2011 Cybils Finalists

Book Apps

Be Confident in Who You Are: A Middle School Confidential Graphic Novel
Annie Fox / Developed by Electric Eggplant
Free Spirit Publishing
Nominated by: Amy Jussel

This is an app created especially for tweens and young teens. It’s a full-color cartoon-illustrated graphic novel with scenarios based on everyday situations many young people encounter such as hanging out with friends and playing sports. It features six characters surviving Milldale Middle School who cope with issues of body image, conflicting emotions, how to be honest with friends, etc. As an app, the format is simple but effective, with easy page-turn swipes and engaging background music and sound effects. An “i” info button on every page takes you back to a “table of contents” for easy browsing. Best of all, a simple double-tap enables the reader to zoom in on close-ups of each individual panel on the page along with extra sound effects, the ideal way to “unpack” all the components of the graphic novel for closer reading or as a prompt for in-depth discussion.

Sylvia Vardell

Bobo Explores Light
Game Collage, LLC
Nominated by: Paula Willey

This iPad book app from Game Collage successfully mixes science, reading and fun. Bobo the robot guides readers through information on light, inviting interaction in both serious and silly ways. You can explore Edison’s inventions or play with lightning and zap Bobo. There are short videos embedded in the app that offer even more information. One of the strengths of this app is that it uses so many different formats to provide information on light. This interactive book is appropriate for ages 6-10. Never losing sight of its young audience, science is what lights up this app.

Tasha Saecker

Harold and the Purple Crayon
Crockett Johnson and Trilogy Studios
Trilogy Studios Inc.
Nominated by: John Schumacher

This app takes every kid’s dream– coloring in picture books!– and makes it a reality. Based on Crockett Johnson’s classic picture book, this app lets readers help Harold draw his purple world. Other magic is hidden along the way as the you walk Harold through the story and find his way home. Harold’s journey introduces this wondrous tale to a new generation of kids and gives their favorite adults a satisfying trip down memory lane. Though an enjoyable adventure to snuggle up and discover together, a special read-to-me feature with pitch-perfect narration makes the app especially kid friendly.

Sara Bryce

Hildegard Sings
Thomas Wharton
One Hundred Robots
Nominated by: Betsy Bird

Hildegard is a singing rhino whose voice gives out right as she’s about to make her operatic debut. With subtle enhancements that will charm readers of all ages, the animal characters scramble to find a solution. Feed her sweets, pop bubbles as she tries a steamy bath and change her hat before a well-timed surprise from Hilde’s manager restores the singer’s voice just in time for a star performance. Readers will squeal with laughter and delight as this interactive app draws them into hilarious plot twists.

Carisa Kluver

Pat the Bunny
Dorothy Kunhardt
Random House Books for Young Readers
Nominated by: Scott Gordon

Preschool children will enjoy playing along with Judy, Paul, and Bunny as they participate in various activities in this app based on the classic book. Young readers can slide the blanket that hides Paul’s face and play peek-a-boo. They can help Bunny break the piñata at a birthday party by sliding the stick in his paw. Pat the Bunny is a fun interactive experience for our youngest readers.

Jeff Barger

The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore
Moonbot Studios
Moonbot Studios LA
Nominated by: Hallie Tibbetts

This app combines computer animation, interactive features and elements of a traditional picture book for a truly unique experience. Morris Lessmore is writing the story of his life when all of a sudden everything is turned upside down. When he discovers the world of reading books the stories come alive. The app has the feel of an interactive short film. The features are placed perfectly to enhance the story but not detract from it. This book is appropriate for ages 5 and up. Children and adult book lovers alike will identify with Morris and his love of story, getting lost in those stories and sharing them with others.

Nicole Kessler

The Monster at the End of This Book

Callaway Digital Arts, Inc
Nominated by: Sheila Ruth

Remember life before Elmo? When Grover was the cutest character back in the day? Well, Grover gets to star in this funny, well-made story app based on the original Golden Book from 1971. Unlike other book apps, the words only appear when Grover narrates them, and are shown in yellow highlighting. This feature makes it great for younger readers to follow along with the text. While Grover talks to us, animated illustrations are added with great, noisy sound effects — crash, boom, bang! These effects and Grover’s very dramatic narration make this hilarious story so much better than the original book — which I have never said before about any book, and might not ever say again!

Melissa Taylor

Easy Readers

Aggie Gets Lost (Aggie and Ben)
Lori Ries
Nominated by: Jeff Barger

Aggie and Ben are back for a new adventure in the fourth installment of this endearing series. Ben takes a restless Aggie to the park for a game of fetch, but Aggie gets lost when the ball is thrown too far.

Lost dog stories are common, but this story outshines them all with its artistic language and complementary illustrations. Through the use of short, simple, and emotionally packed sentences, Ms. Ries is able to capture a moment in time. This writing style is effective in engaging the reader, and will have them treasuring every word. The layout is well-suited for beginning readers; most sentences are on their own line. Kids will enjoy this book and adults will remember what it is like to see the world through the eyes of a child.

–Darshana Khiani, Flowering Minds

Dodsworth in Rome (The Dodsworth Series)
Tim Egan
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Nominated by: Sondra Eklund

Dodsworth and his sidekick Duck have taken early readers on fun-filled journeys through New York, Paris, and London. In this fourth book, the comical duo take readers on a tour or Rome and a bit of adventure when their suitcase with all their money goes missing.

This book is one of a kind in uniting great characters, clever text, and an international setting in an early reader format. Kids will enjoy Duck’s hi-jinks which keep serious-minded Dodsworth on his toes. Conversations of this duo are reminiscent of classic Frog and Toad stories. The humor is subtle and comes out naturally through the dialogue and personalities of these two friends. Readers will become immersed with the sites, smells and culture of Rome. Pick up this book and go on a mini-vacation!

–Darshana Khiani, Flowering Minds

Frog and Friends (I Am a Reader)
Eve Bunting
Sleeping Bear Press
Nominated by: Lois Hume

In this trio of charming stories, Frog investigates a strange orange object, re-gifts a blue scarf, and convinces a runaway hippo that takes up residence in his pond to return to the zoo. The affable amphibian solves these problems with help from his woodland buddies, Rabbit, Possum, Raccoon, and Squirrel.

Sure to elicit chuckles, Frog and Friends abounds in humor that is never forced but evolves naturally from the situation. With its briskly-paced action and snappy dialog, this easy reader has perfect pitch and will leave readers wanting more. The vividly-colored illustrations are imaginatively rendered and add greatly to the book’s appeal.

–Catherine Nichols, Cath in the Hat

I Broke My Trunk! (An Elephant and Piggie Book)
Mo Willems
Nominated by: Becky

Elephant and Piggie are back at it in I Broke My Trunk! As Gerald spins his crazy story Piggie attempts to find the conclusion to just how exactly her best friend may have broken his trunk. In his characteristic style Mo Willems weaves a tale that is entirely unpredictable and easily enjoyed by multiple age groups. Early readers will giggle their way through this fresh new addition to the series.

–Danielle Smith, There’s a Book

Early Chapter Books

Clementine and the Family Meeting
Sara Pennypacker
Nominated by: Sarah Sammis

Clementine is Ramona Quimby, Shirley Temple, and Anne of Green Gables all mixed together and living in an apartment building in Boston with a super dad and an artist mom and a little brother named Broccoli (or some other vegetable name).

In the fifth book in the series, Clementine’s family is experiencing some changes. But according to Clementine’s Awesome Dad, “It will be fine, we’ll adapt. Because this how we roll, Clementine, this is how we roll.” And adapt they do, which is why book number five may be the best yet of the Clementine saga. Ms. Pennypacker takes an old situation, welcoming a new child into the family, and gives readers a fresh take on the subject as Clementine finds her place in the family secure in the midst of change.

