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.
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2012 Blue Ribbons
Unusually, this year’s picture books have a very exclusive top echelon (in which animals are especially well represented). Nonfiction, on the other hand, has a fuller list than in some previous years, and it’s one that’s particularly strong on curricular must-haves for history at various levels. Fiction, however, is again notable for variety, with realism, fantasy, history, and visual narrative all present and accounted for. Overall, it’s a rewarding assortment, sure to please diverse tastes.
Deborah Stevenson, Editor
Cashore, Kristin. Bitterblue. Dial, 2012. Gr. 9-12 (May)
Framing her interrogations of strength, love, and storytelling within a young queen’s coming-of-age story, Cashore manages to create a tale that transcends the fantasy genre with its emotional and philosophical weight.
Dicamillo, Kate. Bink and Gollie: Two for One; written by Kate DiCamillo and Alison McGhee, illus. by Tony Fucile. Candlewick, 2012. Gr. 2-4 (July)
The endearing partnership of polar-opposite
friends Bink and
Gollie is the highlight of this delightful convergence of picture
graphic novels, and early readers.
Green, John. The Fault in Our Stars. Dutton, 2012. Gr. 9-12 (May)
With their razor-sharp wits but failing, fragile
exquisitely characterized Hazel and Augustus embark together on a
dashingly intellectual and thoroughly romantic after meeting in a teen
Handler, Daniel. Why We Broke Up; illus. by Maira Kalman. Little, 2012. Gr. 9-12 (June)
Supported by full-color illustrations and
prose, this fervent reflection on the dissolution of young love between
Min and basketball star Ed gets high school heartbreak just right.
McKissack, Patricia. Best Shot in the West: The Adventures of Nat Love. Chronicle, 2012. Gr. 5-9 (April)
Based on the autobiography of the Wild West hero
Dick, this brilliantly illustrated graphic novel is marked by graceful
narration and startling, vibrant action scenes.
Milford, Kate. The Broken Lands. Clarion, 2012. Gr. 6-9 (October)
New York City itself becomes a character in this
steampunk tale that features streetwise Sam and his immigrant pal Jin
try to battle for the city’s soul in the late nineteenth century.
Pearsall , Shelley. Jump into the Sky. Knopf, 2012. Gr. 5-9 (October)
Fans of Christopher Paul Curtis will find humor
in this tale of thirteen-year-old Levi and his father, a member of the
Parachute Infantry Battalion, a colored division of the military in
Stead, Rebecca. Liar & Spy. Lamb, 2012. Gr. 5-7 (September)
Original plot pieces and a cast of undeniably
characters come together in this wholly
satisfying tale of secrets, friendship, and underdogs.
Stiefvater, Maggie. The Raven Boys. Scholastic, 2012. Gr. 7-12 (September)
Amid a suspenseful hunt for ley
lines and a long dead Welsh king, a
compelling human drama featuring psychic Blue and a group of wealthy
a nearby elite school plays out to make a thoughtful, genre-busting
Volponi, Paul. The Final Four. Viking, 2012. Gr. 7-12 (March)
A rousing March Madness matchup between
star-powered Michigan State and underdog Troy University offers
edge-of-your-seat sports suspense and a mindful examination of four
characters in the hands of college athletics.
Wein, Elizabeth. Code Name Verity. Hyperion, 2012. Gr. 9-12 (June)
Wein masterfully delivers methodical, plot
suspense and sweeping wartime inquiry of hatred and heroes as captured
spy Verity and pilot best friend Maddie give harrowing accounts of
Willems, Mo. Listen To My Trumpet; written and illus. by Mo Willems. Hyperion, 2012. Gr. K-1 (April)The punchline of this latest installment of Willem’s dynamic duo will elicit both giggles and “awwws” from young readers as they relate to Piggy’s attempts to master the trumpet and be a good friend.
Bingham, Kelly. Z Is for Moose; illus. by Paul O. Zelinsky. Greenwillow, 2012. 3-7 yrs (April)
In this cleverly silly staging of an alphabetical
an endearingly goofy moose disrupts the order in a book that works both
funny alphabet book and comic story.
Buckley, Michael. Kel Gilligan’s Daredevil Stunt Show; illus. by Dan Santat. Abrams, 2012. 3-7 yrs (October)
Gasp at the feats of helmeted superhero Kel
Gilligan, a kid
his parents by performing deeds such as getting dressed and using the
Potty of Doom in this gleefully over-the-top picture book.
Bunting, Eve. Ballywhinney Girl; illus. by Emily Arnold McCully. Clarion, 2012. 5-8 yrs (May)
After a young Irish girl finds the remains of an
in the peat bog, she follows the scientists’ explanation of the body and
thinks about the girl who died long ago; McCully’s delicate, luminous
watercolors add character to this tender and unusual story.
