of the Center for Children's Books
Blue Ribbons are chosen annually by the Bulletin staff
and represent what we believe to be the best of the previous year's
literature for youth. See the Blue Ribbon
Archive for other lists from 1990 through the present. Please feel
free to copy, download, or link to these lists. We ask only that you
cite the source.
2004 Blue Ribbons
The Blue Ribbon
deliberations arrive each year like an old friend with a taste for
radical new haircuts--we know her basic nature, but she looks different
every time. This year fiction emphasized older works and occasioned
much debate (it should be a good year for dissents, which appear on our
January website), the nonfiction field narrowed somewhat after several
years of abundance, and picture books were an excellent source of early
readers as well. Underneath those mutable characteristics, however, is
an old friend: a collection of books that moved and delighted us and
that should have something to offer to every young reader.
Deborah Stevenson, Editor
Other books we enjoyed but were unable to reconcile and include in
the Blue Ribbons list can be found at the Blue Ribbons Dissents page.
- Feiffer, Jules. The Daddy Mountain; written and illus.
by Jules Feiffer. di Capua/Hyperion. 2-4 yrs. (May)
Our intrepid young narrator ascends the familiar but still challenging
Daddy Mountain in this magnificent combination of gleeful play and
- Fleischman, Paul. Sidewalk Circus; illus. by Kevin
Hawkes. Candlewick. 4-9 yrs. (July/August)
Shadows and subtle details compare the artistry of circus performers
with that of the people who work every day on a single city street in
this nearly wordless picture book.
- Frank, John. The Toughest Cowboy, or How the Wild West Was
Tamed; illus. by Zachary Pullen. Simon. Gr. 3-5 (October)
Sly puns, slickly droll art, and broad humor invigorate this tale of
some hard-bitten cowboys who fall head-over-spurs for a fluffy French
poodle named Foofy.
- Harrington, Janice N. Going North; illus. by Jerome
Lagarrigue. Kroupa/Farrar. 5-8 yrs (November)
Lyrical text partners with subtle yet vibrant illustrations to relate
the story of an African-American family's trip north to escape the
segregation of the 1960s south.
- Henkes, Kevin. Kitten’s First Full Moon; written and
illus. by Kevin Henkes. Greenwillow. 2-5 yrs. (March)
Kitten’s misadventures upon mistaking the full moon for a bowl of milk
end with a gratifying bowl of real milk on the porch at home.
- Johnston, Tony. The Worm Family; illus. by Stacy
Innerst. Harcourt. 4-7 yrs. (September)
A squirmily luscious rhythmic text describes the quirky adventures of a
family of worms in search of an accepting neighborhood that shares
their belief that "Worm is a glorious thing."
- Kelly, John. The Mystery of Eatum Hall; written and
illus. by John Kelly and Cathy Tincknell. Candlewick. 6-9 yrs. (October)
The classic gothic setup is comically realized in this stylish romp
that casts Horace and Glenda Pork-Fowler, devoted pig and goose
spouses, as the would-be victim guests of Dr. A. Hunter, in
- Oller, Erika. The Cabbage Soup Solution; written and
illus. by Erika Oller. Dutton. 5-8 yrs. (February)
Hungry bunnies, virtuous cats, and a generous gardener come to a
mutually beneficial agreement in this appealing picture book.
- Pinkwater, Daniel. Bad Bears in the Big City: An Irving
and Muktuk Story; illus. by Jill Pinkwater. Houghton. Gr. 2-4.
Polar bears Irving and Muktuk escape from the zoo and pull off a
successful larceny at the muffin factory next door in this poker-faced
- Turner, Pamela. Hachiko: The True Story of a Loyal Dog;
illus. by Yan Nascimbene. Houghton. Gr. 2-4. (June)
A legendary Japanese dog waits faithfully at a train station year after
year for the return of his dead master in this watercolor-illustrated
account based on real events.
- Willems, Mo. Knuffle Bunny; written and illus. by Mo
Willems. Hyperion. 2-6 yrs. (October)
Trixie’s meltdown after the disappearance of her favorite toy sends the
family scurrying back to the laundromat in this hilarious microdrama
portrayed with cartoon characters against black-and-white photographed
- Almond, David. The Fire-Eaters. Delacorte. Gr. 7-12.
The author known for his mystically touched fantasies now turns to an
involving anti-war story set northern England during the time of the
Cuban Missile Crisis.