–Sherry Early, Semicolon

Have Fun, Anna Hibiscus!
Kane/Miller Book Pub
Nominated by: Madigan McGillicuddy

The wonder of snow, dogs that live inside houses, tangled woolen tights, the sting of prejudice. Ann Hibiscus experiences all these and more when she journeys from her native Africa– amazing Africa–all the way to Canada to spend Christmas with her maternal grandmother.

A master storyteller, Atinuke packs a lot of life lessons into four chapters. Yet the book, the fourth in the series, is never didactic and the morals go down as smoothly as the steaming hot chocolate Anna sips throughout her stay. Lauren Tobia’s cheerful ink illustrations help bring Anna’s experiences in the icy North to life.

–Catherine Nichols, Cath in the Hat

Just Grace and the Double Surprise (The Just Grace Series)
Charise Mericle Harper
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Nominated by: Danielle Smith

Just Grace and the Double Surprise is a delightful read that not only independent readers will enjoy, but listening ears will as well. Follow Grace’s entertaining train of thought as she uses her “empathy powers” to help her best friend Mimi through a disappointing situation.

This is the seventh in the Just Grace series and it’s easy to see why it continues to be a great source of enjoyment and education to early chapter book readers. Just Grace and the Double Surprise is a charming book that will help children understand the value of supporting their friends & family as well as coping with disappointment.

–Danielle Smith, There’s a Book

Like Pickle Juice on a Cookie
Julie Sternberg
Nominated by: Janelle

It’s the summer before third grade and it’s as bad as pickle juice on a cookie. Eleanor’s babysitter must move away and Eleanor is heartbroken. Natalie has come to be her new sitter, but it is just not the same.

This is a charming story with an important message of hope, acceptance and friendship, all in the midst of dealing with missing someone you love. Eleanor is a believable character, abounding with an honest and authentic voice. The illustrations perfectly enhance the feel of Eleanor’s world and refine her well defined personality. As every page is seamlessly connected to the next, Like Pickle Juice On A Cookie leaves you wanting more!

–Sheila Richburg, BooksNhand

The Trouble with Chickens: A J.J. Tully Mystery (J.J. Tully Mysteries)
Doreen Cronin
Balzer + Bray
Nominated by: Amanda Snow

Meet J.J. Tully, a retired search-and-rescue dog, who is promised a cheeseburger in exchange for helping a chicken named Millicent find her missing children. J.J.’s strong voice, deadpan tone, and wry sense of humor drive this hilarious early chapter book, engaging readers from page one and keeping them hooked until the last plot twist.

Cronin builds a wonderfully creative world in this story, imagining rules that define how animals behave and interact, and developing personalities that perfectly suit the real-life behavior of dogs and chickens. Not only is this book laugh out loud funny, with clever turns of phrase and well-timed punchlines, it is also a really sophisticated story that shifts between points of view, tricks the reader with red herrings, and comes together in a clever surprise ending.

–Katie Ahearn, Secrets and Sharing Soda

Fantasy and Science Fiction (Middle Grade)

A Monster Calls: Inspired by an idea from Siobhan Dowd
Patrick Ness
Candlewick Press
Nominated by: Monica Edinger

The first night Conor is awakened by a monster he believes it is all a dream, but he soon discovers this monster is very real and very serious about getting the truth from him. But even Conor does not know the truth he must confront. As Conor’s story progresses, he grows braver and stronger and bolder with the help of his monster who taunts him and pushes him into admitting what he fears, then learning how to beat it. Developed from an idea originated by Siobhan Dowd, Patrick Ness has written a compelling story about taking on fears and triumphing over them. Gorgeous black-and-white pen-and-ink illustrations add to the uplifting power of Conor’s story, which is one part horror, one part fantasy, and full of heart. Get ready to quake in fear, laugh in exaltation, and cry in sympathy as Conor learns about life, love, and loss.

–Rebecca Newland, http://www.myreadingfrenzy.com/

Anne Ursu
Walden Pond Press
Nominated by: Katie Ahearn

A modern retelling of Hans Christian Anderson’s “The Snow Queen”, Breadcrumbs tells the story of Hazel and Jack. Best friends their entire lives, they are inseparable. That is until, something happens and Jack begins to change. Hazel finds herself drawn into a fairy tale world full of magic, witches, enchanted flowers and spells in order to save her best friend. The writing is poetic and brilliant, and the literary allusions will leave readers searching for the original stories. Enchanting, heartfelt, sincere, and magical, Breadcrumbs is a book that will be loved by middle grade readers whether they are reading it independently or it is read aloud to them.

–Sarah Mulhern Gross, http://thereadingzone.wordpress.com/

Dragon Castle
Joseph Bruchac
Dial Books
Nominated by: April Conant

By the head of the dragon! It’s a good thing Prince Rashko, the sensible second son, is around to defend the royal family’s ancestral castle when Baron Temny and his army of invaders move in, because he’s not going to get much help from his parents (called away to the Silver Lands) or his brother (bewitched by the beautiful Princess Poteshenie). Drawing on Slovakian proverbs and folklore, Bruchac alternates—and eventually intertwines—Rashko’s story with that of the hero Pavol, also depicted in a mysterious tapestry that hangs on the castle walls. The result is high fantasy laced with history and humor, action and adventure, as Rashko and the reader alike uncover the secrets of Dragon Castle.

–Anamaria Anderson, http://www.bookstogetherblog.com/

Matthew J. Kirby
Nominated by: Betsy Bird

Awaiting word from her father the Viking king, Solvieg is trapped by winter’s ice on a remote fjord with her brother Harald, heir to the throne, and her beautiful older sister Asa. Food is running out, the Berzerker soldiers sent to protect the children are restless, and betrayal is in the air. As the brutal cold tightens its grip, and tensions mount, Solveig finds strength in the power of stories, and, secretly, away from her father’s prying eyes, trains to be a skald, or storyteller. Kirby effortlessly weaves a gripping tale about the power of words in Icefall, blending Norse myths with the larger story. The result will delight those who like a twist of the extraordinary in their historical fiction.

–April Conant, http://www.goodbooksandgoodwine.com

The Cheshire Cheese Cat: A Dickens of a Tale
Carmen Agra Deedy and Randall Wright; illustrations by Barry Moser
Nominated by: Monica Edinger

Alley cat Skilley is thrilled be taken on as mouser for Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese, a London tavern renowned for its cheddar. There’s just one catch–it’s the cheese Skilley wants to eat, not the mice. So he and the mice form an alliance, acting out games of catch and release, much to the amusement of writer Charles Dickens, who watches their doings while struggling with his writing. But the path to cheese is strewn with dangers and difficulties– an enemy tomcat, named Oliver, aided by an unpleasant barmaid, is scheming to take Skilley’s place, and he is a true hunter of mice. But the greatest challenge of all for Skilley and his mouse friends is to return an injured raven to the Tower of London–before its absence causes the whole British Empire to fall. Surprisingly rich in the twists and turns of its story, peopled with a cast of memorable characters, and with unexpected moments of true emotional depth, this is a book for all ages—adults will appreciate the word play and literary allusions and kids will adore the cats and mice.

–Donalyn Miller, http://blogs.edweek.org/teachers/book_whisperer/

The Inquisitor's Apprentice
Chris Moriarty
Nominated by: Laura Wadley

An incredibly rich and rewarding read, The Inquisitor’s Apprentice is a mystery steeped in equal parts fantasy and history. Sacha Kessler, a Jewish kid in Turn of the 20th Century New York, accidentally reveals he can see magic, and so is apprenticed to the NYPD Inquisitor’s bureau– the detectives who solve magical crimes. Sacha joins Inspector Maximillian Wolf and fellow apprentice Lily Astral in a race to solve the mystery of who is trying to murder Thomas Edison.

