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Find more Notable Children's Books
This list was compiled by the Notable Children’s Books Committee of the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC). Librarians throughout the U.S. helped to select the titles from the several thousand children’s books published during 2009. Included are books of fiction, information, poetry, and pictures—all of special interest and value to children through age 14. The winners of the 2010 ALSC Newbery, Caldecott, Sibert, Batchelder, Belpré, and Geisel Awards and the Honor Books for those awards are automatically included on the list. Notable Children’s Books that were given 2010 Coretta Scott King Awards, Schneider Family Book Awards, and Best Books for Young Adults designations are noted below as well.
All the World. By Liz Garton Scanlon. Illus. by Marla Frazee. Simon & Schuster/Beach Lane, $17.99 (9781416985808).
The joys of the world are reflected in this affectionate look at a day in the life of a small ocean-side community. A 2010 Caldecott Honor Book.
Benny and Penny in the Big No-No! By Geoffrey Hayes. Illus. by the author. Raw Junior/TOON, $12.95 (9780979923890).
Siblings Benny and Penny encounter trouble when curiosity about a mysterious neighbor leads them into unexpected adventures. The 2010 Geisel Medal winner.
Big Wolf and Little Wolf. By Nadine Brun-Cosme. Illus. by Olivier Tallec. Tr. by Claudia Bedrick. Enchanted Lion, $16.95 (9781592700844).
Big Wolf lives alone until Little Wolf appears. Only when Little Wolf goes away does Big Wolf realize how much he cares for his friend. A 2010 Mildred L. Batchelder Honor Book.
Birds. By Kevin Henkes. Illus. by Laura Dronzek. Greenwillow, $17.99 (9780061363047).
A young, unseen narrator explores colors, shapes, and sizes as she watches red, blue, yellow, and green birds outside her window. Perfect for the youngest.
A Book. By Mordicai Gerstein. Illus. by the author. Roaring Brook, $16.95 (9781596432512).
A girl who lives inside a book travels through fairy tales, mysteries, adventure yarns, and historical novels in search of a story of her own.
Book Fiesta! Celebrate Children’s Day / Book Day: Celebremos el día de los niños / El día de los libros. By Pat Mora. Illus. by Rafael López. HarperCollins/Rayo, $17.99 (9780061288777).
Latino children invite children of other cultures to their book fiesta. The visual journey shows how reading sparks the imagination and unites us all. The 2010 Pura Belpré Illustrator Award Book.
The Curious Garden. By Peter Brown. Illus. by the author. Little, Brown, $16.99 (9780316053297).
Liam discovers a patch of lonely plants in an elevated train track and encourages them to grow into a magnificent garden that spreads throughout the drab city.
Gracias / Thanks. By Pat Mora. Illus. by John Parra. Tr. by Adriana Dominguez. Lee & Low, $17.99 (9781600602580).
The experiences and small pleasures of Latino family life are captured in nostalgic folk-art illustrations. A 2010 Pura Belpré Illustrator Honor Book.
Higher! Higher! By Leslie Patricelli. Illus. by the author. Candlewick, $15.99 (9780763632410).
With Dad pushing her higher and higher in the swing, a little girl soars into the realm of fun and fantasy.
I Spy Fly Guy! By Tedd Arnold. Illus. by the author. Scholastic, $5.99 (9780545110280).
A disastrous ending to a game of hide-and-seek finds Fly Guy hauled away to the local dump in this new take on a lost pet. A 2010 Geisel Honor Book.
Listen to the Wind: The Story of Dr. Greg and Three Cups of Tea
. By Greg Mortenson and Susan L. Roth. Illus by Susan L. Roth. Dial, $16.99 (9780803730588).
Children of Korphe, Pakistan, describe their world and explain how they worked with an American to build a school for their village. Stunning collages enhance the story.
Little Mouse Gets Ready. By Jeff Smith. Illus. by the author. Raw Junior/TOON, $12.95 (9781935179016).
