2015 Cybils Finalists

Book Apps

David Wiesner's Spot
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Nominated by: Heidi G.

Spot takes readers to whole new worlds - worlds within worlds, in fact! Zoom in or zoom out to take yourself through David Wiesner’s imagination. His brilliant artwork is both enigmatic and intriguing. Readers of all ages will find themselves enjoying the creativity involved in this app while curious to figure out how the stories connect across worlds...if they do. Aliens and cats and robots on parade will keep readers engaged for hours on end. This is the epitome of a wordless picture book brought to life as a book app!

Jennifer Vincent, Teach Mentor Texts

Earth Primer
Chaim Gingold
Chaim Gingold
Nominated by: Daniel

Explore the layers of the earth in the nonfiction book app, Earth Primer. Dramatic music, sound effects, stunning photographs, bold illustrations and maps create an exciting nonfiction experience for readers. Navigation is seamless; the main menu offers readers five different chapters. Children will find the app’s interactive elements engaging as they pinch, pull and swipe to move the earth’s plates together, sculpt the earth with wind and create volcanoes as fire crackles and lava oozes. The clearly written expository text provides readers with information about plate tectonics, rifts, magma, glaciers, volcanoes and more. After reading all five chapters, a Sandbox is unlocked and users can shape the earth using a 3D interactive model. Earth Primer is an exciting, informational app that will teach students about geology as they play, explore, experiment and engage with the text and graphics.

Cathy Potter, The Nonfiction Detectives

Hilda Bewildered
Slap Happy Larry
Slap Happy Larry
Nominated by: Scotty

Classic names are supposedly making a comeback but Hilda remains an anachronism much like the setting in Hilda Bewildered, the book app written and illustrated by Lynley Stace. There's a princess and palace, but this dark and dreamy coming of age story isn't your average fairy tale. It's loaded with symbolism and topical themes like life under the magnifying glass of paparazzi, class divisions, seeking parental approval and the power of advertising to distort reality. Any teen who keeps up with Kylie Jenner can relate to the pressure Hilda feels as she prepares to give a speech to open a winter festival.

The narrative is complex with parts of it taking place in Hilda's imagination and some gleaned only through careful examination of the detailed illustrations and interactive features. Author's notes help readers understand the many layers running throughout the story. Few if any books apps have the emotional depth and intellectual intrigue of this work. On occasion, Oscars are given based on the overall strength of an actor or director's entire body of work rather than solely on the merits of the nominated film. Slap Happy Larry's Hilda Bewildered, the followup to The Artifacts and Midnight Feast, would deservingly fall into such a category.

Jill Goodman, Participate Learning

Nominated by: Lizjonesbooks

Metamorphabet is a quirky, fun alphabet book app where letters come to life on the screen. Readers first get to see the letter and hear the narrator say the name of the letter but then they tap and tug on the letters so they morph into a visual representation of words that start with that particular letter. Antlers sprout from the letter A as it ambles along. The letter I becomes an iceberg with an igloo sitting atop it where people play inside. Young readers will squeal as they watch the letters transform and find themselves transfixed by this app as they interact with the what the letters become while learning about letter sounds and developing their vocabulary.

Jennifer Vincent, Teach Mentor Texts

Professor Astro Cat's Solar System
Minilab Ltd
Minilab Ltd
Nominated by: Sheila Ruth

Mental Floss calls this app, “a whimsical, interactive textbook to the stars.” And I couldn’t agree more. Professor Astro Cat’s Solar System weaves fun facts together with content-rich games to deliver an engaging educational punch. It makes play and learning one, just as its developer, Minilab Ltd., intended. But it doesn’t stop there. The app is gorgeously illustrated, a real pleasure to look at. It’s beautifully designed too. Everything works exactly as it should with nice sound effects and visual animations accompanying user actions. The interactivity works to extend the content, not distract from it. There is nothing missing or out of place in this app. Though non-linear, Professor Astro Cat’s Solar System is very intuitive. It’s highly responsive with multiple layers and activities to unlock, which makes the app appealing to a fairly wide age-range. The non-fiction content is clearly written and delivered in just the right doses. I had a great time playing with this app. It hooked me to the end. What’s more, I learned a lot. Your kid will too. Without even knowing it.

Sarah Towle, Sarah Towle: History Turned On

Wuwu & Co. - A magical picture book
Step In Books
Step In Books
Nominated by: Jill Goodman

Set in snowy woods with a cozy red house as home base, Wuwu and Co adds charm and inventiveness to a scenario common to many children's apps: there are several creatures in need of help, and you are the helper.

Each creature has its own mini-story, written in a quirky literary style reminiscent of Roald Dahl. The app makes clever use of a tablet's camera and microphone, but REALLY shines in creating a truly immersive environment. For each task, you must hold up your tablet with the camera facing out, and turn in a slow circle to observe the landscape. As you "walk towards" something, you hear the sound of footsteps crunching the snow. It feels as if your tablet is more of a window than a screen. Wuwu and Co opens up new possibilities for children's book apps. If reading themselves, this innovative app is best for children in 3rd-6th grade, though younger children could experience its magic with an older guide.

Emily Lloyd, Little eLit

Easy Readers

A Pig, a Fox, and a Box (Penguin Young Readers, Level 2)
Jonathan Fenske
Penguin Young Readers
Nominated by: Linda Baie

A Pig, a Fox, and a Box will delight young readers. It’s rhyming text and simple illustrations guide the reader through the silly adventure of a tricky fox and a gullible pig. With a box, a wig, and a pile of rocks, Fox tries to play a trick on Pig. But each trick results in an injury for Fox. In the end, Fox decides that although he enjoys tricks he is done for the day. The story is told within conversation bubbles adding to the overall humor of the story as the reader is in tune with each character’s thoughts and feels like they are in on the jokes. Simple sentences and high frequency words make this an easy read for beginning readers.

Juliana Lee, Juliana Lee, Crafting Stories

Don't Throw It to Mo! (Mo Jackson)
David A. Adler
Penguin USA
Nominated by: Ashley Martin

Diverse characters in everyday situations make this easy reader relatable to young readers, but it's the humor and bright, cheerful illustrations that will draw in even non-football fans.

Mo's the smallest kid on the football team but that's only because he's the youngest. Still, he spends most of his time on the bench with Coach Steve. For the big game, Coach Steve has a plan. He butters a football for Mo to catch. Everyone thinks Mo has butter fingers! When Mo goes into the game, no one thinks Mo can catch the ball. Will he?

Mia Wenjen, Pragmatic Mom

In, Over and On the Farm
Ethan Long
G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers
Nominated by: StorytimeKatie

Ethan Long's stories have a minimum of words but each delivers a punch line. The book's thick pages, lift the flaps and cartoon-like illustrations draw young readers into a four-way farm animal friendship. In the first story, hen's coop is crowded with friends who want out of the rain. Hen has to assert authority to regain control of who goes IN! the coop. Next, a fence poses problems. Hen can't jump OVER! or go under the fence. Cow has a solution. Finally, riding ON! the tractor looks like great fun! It is, until the tractor hits bump. Young readers will be charmed by three very short stories about a hen, cow, goat and pig going In! Over! and On! (the Farm).

Mia Wenjen, Pragmatic Mom

Ling & Ting: Twice as Silly (Passport to Reading, Level 3: Ling & Ting)
Grace Lin
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Nominated by: Heidi G.

Identical twin sisters Ling and Ting share a silly sense of humor and a wonderful sense of imagination. In this, their third book, the girls make a series of goofy jokes about everything from growing cupcakes in the garden to swinging higher than the trees (which, of course, can't swing at all!) The sense of humor is perfectly suited to an early elementary audience, and the illustrations help contextualize each silly joke for the reader. Kids will giggle all the way through this book!

Katie Fitzgerald, Story Time Secrets

National Geographic Readers: Rosa Parks (Readers Bios)
Kitson Jazynka
National Geographic Children's Books
Nominated by: Maria Marshall

This intermediate easy reader biography not only covers Rosa Parks' historic act of civil disobedience, it explains her life before and after the event and includes the historical context. The book offers a simple explanation of segregation and sets the scene for the pivotal moment by relating everyday things, like the cost of chocolate and games children played, to modern-day equivalents. The easy reader also includes information on Parks' lifelong dedication to civil rights and brings events to life in a way that young readers will understand and relate to current events. With economical language, photographs, and clear sources, Jazynka has created an excellent introduction to Rosa Parks for beginning readers.