But the tantalizing plot is only a small part of what makes Inquisitor’s Apprentice such a great read: it teems with characters both real (larger than life American figures like Edison, Harry Houdini, and Teddy Roosevelt all play a role in the novel) and imagined (Maximillian Wolf is a detective on the order of Sherlock Holmes, or Lieutenant Columbo, and both Sacha and Lily are authentic, fresh, and vibrant). And the setting–this fantasy New York of an alternate past–reads less like history and more like a fully realized and incredibly complex act of worldbuilding. Moriarty has pulled off quite a hat trick here: the young reader will find in Sacha a character whose interior struggles mirror their own, despite his living in an impossibly fantastical past; what’s more, that past is revealed to not be quite so impossible, distant or unlike our present as one might think.

–Justin Colussy-Estes, http://www.guyslitwire.blogspot.com/

Tuesdays at the Castle
Jessica Day George
Bloomsbury USA
Nominated by: Sondra Eklund

The titular castle in Tuesdays at the Castle is one of the most delightful fictional buildings around—it changes itself according to its own magical whims, surprising its inhabitants with new rooms, secret passages, and even whole wings. Young Princess Celie knows and loves the Castle best of anyone in her family. When her parents are presumed to have been killed, and dangerous enemies plot to take over the kingdom, it’s up to Celie and her siblings to call on the castle to help them keep their kingdom safe. Celie’s pluck and the castle’s magic combine to create an utterly engrossing adventure.

–Charlotte Taylor, http://charlotteslibrary.blogspot.com/

Fantasy and Science Fiction (Young Adult)

Angelfall (Penryn & the End of Days, Book 1)
Susan Ee
Feral Dream
Nominated by: Lydia Dawson

Angels have attacked the world, killing billions. Humans have gone savage in order to survive. There’s a seventeen-year-old girl in the middle of it all trying to keep her family together and find a place amid the madness where she can eke out some kind of existence. When angels take Penryn’s sister from her and that small hope is stolen, she makes a deal with the enemy. If the injured angel Raffe helps her save her sister, she will help him reach the ones who cut his wings. There is nothing easy or predictable about Penryn and Raffe’s story. Their partnership is tenuous, based on survival and a need so powerful they are willing to do what they would otherwise never consider and that makes the few moments of compassion and the threat of intimacy that much more genuine and valuable. Angelfall was a terrific surprise to all of us as a genuinely unique and gripping story of horror and faith, humanity and destruction. We loved the believability of Penryn’s strength and independence born from her troubled relationship with her schizophrenic mother and disabled baby sister. These strong themes and beautiful writing made Angelfall an easy favorite.

–Sommer Leigh, http://www.sommerleigh.com/

Anna Dressed in Blood
Kendare Blake
Tor Teen
Nominated by: Kelly

Seventeen-year-old Cas Lowood is a ghost hunter. For the past three years, he’s sharpened his skills of killing the dead, and is almost ready to take on the ghost who murdered his father. When Cas hears about the legendary ghost named Anna Dressed in Blood who eviscerates her victims, he’s hooked. And when Anna spares his life, Cas finds himself unraveling a mystery that comes back to haunt him. Anna Dressed in Blood is an excellent choice for older teens looking for a clever, action-filled read. Debut author Kendare Blake blends humor, pop culture references, colorful descriptions and compelling characters with plenty of horror and vengeance to make Anna the perfect edge-of-the-seat read.

–Vivian Mahoney, http://www.vivianleemahoney.com/

Blood Red Road
Moira Young
Margaret K. McElderry
Nominated by: Leila Roy

Dystopias are so much the rage in young adult fiction. It seems the world barely has time to breathe before dying anew. What sets a book apart in this genre is the protagonist and the language, not the dire conditions. In these two regards debut author Moira Young has excelled with Blood Red Road. Her heroine, Saba, embarks on a desperate quest through a barren, post-apocalyptic world to save her brother and finds herself tested again and again. Don’t let the patois dissuade you; though language has degraded with this version of the end of the world, the adventure still comes through clearly.

–Steve Berman, http://guyslitwire.blogspot.com/

Jon Skovron
Nominated by: Jason Walters

Half-demon Jael Thompson may be hunted by all the demons from Hell, but she’s tired of running, and just wants to settle down and live the life of an ordinary high school girl. But to do that, Jael must take a stand, not only against the demons hunting her, but against the wishes of her father, who is bent on protecting her at all costs even if it means moving again and ripping her away from the life she is building. Misfit was a delightful surprise; it’s so much more than your average demon paranormal. The writing is excellent; spare where it needs to be to keep the plot moving, but with beautiful descriptions in places, particularly where Jael is exploring the world through her newfound demon senses. Rich relationship-building plays a central role here: with Jael’s best friend, her potential boyfriend, and her newly discovered demon uncle, but most especially with her flawed father, a former demon hunter broken by the loss of his beloved, Jael’s mother.

–Sheila Ruth, http://blog1.wandsandworlds.com

Red Glove (Curse Workers, Book 2)
Holly Black
Margaret K. McElderry
Nominated by: Sarah Wendorf

Cassel Sharpe’s summer of scamming hasn’t helped him forget his recent run-in with the Zacharov family, nor has it taken his mind off Lila Zacharov, the magical mob daughter he thought he killed in Holly Black’s White Cat (the first book in the Curse Workers series). By the time he goes back to school in Red Glove, Lila is cursed to love him against her will, the Zacharovs think he would make a fabulous evil underling, and the government is after him. Discrimination against people who work magic is primetime news, and Cassel’s entire family, and some of his friends, are suspect just for existing. Out of options, Cassel must decide who gets protected and who gets conned–and the odds are good that someone he loves is going to get hurt. Red Glove stands on its own, but series readers will appreciate how it builds upon and intensifies themes from White Cat. No counterfeiting here: Red Glove‘s singular magical system and noir feel combined with a clever plot is the real deal. With intense family relationships, romance, shifting friendships, and a mysterious murder, there’s a little vice for every reader. It would be a crime to miss this one.

–Hallie Tibbetts, http://www.undusty.com/

The Girl of Fire and Thorns
Rae Carson
Greenwillow Books
Nominated by: Hallie Tibbetts

The panel loved this story of a princess chosen by God. We identified with the shy and overweight girl, who suffers terribly from doubt about what God really wants from her. We rooted for her as she slowly but surely comes into her own as the secret queen of a war-torn country. We commiserated as she suffers loss and the knowledge that being chosen doesn’t mean you get a happy ending. We loved that her world was not the standard UK-influenced fantasy land, and that faith was a powerful, organic force in the story. We licked our lips over the descriptions of her meals. We cheered for the strong, courageous woman that she becomes in the end. Elisa, we decided, absolutely had to go onto Round 2. Also, we totally have to find a recipe for those pastries with crushed pistachios. Yum!

–Maureen Kearney, http://bloodyyank.blogspot.com/

The Shattering
Karen Healey
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Nominated by: Beth Mitcham

She’s rehearsed what she’ll say for her parent’s eulogies, if they both get hit by a car, has worked out her escape route if she’s ever kidnapped, and has her go-bag stocked in case of emergencies. Keri is over-prepared for everything life can throw at her – except her older brother’s suicide. Hailed by “Publishers Weekly” as an “intense and powerful novel,” The Shattering combines sharp dialogue, brilliant characterization and subtle cultural shading to explore familial love, the bonds of friendship, and the lengths to which we’ll go to keep what we love safe.

