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.
year, we had a strong showing for younger children’s books this year,
rather than the YA-dominant lists we’ve often encountered of yore, so
we’re happy that readers will find much to delight them even before
middle school. In excellent news for the just-post-toddler crowd, the
picture book list is also rich for the young end of their
audience. Our fiction list is an intriguing mix, with history,
fantasy, and realism all represented, each in several very different
ways (albeit with an oddly generous helping of the
death-related). The nonfiction category has a certain old-school
flair, breathing new life into iterations of actual classics and
classic topics for results that will immeasurably enhance several
curricular units as well as bring joy to recreational readers. We
were particularly inclined to assent this year, but we may yet want to
make some final pleadings, so any dissents by our reviewers will as
usual be available for viewing at our website, http://bccb.lis.illinois.edu.
Deborah Stevenson, Editor
Atinuke. The No. 1 Car Spotter; illus.
by Warwick Johnson
Cadwell. Kane Miller Books, 2011. Gr. 2-4 (November)
Automotive hijinks and boyish mischief are spotlighted in
this effervescent chapter book that centers on life in
African village and its “No. 1 car spotter,” Oluwalase Babatunde
Blundell, Judy. Strings Attached.
Scholastic, 2011. Gr. 8-12
Kit and Billy are seemingly a happy young couple in 1950s
New York, but little does Billy know that his mobster father has set
with all she has in this noir tale.
Brosgol, Vera. Anya’s Ghost; written
and illus. by Vera
Brosgol. First Second/Roaring Brook, 2011. Gr. 8-10 (June)
A juicy mystery, a bit of horror, a compelling cast, and a
deceptive ghost make this graphic novel a strong and appealing standout.
Cockrell, Amanda. What We Keep Is Not
Always What Will Stay.
Flux, 2011. Gr. 7-10 (September)
A miraculous apparition, a family split, and a troubling
relationship bring fifteen-year-old Angie to a spiritual crisis in this
provocative and hopeful read.
Couloumbis, Audrey. Lexie; illus. by
Julia Denos. Random
House, 2011. Gr. 3-6 (June)
In this invitingly accessible exploration of family
frailties and strengths, ten-year-old Lexie is stunned and disappointed
that her special vacation by the sea with her father will be shared
new girlfriend and her two sons.
Kraus, Daniel. Rotters. Delacorte,
2011. Gr. 9-12 (May)
You don’t need zombies or vampires for a good scare as
proven by this wonderfully creepy and downright gruesome tale of
and family loyalty that makes the perfect thriller for the thinking
Meehl, Brian. You Don’t Know about Me.
Delacorte, 2011. Gr.
In this stylish contemporary road story inspired by
Huckleberry Finn, Billy Albright finds himself on a cross-country
for his inheritance from his father, guided by a man who forces Billy
examine his own prejudices.
Ostlere, Cathy. Karma. Razorbill,
2011. Gr. 8-12 (March)
This lush novel in free verse recounts the story of Maya, a
fifteen-year-old Canadian girl who journeys with her father in 1984 to
parents’ native India, finds herself caught up in the turmoil following
Gandhi’s assassination, and then begins to find herself and real love.
Taylor, Laini. Daughter of Smoke and
Bone. Little, 2011. Gr.
A human raised by human-animal hybrids known as chimaera,
Karou finds herself caught in an ancient war between chimaera and
she’s attacked by a seraph—to whom she then discovers a powerful
Ursu, Anne. Breadcrumbs; illus. by
Erin McGuire. Walden
Pond/HarperCollins, 2011. Gr. 4-7 (October)
A wintry fairy-tale forest provides the backdrop to this
poignant tale of a young girl negotiating her way, both literally and
metaphorically, from the
of childhood to the confusing place of adolescence.
Water Balloon. Clarion, 2011. Gr. 5-8 (October)
The painful transitions that often come along with
adolescence are portrayed here with startling clarity and tender humor
thirteen-year-old Marley must come to terms with her parents separation
disintegrating relationships with her best friends.
Violi, Jen. Putting Makeup on Dead
People. Hyperion, 2011.
Gr. 8-12 (July/August)
There are a lot of satiric and fantastical literary looks at
death, but Violi’s story of Donna Parisi, who after her father’s death
that her career goal is to become a mortician, is a serious, wise, and
exploration of the meaning of life and death.
Crum, Shutta. Mine!; illus. by Patrice
Barton. Knopf, 2011.
2-4 yrs (July/August)
In this adorable nearly wordless book, a toddler’s attempt
to claim all the toys turns into a rousing game-playing session with
and a playful puppy.
Daly, Cathleen. Prudence Wants a Pet;
illus. by Stephen
Michael King. Porter/Roaring Brook, 2011. $16.99 6-9 yrs (September)
There’s poker-face humor galore in this tale of plucky
Prudence, who tries out creative alternatives such as a Branch (named
when her paraents forbid her a pet.
