1997 Blue Ribbons
Selecting the best books of the year can be an invigorating, exasperating experience. We find that some books we thought would age well don't, and some books we thought would fade in the memory turn out to have remarkable staying power. We have a short fiction list this year; the picture-book list, on the other hand, is quite lengthy; and the nonfiction list is equally packed, with journalism and snakes and science experiments jostling for attention. Lest it be said we do not have passionate opinions, the "1997 Blue Ribbon Dissents" is a look at the books reviewers think should have made the list and didn't. We can lament over the lack of stellar fiction for younger readers or rejoice over being able to offer them Preluts ky's poetic abundance, Lester's pithy autobiography, and Mochizuki's triumph of the human spirit. We choose to rejoice.
Janice M. Del Negro, Editor
A smart-alec vampire book, this combines enough horror with its humor to appeal to genre fans as well as readers with a taste for the sardonic.
In an atmospheric Floridian setting, Paul struggles to make a place for himself in sports and in life outside of the shadow of his golden but flawed older brother.
Ryan's friendship with the new school sports star energizes his senior year-and forces him to make some difficult decisions.
Tender, rueful, funny, and accessible, Dines' stories thoughtfully bring her characters and their dilemmas to life.
Natalie's friend Tulip is excitingly daring, but her suppressed rage and appetite for trouble begin to present their own danger.
In diary format, young Birdie tells of her struggle to keep the nineteenth-century lighthouse burning when her father the lighthousekeeper falls ill.
In this fantasy treated as realism, young Anna retreats to a life inside of the walls of her house until adolescence brings her out of her cocoon.
This followup to The Golden Compass brings back heroine Lyra and introduces Will Parry in an adventure of parallel universes, soul-eating spectres, and Miltonic ambition.
Dimple Dorfman's twin brother dies in an accidental shooting at a friend's house, and angry and unforgiving Dimple believes that twins' loyalty demands vengeance.
Spirited and pithy free-verse poems pair with quirky and imaginative photo-collages for an engaging look at love.
The old folktale of the clever villager's reward of an ever-doubling number of rice grains gets a precise and vivid interpretation.
This lively retelling of the rabbit's judgment over the two title parties gains energy from individualized phraseology and sturdy, personable portraits of the characters.
This Cambodian take on the classic trickster rabbit pairs with sharp-edged, black-lined art reminiscent of woodcuts in this book with real bite.
Fluid and inventive visual interpretations reawaken this familiar story.
A monster and a little boy are each concerned about the awful thing on the opposite side of their beds; casual, kid-friendly art has just the right degree of silliness.
This laconically funny revision of "The Shoemaker and the Elves" takes the story to the Wild West and illustrates it with acrylic portraits of surreal beady-eyed cowfolks.
Spiky and imaginative illustrations add flavor to this story of a resourceful princess who, displeased with her suitors, bakes up her own man.
Mayne's original and flavorful dialect adds music to this story of an affectionate couple of pig's attempt to bring valuable but tasty truffles to market.
Pinkney's exuberant saturated colors and fast-paced comic-strip panels make this story of a young boy's fantasy of becoming the neighborhood superhero into a great adventure.
Pyle's classic tale about a she-bear's foster son takes on new life with Hyman's lush and curvaceous illustrations.
A rhyming story tells of a mouse's messy nocturnal perambulations; designerly planes of color glow against their night-black backgrounds as the mouse wreaks his havoc.
Telling details about a child's-eye view of a wedding find intriguing expression in photos of decorative dioramas with clay-model characters.
In letters, Lydia Jane tells of her Depression-era visit to her unsmiling Uncle Jim; careful patches of color invigorate the earth-toned text until the final colorful roof-garden surprise.
The big ginger cat is unimpressed by the arrival of the small black kitten; the squiggly, comfortable watercolors enhance the charm of this tale of feline-style sibling rivalry.
Wells' eternal bunny siblings, Max and Ruby, have very different ideas about what kind of birthday cake their grandmother would like.
Zelinsky's burnished Renaissance world of castles and princes is a fitting accompaniment for this romantic yet restrained retelling of the classic tale.
This affectionate and simple biography of the sports hero condenses the story for youthful accessibility without forfeiting detail and impact.
Adapted but not prettied up, these spare tales offer a folkloric voice unusual in children's literature.
Adults may also want a look at this clear-cut, engaging explanation of the methodology and reason for taking to the air.
Davies' fluid, descriptive prose combines with Maland's intricate yet airy watercolor-and-ink illustrations for a splendid introduction to the largest mammal ever.
"You are there" intensity will suck readers in as Hampton recounts experience as a cub reporter in Dallas during the tragedy and its aftermath.
Jubilant watercolor paintings introduce each tale in this varied but thematically linked collection.
Oversized photographic portraits of several different species of snakes offers readers a closer, snakier, and more beautiful look than they're likely to have ever seen before.
Based on his son's recollections, this tells of the Japanese consul in Lithuania, who defied his own government to issue visas to hundreds of desperate Jews in World War II.
Extraordinarily detailed design, evocative traditional figures, and stately but unstuffy style make this an unusual and attractive collection.
This is a large and generous collection of stellar and unhackneyed verse, and So's luminous, supple watercolors give creatures grand and tiny their artistic due.
McCurdy's fluid yet strong-lined hand-colored woodcuts highlight this tale of a boy's battle against the fearsome Bone Man.
Extraordinary stop-motion photographs entice readers to try fifteen simple science experiments involving water and its properties.
This page was last updated on January 1, 1998.