Jennifer Wharton, Jean Little Library

National Geographic Readers: Slither, Snake!
Shelby Alinsky
National Geographic Children's Books
Nominated by: Jennifer

This early non-fiction reader published in the National Geographic Kids series is labeled a pre-reader, designed for ‘kids who are ready to read’. It gives pre-readers engaging information about snakes. Written in simple sentences, one per page, the facts are supported by close-up, color, photographs. A total of six snakes from around the world are featured in this book. Each snake highlights one characteristic of its group. There is a map of the world, which shows where each of the snakes discussed lives and a drawing activity to label your own parts of a snake at the end of the book.

Juliana Lee, Juliana Lee, Crafting Stories

Picture Perfect (Sofia Martinez)
Jacqueline Jules
Picture Window Books
Nominated by: Katie Fitzgerald

Sofia has two older sisters, and she is tired of being in their shadow. Sofia feels like they all look the same, and with school pictures coming up, she hatches a plan to stand out. This story is full of close-knit family who accept Sofia no matter how she feels. The text is full of Spanish vocabulary, which are defined at the end of the story along with some discussion questions and writing prompts.

Susan Murray, From Tots to Teens

Early Chapter Books

Big Bad Detective Agency
Bruce Hale
Nominated by: Becky L.

Incorporating many familiar fairy tale characters, Big Bad Detective Agency is uniquely funny. The Big Bad Wolf is accused, once again, of trashing the home of the Three Little Pigs. Although he has been known to huff and puff and blow down a house or two, Wolfgang (which is the wolf’s actual name) insists on claiming his innocence in this latest accusation of breaking and entering. And it seems that the prince’s guardsmen are too busy guarding the kingdom to investigate this crime further, leaving Wolfgang to defend himself. In a land where “heroes were not entirely good” and villains were sometimes “just misunderstood”, Wolfgang, with the help of the lesser-known fourth little pig, Ferkel, set out to clear his name. Amid characters like Hansel and Gretel, Goldilocks, Puss in Boots, Cinderella, and many others, Wolfgang and Ferkel stumble through Fairylandia collecting clues and uncovering the real culprit.

Beginning chapter book readers will dive into this book and come out asking for more. The resurgence of familiar storybook characters and the wacky new situations they find themselves in, will surely entertain the novice reader. The strong use of satire and wit to build on and tear down typical fairy tale assumptions, this story will appeal to both male and female readers.

Juliana Lee, Juliana Lee, Crafting Stories

By Kate Messner Ranger in Time #1: Rescue on the Oregon Trail [Hardcover]
Scholastic Press
Nominated by: Jennifer Schultz

Sam Abbot and his family are getting ready to set out on the Oregon Trail, but Sam isn't very excited, since they've had to leave their old dog, Scout behind. Little does he know he will soon find a new friend...fast-forward to the present and Ranger, a friendly golden retriever, is digging in the yard. He's smart and obedient, but failed out of search-and-rescue training because of his lack of focus. But when Ranger digs up a mysterious tin box and gets transported back to the Oregon Trail, his training will come in useful. He misses his family and is confused by the strange place he finds himself, but he quickly becomes part of Sam's wagon train and helps them travel the Oregon trail through dangerous rivers, illness, and many other adventures until they reach their destination and Ranger finds his way back home. At 144 pages, this is the perfect length for kids who are ready to start moving on from beginning chapters. The story doesn't gloss over the dangers and tragedies of the trail and there is death, disease, and other perils, but they're presented in a way that focuses on the families and their courage, rather than the horrors they endure. The story is interesting and exciting without being sensationalized and Ranger makes a good narrator of events, as well as adding his own perspective. An author's note at the end fills in more about the historical context and includes lots of information, quotes, sources, and suggestions for further reading. This unique blend of history and animal fiction will be a hit with early chapter readers of all ages.

Jennifer Wharton, Jean Little Library

Dory and the Real True Friend (Dory Fantasmagory)
Abby Hanlon
Dial Books
Nominated by: Sara Ralph

Dory is just preparing to enter kindergarten, and her sister and brother warn her against bringing her imagination to school. They tell her that her imaginary friends and foes should stay at home, but that in order to have friends, she should “be herself”. Her siblings try to instruct her in what she should do, but when she truly is herself, she discovers her one real true friend. A book with humor, lots of imagination, and a fun family.

Susan Murray, From Tots to Teens

Lulu and the Hamster in the Night
Hilary McKay
Albert Whitman & Company
Nominated by: Sherry Early

Whether they are long-time Lulu fans or brand-new to the series, beginning readers are sure to enjoy the humor in this beautifully written story of hamster hi-jinks! Lulu and her cousin Mellie have just acquired a classmate's hamster when they are invited to spend the weekend at their Nan's house to celebrate her birthday. Convinced that the rodent should not be left alone, they secretly bring him along to Nan's, even though they both know Nan is afraid of hamsters. Everything goes fine at first, until Nan's dogs take an interest in the hamster, and then, by accident, he escapes! Kids will sympathize strongly with Lulu's love for animals, and they will laugh out loud as she and Mellie try to solve their problems without letting Nan find out what's going on.

Katie Fitzgerald, Story Time Secrets

My Pet Human
Yasmine Surovec
Roaring Brook Press
Nominated by: Mindy R

A nameless cat is perfectly happy with his life. He has friends, he has places he can get food, he has his independence. He doesn't need humans. After all, he could only put up with a very special human and he's sure such a human doesn't exist. But then someone moves into the new house....and she has TUNA. The cat simply must have some. He's just staying for the tuna. And the boxes. And the back rubs. And....maybe he doesn't need to leave just yet? The cat, his friends and new family are a diverse group and they all find a happy home in sometimes unexpected places. Heavily illustrated with black and white drawings, this is a delightful beginning chapter book that will draw early chapter readers in and keep them giggling and sighing until the last page.

Jennifer Wharton, Jean Little Library

The Magical Animal Adoption Agency, Book 1 Clover's Luck
Kallie George
Nominated by: Vikki

Taking care of animals was a popular theme in Early Chapter Books this year, but this one stood out with its mix of magical realism, well paced adventure, and lovely pencil illustrations.

Clover stumbles into a magical part of the woods and gets hired as an assistant at magical animal pet shelter. Unicorns, dragons, and other fantastical creatures are under her care since Mr. Jams, the owner, is away on her first day of work! In addition to taking care of the animals, Clover must stop an evil witch from stealing any of the animals as well as match up prospective owners with their perfect pet. It's a summer where Clover discovers that she just might have good luck, after all!

Mia Wenjen, Pragmatic Mom

West Meadows Detectives: The Case of the Snack Snatcher
Liam O'Donnell
Owlkids Books
Nominated by: Terry Doherty

Myron is starting at a new school, and is dreading it. But then he becomes involved in a mystery when food starts disappearing from the school kitchen, and it is up to him and his new friend Hajrah to solve it. Myron is autistic and the way his brain works helps him be an excellent detective. This book lays out a mystery that is relatable for all children and fun to solve.

Susan Murray, From Tots to Teens

Elementary/Middle Grade Nonfiction

Emmanuel's Dream: The True Story of Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah
Laurie Ann Thompson
Schwartz and Wade Books
Nominated by: Maria Gianferrari

Emmanuel’s Dream is the true story of a young man born with only one leg who biked around Ghana. While author Laurie Thompson shared Emmanuel’s story with the intent to inspire young readers,Emmanuel’s Dream is not saccharine. Instead, each word in this picture book is carefully chosen to move the story forward. Illustrator Sean Quall’s folk art-inspired illustrations help tell Emmanuel’s story in a way that is moving but not overly sentimental. Emmanuel's Dream will both captivate young readers and broaden their view of the world

Amy Broadmoore, Delightful Children's Books

Fatal Fever: Tracking Down Typhoid Mary
Gail Jarrow
Calkins Creek Books
Nominated by: Heidi G.

A true-life medical mystery, Fatal Fever relates the dramatic story of Mary Mallon, the first healthy carrier of typhoid identified in the United States, and of the men and women determined to stop the spread of the disease. Medical professionals knew that typhoid fever was spread by unsanitary practices but the phenomenon of healthy carriers had only been discovered in the early 1900s. The author pieces together Mary’s history through primary sources, such as the notes of George Soper, the sanitation engineer and “germ detective” who pieced the evidence together and identified cook Mary Mallon as the cause of a ten-year trail of death and disease. Jarrow provides a fascinating exploration of typhoid, the conditions that allowed the disease to spread with such devastating effect, and the difficult decisions faced by the officials entrusted with protecting public health. Jarrow provides a wealth of historic and scientific information in a fast-paced manner that never overwhelms the narrative. For readers interested in learning more, the book also features a list of famous typhoid victims, a glossary, a recommended reading list, an author’s note, detailed source notes, and a bibliography.