–Tanita Davis, http://writingya.blogspot.com/

Fiction Picture Books

John Rocco
Nominated by: Jennifer Donovan

When all the lights in Brooklyn go out one summer night, families are suddenly not busy, much to the delight of a young child. Without power, the family can’t dotheir many insular electronic tasks and have time to play games together, socialize with their neighbors and even look at the stars from the roof. With top-notch paneled illustrations and limited text, Blackout’s comic-like setup adds to the progressing action. It’s when the lights go out that the evening’s action begins, and the reader enjoys Rocco’s details of the character’s facial expressions and the community’s joint adventure on the streets and roofs of the city. Like the young boy and his family at the center of the story, one doesn’t want the evening in the shadow of the Brooklyn Bridge to come to end.

Rebecca Reid

Do You Know Which Ones Will Grow?
Susan A. Shea
Blue Apple Books
Nominated by: Susan Gauthier

With tongue firmly in cheek, Shea challenges young children to compare living and nonliving things through a series of silly, rhyming questions. While lifting page flaps will show a stool “growing” into a chair, series of answers in rhyming couplets reinforce the basic concept. Relationships between inanimate objects small and large are established in creative ways, subtly encouraging critical thinking when kids are too busy giggling to even notice. No doubt about it, children will joyfully answer these questions with a resounding “NO!” at each page turn.

Dawn Mooney

I Had a Favorite Dress
Boni Ashburn
Abrams Books for Young Readers
Nominated by: Maggie Lehrman

When a girl’s favorite dress gets too small, turning it into a new top is just the beginning as this special item of clothing continues to change through seasons, styles, accidents and growth spurts. Lyrical language plays with rhyming and repeated words and reflects the voice of an inventive child. Soft watercolor tones are perfect in capturing the pinks of the dress and soft browns of the girl, while line drawing and actual stitching incorporated into the pictures add whimsical touches. While readers will relate to the life cycle of one dress, the book works on multiple layers with the themes of growing up, problem-solving, and resourcefulness served in an engaging way.

Pam Coughlan

I Want My Hat Back
Jon Klassen
Candlewick Press
Nominated by: Joanna Marple

Having lost his beloved hat, a bear seeks help from a variety of other animals before finally rediscovering it. Readers may be one step ahead of the bear in finding the hat, but author remains a step ahead of the reader with a surprise ending. The reactions of the culprit and the bear display a dark, sophisticated humor. Minimalist and muted, with careful use of color to highlight what’s important, the artwork is nicely integrated with the mood and the text. The memorable book becomes a standout with its spare illustrations, dry humor and unconventional storyline.

Jen Robinson

Me . . . Jane
Patrick McDonnell
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Nominated by: Kerry Aradhya

A picture book biography in the truest sense, McDonnell has created an introduction to the life of primatologist Jane Goodall that keeps the K-2 audience firmly in mind. Themes of following your interests and achieving your dreams are woven into the story of Goodall’s childhood spent indulging her curiosity in the natural world. Expertly combining ink, watercolor, stamps, and one perfectly placed photograph, Me…Jane is as artistically ambitious as it is heartfelt.

Travis Jonker

Press Here
Herve Tullet
Chronicle Books
Nominated by: Deb Marshall

Open the book. Start reading. Watch the children listening to this magical book. Watch the children as the book works its spell on them, mesmerizes them, compelling them to press the dots, to tilt the page, to blow on the dots, to shake the book. Observe the children as they press and tilt and blow and shake. Look into the eyes of the children. See the enchantment in their eyes. Listen as the children cry, “Again!” as you reach the end of the book. Go back to the beginning of the book. Read this whimsical book again. And again and again and again …

Debbie Nance

Princess and the Pig, The
Jonathan Emmett
Walker Books for Young Readers
Nominated by: Becky

A farmer hauling a little piglet in his cart stops for a break underneath a castle tower. Happenstance –and a very neglectful Queen–finds the piglet flying up to the tower and the newborn princess trading places with it. But no one is shocked with the switch since, “it’s the sort of thing that happens all the time in books.” Younger kids will enjoy the silly story and funny pictures, while plenty of references to classic fairy tales will captivate school-age kids. With a strong plot, an unexpected ending and vibrant illustrations, The Princess and the Pig is a delightful read-aloud.

Natalia Ortega-Brown

Graphic Novels

Elementary/Middle Grade

Hereville: How Mirka Got Her Sword
Barry Deutsch
Nominated by: Els Kushner

Mirka would much rather spend her time slaying dragons than taking knitting lessons from her stepmother. But there seems to be a lack of dragons in Hereville, the Orthodox Jewish community where Mirka lives. That won’t stop Mirka from outwitting a giant pig, making deals with witches, or besting a giant troll to win her dragon-slaying sword. With a fresh storyline, great artwork, a cast of strong characters, and a peek inside a unique culture, Hereville is a wonderful multi-layered story that will appeal to both girl and boy readers.

Alyssa Feller

Nursery Rhyme Comics: 50 Timeless Rhymes from 50 Celebrated Cartoonists
Various Authors
First Second Books
Nominated by: Susan Kusel

An incredible assortment of artists contributed drawings to this gorgeous collection of Mother Goose rhymes in which each poem is presented as a comic strip. It’s a genius concept, and the execution is fairly breathtaking. In the hands of some of the finest illustrators in the business—people like Gene Luen Yang, Raina Telgemeier, Ben Hatke, Dave Roman, David Macauley, Marc Rosenthal, Roz Chast, and even living legend Jules Feiffer—the familiar rhymes take on a dynamic new life. The result is a book with tremendous appeal. Young readers—many of whom may be encountering Mother Goose for the first time—are sure to enjoy comparing the vastly different art styles and may find themselves inspired to try their own hand at sequential art.

Melissa Wiley

Dan Santat
Arthur A Levine
Nominated by: Elijah Z

In Santat’s delightful Sidekicks, aging Captain Amazing finds himself not quite as amazing as he ought to be. His loyal pets wish he’d stay home and pay them some attention, but he’s not quite ready for retirement yet, so it’s up to the pets to make themselves useful in whatever way they can. The characters are well-drawn, goodhearted and charming, and Sidekicks has the best ever literary use of a peanut allergy, hands down.

Brian Selznick
Nominated by: Hallie Tibbetts

Ben has recently lost his mother and his hearing. Decades earlier, it seems that Rose never had either. Selznick, best known for Caldecott winner “The Invention of Hugo Cabret,” reveals Ben and Rose’s stories side by side. Both dramas seem narrated and illustrated despite the fact that we only read about Ben and only see pictures from Rose’s story. There was no question about whether this nominee would make the shortlist — each panelist was smitten by Selznick’s detailed artwork and straightforward prose. The historical accuracy in the 1927 and 1977 settings of Wonderstruck lays a strong foundation of believability for the book. Good storytelling will captivate readers of all ages and present their minds with a thought-provoking (and ultimately hopeful) adventure.

Alysa Stewart

Zita the Spacegirl
Ben Hatke
First Second Books
Nominated by: Isaac Z

Zita finds a mysterious button in the woods and accidentally zaps her
friend Joseph and herself into another world. Joseph is quickly kidnapped because the locals mistakenly believe he can save their planet, which is about to be destroyed by an asteroid. Zita sets out on a quest to save him, collecting misfit friends along the way. The story has wonderful messages of perseverance and friendship, but that takes a backseat to the gorgeous illustrations. Ben Hatke has a blast creating the inhabitants of this distant planet, going so far as to create guidebook entries about some of them. Zita the Spacegirl will appeal to a variety of readers: lovers of fantasy, adventure, and graphic novels will all be clamoring to borrow it.

