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.
2009 Blue Ribbons
year, another angst-filled deliberation and consideration of
issues new and old and the delicious dilemma of choosing the best of a
selection of the very fine indeed. We're certainly pleased that
year has brought a satisfying variety of texts from the standpoint of
audience age, and there are stellar titles within realms--beginning
readers, concept books--that don't always reach Blue Ribbon levels of
excellence. Add to that a wide range of subjects--war and witches,
archeology and animals, snow and scientific inquiry and school
silliness--and we've got a list containing delights for many different
readers. We hope they--and you--enjoy.
Deborah Stevenson, Editor
- Anderson, Laurie Halse.
Wintergirls. Viking. Gr. 9 up (March)
Elegant imagery marks the story of Lia, a supposedly
who’s still as dangerously obsessed as ever, only now she’s haunted by
real or imagined ghost of her late friend and partner in
- Cashore, Kristin.
Graceling. Harcourt, 2008. Gr. 8-10 (January)
Katsa is one of a rare few born with a special ability
called a Grace;
her special talent, however, is killing, which has been used by her
uncle the king to his advantage—until Katsa finally finds an
opportunity to rebel and atone.
- Dowell, Frances O'Roark.
The Kind of Friends We Used to Be. Atheneum. Gr. 5-7
This sequel to The Secret Language of Girls (BCCB 7/04) sees
Marylin starting their seventh-grade year and beginning to develop
their own identities in a story remarkable for its blend of
accessibility and sympathetic perception.
- Hardinge, Frances. The
Lost Conspiracy. Bowen/HarperCollins. Gr. 7-10
Hathin’s sister Arilou is thought to be one of the Lost,
senses are only loosely tethered to their bodies and who protect the
inhabitants of the island, but when the Lost are mysteriously wiped
out, Hathin must protect his sister against the suspicious inhabitants
in this finely crafted story set in an original and atmospherically
- Kelly, Jacqueline. The
Evolution of Calpurnia Tate. Holt. Gr. 5-8
This story of a small-town Texas girl looking into the
century with a thirst for science and a wonder about what the future
will hold for her is a winning blend of humorous family story and
natural-history exploration that recalls memoirs by Sterling North,
Farley Mowat, and Gerald Durrell.
- Milgrim, David. My Dog, Buddy;
written and illus. by David Milgrim. Cartwheel/Scholastic. Gr. K-2
Restricted vocabulary doesn’t restrict the liveliness of the story in
this tale of an obstreperous pet who disobeys everyone (“Mom says
‘STOP, STOP, STOP!’ Buddy goes, goes, goes”) except the narrator.
- Mills, Claudia. How Oliver
Olson Changed the World; illus. by Heather Maione. Farrar.
Gr. 2-4 (April)
The fate of the ex-planet Pluto and the independence of
helicopter-parented-third-grader Oliver Olson are brilliantly tied
together in this hilarious, perceptive, and understanding story.
- Tan, Shaun. Tales from Outer
Suburbia; written and illus. by Shaun Tan. Levine/Scholastic. Gr. 5-10
Over a dozen stories, ranging in weirdness from slight to extreme,
bring the uncanny valley to normal suburban life while suggesting it
may have been there all along.
- Tharp, Tim. The Spectacular Now.
Knopf. Gr. 9-12 (February)
Amiable, girl-loving Sutter Keely considers
himself “God’s own drunk”
and drifts through high school in a haze; Tharp cleverly allows
Sutter’s narration to reveal the hurt and abandonment behind the
alcoholic in a downward spiral even as Sutter relates his story as the
best of all possible times.
- Townsend, Michael. Kit Feeny: On
the Move; written and illus. by Michael Townsend. Knopf. Gr. 2-5
Take the zany irreverence of the Captain Underpants books
and put them
into a comparatively realistic (although the protagonist does seem to
be some sort of critter) school and home story told in graphic panels
in black and orange, and you’ve got the howlingly hilarious story of
young Kit Feeny, struggling to find a friend in his new home.
- Umansky, Kaye. Clover Twig and
the Magical Cottage; illus. by Johanna Wright. Roaring Brook. Gr. 4-6
When eleven-year-old Clover Twig takes a job with the local
she’s surprised by the extent of the magic she finds in this delightful
- Wallace, Rich. Perpetual Check.
Knopf. Gr. 7-10 (April)
Brotherly rivalry and an overbearing father make this
account of a
chess tournament as taut and compelling as any contest on gridiron or
- Cassino, Mark. The Story of
Snow: The Science of Winter’s Wonder; by Mark Cassino with Jon Nelson;
illus. by Nora Aoyagi and with photographs by Mark Cassino. Chronicle.
7-9 yrs (December)
Cassino’s photographs unpack (heh) the wonder that is the
with text that explains in elegant clarity the snowflake’s structure
- Floca, Brian. Moonshot: The
Flight of Apollo 11; written and illus. by Brian Floca.
Jackson/Atheneum. Gr. 2-5 (July/August)
Poetic text that fairly begs to be read aloud partners with
line-and-watercolor art that moves smoothly from homey to luminous in
this stellar (lunar?) account of the first moon landing.