Little Mouse narrates this story with humor and excitement as he dons clothes and dreams of adventures to come. A 2010 Geisel Honor Book.
Mommy, Mama, and Me. By Lesléa Newman. Illus. by Carol Thompson. Tricycle, $7.99 (9781582462639).
In this gentle board book, two loving mothers share daily activities with their baby. A 2010 Rainbow Project Book.
Mouse and Mole: Fine Feathered Friends. By Herbert Yee Wong. Illus. by the author. Houghton, $15 (9780547152226).
Artistic Mole and poetic Mouse join forces to hatch a clever plan for watching skittish birds and then create a book of paintings and poems, celebrating their bird-watching adventures. A 2010 Geisel Honor Book.
My Abuelita. By Tony Johnston. Illus. by Yuyi Morales. Harcourt, $16 (9780152163303).
As a grandmother flows through this story in robes as flamboyant as the stories she loves to tell, she inspires her grandson to be just like her when he grows old. A 2010 Pura Belpré Illustrator Honor Book.
Pearl and Wagner: One Funny Day. By Kate McMullan. Illus. by R. W. Alley. Dial, $14.99 (9780803730854).
Friends Pearl and Wagner experience the hijinks and pranks of April Fools’ Day. A 2010 Geisel Honor Book.
Posy. By Linda Newbery. Illus. by Catherine Rayner. Atheneum, $16.99 (9781416971122).
Posy the kitten scampers through a busy day tangling yarn and catching spiders. Her antics are described with minimalist art and in a playful rhyming text.
Red Sings from Treetops: A Year in Colors. By Joyce Sidman. Illus. by Pamela Zagarenski. Houghton, $16 (9780547014944).
A woman and her dog, surrounded by intricately costumed and stylized figures, make their way through the seasons in evocative poems and pictures that celebrate color. A 2010 Caldecott Honor Book.
Thunder Boomer. By Shutta Crum. Illus. by Carol Thompson. Clarion, $16 (9780618618651).
A family runs for cover on their farm as a hot day brings a frightening storm, then delivers a soaked and shivery surprise.
Waiting for Winter. By Sebastian Meschenmoser. Illus. by the author. Kane/Miller, $15.99 (9781935279044).
First Squirrel, then Hedgehog, and finally Bear wait anxiously for winter to appear as they mistake several white and wet and cold and soft objects for snow.
Yummy: Eight Favorite Fairy Tales. By Lucy Cousins. Illus. by the author. Candlewick, $18.99 (9780763644741).
Bright illustrations in primary colors accompany bold retellings of eight familiar folktales. Young listeners will gobble these up!
Adventures in Cartooning. By James Sturm and others. Illus. by the authors. Roaring Brook/First Second, $12.95 (9781596433694).
The Magic Cartooning Elf mesmerizes readers with the story of a knight and a princess that also provides step-by-step instruction for creating cartoons.
Anne Frank: Her Life in Words and Pictures from the Archives of the Anne Frank House. By Menno Metselaar and Ruud van der Rol. illus. Roaring Brook/Flash Point, $19.99 (9781596435469).
This compact companion to other accounts of Anne Frank’s life is told chiefly through photographs, many previously unpublished, and handwritten excerpts from her diary. A well-researched and powerful package.
Bad News for Outlaws: The Remarkable life of Bass Reeves, Deputy U.S. Marshal. By Vaunda Micheaux Nelson. Illus. by R. Gregory Christie. Carolrhoda, $17.95 (9780822567646).
Former slave Bass Reeves, the first black U.S. marshal, performed many remarkable deeds as he staunchly defended territorial law in the American West. The 2010 Coretta Scott King Author Award Book.
Crow Call. By Lois Lowry. Illus. by Bagram Ibatoulline. Scholastic, $16.99 (9780545030359).
Reunited after fighting in World War II, a father reconnects with his daughter through a hunting shirt, cherry pie, tender conversation, and a crow call.