Elisa Bergslien, Leopards and Dragons

Guts & Glory: The Vikings
Ben Thompson
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Publisher/ Author Submission

Thompson condenses approximately 273 years of vicious history with a sense of humor and candor, weaving Norse mythology and folktales into the stories and crediting them as (probably) being such. Guts and Glory begins with a view of the world in the year 800, followed by an overview of Norse mythology. My favorite was the transformation of Odin’s Yule time “Wild Hunt” on an eight legged horse named Sleipnir to his melding with Saint Nicholas who now rode the night sky with the assistance of eight reindeer.

Following is a veritable greatest hits of the Vikings, from Ragnar “Hairy-Breeches” and his son Ivar the Boneless (who may have had a musculoskeletal degenerative disease, explaining why he was carried on a shield into battle and his nickname) to Saint Olga of Kiev who just happened to be sainted some time after burying twenty men alive, setting King Mal’s greatest warriors on fire while they thought they were going to clean up in the sauna and then proceeding to set fire to her enemy’s kingdom by way of birds with slow burning candles. Stories like this made “Guts and Glory: The Vikings” hard to put down and left me wanting more. Fortunately, there are two other books in the series (Civil War and World War II) that I can’t wait to check out. An extensive bibliography offers more reading on the topic for the avid historian.

Ellen Zschunke, On The Shelf 4 Kids

I, Fly: The Buzz About Flies and How Awesome They Are
Bridget Heos, illustrated by Jennifer Plecas
Henry Holt
Nominated by: Terry Doherty

In this lively book, a cartoon fly narrator explains that, even though they aren't as attractive or iconic as butterflies, house flies deserve to be studied. Readers soon learn house flies go through complete metamorphosis like butterflies, but their larvae and pupae look very different. They also discover facts about house fly flight, anatomy, house fly relatives, and even some problems with flies. This lighthearted approach will capture children's imaginations and also make an unusual (and sometimes gross) subject more palatable.

Roberta Gibson, Wrapped in Foil

Kid Presidents: True Tales of Childhood from America's Presidents (Kid Legends)
David Stabler
Quirk Books
Nominated by: Compass Book Ratings

I’m sure you know something about a few or even all of America’s presidents, but how much do you know about the presidents before they were presidents? Did you ever realize that at one time they were kids just like you? David Stabler’s goal is to show kids that the presidents started out as kids just like them and that any kid can dream of being president one day. Divided into three parts, (After-School Activities, Fantastic Journeys, and It’s Not Easy Growing Up) both the stories and the illustrations are engaging and entertaining. Readers will laugh out loud and be inspired to dream big by the childhood antics of America’s presidents.

Bridget Wilson, What is Bridget Reading

One Plastic Bag: Isatou Ceesay and the Recycling Women of the Gambia (Millbrook Picture Books)
Miranda Paul
Millbrook Press
Nominated by: Pat Zietlow Miller

A plastic bag is helpful when holding things and carrying things, but when it's no longer needed, it is thrown away. Isatou Ceesay was tired of looking at the garbage on the ground all around her community of Njau, in The Gambia, and with the help of five friends found a creative solution for the trash. The women wove the plastic into new purses and bags, selling the bags in the city to earn money. Miranda Paul writes about this empowering and inspirational solution to a real world problem that everyone can relate to, no matter where they live. Backmatter includes a Wolof language glossary, a timeline of events, and photographs of the women of Njau.

Laura Arnhold, Literacious

Untamed: The Wild Life of Jane Goodall
Anita Silvey
National Geographic Children's Books
Nominated by: Andrea M

Untamed : The Wild Life of Jane Goodall is a chronicle of Jane Goodall's journey from a childhood fascination with animal behavior to groundbreaking research on the chimpanzees of Africa. This biography is rich with colorful photography and a kid-friendly layout of art and text, capturing stories from Jane's childhood to her current work on animal activism. Anita Silvey deftly captures Jane's sense of adventure, her passion, curiosity and love for animals. The engaging narrative describes Jane Goodall's career and research on chimpanzee behavior and intelligence. Silvey includes examples of Jane's field notes as well as short briefs on the various chimpanzees that Goodall interacted with during her time in Africa. The book closes with a rich set of resources including a timeline, maps and additional reading notes. This is an excellent book on a fascinating and inspiring woman who transformed our understanding of animal intelligence and paved the way for field research.

Reshama Deshmukh, Stacking Books

Elementary/Middle-Grade Speculative Fiction

Bayou Magic
Jewell Parker Rhodes
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Nominated by: Patricia Tilton

In a simple but not simplistic story, 10-year-old Maddie visits her Grandmère in the Louisiana bayou in order to learn the magical traditions of her family. While there, she discovers how friendship and magic (and bonus mermaids!) can help with modern problems, and learns the importance of being connected to the land around her. Rhodes has created book with a lyrical mix of African, French and Creole traditions that has a huge heart and is full of magic and, ultimately, joy.

Melissa Fox, The Book Nut

Castle Hangnail
Ursula Vernon
Dial Books
Nominated by: Jennifer

The titular castle of Castle Hangnail needs a new master, or it will risk being decommissioned, forcing all the resident minions to find new homes. When 12-year-old Molly comes knocking on the castle door, the minions (who expected a powerful dark magic user) are skeptical, but Molly is determined to convince them that she is wicked enough for the job (though she actually has a very good heart). Everything seems to be going well until an evil sorceress shows up claiming she is Castle Hangnail's real intended master. Its illustrations, humor, messages of friendship and determination, and a host of memorable secondary characters (with a special nod to one minion--Pins, a voodoo doll with a talking goldfish) make Castle Hangnail an utterly enjoyable and charming place to spend your reading time!

Benda Tjaden, Log Cabin Library

Cuckoo Song
Frances Hardinge
Harry N Abrams
Nominated by: Maureen E

"Mummy, help me, please help me, everything's strange and nothing's right, and my mind feels as if it's made up of pieces and some of them are missing..." When Triss wakes up from a mysterious accident, she is somehow not herself--she feels an overwhelming hunger that is only satisfied by eating the oddest things, dead leaves appear in her room, on her pillow, and in her hair; her little sister Pen rejects her completely. Triss/Not-Triss must put together the pieces of what turns out to be a larger puzzle, one that encompasses a family's grief, betrayal, loyalty, and love. Set in post-World War I Great Britain, Hardinge's Cuckoo Song is a beautifully written, deliciously dark fantasy for fans of historical fiction, horror, fairy tales, or family stories. We think that's everyone.

Anamaria Anderson, Books Together

Mars Evacuees
Sophia McDougall
Nominated by: Stephanie Whelan

Mars Evacuees-- Blast off for Mars on this science fiction debut! In order to keep them safe from the ongoing human-alien warfare on Earth, Alice Dare and other kids from around the world are being shipped off to the red planet . But Mars is far from being a safe haven, and when all the adults vanish, Alice and her new friends set out to get help. Giant floating robot goldfish, unexpected alien encounters and a not-so friendly Martian landscape are just some of the challenges they will deal with along the way. This entertaining and smartly-written romp will make you want to buckle up and enjoy the ride!

Mars Evacuees-- Blast off for Mars on this science fiction debut! In order to keep them safe from the ongoing human-alien warfare on Earth, Alice Dare and other kids from around the world are being shipped off to the red planet . But Mars is far from being a safe haven, and when all the adults vanish, Alice and her new friends set out to get help. Giant floating robot goldfish, unexpected alien encounters and a not-so friendly Martian landscape are just some of the challenges they will deal with along the way. This entertaining and smartly-written romp will make you want to buckle up and enjoy the ride!

Stephanie Whelan, Views From the Tesseract

The Dungeoneers
John David Anderson
Walden Pond Press
Nominated by: Matt

The Dungeoneers is a first-class adventure that reads like a role-playing game on the surface, while being booby-trapped with plot twists and laced with reflections on morality and loyalty. When Colm starts picking pockets to help his struggling family, they are horrified. But before he can be imprisoned, he's rescued by a man impressed by his talents who whisks him off to study at legendary Tye Twodin’s School for Dungeoneers--professional treasure hunters and monster fighters. There Colm and his new teammates, the shy young mageling Quinn Frostfoot, tough-as-nails (unless she’s bleeding herself) barbarian-to-be Lena Proudfoot, and druid-in-training Serene (with her a pet spider named Mr. Tickletoes) have to master the skills of dungeoneering. Swordplay, spells and lock picking aren't as challenging as navigating the social pitfalls of an extraordinary boarding school and figuring out who can be trusted...and that's before the real adventuring begins!