Megan Kelly

Young Adult

Anya's Ghost
Vera Brosgol
First Second Books
Nominated by: Robin

When social outcast Anya falls down a well, she meets the ghost of a girl
named Emily Reilly who was murdered in 1918. After recovering from her fear, Anya befriends Emily, who helps her escape, gives her answers on tests, and encourages her to talk to her crush. As in most ghost stories, all is not what it seems, and Anya learns that Emily can be truly scary after all. Vera Brosgol’s story features engrossing illustrations and a suspenseful plot that will have readers staying up late to finish the book.

Megan Kelly

Bad Island
Doug Tennapel
Nominated by: Aaron Zenz

When Reese gets roped into going on a family vacation with his sister, Janie, and a pet snake named Pickles he hardly expects to get shipwrecked in a freak storm on a mysterious island. Of course, that’s exactly what happens. What’s more, the island is populated with all sorts of creatures who are somewhat less than welcoming to their newest neighbors. Chased by a lizard-headed man and legions of tiny demon-things with horns, Reese and Co. must learn to overcome their dissent and work together. Bad
Island is more than an adventure story. It’s a story about the redeeming power of a family.

Christina Vandergriend


Jim Ottaviani
First Second Books
Nominated by: E. Kristin Anderson

Richard Feynman was a brilliant scientist who made great strides in our understanding of quantum physics, solved the problem of the O-ring failure in the Challenger space shuttle disaster, and through his lectures on physics, made a difficult field more accessible to ordinary humans. Jim Ottaviani does a wonderful job making Feynman’s life story accessible and compelling for readers, using clear, well-paced images, and keeping a nice balance between history and scientific accomplishments and Feynman’s rich and quirky life story.

Liz Jones

Level Up
Gene Luen Yang
First Second Books
Nominated by: Bigfoot

College-age Dennis Ouyang still can’t measure up to paternal expectations– even though his father has been dead for several years. His parents want him to go to med school, but he only loves video games. He fails out of college as a result of his obsession. Before the consequences can really hit the fan, he’s rescued! Angels from a drawing his father made for him as a child reappear in his apartment to assist him in meeting those expectations, but as it turns out, they might not be expectations for Dennis’s life, after all. Gene Luen Yang skillfully meshes tales of college video slackerdom, friendship, and academic aspirations to gracefully demonstrates how we can honor our parents’ hopes and dreams for us, while still honoring our own.

Kyle Kimmal

Page by Paige
Laura Lee Gulledge
Nominated by: Megan Alabaugh

Paige Turner is a shy girl, so when her parents uproot her life and move to
Brooklyn, she feels utterly alone. She buys herself a sketchbook. What follows is part diary, part sketchbook, and entirely wonderful as Paige progresses from shy, secretive, and angsty to brave, funny, and creative. Based on Laura Lee Gulledge’s own adolescence, the reader is taken on a very real journey as Paige learns to challenge
herself to do the things that scare her most and to trust both herself and the people around her.

Christina Vandergriend

Middle-Grade Fiction

Darth Paper Strikes Back: An Origami Yoda Book
Tom Angleberger
Nominated by: Madelyn Rosenberg

Read this you must. The students of Ralph McQuarrie Middle School are back in
the sequel to Tom Angleberger’s best selling middle grade novel The Strange Case of Origami Yoda, last year’s Cybils winner in this category. In Darth Paper, our hero, Dwight is suspended and it is up to Tommy and Kellen to save him from expulsion. Unfortunately for Dwight, Harvey and Darth Paper have other plans.

Written as a series of case files, Darth Paper continues the magic first found in Origami Yoda. Darth Paper has something for every reader: Star Wars references, humor, crushes, and a powerful ending.

–Colby Sharp, Sharp Read

Ghetto Cowboy
G. Neri
Candlewick Press
Nominated by: Alison

Cole has finally pushed his mother to the breaking point. His poor attitude, failing grades and truancy have left her no choice but to drive him from their home in Detroit to Philadelphia where he will live with the father he has never met. There, Cole’s father leads a band of cowboys who not only rescue horses but also guide local youth away from the mean streets that surround the stables. As Cole learns to care for the horses, he begins to understand the importance of growing into an honorable young man.

Based on a true account of Philadelphia’s Fletcher Street Urban Riding Club, told in urban vernacular and complimented by Jesse Joshua Watson’s pencil-stroked illustrations, Ghetto Cowboy is an engaging and accessible coming of age story whose dedication page gets at the heart of its message: rise up and ride on.

–Cheryl Vanati, Reading Rumpus

Nerd Camp
Elissa Brent Weissman
Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Nominated by: Jennifer Donovan

Gabe, 10, has been accepted in a prestigious 6-week summer camp, SCGE or the Summer Camp for Gifted Enrichment, which other kids in the school call the Smart Camp for Geeks and Eggheads. He’s excited about going, but he wants to impress his step-brother-to-be Zack, the ultimate cool guy, who he’s just recently met. He begins wondering how he’s going to look in Zack’s eyes. So, he does what any geek gifted kid would do –he makes a logic proof, which he adds to throughout the summer:

Problem: Am I a nerd who has only nerdy adventures?
Hypothesis: No

Gabe and his new camp friends Wesley and Nikhil are sweet, funny, and self-aware. They’re proud of their brains, and if that makes them a bit nerdy, so be it. Nerd Camp is full of both humor and heart and reinforces the beauty of loving yourself for who you are.

–Jennifer Donovan, 5minutesforbooks.com

The Friendship Doll
Kirby Larson
Delacorte Press Books for Young Readers
Nominated by: Mary Ann Scheuer

Take four stories spanning more than a decade of the Great Depression—each of which captures a pivotal moment in the life of a child—link them through the awakening heart of a Japanese doll, and you have one of this year’s most compelling books for middle grade readers. At the heart of the book is Miss Kanagawa, one of 58 Ambassadors of Friendship sent by Japan to the United States in 1927. Each part of the book focuses on the story of a different girl, interwoven with Miss Kanagawa’s own experiences and snippets of news articles. The narrative voices are rich, distinct and authentic, creating an effortless read with great pacing. The Friendship Doll’s four-part structure and seamless blending of the numinous with the everyday has a mesmerizing effect that makes this book hard to put down. An engaging book and timeless tale for 9-to-12 year olds.

–Grier Jewell, Fizzwhizzing Flushbunker

The Great Wall Of Lucy Wu
Wendy Wan-Long Shang
Nominated by: Sondra Eklund

Lucy is going to have the best year ever in the 6th grade, but things get off to a rocky start. A great-aunt is going to come from China and live in her room, she has to go to Chinese school, and she has to deal with the evil Sloane who is challenging her to be captain of the 6th grade basketball team. Luckily, she has a great friend, a crush that just might work out, and a good sense of humor. This funny but surprisingly deep novel explores the painful process that so many adolescents go through–feeling a need to build “great walls” between themselves and their families, while still wanting to love and be loved by them.

–Karen Yingling, Ms.Yingling Reads

Warp Speed
Lisa Yee
Arthur A Levine
Nominated by: Sarah Wendorf

Meet Marley Sandelski: seventh-grader, A/V club regular, major Star Trek fan (Original Series, of course), and, as he notes in his Captain’s Log, “invisible” to everyone but the school bullies. His single line of defense? Running. Running very, very fast. When his
speed puts him on the track coach’s radar and he makes an unexpected connection with a girl (if he can just stop bursting into Klingon around her), he starts feeling all too visible. The time is coming for Marley to stop running and stand up for himself. With quirky yet realistic situations and characters (including cameo appearances by characters from Yee’s other novels), Warp Speed addresses the very serious issue of bullying with compassion and humor without ever getting bogged down as a “message” book. Readers of all ages will feel like they know the kids of Rancho Rosetta, and they will be rooting for Marley to “live long and prosper”.