The Day-Glo Brothers: The True Story of Bob and Joe Switzer’s Bright Ideas and Brand-New Colors. By Chris Barton. Illus. by Tony Persiani. Charlesbridge, $18.95 (9781570916731).
This glowing biography tells of two inventive brothers who made a startling discovery in their basement and worked throughout their lives creating fluorescent colors. A 2010 Sibert Honor Book.
Diego: Bigger than Life. By Carmen T. Bernier-Grand. Illus. by David Diaz. Marshall Cavendish, $18.99 (9780761453833).
A series of chronological poems, enlivened by bold, larger-than-life images, reveals the artist Diego Rivera. A 2010 Pura Belpré Author Honor Book and a 2010 Pura Belpré Illustrator Honor Book.
Down, Down, Down: A Journey to the Bottom of the Sea. By Steve Jenkins. Illus. by the author. Houghton, $17 (9780618966363).
This irresistible underwater exploration reveals the mysteries of the sea by going deeper and deeper and deeper from top to bottom, showing little-known creatures and encountering spaces where few have ever been.
Eidi. By Bodil Bredsdorff. Tr. by Kathryn Mahaffy. Farrar, $16.99 (9780374312671).
Feeling displaced by the birth of her half brother, Eidi leaves her beloved family in Crow Cove and sets out on a journey to discover her talents and claim her independence. A 2010 Mildred L.Batchelder Honor Book.
The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate. By Jacqueline Kelly. Holt, $16.99 (9780805088410).
Living on a Texas plantation at the turn of the last century, 11-year-old Calpurnia Virginia Tate and her curmudgeonly grandfather bond over their interest in the evolution of the species. A 2010 Newbery Honor Book and a 2010 Best Book for Young Adults.
An Eye for Color: The Story of Josef Albers. By Natasha Wing. Illus. by Julia Breckenreid. Holt, $16.99 (9780805080728).
In a picture-book format, Wing offers simple explanations for the unusual ways that artist Josef Albers used color and shape to open the eyes of the world.
A Faraway Island. By Annika Thor. Tr. by Linda Schenck. Delacorte, $16.99 (9780385736176).
Two Jewish sisters from Vienna, Austria, are sent to Sweden by their parents to escape the Nazis. The 2010 Mildred L. Batchelder Medal winner.
Federico García Lorca. By Georgina Lázaro. Illus. by Enrique S. Moreiro. Lectorum, $14.99 (9781933032399).
Lázaro’s lyrical poetry, written in Spanish, evokes the spirit and style of twentieth-century poet and playwright Federico García Lorca. A 2010 Pura Belpré Author Honor Book.
The Frog Scientist. By Pamela S.Turner. Illus. by Andy Comins. Houghton, $18 (9780618717163).
Striking color photographs show the work of Tyrone Hayes and his students as they study the effect of a certain pesticide on frogs.
The Grand Mosque of Paris: A Story of How Muslims Rescued Jews during the Holocaust. By Karen Gray Ruelle and Deborah Durland DeSaix. Illus. by the authors. Holiday, $17.95 (9780823421596).
Powerful illustrations illuminate a little-known aspect of World War II resistance: the heroic Muslim effort to orchestrate the escape of Jews who were aggressively pursued by Nazis during the four-year occupation of Paris.
How Oliver Olson Changed the World. By Claudia Mills. Illus. by Heather Maione. Farrar, $15.95 (9780374334871).
A third-grade science project gives Oliver the confidence to break free from his overprotective parents in this humorous, realistic school story.
In the Belly of an Ox: The Unexpected Photographic Adventures of Richard and Cherry Kearton. By Rebecca Bond. Illus. by the author. Houghton, $16 (9780547076751).
Establishing a new era in nature photography, two brothers spend many weekends finding ingenious ways to photograph bird nests in the nineteenth-century English countryside.
The Magician’s Elephant. By Kate DiCamillo. Illus. by Yoko Tanaka. Candlewick, $16.99 (9780763644109).
A fortune-teller’s strange prediction and a magician’s startling trick lead Peter on an extraordinary journey to find his sister.
