interesting characters and some scenes that may cause you to squirm. Through it all you will find yourself laughing along with the adventures of Mack. —Aaron Maurer

Dead Boys, The
by Royce Buckingham
Putnam Juvenile
Nominated by: Mike Schoeneck

When Teddy moves to a desert community, he makes a lot of new friends, but they are all dead! Victims of a tree mutated by toxic waste into a vicious killer, the boys all perished ten years apart, and if Teddy can’t help them rest in peace, he may be next tasty snack for the maniacal tree. This creepy tale is packed with action, suspense, sly humor and an environmental message as well. —Karen Yingling

Dragonbreath: Attack of the Ninja Frogs
by Ursula Vernon
Nominated by: Debbie Nance

This second tale of the young dragon, Danny Dragonbreath, is full of hilarious enchantment that should delight the fantasy reader of any age. When Suki, a Japanese exchange student, is beset by Ninja Frogs, Danny and Wendell, his geeky iguana pal (who’s fallen hard for Suki), travel with her to mythical Japan to find out what’s going on. Danny thinks it’s the greatest thing ever to be in the thick of real Ninja action, Wendell’s worried about Suki, and as for Suki herself–she just wants to be a comic-book reading veterinarian, preferably a veterinarian who isn’t being stalked by Ninjas…Not only is this a laugh-out-loud story, with smart, snappy dialogue and endearing characters, but Vernon’s many illustrations, including panels that carry the story forward, are masterpieces of comic art. —Charlotte Taylor

Fever Crumb
by Philip Reeve
Nominated by: Gwenda Bond

Fever is a foundling, adopted as an infant girl and educated by the Order of Engineers, all male, who live in the head of a giant statue. But she has other memories, too–ones that aren’t hers, that arise on her first assignment outside the head. Who is Fever Crumb, and why do people want her dead? This prequel to Philip Reeve’s Mortal Engines quartet, set in a future London that bears the traces of our own in its language (“Who gives a blog?”) and technology, introduces a new series. Yet smart, original, and full of memorable images–of paper boys, and movable fortresses, and a head full of bald engineers–Fever Crumb also stands alone. —Anamaria Anderson

Ninth Ward
by Jewell Parker Rhodes
Little, Brown
Nominated by: Hallie Tibbetts

Twelve-year-old Lanesha has always seen the ghosts of New Orleans, including that of her mother who died in childbirth. While she thinks often about the Uptown family that’s abandoned her, her heart belongs to her caretaker Mama Ya-Ya, the Ninth Ward where they live, and her dreams of becoming an engineer. This gripping, magical portrait of the days before, during and after Hurricane Katrina follows Lanesha as she and her friend TaShon battle real-life dystopian conditions to save their own lives (and their dog, Spot). The result is a powerful survival story that will haunt young readers. —Gwenda Bond

by Cornelia Funke
Little, Brown
Nominated by: Angela

Jacob Reckless never intended for his younger brother, Will, to learn about Mirrorworld. He had been keeping it secret since discovering the enchanted portal shortly after their father’s disappearance. But when an enchantment causes Will to slowly turn to stone, Jacob realizes he can no longer afford to keep the magic of the land a secret. Accompanied by a shape-shifter and Will’s girlfriend, Jacob sets out to find the antidote before his brother’s transformation is complete. Cornelia Funke deftly intertwines familiar fairy tales and characters into an action-packed quest tale full of political rivals, jealous lovers and deadly monsters. —Nicole Signoretta

Shadows, The (The Books of Elsewhere, Vol. 1)
by Jacqueline West
Nominated by: Sandra Stiles

After being forced to move into an old Victorian household with her Math nut parents, 11-year-old Olive discovers an amazing secret, stuffed into a dresser drawer is a pair of spectacles that allows Olive to climb through the pictures on the walls and into another world that is strangely similar to the real world, right down to the houses and neighbors. However, Olive quickly realizes there are a lot of hidden secrets contained within the old house like why a mysterious cat follows her around, why none of the pictures on the wall can be moved and who is the child Morton who lives inside the mysterious world known as Elsewhere. This first book in the Books of Elsewhere series, weaves a dark tale of mystery, adventure and a battle against a darker power that is determined to turn the lights out on Olive’s world for good. —Cindy Hannikman