Katy Kramp, alibrarymama

The Fog Diver
Joel Ross
Nominated by: PLCarpenter

Set in a world where a deadly fog has taken over the planet, and people are forced to live in the skies, a quartet of ragtag orphans make a living off of what they can scavenge on Earth's surface, even though it means sending their diver, Chess, down through the toxic mist while still tethered to their sky ship. Chess is in less danger than most, as he has a mysterious resistance to the effects of the fog, but the evil Lord Kodoc will stop at nothing to find out Chess' secret.

When the four kids - Hazel (the daring captain), Swedish (the strong pilot), Bea (the cheery mechanic), and Chess (the secretive tetherboy) find out that the woman who raised them as family is dying from the Fog sickness, they decide to embark on an mission to save her life, and avoid the evil Lord Kodoc. Featuring air pirates, great characters, and a unique setting, The Fog Diver is a fantastic steampunk adventure with a sci-fi twist that will leave you wanting more.

Kristen Harvey, The Book Monsters

Wings of Fire Book Six: Moon Rising
Tui T. Sutherland
Scholastic Press
Nominated by: Angiegirl

The Wings of Fire series returns with new dragons and a brand new story arc! After years of war, the kingdoms of the dragons are at peace, and a school has been founded to gather together young dragons from all the different factions. One of these students is Moonwatcher, a young Nightwing who has the Nightwing powers of telepathy and prophecy, gifts that might help her and her new friends thwart the dangerous and deadly plots that threaten the fragile peace. These books, with their wide range of heroic young dragon characters,, are just full of kid appeal, and Moon Rising is one of the best of them. Strong messages of friendship, tolerance, and forgiveness are presented alongside adventures large and small in a way that will have readers clamoring for more.

Charlotte Taylor, Charlotte's Library

Fiction Picture Books

John Rocco
Nominated by: Adrienne

When the relentless snow brings a boy’s world to a halt, he discovers a way to both enjoy it and provide relief to his family and neighbors. John Rocco’s Blizzard produces four feet of snow and is still warm on the inside as it unites family. Proving how fast a blizzard shuts things down and also how long the recovery process takes, our young main character’s first person voice relays the varied emotions that accompany the flurry, engaging readers personally. With a lovely balance between dialogue and storyline, interaction from family and neighbors, and wonder-filled thoughts of a boy on a mission, Blizzard creates a relatable experience -- even for those who never see snow! Featuring an incredible use of white space in the overwhelming amounts of snow and delightful details such as a snow-infused timeline and a snow-tracked map of the rescue, Rocco has created a complete work of art.

Carrie Charley Brown, ReFoReMo- Reading for Research

Bug in a Vacuum
Melanie Watt
Publisher/ Author Submission

Bug in a Vacuum is a rare and valuable picture book. On one level, it is the humorous story of a bug who is sucked into a vacuum and struggles to come to terms with its situation. Watt overlays this narrative with a presentation of the Kübler-Ross model of the five stages of grief, as well as a secondary story mirroring the household dog’s own loss of his beloved toy. The muted, mixed media illustrations merge the complex narratives seamlessly to tell a rich, multilayered story. It has much to offer children of all ages — and I do mean all. The witty commentary and illustrations of the bug, rife with wordplay and humorous visual metaphors, propel the story above and beyond the grief and loss references, creating a bibliotherapy text that succeeds on its own literary and artistic merits. Readers will engage with the bug's dilemma, the dog's subtext, and breathe sighs of relief at their satisfying conclusions. This quirky offering by the author of Scaredy Squirrel possesses a darker vibe and fills 96 pages, but will absolutely inspire laughter, thoughtful discussion and meaningful questions, and draw children in for multiple readings.

Maggi Rohde, Mama Librarian

Hoot Owl, Master of Disguise
Sean Taylor
Candlewick Press
Nominated by: Anamaria (bookstogether)

Beware, inhabitants of the night! Hoot Owl is flying in search of a meal! Everyone knows owls are wise. But as well as being wise, Hoot Owl is a Master of Disguise. One after another, Hoot Owl devises disguises designed to fool his prey. Sean Taylor’s intentionally purple prose begs to be read aloud. Jean Jullien’s bold, expressive illustrations provide the perfect accompaniment to Hoot Owl’s dramatic plans. Kids from preschool to elementary age will enjoy seeing through Hoot Owl’s self-proclaimed cleverness, staying engaged (and giggling) throughout.

Sondra Eklund, Sonderbooks

In a Village by the Sea
Muon Van
Creston Books
Nominated by: Katy Manck

The combination of lyrical verse, gorgeous illustration and timeless themes pulls readers deeply into the hearts, lives, and loves of a particular family in a mountainside fishing village half a world away. Comfort shifts to concern as a sea storm rises, revealed in the artwork of a fantastically talented pet cricket. Shifting perspectives and warm, earthy scenes make the story safely familiar though the art is rendered with Asian style and detail. In a Village by the Sea uses a cumulative and nesting text to create musical verse and repetitive themes that touch something in readers of any age. It's a story that is both richly specific and lovingly universal, with enough visual detail and depth of character to invite countless satisfying rereads.

Sandy Brehl, Unpacking the Power of Picture Books

Last Stop on Market Street

G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers
Nominated by: Anne Marie Pace

Matt de la Peña delivers a great cross-generational experience on an ordinary bus ride. CJ doesn’t want to wait in the rain, doesn’t want to ride the bus, and does not want to venture across town like he does every Sunday after church. He longs for what others have until Nana opens her gentle, very unique worldview that includes trees that drink from straws, a blind man that sees with his ears (and nose) and CJ, himself, who embraces the discovery that the true smell of “freedom,” is one that simply finds magic, beauty, and fun in the diverse spectrum of people he meets everywhere. The energy of the words marry the vibrancy and color of Christian Robinson’s illustrations. This book is one that will leave all readers embracing the delicious moments in life.

Jodell Sadler, Kidlit College / Picture Book Lunch

Mango, Abuela, and Me
Meg Medina
Candlewick Press
Nominated by: CindyRodriguez

When Mia’s "faraway" grandmother comes to live with her familia in the United States, what should be a happy arrangement presents struggles for both Mia and her Abuela. Mia can't speak Spanish and her grandmother no habla ingles. How can Abuela tell Mia about her home where wild parrots roost in mango trees and how can Mia tell Abuela about her accomplishments in running and art? Mia is inspired by a red feather tucked in her grandmother's suitcase to buy a parrot, and suddenly both Mia and Abuela find their "mouths are full of things to say." With vivid writing and expressive illustrations, this is a story that will "toca su corazon," touch your heart.

Debbie Nance, Readerbuzz

Sidewalk Flowers
JonArno Lawson
Groundwood Books
Nominated by: Hannah DeCamp

On a wonder-inspiring walk around the city with her father, a young girl gathers wildflowers that tenaciously grow in the cracks of the sidewalk. She uses them to lovingly bedeck the people and animals she passes, unlocking a colorful world from the drab urban grey. JonArno Lawson and Sydney Smith have created a gorgeous wordless journey that uses perspective and pacing brilliantly to give readers a kid's-eye view of the world--a world where poetry is found in the tiniest, most ordinary details. This one is perfect for quiet contemplative reading and provoking visual storytelling.

Hannah DeCamp, Hannah DeCamp

Graphic Novels

Elementary/Middle Grade

Baba Yaga's Assistant
Marika McCoola
Candlewick Press
Nominated by: Melissa Fox

Masha is in a bit of a rough spot. Her mother died when she was young, and her beloved grandmother has died more recently. Her father, always distant towards her, has revealed that he's marrying a woman she hasn't met, much less heard of… and the new wife has her own young daughter who never misses an opportunity to point out that Masha doesn't belong. Masha agrees, and sets out to find a place where she feels competent-- in the chicken hut of Baba Yaga, whose stories play a huge role in her memories of family and belonging. Masha thinks she's equal to any challenge Baba Yaga might set for her, but when her new stepsister and friends appear to be on the dinner menu, she finds that she's not really up for murder. Now she must come up with a solution that will allow her to keep the kids alive… and follow Baba Yaga's directions and keep her job. Many kids dealing with unpleasant family issues might dream of running away to a fairytale world. The macabre story choice here and the need to work out troubles in both places anchor what might otherwise feel escapist. It showcases Masha's depth and kindness, and make this a compelling read

Liz Jones, Liz Jones Books

Courtney Crumrin Volume 7: Tales of a Warlock (Courtney Crumrin Spec Ed Hc)
Ted Naifeh
Oni Press
Nominated by: Katie Fitzgerald

In the new volume of Ted Naifeh's Crumrin series, we get to read the back story of her Uncle Aloysius Crumrin as a young man…. err, warlock. Courtney herself has yet to be born, but the exciting tale of magical intrigue, greed, and murder features a tough heroine determined to do what's right. Aloysius and Alice's romance adds a lot to the telling, and though it's not clear how things will play out in future volumes, longtime fans of the series will note Alice's physical resemblance to Courtney. This volume works well as a standalone for readers new to the series, who will almost certainly seek out the rest of the books after reading this one.

