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.
2010 Blue Ribbons
It’s a year of surprises, at least for us. We’re surprised
and wistful that fewer stellar picture books meant less difficulty than
usual in winnowing down the list, and we’re surprised and delighted by
the unusually strong showing of the younger-than-YA titles in the
fiction section. It was a good year for history, poetry, and
well-turned whimsy, and a fairly even-handed year on the gender front.
It was also a year that saw us again facing the challenge of the
multivolume series, those sequential volumes that work together to
create a literary achievement beyond that of each individual
book. We’ve decided to try something new: since it’s the end of
the decade, we’re using the past ten years as the focal period and
honoring, in a list we’re calling True Blue Series, what we consider to
be the top-flight series that completed their cycle between
Deborah Stevenson, Editor
- Couloumbis, Audrey. Jake. Random
House. Gr. 3-5 (December)
This tender yet unsentimental story follows ten-year-old
Jake as he discovers the strength of his extended and somewhat
makeshift family after his mother breaks her leg prior to Christmas.
- Donnelly, Jennifer. Revolution.
Delacorte. Gr. 7-10 (November)
When Andi, staying with her father in Paris after her
brother’s death, finds the diary of one of the French Revolution’s
victims, she becomes obsessed with the two-hundred-year-old tragedy and
its resonance with her own grieving in this rich, original, and
- Gaiman, Neil. Odd and the Frost
Giants; illus. by Brett Helquist. Harper/HarperCollins. Gr. 4-6
Topping out at just over one hundred pages, this slim novel
packs plenty of heroism and Norse mythology when a boy assists Loki,
Odin, and Thor in reclaiming their kingdom from an endless winter.
- Klise, Kate. Grounded.
Feiwel. Gr. 4-6 (January 2011)
The lively picture of an eccentric small Missouri town
remains rich, funny, and touching without becoming campy in this story
of sixth-grader Daralynn, who ends up knee-deep in the competition
between two family-connected funeral businesses after the death of her
father and siblings.
- Lynch, Chris. Hothouse.
HarperTeen. Gr. 8-12 (October)
Russell, whose firefighter father has just died in a
conflagration along with his best buddy, finds that the firefighter
culture he’s grown up in hides some secrets in this moving story of
heroism, community opinion, the evanescence of reputation, and
- Nelson, Jandy. The Sky Is
Everywhere. Dial. Gr. 8-12 (April)
In this touching, authentic tale of grief, family, and
romance, eleventh-grader Lennie struggles to redefine her identity
after the death of her vivacious older sister, even as she finds the
possibility of love with a talented fellow musician.
- Nelson, Marilyn. Snook Alone;
illus. by Timothy Basil Ering. Candlewick. Gr. 3-6 (October)
A bouncy, rat-chasing terrier finds himself eking out a
living on an unpopulated island when bad weather separates him from his
master; Nelson’s flowing, humor-touched text and Ering’s springy,
sweeping art make this picture-book-styled survival story a
- Peet, Mal. Exposure. Candlewick,
2009. Gr. 10-12 (February)
This dramatic novel uses Othello as a template but brings it
to contemporary South America, where soccer star Otello falls for pop
singer Desmerelda, unaware that he’s being manipulated into disaster by
his Machiavellian agent.
- Pratchett, Terry. I Shall Wear
Midnight. Harper/HarperCollins. Gr. 8-10 (November)
Good witch Tiffany Aching has saved the world more than a
few times, but in this touching (but, as always, wildly funny) sendoff
for Pratchett’s Discworld heroine, she must guard herself against an
evil spirit intent on her destruction.
- Reeve, Philip. Fever Crumb.
Scholastic. Gr. 5-7 (June)
This prequel to the fabulous Hungry Cities quartet (set in a
steampunky neo-Victorian England with religious worship for technology)
focuses on young apprentice Fever Crumb, who is delightful in her own
right as she learns the truth about her strange world.