- Boyce, Frank Cottrell. Millions. HarperCollins. Gr.
In this suspenseful, humorous, and stunningly original story, a
saint-seeing fourth grader and his opportunistic older brother are
faced with spending £229,370 before the introduction of the Euro
into Britain makes the money valueless.
- Finney, Patricia. I, Jack; illus. by Peter Bailey.
HarperCollins. Gr. 4-7. (April)
A dorky and lovable yellow Labrador narrates the hilarious tale of his
marriage, fatherhood, and later rescue of his canine and human pack
from the marauding “metal monsters” of a demolition crew.
- Jinks, Catherine. Pagan in Exile; Pagan's Crusade;Pagan’s
Vows. Candlewick. Gr. 7-10 (February, November)
This practical-minded squire describes his adventures in the Crusades,
back at home with his beloved knight, and inside the walls of a
monastery with sardonic humor.
- Lawrence, Iain. B for Buster. Delacorte. Gr. 6-10.
Underaged Kak joins the Canadian Air Force in World War II and finds
life in a bomber crew an intense experience thick with comradeship,
superstition, and danger.
- Marchetta, Melina. Saving Francesca. Knopf. Gr. 7-12
Teenaged Francesca was yearning to gain some independence from her
dynamic mother, but when that independence comes as a result of her
mother's acute depression, Francesca struggles to keep her family and
- McKay. Hilary. Indigo’s Star. McElderry. Gr. 5-9
The madcap Casson family from Saffy's Angel returns in this tender yet
humorous family drama focusing on brother Indigo and his relationship
with his talented little sister, Rose, who hasn't yet realized that
their parents' separation is permanent.
- Oppel, Kenneth. Airborn. Eos/HarperCollins. Gr. 7-12.
A cabin boy on a world-class luxury zeppelin teams with a strong-minded
female passenger to find proof of an astounding new species.
- Reeve, Philip. Mortal Engines. Eos/HarperCollins. Gr.
Reeve offers a heart-stopping ride through a post-apocalyptic world
engaged in "Municipal Darwinism," in which larger, faster mobile cities
literally gobble up smaller towns.
- Saenz, Benjamin Alire. Sammy & Juliana in Hollywood.
Cinco Puntos. Gr. 9-12. (September)
Living in a hardscrabble New Mexico neighborhood where his best friends
are lost to murder, drugs, and Vietnam, Sammy Santos tries to find a
better life while remaining true to his family and origins.
- Brown, Don. Odd Boy Out: Young Albert Einstein;
written and illus. by Don Brown. Houghton. 5-8 yrs. (October)
Einstein is distilled for young audiences in this accessible, tightly
- Davies, Nicola. Poop: A Natural History of the
Unmentionable; illus. by Neal Layton.. Candlewick. Gr. 3-5.
Davies spins her unprepossessing subject into an enlightening and
attention-grabbing slice of biology.
- Freedman, Russell. The Voice that Challenged a Nation:
Marian Anderson and the Struggle for Equal Rights. Clarion. Gr.
Freedman's perceptive biography offers a compelling account of
Anderson's life as a musican, as a private person, and as a prominent
participant in the changing picture of civil rights in America.
- Greenberg, Jan. Andy Warhol: Prince of Pop; by Jan
Greenberg and Sandra Jordan. Delacorte. Gr. 7-12 (December)
Thorough primary research and a generous amount of artistic savvy
distinguish this effective biography of one of the twentieth century's
most famous artists
- Harris, Robie H. Sweet Jasmine, Nice Jackson; illus.
by Michael Emberley. McElderry. (October)
Harris and Emberley explain the developmental abilities and tendencies
of two-year-olds by following a spirited pair of two-year-old twins.
- Hawass, Zahi. Curse of the Pharaohs: My Adventures with
Mummies. National Geographic. Gr. 4-8. (July/August)
The head of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities regales middle-grade
readers with dramatic anecdotes, impressive photographs, and background
information on archaeology.
- Jenkins, Steve. Actual Size; written and illus. by
Steve Jenkins. Houghton, 2004. Gr. 3-7. (May)
This inventive, startling paper collage gallery allows readers to view
almost twenty creatures (or as much of them will fit on the page) at
- Morrison, Toni. Remember: The Journey to School Integration.
Houghton. Gr. 2-6. (July/August)
Morrison adds a moving dimension to dramatic historical photographs
with her simple captions imagining the thoughts of participants.
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This page was last updated on January 1, 2005.