Liz Jones, Liz Jones Books

Dragons Beware! (The Chronicles of Claudette)
Jorge Aguirre and Rafael Rosado
First Second Books
Nominated by: Charlotte

Dragons Beware! has all the cliches of the dragon-slaying genre, but the standard elements are turned on their heads with hilarious characters and dialogue. Claudette is the daughter of warriors (and the sibling of a young chef) who is set on recovering her father's magic sword from the belly of a ferocious dragon while surrounded by an uproarious supporting cast of princes, princesses, soldiers and servants.

The kid appeal of Dragons Beware! is strong, and the messages about negotiation, courage, and family are subtly integrated into a highly satisfying adventure.

Gary Anderson, What's not wrong?

Roller Girl
Victoria Jamieson
Dial Books
Nominated by: Maureen E

Astrid is twelve years old, and has just developed a love for roller derby. She is devastated to learn that her best friend, Nicole, will not be joining her at derby camp. In fact, they are drifting apart, and Astrid can't figure out why. Astrid learns that being honest with yourself and those you love is a difficult but important journey to take. With beautiful color illustrations and excellent storytelling Roller Girl is a fun take on that awkward time of life.

Sami Silva, Reading. Happily.

Secret Coders
Gene Luen Yang
First Second Books
Nominated by: Maya

Fish-out-of-water, first-day-at-new-school stories are dime a dozen, but 12-year-old Hopper's new school, Stately Academy, is something entirely different. For one thing, all the buildings have the number 9 on them, and in the trees all the birds have four eyes in varying combinations of being open and closed. But it's the combination of discovering binary numbers and a secret robot hidden in the janitor closet that sends Hopper and her new friends on the path to opening a portal that will reveal the secrets hidden within Stately Academy... but only if they successfully can work out the code! The first book in a new series that sets out to teach readers how to code while solving a mystery, SECRET CODERS is an entertaining and accessible graphic introduction to the building blocks of computer programming.

David Elzey, Guyslitwire

Sunny Side Up
Jennifer L. Holm
Nominated by: Benji Martin

In 1976, Sunny Lewin is sent to spend part of her summer is her grandfather in Floria. Sunny is upbeat about the trip, but quickly loses her optimism the more her grandfather takes her on errands and not to Disney World. Sunny knows, however, that she was sent to be with Gramps for a reason that had nothing to do with Disney World. Her older brother has started to act strangely mean and aloof, and she thinks it's all her fault. With cute color illustrations and a story that connects with younger readers, Sunny Side Up, proves to hit a tough subject with grace and understanding.

Sami Silva, Reading. Happily.

The Marvels
Brian Selznick
Scholastic Press
Nominated by: bevpdx

In Brian Selznick's unique graphic hybrid style, Marvels draws the reader into a dizzying tale of shipwreck,, theater, family, and legacy. We follow the generations of Marvels as they perform on various stages, and lead lives both admirable and dissolute… and then look again, as a modern descendant, Joseph, tries to put all the pieces together after running away to his uncle's house in London, and discovers a truly marvelous testimony to family, and to love. As the book says --you either see it… or you don't.

Liz Jones, Liz Jones Books

Young Adult

Honor Girl: A Graphic Memoir
Maggie Thrash
Candlewick Press
Nominated by: Alex Baugh

In this graphic-novel memoir, 14-year old Maggie finds herself at an all-girls summer camp transitioning from a celebrity crush on Backstreet Boys singer Kevin Richardson to a very real crush on Erin, one of the camp’s counselors. Honor Girl feels authentic as Maggie struggles with figuring out what her emotions mean. And imagine doing that while surrounded 24 hours a day teenage girls! The free-form artwork is a perfect way for author Maggie Thrash to convey her story as a 14-year might doodle her way through memories. The colors are slightly muted but not somber, which also reinforces the life-like quality of Honor Girl. Thrash also gives us several catchy uses of panels, sound effects, and perspective.

Gary Anderson, What's not wrong?

Lion of Rora
Christos Gage/Ruth Gage/Jackie Lewis
Oni Press
Publisher/ Author Submission

Lion of Rora tells the true story of farmer-turned-military tactician, Joshua Janavel, who fought for the religious rights of his people and the Waldensian church. This novel is told using simple black and white illustrations to tell of a people fighting for their religious rights for the first time in European history against a ruler who denies them that freedom. The characters are sympathetic, the cause is just, and the story itself was new to all of our panelists, making this book a winner.

Sami Silva, Reading. Happily.

March: Book Two
John Lewis
Top Shelf Productions
Nominated by: Constance Burris

Just as powerfully as in March: Book One, Book Two continues the story of John Lewis's involvement in America's civil rights movement. March: Book Two, despite its title, stands alone as a distinct chapter in America's long struggle with race, but it also emerges smoothly from its predecessor volume. The book focuses on the Freedom Riders and ends just after the August, 1963 March on Washington.. Although somewhat denser than Book One, Book Two alternates effectively between the political discussions among the movement's leaders and the more dramatic scenes in streets and prisons. The black-and-white artwork evokes the familiar black-and-white newsreel footage of protestors being set upon with firehoses and police dogs, as well as the well-known images of George Wallace on the steps of the Alabama capitol and Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech. When those iconic images show up in comic form, they are simultaneously familiar and new. March: Book Two is an important contribution to our understanding of America and its history.

Gary Anderson, What's not wrong?

Ms. Marvel Vol. 1
G. Willow Wison
Marvel Books
Nominated by: Melissa Fox

Kamala is 16, Pakastani-American, Muslim, and a Marvel comics fan. Then something weird happens, and she finds herself imbued with superpowers she uses for good when transformed into Ms. Marvel!

Volume 1 is engrossing as it introduces Kamala and her family, friends, and enemies. Ms. Marvel will do wonders in Jersey City ... when she's not grounded by her parents or in trouble at her mosque. This comic should have wide appeal, and its Muslim superhero is an obviously welcome positive portrayal of a demographic under-represented in literature for young readers.

Gary Anderson, What's not wrong?

Noelle Stevenson
Nominated by: Liviania

Heroes and sidekicks are always popular in the world of graphics, and Nimona follows in that tradition, but with some pretty big differences. Nimona, our sidekick wannabe, is trying to apprentice herself to the bad guy, who keeps trying to convince her to be less violent, and isn't entirely sure he wants a sidekick in the first place. As he learns more about his shapeshifting assistant, he discovers that her role playing runs deeper than the physical, and her presence in his life enables him to rise from his own detested role and into his true nature. Clear and graceful art and endearing characters keep the reader riveted throughout the tale.

Liz Jones, Liz Jones Books

Oyster War
Ben Towle
Oni Press
Publisher/ Author Submission

Pirates are rapidly depleting the oyster supply along the Eastern seaboard in the years after the Civil War. Civic leaders call in Commander Davidson Bulloch, a blustery submarine officer fond of spouting inspirational quotes although with at least one mangled word. Bulloch agrees to assemble a crew and go to war against Treacher Fink and his band of oyster pirates in Oyster War, a grand adventure that looks and feels like a throwback to the comic adventures of the 1930s.

Bulloch's colorful sailors and Fink's motley crew are wildly entertaining as they go to battle in a plot that is both complex and easily understood. Throw in a dash of historical accuracy and splashes of mysterious maritime legends, and you have a completely satisfying graphic novel.

Gary Anderson, What's not wrong?

Terrorist: Gavrilo Princip, the Assassin Who Ignited World War I (Fiction - Young Adult)
Henrik Rehr
Graphic Universe
Nominated by: Adrienne

In a time when "terrorist" conjures up nothing positive, Henrik Rehr gives us the story of Gavrilo Princip, the self-described terrorist whose assassination of the Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand touched off World War I. Rehr never asks readers to condone Princip’s actions or sympathize with him, nor does he require the reader to condemn them. We are simply shown how the mind of a terrorist works and allowed to draw our own conclusions. The black-and-white artwork is dramatic and although the characters are sometimes hard to distinguish, the overall visual effects are compelling. The political discussions weigh down the narrative in places, but Rehr creates a suspenseful plot as he alternates between the activities of Princip and the Archduke as they move toward the moment of the murder.

Gary Anderson, What's not wrong?