Carnesi, Monica. Little Dog Lost; written and illus. by Monica Carnesi. Penguin, 2012. 3-7 yrs (February)
Simple, immediate text paired with pale, chilly
illustrations tell the
riveting true story of poor Dog, who was caught on an ice floe in a
river that’s heading out to sea, and the humans who saved him.
Fogliano, Julie. And Then It’s Spring; illus. by Erin E. Stead. Roaring Brook, 2012. 4-6 yrs (March)
Spare, gentle prose describes the achingly gradual
of spring in partnership with tender, fetchingly detailed illustrations
follow the gardening efforts of a determined young boy and the
critters that follows him.
Gibbs, Edward. Little Bee; written and illus. by Edward Gibbs. LB Kids/Little, 2012. 2-4 yrs (July)
Vivid saturated colors and high-action line
the illustrations in this lively rhyming board book, where a little bee
the first in a sequence of several critters fleeing from a pursuing
Klassen, Jon. This Is Not My Hat; written and illus. by Jon Klassen. Candlewick, 2012. 5-8 yrs (November)
Crisp graphics reminiscent of Leo Lionni and a
sense of humor
combine in this picture book about a itty-bitty fish who stole a hat
from a big fish and got away with it—or so he thinks.
Sauer, Tammi. Me Want Pet!; illus. by Bob Shea. Simon, 2012. 4-8 yrs (April)
Plenty of youngsters will relate to Cave Boy’s
desire for a
pet (though a few may balk at the thought of caring for a saber-toothed
in this chuckle-worthy tale that features Bob Shea’s saturated, thickly
Chin, Jason. Island: A Story of the Galápagos; written and illus. by Jason Chin. Roaring Brooks, 2012. Gr. 2-5 (November)
Gorgeous watercolor illustrations are composed in
spreads and helpful thumbnail panels to guide young readers through the
scientific study of an ecosystem and evolution.
Hoberman, Mary Ann. Forget-Me-Nots: Poems to Learn by Heart: illus. by Michael Emberly. Tingly/Little Books, 2012. Gr. 2-5 (June)
Noted versifier Hoberman gathers over 120 poems
with guidance and tips for committing the poems to memory, making this
a true treat
for bards in the making.
Hoose, Phillip. Moonbird: A Year on the Wind with the Great Survivor B95. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2012. Gr. 7-12 (September)
This high-interest nonfiction book provides an
at the seldom-seen experiences of endangered red knot birds by
migration of a single bird named B95 from Tierra del Fuego, Argentina
Canadian Arctic and back again.
Jurmain, Suzanne Tripp. Worst of Friends: Thomas Jefferson, John Adams and the True Story of an American Feud; illus. by Larry Day. Dutton, 2011. Gr. 3-5 (January)
Jurmain uses the on-again, off-again friendship
very different men as an entry point to explore the hard work of nation
building; Day’s watercolor illustrations make this a lesson in both
Kalman, Maira. Looking At Lincoln; written and illus. by Maira Kalman. Penguin, 2012. 5-8 yrs (January)
A bright palette combines with singularly focused
convey both a sense of whimsy and solemnity in this kid-friendly look
life of the sixteenth president.
Kops, Deborah. The Great Molasses Flood: Boston, 1919. Charlesbridge, 2012. Gr. 4-7 (March)
The tale of this sticky disaster initially sounds
joke but Kops’ accessible and gripping account of the flood of molasses
swept through northern Boston makes it clear that the tragedy that took
lives is no laughing matter.
Osborne, Barrett Linda. Miles To Go For Freedom: Segregation and Civil Rights in The Jim Crow Years; illus. with photographs. Abrams, 2012. Gr. 5-8 (March)
Focusing on the rarely discussed period between
Reconstruction and the Civil Rights Era, this middle grade offering on
relations in the U.S. boasts meticulous organization and compelling
Rappaport, Doreen. Beyond Courage: The Untold Story of Jewish Resistance During the Holocaust; illus. with photographs. Candlewick, 2012. Gr. 7-12 (November)
Organized in chronological order, these twenty-one
of Jewish resistance attempts against the atrocities of the Nazi regime
supplemented with photographs, maps, and a timeline.
Rumford, James. From the Good Mountain; written and illus. by James Rumford. Roaring Brook, 2012. Gr. 3-5 (October)
Framing a history lesson within a series of
offers and uniquely engaging look at the inventor of the printing
Sheinkin, Steve. Bomb:
The Race to Build—and Steal—the
World’s Most Dangerous Weapon; illus. with photographs. Roaring
2012. Gr. 7-12 (October)
This fascinating true-life spy tale is
material and both history buffs and YAs looking for a good thriller
much to be captivated by here.
Vernick, Audrey. Brothers at Bat: The True Story of an Amazing All-Brother Baseball Team; illus. by Steven Salerno. Clarion, 2012. 5-9 yrs (June)
The Little Golden Book-style illustrations joyfully evoke the golden age of baseball in this delightful true story of the Acerra all-brother baseball team.
This page was last updated on January 1, 2013.