–Beth Gallego, Points West

Words In The Dust
Trent Reedy
Arthur A Levine
Nominated by: Greg Leitich Smith

“Donkey face.” That’s what the local boys call 13-year-old Zulaikha, an Afghan girl with a cleft lip. At home, Zulaikha is constantly harried by her strict stepmother, so very different from Zulaikha’s own mother, who was killed by the Taliban. Enter the Americans. A convoy, traveling through the village, spots Zulaikah. They return with a medical officer–a woman, much to the dismay of the Afghans–who tells Zulaikah’s father that she thinks the girl’s lip can be fixed. The American-Afghan relationship is shown in all its complexity, with the understanding that, for the Afghans, the Americans are strange creatures, powerful yet uncomprehending of even the simplest of Afghan cultural courtesies.

The debut novel by Trent Reedy, who served in the U.S. military in Afghanistan, will stay with you long after the last page has been turned. The setting and the understanding of Afghan customs and life are so well drawn, you will find it hard to believe that this novel wasn’t written by a young Afghan woman herself.

–Michael Gettel-Gilmartin, Middle Grade Mafioso

Nonfiction: Middle Grade & Young Adult

Amelia Lost: The Life and Disappearance of Amelia Earhart
by Candace Fleming
Schwartz and Wade Books
Nominated by: Monica Edinger

Amelia Earhart was America’s most famous woman pilot in the 1930s. She broke speed and distance records and constantly looked for new challenges as aviation technology advanced. She was quite a character: stubborn, willful, courageous and smart, but also prone to rushing into things and making mistakes. Her last series of flights were chosen to circumnavigate the planet at the equator — the widest point, and thus the longest distance: 27,000 miles. The final flights were across the vast Pacific, and the first stop after leaving New Guinea was to be tiny Howland Island, where the Coast Guard cutter Itasca was waiting to help signal the plane toward the island. Earhart and navigator Fred Noonan never made it.

Even though the end of the story is well-known, Fleming keeps the suspense building through the unusual structure, alternating chapters about Earhart’s life with those about the search for her missing plane. Readers see Earhart through her own notes, flight logs, private family photos and writings, as well as how the public saw her carefully created persona in newspapers, magazines and newsreels. Thoroughly researched, balanced in viewpoints and utterly readable, this is a biography for everyone.

Karen Ball

How They Croaked: The Awful Ends of the Awfully Famous
Georgia Bragg
Walker Books for Young Readers
Nominated by: Karen Yingling

Just because you’re famous doesn’t mean you’re guaranteed to go peacefully in your sleep. How They Croaked introduces readers to several historical figures, detailing their amazing lives and gruesome deaths. Readers learn about Henry VIII’s many wives and how he founded the Church of England, but they also are treated to a description of his bloated corpse exploding in its coffin and dribbling out the sides. President Garfield may have been shot, but it was the doctoring that actually killed him a full 80 days later. Although Bragg clearly relishes the gory details, her humor keeps the book from getting dark. Blending history, science and the arts, there is something here for almost everyone. Reluctant readers will be drawn to the short, browsable sections and the juicy details of horrible demises. In the biographies, medical history, and back matter on each person, there is more than enough to keep the most avid readers interested. A truly engrossing read.

Jennie Rothschild

Into the Unknown: How Great Explorers Found Their Way by Land, Sea, and Air
Stewart Ross/Stephen Biesty
Candlewick Press
Nominated by: Laura Wadley

This is the quintessential title for every armchair explorer. In engaging, informative chapters, Ross dramatically chronicles the daring adventures of such intrepid explorers as Leif Eriksson, Marco Polo, Ferdinand Magellan and Captain Cook. Readers will find themselves sailing with Pytheas the Greek to the Arctic Circle and Chinese Admiral Zheng He to India, journeying into the African interior with David Livingstone and Mary Kingsley, flying over the North Pole with Umberto Nobile, descending to the bottom of the Mariana Trench in August and Jacques Piccard’s bathyscaphe, climbing the to top of Mount Everest with Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay, and ending with the first moon landing.

Complementing Ross’s vivid narratives are Stephen Biestys’ intricately detailed illustrations. Each journey includes fold-out, cutaway cross-section illustrations detailing the designs of equipment, vessels, and routes used by explorers. Readers cannot only study the parts of the curragh that Pytheas sailed to the frigid Arctic in 340 BCE but also compare its design to Leif Eriksson’s knarr and Captain Cook’s Endeavour. Readers will relive some of the most daring voyages of all time in this dynamic, handsomely designed, visually stunning book.

Ed Sullivan

The Many Faces of George Washington: Remaking a Presidential Icon (Exceptional Social Studies Titles for Intermediate Grades)
Carla Killough McClafferty
Carolrhoda Books
Nominated by: Elizabeth Dingmann

Gilbert Stuart’s portraits of George Washington have left most Americans with a definite image of the first president: austere, dignified and forever elderly. The Many Faces of George Washington tells the story of the team of historians and artists who have given the world new images of the icon. The book follow the team’s creation of three life-size statues of Washington that show him as a young surveyor, the famous general and as the first president. To build the figures, the team relies on everything from existing images to 3D skeletal models — and, as the book’s copious photo illustrations make clear, lots of painstaking, though fascinating, work.

Sarah Rettger

The Notorious Benedict Arnold: A True Story of Adventure, Heroism & Treachery
Steve Sheinkin
Flash Point
Nominated by: Angela Frederick

From rural New York and the British Midlands, to you–here’s Benedict Arnold.

Steve Sheinkin’s obvious passion for his topic is evident in The Notorious Benedict Arnold. Starting off with a grim scene of a man about to be hanged, Sheinken jumps back in time and tells Benedict Arnold’s life story in chronological order. And what a swashbuckling story it is, with high-stakes adventure, dark deeds, and power struggles galore. Putting a brilliant but flawed man in the context of the turbulent times that swirled around him, this book is a fast and powerful read. Sheinken admires Arnold without excusing him, and judges him without being sanctimonious. He shows readers that history–even history as hallowed as the founding of the United States–can be grey. The book includes several maps that help visualize the action, particularly of some of the critical battles, and extensive source notes. The Notorious Benedict Arnold reads like a thriller, showing how biographies written for children and young adults can rise above the rote of a text book.

Kara Dean and Roberta Gibson

Unraveling Freedom: The Battle for Democracy on the Home Front During World War I
Ann Bausum
National Geographic Children's Books
Nominated by: Susan Thomsen

Bausum’s book is an eye-opening chronicle of how during wartime our right to free speech can be taken away. Eerily similar to events leading up to 9-11 hysteria and The Patriot Act, Bausum opens with the unexpected sinking of the Lusitania on May 7, 1915. From there, readers are swept up in the events that led to America declaring war against Germany (April 2, 1917) through the enactment of the Espionage Act on June 15, 1917. Newspapers and individuals were forbidden from speaking out against the war. People were jailed and German newspapers where prohibited from using the US mail. Suddenly, everything German was considered “the enemy.” Bausaum’s writing is thrilling. The book’s design is equally impressive, filled throughout with historic black & white photos, cartoons, drawings and posters. There is a guide to wartime presidents (whose job it is to balance the needs for national security against the rights of individual citizens) that helps round out this thought-provoking nonfiction book.