The Mostly True Adventures of Homer P. Figg. By Rodman Philbrick. Scholastic/Blue Sky, $16.99 (9780439668187).
Homer, an admitted liar and teller of tales, must rescue his brother, Harold, after Uncle Squinton Leach sells him to the Union army. A 2010 Newbery Honor Book.
Pharaoh’s Boat. By David L. Weitzman. Illus. by the author. Houghton, $18 (9780547053417).
Meticulously created hieroglyphic-like illustrations, along with a detailed text, reveal the riddle of reconstructing a boat commissioned by the pharaoh Cheops to take him into the afterlife.
River of Dreams: The Story of the Hudson River. By Hudson Talbott. Illus. by the author. Putnam, $17.99 (9780399245213).
Illustrations flow along with the text in this book celebrating the river that played a key role in the settling of the New World, the outcome of the Revolutionary War, and the history of a state and a country.
The Small Adventure of Popeye and Elvis. By Barbara O’Connor. Farrar, $16.99 (9780374370558).
Popeye grabs at a chance for adventure and friendship when a boy his age named Elvis rolls into the sleepy town of Fayette.
The Storm in the Barn. By Matt Phelan. Illus. by the author. Candlewick, $24.99 (9780763636180).
In this stirring graphic novel, 11-year-old Jack tries to bring back the rain by challenging a mythical figure during the stark, dry height of the 1937 Kansas Dust Bowl. A 2010 Great Graphic Novel for Teens and the 2009 Booklist Top of the List winner for youth fiction.
Tsunami! By Kimiko Kajikawa. Illus. by Ed Young. Philomel, $16.99 (9780399250064).
Through deep personal sacrifice, a grandfather, known as Ojiisan, saves his village from a tsunami. The tension in this Japanese folktale is heightened by the rich texture of the mixed-media illustrations.
When You Reach Me. By Rebecca Stead. Random/Wendy Lamb, $15.99 (9780385737425).
In a stunningly constructed plot, 12-year-old Miranda must unravel a puzzle involving increasingly strange notes warning that someone she knows may die. The 2010 Newbery Medal winner and a 2010 Best Book for Young Adults.
Where the Mountain Meets the Moon. By Grace Lin. Illus. by the author. Little, Brown, $16.99 (9780316114271).
A young Chinese girl, long a believer in her father’s fantastic stories, goes on a quest to find the legendary Old Man of the Moon in the hope of bringing life to Fruitless Mountain. A 2010 Newbery Honor Book.
A Whiff of Pine, a Hint of Skunk: A Forest of Poems. By Deborah Ruddell. Illus. by Joan Rankin. Simon & Schuster/Margaret K. McElderry, $16.99 (9781416942115).
Clever rhyming verse showcases a variety of forest animals throughout the seasons.
You Never Heard of Sandy Koufax?! By Jonah Winter. Illus. by André Carrilho. Random/Schwartz & Wade, $17.99 (9780375837388).
Sandy Koufax’s achievements as a great left-handed pitcher come to life in dramatic and dynamic illustrations coupled with fascinating facts and figures. The 2009 Booklist Top of the List winner for youth nonfiction.
Almost Astronauts: 13 Women Who Dared to Dream. By Tanya Lee Stone. illus. Candlewick, $24.99 (9780763636111).
In the early 1960s, 13 women endured rigorous testing and training for the space program, as well as prejudice. Numerous photographs and a revealing text chronicle their difficulties and achievements. The 2010 Sibert Medal winner, a 2010 YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction Finalist, and a 2010 Amelia Bloomer Book.
Anything but Typical. By Nora Raleigh Baskin. Simon & Schuster, $15.99 (9781416963783).
Jason, a 12-year-old with autism spectrum disorder, finds life in a “neurotypical” world daunting but achieves success through his creative writing online. A 2010 Schneider Family Book Award winner.
Claudette Colvin: Twice toward Justice. By Phillip Hoose. illus. Farrar/Melanie Kroupa, $19.95 (9780374313227).