Middle-Grade Fiction

Blackbird Fly
Erin Entrada Kelly
Greenwillow Books
Nominated by: bevpdx

Middle school ain't easy. Just ask Apple Yengko, who learns that it's hard being different in a sea full of many who are the same. She just wants to be a rock star and play her heart out but with her traditional Filipina mother wanting Apple to make her sole focus on school, let's just say becoming the next George Harrison isn't on her to-do list.

Apple's story is one readers will relate to, sympathetize with and root for as it unveils the ugly side of school bullying but in a thought provoking way. You will not walk away from this book without feeling something, learning something and for that I'd recommend it to not only it's intended audience but for younger and older book enthusiasts alike.

Libertad Araceli Thomas, Twinja Book Reviews

Book Scavenger
Jennifer Chambliss Bertman
Henry Holt
Nominated by: sprite

Book Scavenger is a delight for readers who love a good mystery with references to other books and adventures. Garrison Griswold, a Willy Monkish character, has created an online game called Book Scavenger where players hide books all around the country and clues to those books on the website. When Emily moves to San Francisco she is thrilled to be in the same city as Griswold. But when Griswold is attacked on his way to revealing a new game, Emily and her friend James find themselves in a position to discover the new game for themselves. But the clock is ticking because the people who attacked Griswold may be after Emily and James. This book was a fun romp filled with ciphers, codes, friendship,mystery, and literary allusions galore. For fans of Escape from Mr. Limoncello's Library, this book is sure to please. Check out the website http://bookscavenger.com for clues to real books hidden across the United States.

Julie Williams, Reading by the Pond

Footer Davis Probably Is Crazy
Susan Vaught
Simon & Schuster
Nominated by: Laurie Ann Thompson

When Fontana “Footer” Davis's mother shoots a snake with an elephant gun and is sent away to a psychiatric hospital for Bipolar disorder, Footer's life begins to unravel. Her neighbor’s farm burned down nine days ago. Mr. Abrams was shot and killed. His grandchildren Cissy and Doc were assumed dead in the fire, and Footer suspects that her mom might have something to do with it.

Footer teams up with her best friend, Peavine, and his sister, Angel to discover what really happened. The more she learns about the fire, the more she begins to have visions. She can smell the smoke & can see the gun. Could she have been there that night or is she going crazy like her mom? Written by author and practicing psychiatrist Susan Vaught, this page turning story explores friendship and what it is like to have a loved one with Bipolar Disorder.

Pamela Groseclose, Tween You & Me

Listen, Slowly
Thanhha Lai
Nominated by: Mikaela

Mai’s plans for the summer involve the beach and her friends. They do not involve taking a trip to Vietnam so her grandmother can have a companion as she searches for information on Mai’s grandfather, who has been missing since the end of the Vietnam War. Mai knows this trip is fruitless. Her one goal is to get it over with as fast as possible and go back to her regularly scheduled life. After all, how much can a person be expected to take of mosquitos, pimple outbreaks, diarrhea caused by swallowing pond water, and not being able to understand the people around her? But as time passes, Mai makes a friend, learns more of the language, discovers the beauty and complexity of her parents’ home country, and learns about her family’s past.

Told in Mai’s snarky, loyal, perfectly middle school voice, Listen Slowly by Thanhha Lai tells a beautiful, vivid tale of family, friendship, and history full of humor and discovery.

Brandy Painter, Random Musings of a Bibliophile

The Blackthorn Key
Kevin Sands
Nominated by: Melissa Fox

London, 1665. A mysterious cult appears to be killing off the city's apothecaries. When apprentice Christopher Rowe's master, Benedict Blackthorn, becomes the latest victim, Christopher sets off to unmask the killers, armed with his master's final present, a silvery cube etched with mysterious symbols, and the coded message hastily scrawled in his master's ledger. Christopher must use his wits and his knowledge of potions and powders to solve the clues within. Quick-paced, and mixing humor with hair-raising action, The Blackthorn Key is a satisfying mix of science, history, codes, puzzles and loyal friendships. I couldn't stop reading this debut by Canadian author, Kevin Sands--and I'm certain middle grade readers will be just as captivated.

Michael Gettel-Gilmartin, Middle Grade Mafioso


Flutter and Hum / Aleteo y Zumbido: Animal Poems / Poemas de Animales
Julie Paschkis
Henry Holt
Nominated by: Linda Baie

FLUTTER AND HUM: ALETEO Y ZUMBIDO by Julie Paschkis, is a collection of fifteen free verse animal poems- including snake, turtle, crow, heron, parrot, dog, cat, cow, fly, whale, deer, moth, owl, fish-- in both English and Spanish. The poems are accompanied by Paschkis' vibrant folk art, with words from the poem/palabras de los poemas embedded in the illustrations.

The author's note is particularly interesting. In this note, Paschkis explains that she is not a native Spanish speaker, and became interested in the language when she was illustrating a book about Pablo Neruda, approximately ten years ago. This sparked her interest in learning Spanish, which ultimately led to the publication of FLUTTER AND HUM/ALETEO Y ZUMBIDO. Paschkis says, "Somehow my unfamiliarity with Spanish freed me to write poetry. I felt like a visitor wandering through a forest of Spanish words, marveling at the beauty of sound, meaning, and syntax." This is a book sure to delight both English and Spanish readers.

Carol Wilcox, Carol's Corner

Full Cicada Moon
Marilyn Hilton
Dial Books
Nominated by: MotherReader

Mimi's appearance is what her new classmates see. They do not see Mimi. She looks different than anyone in a nearly all-white New England town. She acts different. Mimi wants to be in Shop Class, not Home Ec. The school says “no.” Mimi wants to be an astronaut. Classmates make fun of her. But Mimi refuses to let go of her dreams, her goals, and who she is, no matter how much she is teased and bullied. And then someone dares to speak up.

This historical middle-grade novel is told in verse, a lyrical and emotional journey from Mimi's perspective over the course of one year of surviving in an unwelcoming new school and town

Nancy Bo Flood, The Pirate Tree

House Arrest
K.A. Holt
Chronicle Books
Nominated by: Mike Jung

When Timothy is caught shoplifting, he’s under “house arrest” for a whole year, required to keep a journal, see a therapist, and check in with a probation officer. But in this compelling and honest novel in verse, we come to see he is dealing with some very difficult circumstances that center around an overworked mom, an absent father, and an infant brother who suffers from a severe, chronic and life-threatening condition: subglottic stenosis. Although based on the author’s own experiences with her own son, this is not a didactic treatment of childhood illness, rather it’s about how difficult times force us to dig deep to find the inner resources that can help us rise to the challenges we face in life. Timothy is difficult, obnoxious, totally absorbing and often hilarious. Even the adult characters are multi-dimensional with side stories of their own. Told from Timothy’s point of view, the poetry manages to convey so much information, emotion, and growing self-awareness, while giving the reader plenty of space to think, too.

Sylvia Vardell, Poetry for Children

National Geographic Book of Nature Poetry: More than 200 Poems With Photographs That Float, Zoom, and Bloom!
J. Patrick Lewis
National Geographic Children's Books
Nominated by: bevpdx

This outstanding companion to Lewis’s 2012 collection of animal poetry, THE BOOK OF NATURE POETRY includes more than 200 poems from writers both classic (Blake, Dickinson, Thoreau, Whitman) and contemporary (Hoberman, Nye, Mora, Yolen). Paired with superb and often breathtaking nature photography, readers will return to this book often to appreciate both the poems and the photographs. Organized into the categories The Wonder of Nature, In the Sky, In the Sea, On the Move, Across the Land, In Shad, In Distress, In Season, In Splendor, and Last Thoughts, the collection celebrates biodiversity and the amazing landscapes that support life on our planet. Back matter includes an essay on Mother Nature, a bibliography of children’s books on wordplay in poetry organized by poetic form, and indices of the poems by title, poet, first line, and subject.

This is a massive volume that includes something for readers of all ages, and one that will have them anxious to step outside and explore the world around them.

Tricia Stohr-Hunt, The Miss Rumphius Effect

Paper Hearts
Meg Wiviott
Margaret K. McElderry
Nominated by: Lyn Miller-Lachmann

Based on a true events, this historical verse novel celebrates friendship in an unlikely place: the munitions factory in Auschwitz during the Holocaust. Two girls separated from their families tell their stories in alternating chapters that chronicle the daily horrors, and also the small, tender triumphs that sustain them in beautiful unflinching verse that never once loses sight of hope for survival, escape, and a future filled with family and love. The book includes a historical note and actual photographs of the birthday card (now on display at Montreal Holocaust Memorial Centre) that was created in secrecy and defiance, and was signed by the whole group of friends. This powerful, meaningful story for ages 12 and up will “unfold... a corner of your heart.