- Heiligman, Deborah. Charles and
Emma: The Darwins’ Leap of Faith. Holt. Gr. 7-12 (February)
research, evocative writing, and perceptive analysis make this an
anniversary-year biography to savor.
- Hoose, Phillip. Claudette
Colvin: Twice toward Justice. Kroupa/Farrar. Gr. 5-10 (February)
Rosa Parks may be famous, but teenager Claudette Colvin did
this biography explores both her initial act of civil disobedience and
the reasons why Parks’ refusal to give up her seat and not hers became
the spark for the Montgomery bus boycott.
- Jenkins, Steve. Down Down Down:
A Journey to the Bottom of the Sea; written and illus. by Steve
Jenkins. Houghton. Gr. 3-7 (July/August)
Vivid illustrations and clever scale markers make
what kind of creatures inhabit the sea’s various levels and how much of
the ocean is a dark, mysterious wonderland.
- Murphy, Jim. Truce: The Day the
Soldiers Stopped Fighting. Scholastic. Gr. 4-7 (December)
Veteran historian Murphy takes readers behind the legend of
War I Christmas truce in the trenches.
- Ruddell, Deborah. A Whiff of
Pine, a Hint of Skunk; illus. by Joan Rankin. McElderry. Gr. 3-5
An array of crisp yet thoughtful poems in a variety of rhyme
focus largely on animal dwellers of the natural world, and their wit
and aptness invite recitation as well as reading.
- Sidman, Joyce. Red Sings from
Treetops: A Year in Colors; illus. by Pamela Zagarenski. Houghton. Gr.
Gifted poet Sidman turns her attention to the colors of the
this image-rich collection illustrated with cleverly crafted
mixed-media art in appropriately glowing hues.
- Weill, Cynthia. Opuestos:
Mexican Folk Art Opposites in English and Spanish; illus. with
photographs by Sergio A. Gómez. Cinco Puntos. 4-8 yrs (October)
This triple-faceted gem shines as a concept book, a
bilingual vocabulary primer, and an appealing introduction to Oaxacan
- Weitzman, David. Pharaoh's Boat;
written and illus. by David Weitzman. Houghton. Gr. 4-8 (September)
Weitzman offers an absorbing, visually impressive
reconstruction of the rituals and boat building procedures involved in
making an ancient Egyptian funerary boat and then recounts the efforts
on the part of Egyptologist Hag Moustafa to rebuild the boat from its
- Aesop. The Lion & the Mouse; illus. by
Jerry Pinkney. Little. 5-8 yrs (November)
Pinkney takes this classic fable wordless, telling the whole
oversized art with dramatic full-bleed watercolors punctuated by only
the occasional animal sound.
- Darbyshire, Kristen. Put It On
The List!; written and illus. by Kristen Darbyshire. Dutton. 4-6 yrs
A chaotic family of anthropomorphized chickens can’t seem
plan their life ahead, resulting in grocery-store emergencies and
shortages familiar to many a busy human family in this cheerfully
absurd yet wittily knowing picture book.
- Rodman, Mary Ann. Surprise Soup;
illus. by G. Brian Karas. Viking. 4-7 yrs (June)
bear family sounds awfully human as Dad, older
brother Josh, and narrator Kevin try to negotiate sibling rivalry and
general ineptitude in preparing a meal in Mama’s absence.
- Rosenthal, Marc. Archie and the
Pirates; written and illus. by Marc Rosenthal. Cotler/HarperCollins.
5-8 yrs (December)
There are touches of both Curious George and
Babar in this
fantastical tale of Archie the monkey, who finds friends, makes a home,
and fights pirates on a tropical island.
- Sakai, Komako. The Snow Day;
written and illus. by Komako Sakai. Levine/Scholastic. 4-6 yrs
You can feel the hushed wonder of a snow-covered
this Japanese import featuring a little bunny spending an intimate and
unexpected day with her mother when the weather closes school.
- Scanlon, Liz Garton. All the
World; illus. by Marla Frazee. Beach Lane/Simon. 4-8 yrs (October)
poetic verse pointing out human connection provides
the frame for a detailed visual story featuring branches of an
interracial family coming together for a family holiday.
- Weber, Elka. The Yankee at the
Seder; illus. by Adam Gustavson. Tricycle. 7-10 yrs (May)
this picture book inspired by a historical event, the
close of the Civil War sees a Jewish Confederate family hosting an
occupying Union soldier as a surprise—and not entirely—welcome guest at
the family seder.
- Willems, Mo. Naked Mole Rat Gets
Dressed; written and illus. by Mo Willems. Hyperion. 5-9 yrs (February)
Wilbur may be a naked mole rat, but he can’t resist a natty
shirt and tie, much to the dismay of his fellow rats in this hilarious
story about nonconformity.
- Willis, Jeanne. The Bog Baby;
illus. by Gwen Millward. Schwartz & Wade. 5-8 yrs (December)
air of delicate mystery informs this gently playful story
of sisters who find a very, very special baby animal and try to take
care of it.
- Winter, Jonah. Gertrude Is
Gertrude Is Gertrude Is Gertrude; illus. by Calef Brown. Atheneum. 8-12
Winter’s playful text both evokes and celebrates
modernist Gertrude Stein as it describes her iconoclastic life and
approach to art.
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