Nine months before Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a bus, a 15-year-old girl was arrested for defying the same Montgomery, Alabama, bus laws. This is her long-neglected story. A 2010 Newbery Honor Book, a 2010 Sibert Honor Book, a 2010 YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction Finalist, a 2010 Best Book for Young Adults, and a 2010 Amelia Bloomer Book.
The Giant-Slayer. By Iain Lawrence. Delacorte, $16.95 (9780385733762).
An epic narrative spun for the residents of a polio ward in 1955 becomes personal for the storyteller, Laurie Valentine.
The Great and Only Barnum: The Tremendous, Stupendous Life of Showman P. T. Barnum. By Candace Fleming. illus. Random/Schwartz & Wade, $18.99 (9780375841972).
The sweeping biography of a famous, sometimes infamous, trickster and businessman who left no stone unturned to bring the Barnum & Bailey Circus to an eager nineteenth-century audience. A 2010 YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction Finalist and a 2010 Best Book for Young Adults.
Leviathan. By Scott Westerfeld. Illus. by Keith Thompson. Simon & Schuster/Simon Pulse, $19.99 (9871416971733).
A hunted young Prince Aleksandar Ferdinand and a girl disguised as a boy must form an unlikely alliance to survive in this steampunk version of World War I. A 2010 Best Book for Young Adults.
The Lost Conspiracy. By Frances Hardinge. HarperCollins, $16.99 (9780060880415).
Subterfuge and intrigue are at the center of this enticing fantasy as two sisters grapple with an unknown evil. A 2010 Best Book for Young Adults.
Marching for Freedom: Walk Together, Children, and Don’t You Grow Weary. By Elizabeth Partridge. illus. Viking, $19.99 (9780670011896).
Haunting illustrations and moving text tell the story of children leading the way on freedom marches, through voter registration drives, and even to jail during the quest for civil rights. A 2010 Best Book for Young Adults.
Moribito II: Guardian of the Darkness. By Nahoko Uehashi. Illus. by Yuko Shimizu. Tr. by Cathy Hirano. Scholastic/Arthur A. Levine, $17.99 (9780545102957).
Bodyguard-for-hire Balsa returns in this tale of redemption and political intrigue set in a fantasy world reminiscent of medieval Japan. A 2010 Mildred L. Batchelder Honor Book.
Mother Poems. By Hope Anita Smith. Illus. by the author. Holt/Christy Ottaviano, $16.95 (9780805082319).
This touching collection of free-verse poems explores a child’s view of her mother and their life together, then expresses the raw emotions she feels after her mother’s death.
Mr. Lincoln’s High-Tech War: How the North Used the Telegraph, Railroads, Surveillance Balloons, Ironclads, High-Powered Weapons, and More to Win the Civil War. By Thomas B. Allen and Roger MacBride Allen. illus. National Geographic, $18.95 (9781426303791).
Breaking new historical ground, this book explores how Lincoln came to understand, value, and use “modern” technology to assist the North and help win the Civil War.
Return to Sender. By Julia Alvarez. Knopf, $16.99 (9780375858383).
When Tyler’s father is unable to maintain the family farm, he hires undocumented workers, resulting in an interdependent relationship that mirrors current social and political conditions in the U.S. The 2010 Pura Belpré Author Award winner.
The Rock and the River. By Kekla Magoon. Aladdin, $15.99 (9781416975823).
Seeing the injustice in his 1968 Chicago neighborhood after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Sam Childs knows he can’t be patient like his civil rights leader father nor join the Black Panthers like his brother; he must struggle to be his own man. Winner of the Coretta Scott King 2010 John Steptoe New Talent Award and a 2010 Best Book for Young Adults.
Sweethearts of Rhythm: The Story of the Greatest All-Girl Swing Band in the World. By Marilyn Nelson. Illus. by Jerry Pinkney. Dial, $21.99 (9780803731875).