Louise Capizzo

Nonfiction Picture Books

All the Water in the World
George Ella Lyon
Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Nominated by: Kate Coombs

Just when you thought the world had enough books about the water cycle, along comes this fresh poetic treatment to make you say “Wow.” Lyon laces the sparse, tightly written text with delicious language surprises as she succinctly explains where water comes from and where it goes. Both the writing and illustration are simple, crisp and clean, rhythmically flowing and splashing along as water does. Kids will want to move the book around to follow the font, which takes on the persona of water as it changes shape and wends and flows through the book. Tillotson’s wild splashes of colour creatively echo the text, while showing water in all its forms. Different, fun, fresh.

Bring On the Birds
Susan Stockdale
Nominated by: Lesley

This simple book for very young readers highlights the incredible diversity of avian life while cleverly punctuating it with what all birds have in common. Text, art and design work together brilliantly to create an engaging read aloud or early independent reading experience. The rhyming text is sparkling, fun and graceful, full of strong visual language, internal rhyme and alliteration. Bright, uncomplicated illustrations not only accurately depict the bird species, but also place them in their appropriate habitats, creating a wonderful first introduction to birds for 4-6 year olds.

Can We Save the Tiger?
Martin Jenkins
Candlewick Press
Nominated by: Amy @ Hope Is the Word

Readers will be drawn in by the friendly, down-to-earth text and gorgeous life-like illustrations in this book about endangered and extinct animals. Citing particularly interesting examples, Jenkins offers thought-provoking explanations and hope as he describes attempts to save animal species from extinction, some successful, some not so much. Instead of simply being spoonfed information, readers are invited to ponder issues that aren’t always black and white. The exquisitely detailed pencil sketches and paintings in different scales give a field journal feel and perfectly capture the movement and “life” of these animals from enormous rhinos and tigers to tiny snails.

I Feel Better with a Frog in My Throat: History's Strangest Cures
Carlyn Beccia
Houghton Mifflin Books for Children
Nominated by: Mary McKenna Siddals

In a quiz format, we’re introduced to the weird, wacky and just plain gross medical cures people have tried throughout history. Readers turn the pages to discover which cures actually worked and why or why not—and there are more than a few surprises. Beccia’s medieval caricatures are a perfect fit for the gruesomely captivating descriptions, which are fast-paced with just the right level of detail. This is a fascinating, funny and icky book, packed full of well-organized information, complete with clever caveats.

Planting the Wild Garden
Kathryn O. Galbraith
Nominated by: Shirley Duke

While most kids are familiar with backyard gardens, seeded in rows, weeded and watered, this elegant book shares the wonder of the “wild garden”, where nature, not man, is the gardener–where seeds are carried by water, wind, fur and poop to places where they germinate into new plants to create nature’s landscape. Smooth, mellow language echoes the natural processes described, while onomatopoeia and present tense narration keep the text lively. Soft pencil and watercolor art convey a sense of observant calm, ingeniously conveying the passage of time through multiple inset panels.

The Case of the Vanishing Golden Frogs: A Scientific Mystery
Sandra Markle
Millbrook Press
Nominated by: Laurie Thompson

Frogs are disappearing. Markle engages readers in the investigation of possible causes, providing a close-up look at real-world scientists in the field and lab as they work together to uncover the truth. Kids will be intrigued as they follow the mystery, clue by clue. The language is deceptively simple–kid-friendly and accessible to young readers, but never choppy or condescending. Stunning photographs, images, and book design round out a perfect package to inspire young naturalists.

Thunder Birds: Nature's Flying Predators
Jim Arnosky
Sterling Publishing
Nominated by: Dawn Mooney

Birds of prey come alive on the pages of this book, including four fold-outs. Through a combination of facts, stories from his own personal experiences and illustrations that make you want to reach out and touch the feathers, Arnosky crafts extremely realistic portraits of these majestic birds. The casual reader will be mesmerized, but the substantial information included makes this volume suitable for reports as well. A striking, elegant book.


Cousins of Clouds: Elephant Poems
Tracie Vaughn Zimmer
Clarion Books
Nominated by: Amy @ Hope Is the Word

Poet Paul Muldoon said, “One will never again look at a birch tree, after the Robert Frost poem, in exactly the same way.” Readers of Tracy Vaughn Zimmer’s Cousins of Clouds can make a similar argument, because they will probably never look at elephants in the same way. The title poem, “Cousins of Clouds gives readers their first glimpse of this peculiar creature, explaining that elephants were once able to fly, but long ago, a great prophet took away their powers.

To this very day

you can see the poor elephants

flapping their ears,

dreaming of flight,

but now only

cousins of clouds.

The book includes several poems about the elephant’s unusual body parts. Others, like “Mud Spa” and “Fortress” describe the elephant’s habits. Poems such as “Beggars of Bangkok” and “Sonnet for Sanctuary” provide readers with snapshots of elephants’ treatment throughout the world. Still others, such “White Elephant” and “A Riddle” describe historical traditions related to elephants.

Each poem is further enhanced by a block of prose, which provides background information. Colorful illustrations range from anatomical to folkloric, cartoonish to collage, depending on the topic of the poem. A totally engaging look at an intriguing creature!

Carol Wilcox

Dear Hot Dog
Mordicai Gerstein
Abrams Books for Young Readers
Nominated by: Katie Ahearn

From the mystery of air smelling “like roses sometimes, or fresh-cut grass; gasoline or rain or skunk” to the “funny bird” we call scissors, Caldecott Medal winner Mordicai Gerstein keenly turns his artist’s eye and child’s heart to plain objects in Dear Hot Dog: Poems about Everyday Stuff.

Full of gratitude, this collection renews a reader’s appreciation for the stuff we touch and use each day, stuff that just might have feelings of its own. From morning through evening, Gerstein speaks to and about humble things, elevating them through observation and questions. We come to see that autumn leaves are really wearing Halloween costumes and hear a toothbrush “gargling your little song.” A cup “puts a handle” on liquids and a hot dog is “snug as a puppy in your bready bun. For the first time, we wonder where light goes in the darkness.

By celebrating daily objects, this delightful tribute offers readers of all ages a way to see our own lives – with whimsy, wonder, and thankfulness for the small stuff of our own lives.

Amy Ludwig VanDerwater

Emma Dilemma: Big Sister Poems
Kristine O'Connell George
Clarion Books
Nominated by: Becky

This is a light-hearted and touching collection of poems in which an older sibling details her “up and down” relationship with her little sister Emma—who can be a “dilemma” at times. Emma embarrasses her older sister in public. She annoys Jessica when she cheats at board games; leaves the caps off all her markers; invades her room and messes with her things; tags along when her sister is playing with a friend.

Still, the two girls share many happy and warm moments. Jessica enjoys reading her favorite picture books to Emma and visiting with old friends. The sisters get silly at the dinner table, sit together and do homework side by side, hold hands and comfort each other.

George’s poems believably capture the frustrations experienced by an older sister and the love she feels for a younger sibling who can be both exasperating and lovable. They provide a tender portrayal of the bond between two sisters with humor and poignancy.

Elaine Magliaro

Requiem: Poems of the Terezin Ghetto
Paul B. Janeczko
Candlewick Press
Nominated by: Tricia Stohr-Hunt

Janeczko’s Requiem is a slender but powerful collection of poems about the Terezin Ghetto, each line, each word, not merely a requiem but a song to the spirit of the victims.

These poems capture the sense of desperation and inevitability, the anguish and daily uncertainty of life for the Jews sent to Terezin, where the Nazis showcased the talents of mostly artists and intellectuals from Prague as a sign to the world of the “humane” treatment the Jews were receiving.