- Stroud, Jonathan. The Ring of
Solomon. Hyperion. Gr. 6-9 (December)
The titular djinni from Stroud’s Bartimaeus Trilogy and his
snarky wisdom feature front and center in this splendid series prequel
that recounts the spirit’s travails in ancient Jerusalem.
- Atkins, Jeannine. Borrowed
Names: Poems about Laura Ingalls Wilder, Madam C. J. Walker, Marie
Curie, and Their Daughters. Holt. Gr. 7 up (June)
Free-verse poems follow the complicated relationship of
three famous mothers, all born in the same year, and their daughters;
the lyrical yet accessible verse offers both biographical insight and
an emotional treatment of that fundamental connection.
Bishop, Nic. Nic Bishop Lizards; written and illus. with photographs by
Nic Bishop. Scholastic. Gr. 3-6 (November)
In the hands of master nature documentarian Bishop, lizards
are both gorgeous and fascinating.
Bristow, David L. Sky Sailors: True Stories of the Balloon Era.
Farrar. Gr. 4-8 (November)
This enticing blend of history, engineering, physics, and
just plain thrilling tales of derring-do will enthrall even the most
Freedman, Russell. The War to End All Wars: World War I. Clarion. Gr.
With taut storytelling and clear, thorough explanation,
veteran historian Freedman narrates the story of the wasteful atrocity
that ushered in modern warfare.
Montgomery, Sy. Kakapo Rescue: Saving the World’s Strangest Parrot;
illus. with photographs by Nic Bishop. Houghton. Gr. 5-9 (June)
An awkward yet strangely beautiful flightless green bird
found only one one small island off New Zealand is the subject of a
dedicated preservation effort—and this arresting and informative
Nye, Naomi Shihab. Time You Let Me In. Greenwillow. Gr. 7 up (May)
Over a hundred poems by gifted young poets treat family, the
craft of writing, and other subjects in moving, memorable verse
suitable for reading aloud or alone, in quick browses or in one
O’Connor, George, ad. Zeus: King of the Gods; ad. and illus. by George
O’Connor. Porter/First Second/Roaring Brook. Gr. 6-12 (March)
A classic creation myth gets the superhero treatment in this
stunning graphic novel that retells Zeus’ overthrow of Kronos with
appropriate majesty and just a dash of humor.
Partridge, Elizabeth. Marching for Freedom. Viking, 2009. Gr. 6-10
The turmoil of the 1960s civil rights struggle is
brilliantly captured in this moving photoessay that focuses primarily
on the role that young people played within the movement.
Sidman, Joyce. Dark Emperor & Other Poems of the Night; illus. by
Rick Allen. Houghton. Gr. 4-7 (September)
Sidman produces another stellar volume of nature poetry,
here following the activities of nocturnally active organisms from
raccoons to snails to mushrooms; crisp, intricate linocut prints trace
the journey from dusk to dawn and entice readers to hunt for featured
creatures in their backgrounds.
- Clark, Emma Chichester, ad.
Goldilocks and the Three Bears; ad. and illus. by Emma Chichester
Clark. Candlewick. 2-5 yrs (February)
British illustrator Clark breathes new life into the classic
tale in her delicious, spirited, yet respectful adaptation.
- Cooper, Elisha. Farm; written and illus. by
Elisha Cooper. Orchard/Scholastic. 5-9 yrs (June)
Cooper’s fluid watercolors capture the wide-open spaces,
animal doings, and hard labor on a Midwestern farm.
- Fleming, Denise. Sleepy, Oh So Sleepy;
written and illus. by Denise Fleming. Holt. 1-3 yrs (September)
A tour of adorable baby animals at the edge of sleep will
encourage even the most fractious toddler to join them for a little
- Graham, Bob. April and Esme, Tooth Fairies;
written and illus. by Bob Graham. Candlewick. 5-8 yrs (November)
Graham’s carelessly cozy, unfussily domestic art brings
Borrowers-esque charm to this tale of a young girl and her sister who
follow in the tooth fairy tradition of their parents by going on their
very first commission.