Irene Latham, Live Your Poem

The Popcorn Astronauts: And Other Biteable Rhymes
Deborah Ruddell
Margaret K. McElderry
Nominated by: Bridget Wilson

Delicious. Ridiculous. Funny. Engaging. Popcorn Astronauts offers a variety of “edible” poems that are as strange and crazy as the book’s title. For example, try a shake ordered to poetic specifications: “A frosty cup of moonlight, please … As mushy as a mittenful of slightly melted snow ….” If that is a little on the chilly side, then try “Dracula’s Late-Night Bite,”especially after he “flosses his fangs and he slides out the door for dessert.” Great poems to cause both laughter and interest in young readers and examples for writing one’s own delicious verse.

Nancy Bo Flood, ReaderKidz

Winter Bees & Other Poems of the Cold (Junior Library Guild Selection)
Joyce Sidman
HMH Books for Young Readers
Nominated by: Maria Gianferrari

Did you know that bees stay active in the winter? They boil, teem, and hum to keep themselves and their queen warm and safe. Winter Bees is full of fascinating facts about plants and animals in winter. The poems offer vibrant, moving energy around words and images. Rick Allen’s illustrations take you into the midst of the snow and wind with vivid expression. From free-verse, rhyming, to original poetic forms, Joyce Sidman warms our hearts through the cold tundra. Dancing with the chickadee “From dawn to dusk in darkling air/ we glean and gulp and pluck and snare”, discovering snow fleas “A mob of us, a mass of us, a throng of us,” and wondering with the trees “Roots are deep and time is slow./ All we grasp we must let go,” Winter Bees is a treasure to hold.

Margaret Simon, Reflections on the Teche

Young Adult Nonfiction

Bayard Rustin: The Invisible Activist
Jacqueline Houtman, Walter Naegle, and Michael G. Long
Quaker Books of FGC
Publisher/ Author Submission

An engaging biography about an important civil rights activist that most people haven’t heard of. Raised with a deep belief in pacifism and justice, Rustin practiced nonviolence to protest the wrongs he saw in the world, including segregation and war. His strong belief in nonviolence inspired the Civil Rights movement--he was a close advisor of Martin Luther King, Jr. and organized the March on Washington. His work was largely hidden, erased, and forgotten because Rustin refused to closet his homosexuality. This book is a wonderful introduction to an influential figure who deserves to be remembered.

Jennie Rothschild, Biblio File

Courage & Defiance: Stories of Spies, Saboteurs, and Survivors in World War II Denmark
Deborah Hopkinson
Nominated by: Hayley Beale

Acclaimed author, Deborah Hopkinson, winner of over forty awards, exhibits her great skill with this thrilling account of the resistance movement in Denmark during World War II. Hopkinson weaves into her narrative real voices, based on documented interviews, of those men and women who risked their lives to disrupt the Nazis during their occupation of Denmark. The book covers not only the actions to hamper or impede the Nazis, but also the rescue of 95% of their Jewish population. Included are photos, and ample back matter to make this important story a compelling read.

Louise Capizzo, The Nonfiction Detectives

Give Me Wings: How a Choir of Former Slaves Took on the World
Kathy Lowinger
Annick Press
Nominated by: Lyn Miller-Lachmann

With faith and song during the Reconstruction era, a group of former slaves became world famous for their musical interpretation of the songs of their parents and grandparents, spirituals or “slave songs” as they were called. It all started when, freed from slavery after the Civil War, seventeen year old Ella Sheppard asked to exchange work for an education at Fisk Free Colored School (now Fisk University) in Nashville, TN. She knew how to work hard, and she knew how to sing. Both talents would be useful since the school was almost out of money. The students, including Ella and along with their treasurer and choirmaster, George Leonard White, set out to raise money for Fisk with a series of concerts. The nine students became known as The Jubilee Singers. Although they faced persecution, prejudice, and indifference, these young former slaves went out across the nation “in God’s strength . . . to sing the money out of the hearts and pockets of the people.” Read their inspiring story in Give Me Wings: How a Choir of Former Slaves Took on the World.

Sherry Early, Semicolon

I Will Always Write Back: How One Letter Changed Two Lives
Martin Ganda
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Nominated by: Patricia Tilton

In 1997, when her seventh grade English teacher announced a pen pal program, Caitlyn thought the crazy-sounding place of Zimbabwe piqued her interest. I’d never heard of Zimbabwe. But something about the way the name looked up on the blackboard intrigued me. Little did Caitlin know that this seemly reckless decision would not only change her life forever, but that of her pen pal, Martin, as well.

Far off in the Mutare, Zimbabwe, Martin is the smartest student in his tiny school. To Martin, America is the land of Coca-Cola and the WWF, World Wrestling Federation. Men had big muscles, [who] wore skullcaps and knee-high boots and made lots of money. Martin was thrilled with his pen pal. He had a friend. In America! This duel memoir is a great introduction to social activism. Told in alternating chapters, readers are pulled into this story of how an upper middle class American over time grows from a self-centered girl to someone who cares about a person she had never met, raising money enabling Martin, her African pen pal, can reach his dream of attending college in America. An inspiring account of two very courageous, and caring young people.

Louise Capizzo, The Nonfiction Detectives

Most Dangerous: Daniel Ellsberg and the Secret History of the Vietnam War
Steve Sheinkin
Roaring Brook Press
Nominated by: Benji Martin

In a piece of history that has ramifications and echoes in today’s headlines, Sheinkin introduces readers to Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers leak. Ellsberg was initially a great supporter of the war, working at the Department of Defense, the RAND Corporation, and even doing a tour of duty, before becoming so disillusioned he ended up smuggling out a secret report commissioned by Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara that detailed a very different version of the war than the government was telling the public. Sheinkin’s trademark engaging storytelling brings home the horrors of the war, and the tense, gripping days when the Pentagon Papers were being published.

Jennie Rothschild, Biblio File

Symphony for the City of the Dead: Dmitri Shostakovich and the Siege of Leningrad
M.T. Anderson
Candlewick Press
Nominated by: Julie Larios

In a tour de force of lyrical and understated prose, M.T. Anderson writes about the events of composer Dmitri Shostakovich’s life, despite the fact that many of those same events are shrouded in Communist propaganda and lies or in the half-truths of people who were trying to live under the threat of Communist oppression. But he also writes about Shostakovich’s music, which is similarly vague and uncertain and shrouded, as various experts disagree about the music’s message and meaning. So there are questions, and Anderson asks the right ones while also laying out the facts, when those are available, in a readable, narrative form. Older teens who can deal with the sometimes harrowing and disturbing details about the siege will be inspired, as I was, to listen to Shostakovich’s music with new appreciation, particularly to his (Seventh) Leningrad Symphony, and to admire the sacrifice and endurance of the Russian people under the twin evils of Stalin and Hitler.

Sherry Early, Semicolon

Tommy: The Gun That Changed America
Karen Blumenthal
Roaring Brook Press
Nominated by: Cathy Potter

The inventor of Thompson Sub-Machine Gun wanted to win WWI, and had no idea how his product would come to be used in so many criminal activities in the first half of the 20th century. Outlining not only the gun's use during the war but also the myriad ways in which the gun was used in illegal activities, making the need for gun control laws apparent. Blumenthal crafts a detailed and interesting picture of a pivotal twentieth century invention in a beautifully constructed book filled with period illustrations and ephemera.

Karen Yingling, Ms. Yingling Reads

Young Adult Fiction

All the Rage
Courtney Summers
St. Martin's Griffin
Nominated by: Kelly Jensen

Romy Grey doesn't come from the right kind of family. When she tries to speak up about what the sheriff's son Kellan did to her, no one wants to listen. Ostracized from family and friends and bullied by her peers, Romy has very little good in her life. When another girl connected to Kellan goes missing, Romy has to confront her demons and find her voice. Courtney Summers's powerhouse of a novel confronts the ugly realities of rape culture, the aftermath of trauma, and what happens when girls' voices are silenced. Raw, emotionally resonant, timely, and important, this is one teens will devour. A gut-punch of a novel with a searingly real protagonist, this is one that demands to be read and talked about.

Maddie Rudawski, Hey, Library Girl!