Deacon, Alexis. A Place to Call Home;
illus. by Viviane
Schwarz. Candlewick, 2011. Gr. 2-4 (July/August)
In this hilarious picture-book adventure, a litter of feral
hamster brothers outgrow their cozy den in an abandoned junkyard couch
their way out into the wide world—eventually.
Durand, Hallie. Mitchell’s License;
illus. by Tony Fucile.
Candlewick, 2011. 3-6 yrs (May)
Lively art partners this inventive story of Mitchell, whose
bedtime ritual involves driving his father, complete with Dad’s
automative noises and responses to steering, to bed.
Henkes, Kevin. Little White Rabbit;
written and illus. by
Kevin Henkes. Greenwillow Books, 2011. 2-5 yrs (February)
A bevy of vibrant spring pastels and a reassuring conclusion
will have make-believers of all sorts appreciating this fanciful tale
of a young
bunny’s dreamy ruminations.
McKissack, Patricia. Never Forgotten;
illus. by Leo and
Diane Dillon. Scwartz & Wade, 2011. Gr. 5-9 (November) In this mythically flavored sequence of
narrative free-verse poems, an eighteenth-century West African
the natural elements to uncover the fate of his son who was captured
Moore, Inga. A House in the Woods;
written and illus. by
Inga Moore. Candlewick, 2011. 5-7 yrs (December)
An industrious team of hard-hatted beavers is called in to
save the day when Moose and Bear accidentally destroy the homes of
beloved friends, the two Little Pigs in this cozy, autumnal-hued
Murray, Alison. Apple Pie ABC; written
and illus. by Alison
Murray. Disney Hyperion, 2011. 3-7 yrs (June)
This cleverly terse, alphabetically organized story follows
the tale of a girl who bakes an apple pie and the dog that desperately
Ray, Mary Lyn. Stars; illus. by Marla
Lane/Simon, 2011. 4-7 yrs (November)
Sky watchers and stargazers will find plenty of celestial
wonder in this evocative ode to the night sky featuring a small
multicultural group of children and the many types of stars in their
Runton, Andy Owly & Wormy, Friends
written and illus. by Andy Runton. Atheneum, 2011. 4-7 yrs (March)
Runton’s rotund cartoon owl has been charming young comics
readers for nearly a decade in his black-and-white wordless
iteration, and now he debuts in full color in this inviting picture
Savage, Stephen Where’s Walrus?;
written and illus. by
Stephen Savage. Scholastic, 2011. 3-6 yrs (February)
This hilarious wordless picture book follows the attempts of
an adventurous walrus to blend with various groups of people after he
of the zoo for a lark.
George, Kristine O’Connell Emma
Dilemma: Big Sister Poems;
illus. by Nancy Carpenter. Clarion, 2011. $16.99 Gr. 2-4 (January)
Being an older sister isn’t always easy, as narrator Jessica
describes in this sequence of thirty-four perceptive free-verse poems
her relationship with pesky little sister, Emma.
Hinds, Gareth, ad. The Odyssey; ad.
and illus. by Gareth
Hinds. Candlewick, 2010. Gr. 9-12 (January)
It may be a hair-raising adventure tale that’s lasted well
over two millennia, but the classic epic gains freshness in this moody
McClafferty, Carla Killough The Many
Faces of George
Washington: Remaking a Presidential Icon. Carolrhoda, 2011. Gr. 5-9
McClafferty explores science, art, and history as she
follows the fascinating project that used historical portraits,
information to create life-sized models of George Washington at three
Phelan, Matt. Around the World: Three
written and illus. by Matt Phelan. Candlewick, 2011. Gr. 5-9 (October)
Phelan’s simple but visually dynamic art make this graphic
novel recounting the epic journeys of three intrepid souls at the end
nineteenth century a trip worth taking.
Ross, Stewart Into the Unknown:
How Great Explorers Found Their Way by Land,
Sea, and Air; illus. by Stephen Biesty. Candlewick, 2011. Gr. 4-8 (May)
What looks like a gimmicky collection of glitzy foldouts is
actually a tidily focused, intriguingly illustrated account of fourteen
Rubin, Susan. Goldman Music Was IT:
Young Leonard Bernstein;
illus. with photographs. Charlesbridge, 2011. Gr. 5-9 (April)
The early life of a musical great is chronicled in this
engagingly accessible read that offers a treasure trove of back matter,
meticulous source notes, musical scores, a discography, and
portraits of Bernstein’s mentors.
Thomson, Ruth Terezín: Voices
from the Holocaust.
Candlewick, 2011. Gr. 5-8 (February)
Thomson tells the story of the Terezín concentration camp
almost entirely in the voices of those who lived there, grounding it in
research and presenting it in an accessible magazine-style layout.
Turnbull, Ann, ad. Greek Myths; illus.
by Sarah Young.
Candlewick, 2010. Gr. 5-10 (March)
This compilation of sixteen Greek myths offers vibrant
tellings, thoughtful organization, and regal artwork to bring classics
to a new