- Newman, Jeff. The Boys; written and illus.
by Jeff Newman. Simon. 6-9 yrs (April)
This nearly wordless picture book follows a little blond
tyke as a richly characterized quartet of old guys take him under their
wing in the park, build up his social and ball-playing confidence, and
become his cheering section as he finally joins his age-mates on the
- Nyeu, Tao. Bunny Days; written and illus.
by Tao Nyeu. Dial. 3-6 yrs (February)
Controlled old-fashioned art recalls Crockett Johnson while
poker-faced humor provides gentle silliness in this picture book
following the misadventures of a flock of toylike bunnies and the
tender assistance of their friend Bear.
- Pien, Lark. Mr. Elephanter; written and
illus. by Lark Pien. Candlewick. 4-7 yrs (October)
It’s hard to imagine a more endearing literary outing than
this picture book, wherein poker-faced text and softly detailed
illustrations create a fantastical yet matter-of-fact bijou world
wherein kind Mr. Elephanter spends his days caring for and entertaining
the tiny anthropomophized “elephanties” in the Elephantery.
- Solheim, James. Born Yesterday: The Diary
of a Young Journalist; illus. by Simon James. Philomel. 6-9 yrs (May)
In this hilarious picture book, our infant narrator
carefully documents the novelty and indignities of being a brand new
- Wilson, Karma. The Cow Loves Cookies;
illus. by Marcellus Hall. McElderry. 3-7 yrs (July/August)
In this cumulative and rollicking rhyming story, most of the
farmer’s livestock has traditional tastes, but, for reasons that a
surprise ending reveals, “the cow loves cookies.”
- Winter, Jonah. Here Comes the Garbage
Barge; illus. by Red Nose Studio. Schwartz & Wade. 5-9 yrs (April)
Uniquely illustrated with photos of clay models and found
objects, this fictionalized account of a New York barge charged with
the task of hauling one town’s massive garbage heap cleverly blends
humor and environmentalism.
TRUE BLUE SERIES
- Jinks, Catherine. Pagan’s Crusade;
Pagan’s Vows; Pagan in Exile; Pagan’s Scribe. Candlewick, 2003-2005.
The brutality of medieval life is tempered with adolescent
brashness as the streetwise Pagan narrates his adventures as a squire
to Lord Roland in this historical fiction series that matches its vivid
setting details with plenty of wisecracking.
- McKay, Hilary. Saffy’s Angel; Indigo’s
Star; Permanent Rose; Caddy Ever After; Forever Rose. McElderry,
2002-2008. Gr. 5-9
With astuteness and warmth, McKay offers up a portrait of
the Cassons and their four children as they navigate the familiar
landscapes of domestic drama.
- Pratchett, Terry. The Wee Free Men; A Hat
Full of Sky; Wintersmith; I Shall Wear Midnight. HarperCollins,
2003-2010. Gr. 6-10
A young witch-to-be battles a host of magical faeries,
malignant spirits, and one rather amorous elemental force in this
rollicking series set in Pratchett’s brilliantly conceived Discworld.
- Reeve, Philip. Mortal Engines; Predator’s
Gold; Infernal Devices; A Darkling Plain. (The Hungry City Chronicles)
Eos/HarperCollins, 2004-2007. Gr. 7-12
Steampunk is at its best here as Reeve portrays a world
ruled by Municipal Darwinism, in which mobile cities wreak havoc across
the earth as they search for weaker cities to devour.
- Stroud, Jonathan. The Amulet of Samarkand;
The Golem’s Eye; Ptolemy’s Gate. (The Bartimaeus Trilogy)
Miramax/Hyperion, 2004-2006. Gr. 7-10
A power-hungry magician, a rebellious young girl, and a
djinni with a penchant for the acerbic aside are drawn together in a
web of political scheming and demonic machinations in this dynamic
series marked by thrilling adventure and irreverent humor.
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This page was last updated on January 1, 2011.