“Although the poems in this collection are based on historical events and facts, most of the characters that appear in the poems are fictional,” Janeczko acknowledges in the Author’s Note at the end of the book. “Some are composites based on my research. Others are totally invented … the characters, their thoughts, and their conversations are products of my imagination.”

Somehow, Janeczko has found the strength and courage to reach into the heart of each character and bring out of its depths a pulsing, vibrant voice so that these voices speak to us on page after page, touching the souls of the dead and the living simultaneously.

Bruce Black

Self-Portrait With Seven Fingers
J. Patrick Lewis and Jane Yolen
Creative Editions
Nominated by: Gina Ruiz

Those already familiar with the art of Marc Chagall might recognize this title of this poetic biography from Chagall’s painting of the same name. Those new to Chagall are in for a real treat as fourteen of Chagall’s stunning paintings are reproduced in beautiful color and paired with poems from authors, J. Patrick Lewis and Jane Yolen. Readers take an colorful journey through Chagall’s life from his youth in Vitebsk, Belarus, through his artistic explorations that challenged the world’s expectations from artists. Paintings, poems, and bits and biographical notes carry the reader throughout Chagall’s life, from a happy yet humble childhood, his life with Bella, the true love of his life, through the Nazi invasion, immigration to America, Bella’s death and his return to France where he spent the remainder of his life.The one constant for Chagall was his art. In their poems, Lewis and Yolen capture the yearning soul of the artist that is driven to create even amidst (or because of) the darkness that weaves its way throughout his life. Readers will be inspired to play with some kind of art after reading this book. The book captures the soul of the artist in a way that supports his art and also that the art supports the poetry.

Susan Taylor Brown

We Are America: A Tribute from the Heart
Walter Dean Myers
Nominated by: Laura Wadley

Who or what is American? The answers lie at the heart of this collection of free verse poems. A history of America loosely told, Myers pays homage to the obvious and sometimes overlooked. The titles of the poems when taken together, form a narrative of their own –“We raised up factories and farms great houses and small/We were willing to die to forge our dream/Like clumsy children we fell/We moved on stubbornly”– and highlight the beautiful and ugly truths that weave the history of our nation.

Myers lyrical and heartfelt poems are paired with the vibrant illustrations of his son, and often a quote or excerpt from an important historical document. The poems are enriched and extended by the illustrations, which focus on both the title and content of the poem. “Like clumsy children we fell,” is a poem accompanied by quotes on slavery from Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglas. The illustration moves from the scarred back of a slave, to the Battle of Wounded Knee, to a group of Japanese Americans behind the fence of an internment camp. “Ambition betrayed us/Power was too strong a temptation/And yet, and yet …/We could hold up our sins for the world to see.” While the quotes set the poem’s context in history, the illustrations propel the words forward in time, extending their reach and forcing readers to recall Santayana’s words that “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

In an Author’s Note at the opening of the book, Myers explains how he came to write We Are America and the research that went into it. He reread the documents that led to our independence and formed the core of our government. He took what he read, together with what he has seen through his lifetime, to pen a moving and generous portrait. “No words here have been penned lightly, no flag waved mindlessly. This is simply my truest feelings for my country, my tribute to America.”

Tricia Stohr-Hunt

Young Adult Fiction

Anna and the French Kiss
Stephanie Perkins
Dutton Juvenile
Nominated by: Melissa Fox

Perkins’ Anna and the French Kiss marries romance, friendship and growing up with the delights of the Seine, macaroons and cinemas in the City of Lights. Picked for the off-beat charms of the book’s namesake, Anna, and the deft handling of a budding romance, Anna has the ability to melt the hardest of hearts. Paris is not a convenient, exotic backdrop, but rather plays a role in the character’s decisions, development and ultimate self-discovery. With Paris popping off the page and a set of richly-developed characters, our panel was delighted by this lovely and refreshing debut novel.

Kellie Tilton

Between Shades of Gray
Ruta Sepetys
Nominated by: Lisa Schroeder

Sepetys channels the harrowing reality of life in Stalin’s Lithuania through the eyes of Lina, a talented artist and passionate fifteen-year-old. Herded into a dirty train car with her mother, brother and an ensemble of survivors that eventually become her new family, she’s forced to journey nearly 7,000 miles across the Arctic Circle to Siberia. Beautifully written, Shades strikes a near perfect blend of historical fact and fictionalized dramatization. Sepetys spares no details of the suffering and brutality, but moments of compassion, bonding, and Lina’s growing love for a fellow survivor steeps the story in a tender realness. This book will grip fans of historical fiction and make non-fans wonder what else they’ve been missing in the genre.

Paula Chase Hyman

Sophie Flack
Nominated by: Susan Kusel

Bunheads gives a person and in-depth look at the intense and demanding life of a dancer. As a nineteen-year-old in the Manhattan Ballet, Hannah has dedicated her life to dance. In the single-minded pursuit of her dream to be a soloist, she’s all but given up on the idea of having an education or personal life outside of the ballet. We were impressed by not only the starkly honest portrayal of life in a professional ballet company, but also Hannah’s personal growth and struggle as she attempts to remain devoted to her dance while at the same time questioning the life she’s chosen. This is not a sacrifice-anything-for-the-dream type of book; Hannah grapples with just how much she must continually give up for the sake of dance. This is an original and wholly captivating book with a compelling female lead and an honest portrait of her struggle to succeed.

Jordyn Turney

Everybody Sees the Ants
A.S. King
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Nominated by: Angela Frederick

Some books defy categorization, and Everybody Sees the Ants is a prime example. Lucky Linderman escapes from incessant bullying and his dysfunctional family through dreams of his MIA grandfather and repeat visits by some very entertaining ants. Lucky’s wild hallucinatory adventures give him the strength of will to survive his external tribulations. There are no firm answers here—Lucky may or may not be completely crazeballs—but it’s impossible to resist taking this journey with him as he comes to terms in little pieces with his life. Our panel was captivated by this quirky twist on the standard coming-of-age story.

Carrie Harris

Marianna Baer
Balzer + Bray
Nominated by: Kelly Barson

Frost had at least one panelist cowering under her covers with all of the lights on. Deliciously scary, and successfully walking the finest line between psychological and paranormal suspense, Baer captures the tone of the gothic novel with her haunted boarding school. In Celeste and Leena’s beautiful Victorian dorm, we are witness to the meticulous unraveling of the main characters’ psyche as their perfect senior year deteriorates one eerie event after another. Is Celeste just dramatic? Does some one have it out for her? Is she victim of hereditary psychological issues? Or is it the house?

Jackie Parker

Joshua C. Cohen
Dutton Juvenile
Nominated by: Taylor

In a year that saw a seemingly never-ending supply of sports books, Cohen’s Leverage was never once in danger of being left in the dust. Told in two distinct, believable voices, this story about an unlikely friendship between a mouthy gymnast and a quiet football player wowed panelists in every possible way: muscle, heart and mind. It deals with bullying and abuse without ever feeling exploitative; the violence is visceral without ever being excessive. The corruption that our heroes face will draw genuinely horrified gasps, but even their minor triumphs will also bring wholehearted cheers.

Leila Roy

Stupid Fast
Geoff Herbach
Sourcebooks Fire
Nominated by: Karen Yingling

Both funny and heartbreaking, Stupid Fast drops readers into 15-year-old Felton’s mind as he replays the events of the summer that changed his life. It’s rough going from a quiet nobody to the lead recruit for the high school football team, but there’s more to this story than football. Felton’s memorable voice captures the struggle of navigating a family falling apart at the seams and the tenderness of a first love — though he would probably gag admitting this. The novel’s small town setting plays a noteworthy role in helping Felton confront challenges of money, race, and most importantly, himself. This is one summer he and readers will not forget.

Kelly Jensen