Julie Murphy
Balzer + Bray
Nominated by: Jackie Parker

Willowdean Dickson knows all about beauty; it’s hard not to when your mama is a former beauty queen. A self-proclaimed fat girl, Willowdean is comfortable with who she is, and she faces the world with confidence and the support of her best friend, Ellen. However, when former jock Bo shows an interest in Willowdean, she’s surprised to find that her body-positive self-assurance isn’t as strong as she thought. Throw in a love of Dolly Parton and drag queens, some rebellious pageant contestants and the confusion of first love, and Willowdean’s life may never been the same. Funny, poignant and empowering, Dumplin’ is a portrait of a young woman who isn’t perfect but loves herself for who she is, even when it’s difficult to do so. It’s a perfect read for anyone who has ever felt self-conscious or uncomfortable with their appearance.

Jenn Hubbs, Lost in a Great Book

Every Last Word
Tamara Ireland Stone
Nominated by: Jennifer Donovan

Sam worries that her popular friends will discover her OCD. But her worst fear is: "What if I'm crazy?" In this beautifully crafted book, Sam transforms from a girl who is afraid of who she is, into a girl who owns who she is--flaws included. Covering tough topics like depression, anxiety, peer pressure, and suicide, this compelling book inspires and captivates. Brimming with poetry and honest emotion and insight into the mind of a teen who suffers from anxiety, Every Last Word proves the hurting and healing power of every last word.

Kirstine Call, Kirsti Call, Children\'s Book Author

Everything, Everything
Nicola Yoon
Delacorte Press Books for Young Readers
Nominated by: Kim Baccellia

Deciding to allow yourself to be open to love is always risky, but it's even more risky for Madeline, the girl in the bubble. Madeline is allergic to everything so she lives isolated and alone, until Ollie moves in next door. The two of them connect, at first online, and a slowly simmering romance blossoms between the two of them. As she risks everything to try and have a normal life, she learns things about herself that change, well, everything. Romance, heartbreak, desperation, and more permeate the pages of this unique story told with the help of emails, texts and chat messages.The book's authenticity as it deals with finding yourself and discovering your first love will make it Everything a reader needs for a compelling read.

Karen Jensen, Teen Librarian Toolbox

How It Went Down
Kekla Magoon
Henry Holt
Nominated by: Maria Gianferrari

When a sixteen-year-old black boy is shot and killed in broad daylight by a white man in front of multiple witnesses, it's hard to understand how there could be any questions about what happened. Through a chorus of diverse, distinct voices that range in age, perspective, and experience, Kekla Magoon's How It Went Down shows exactly how confusing the truth can be—that perception is entirely affected by our understanding of the world around us, and that oftentimes, we only see what we expect to see. Teenagers see racialized violence in real life and on the news every single day, and this book works towards trying to understand it with honesty and elegance, in a way that doesn't point fingers, provide platitudes or offer up easy answers.

Leila Roy, Bookshelves of Doom

Infandous (Fiction - Young Adult)
Elana K. Arnold
Carolrhoda Books
Nominated by: Marukasalt

Sephora Golding understands the power of a woman's image better than anyone. Living in the shadow of her beautiful mother, Sephora struggles to live her own life just as they struggle to get by in Venice Beach. She creates her own images through her art and imagines herself as a character in a fairy tale. But at sixteen it's more Grimm than Disney. Fairy tales and mythology are artfully and masterfully interwoven with reality as Sephora navigates life as a child that grew up too fast and showing the reader how our choices define the boundaries between childhood and being an adult. Infandous presents the reader with multiple questions and insights: beauty as power and a commodity, wanting a parent's protection while striding to make it on their own, and the right to create something beautiful out of pain.

Michelle Lockwood, Blogs Like a Girl

The Truth Commission
Susan Juby
Nominated by: Leila Roy

11th grader Normandy Pale lives both in and out of the spotlight. At home, her world-famous comic creator sister is the center of attention, and the family bends over backwards to accommodate her every need and desire. Out in the larger world, Normandy is an unwilling public figure, due to the twisted portrait of her that appears in her sister's magnum opus. The Truth Commission pulled our panel in with its entirely appealing format—it's written as a piece of creative nonfiction, complete with footnotes—and it held us with its witty dialogue, three-dimensional characterization, complex relationships, and thoughtful commentary about art, celebrity, family, privacy, performance, and entitlement. On the surface, The Truth Commission is like one of Normandy's pieces of embroidery: when you look from a distance, it's easy to see the big picture, but the closer you look, the more intricate and detailed and layered it becomes.

Leila Roy, Bookshelves of Doom

Young Adult Speculative Fiction

An Inheritance of Ashes
Leah Bobet
HMH Books for Young Readers
Nominated by: Jenn H

Hallie did not go to war, to that horrible field where a god was slain and old friends were crippled. She stayed home and worked the fields. But in this novel that blurs the lines between fantasy and science fiction, home is a dangerous place full of secrets and festering anger, where the world next door just might come knocking. An Inheritance of Ashes asks us what makes a hero, a community, a family. Leah Bobet's deftly written sophomore novel will linger in your mind long after there are no more pages to turn.

Liviania, In Bed With Books

Bone Gap
Laura Ruby
Balzer + Bray
Nominated by: Brandy Painter

The town of Bone Gap is full of secrets and losses, but for Finn and his brother Sean the biggest lost is Roza, Sean’s girlfriend. Finn is the only one who knows what really happened to her, but no one else will believe him. Ruby’s language is beautiful and her characters are complex and vivid. Bone Gap weaves together Finn and Roza’s narration with echoes of Greek myths and fairytales to question the pattern of stories we’re told and the stories we tell ourselves. A lovely tale of magical realism that leads to a surprising conclusion.

Maureen E, By Singing LIght

Mortal Heart (His Fair Assassin Trilogy)
Robin LaFevers
HMH Books for Young Readers
Nominated by: Sheila Ruth

Raised from an infant in the convent dedicated to Saint Mortain, the god of Death, Annith looks forward to her first assignment so that she can truly serve him as a handmaiden of Death. But when things happen that cause her to question everything she’s ever believed, she sets off on her own, in defiance of the abbess, to find out the truth. Set in a late fifteenth-century Brittany trying to remain independent, this beautifully crafted historical fantasy is packed with heart-stopping adventure and equally heart-stopping romance. Mortal Heart examines questions of faith and the search for identity in a slightly subversive story loaded with teen appeal. Although Mortal Heart is the third book of the His Fair Assassin trilogy, it stands well alone, although enjoyment will be enhanced by reading the other two books.

Sheila Ruth, Wands and Worlds

Daniel José Older
Arthur A Levine
Nominated by: Katy Kramp

Sierra Santiago's love of painting murals takes a paranormal twist in Shadowshaper. She learns she has the gift of shadowshaping--infusing ancestral spirits into paintings, music, and stories. Older paints a vivid picture of a Brooklyn neighborhood filled with magic, lush images, and a diverse culture. The voice is authentic, nailing some cultural aspects along with showing glimpses of gentrification in older neighborhoods. Readers will be swept away and applaud one strong heroine that tries to bring balance back to her world.

Kim Baccellia, Si, se puede

Slasher Girls & Monster Boys
April Genevieve Tucholke
Dial Books
Nominated by: Kimberly F

This collection of short stories, each inspired by a piece of classic pop culture, has something for every horror fan. Readers who crack open its spine will find murderous white rabbits, vendeful ghosts, bargains with Death, and girls who know just how to wield a knife. The stories in this anthology range from subtly creepy to outright terrifying, and there’s not a bad one in the lot. Read them with the lights out – if you dare.

Kimberly F, STACKED

The Six
Mark Alpert
Sourcebooks Fire
Nominated by: Cathy Potter

Thanks to experimental technology, six terminally ill teenagers are given a rare opportunity to cheat their upcoming deaths and become heroes, but it comes at a cost. They must leave their bodies behind and be transferred to weaponized robots. Once successfully transferred, the teens will train for battle against a rogue artificial intelligence program that is on a mission to destroy mankind. Mark Alpert's novel, The Six, gives a sci-fi twist to the teens save the world theme. In it readers will be taken on an adventure that explores the emotional triumphs and difficulties of disabilities and terminal illnesses, the struggles of teenage friendships and relationships, and leaves people questioning what it really means to be human and have a soul.

CindyH, Fantasy Book Critic

The Walls Around Us
Nova Ren Suma
Algonquin Young Readers
Nominated by: Esther Braithwaite

Amber prowls the walls of a prison, while the seemingly unrelated Violet prepares to shine in the spotlight. The girls are connected through Ori, Violet's former best friend, in a situation that cannot be boiled down to cold, hard facts. In The Walls Around Us, Nova Ren Suma weaves a lush, tangled tale, laden with themes of betrayal, inequality and weighty consequences. Her well-crafted depictions of life behind bars, alongside the cutthroat underworld of ballet, linger and disturb long after the last page is turned.

KayeM, Watercolor Moods