Unique poetry and creative illustrations bring to life the story of an integrated all-girl swing band that traveled the U.S. in the 1940s.
Tales from Outer Suburbia. By Shaun Tan. Illus. by the author. Scholastic/Arthur A. Levine, $19.99 (9780545055871).
Fifteen surrealistically illustrated tales guide readers in unexpected directions in this quirky, thoughtful, and sometimes even disturbing collection of stories and art. A 2010 Best Book for Young Adults.
Tofu Quilt. By Ching Yeung Russell. Lee & Low, $16.95 (9781600604232).
In a patchwork “quilt” of free-verse poems, the author recounts her struggle to become a writer growing up in 1960s Hong Kong.
Troll’s Eye View: A Book of Villainous Tales. Ed. by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling. Viking, $16.99 (9780670061419).
Fifteen deeply twisted, fantastically funny, and hauntingly human fairy tales are told from the point of view of the villain in this collection of very grim short stories.
Truce: The Day the Soldiers Stopped Fighting. By Jim Murphy. illus. Scholastic, $19.99 (9780545130493).
In the middle of World War I, British and German forces quit fighting to celebrate Christmas together peacefully. First-person details present the human side of this bloody war. A 2010 Best Book for Young Adults.
Wild Things. By Clay Carmichael. Front Street, $17 (9781590786277).
Spunky 11-year-old Zoe comes to live with Uncle Henry, who is a metal sculptor, and learns that a safe home and acceptance are possible, even for wild things like her.
Written in Bone: Buried Lives of Jamestown and Colonial Maryland. By Sally M. Walker. illus. Carolrhoda, $22.95 (9780822571353).
Crime Scene Investigation meets American History—exposing ancient crimes and describing patterns of everyday life as told and written on the bones of the early Jamestown settlers. A 2010 YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction Finalist and a 2010 Best Book for Young Adults.
Years of Dust: The Story of the Dust Bowl. By Albert Marrin. illus. Dutton, $22.99 (9780525420774).
This ecological disaster created by human misdeed forces a grim choice upon the people of the plains during the depths of the Great Depression.
Ashley Bryan: Words to My Life’s Song. By Ashley Bryan. Illus. by Bill McGuinness. Atheneum, $18.99 (9781416905417).
Numerous photographs and illustrations from the author’s books accompany this joyful autobiography in which Bryan, author, storyteller, and artist, talks about growing up, school, art, and life.
Duck! Rabbit! By Amy Krouse Rosenthal. Illus. by Tom Lichtenheld. Chronicle, $16.99 (9780811868655).
Is it a duck? Is it a rabbit? Simple words and bold illustrations challenge children with this optical illusion.
The Lion and the Mouse. By Jerry Pinkney. Illus. by the author. Little, Brown, $16.99 (9780316013567).
Pictures are worth thousands of words in this masterful rendition of a classic fable, illustrated with striking watercolors. The 2010 Caldecott Medal winner.
Moonshot: The Flight of Apollo 11. By Brian Floca. Illus. by the author. Simon & Schuster/Richard Jackson, $17.99 (9781416950462).
Forty years after the first and last humans (for now) stepped on the moon’s surface, a handsome, largely visual chronicle of that historic journey brings its majesty and mystery to young readers. A 2010 Sibert Honor Book.
My People. By Langston Hughes. Illus. by Charles R. Smith Jr. Simon & Schuster/Ginee Seo, $17.99 (9781416935407).
Warm photographic portraits celebrating the diversity of African American faces illustrate Langston Hughes’ 1923 classic poem. The 2010 Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award Book.
Redwoods. By Jason Chin. Illus. by the author. Roaring Brook/Neal Porter, $16.95 (9781596434301).
Jason imaginatively steps into his book about redwoods and embarks on an adventurous exploration, climbing through the canopy of these giants.
Shades of People. By Shelley Rotner and Sheila M. Kelly. Illus. by Shelley Rotner. Holiday, $16.95 (9780823421916).
Images of happy children with many shades and colors of skin show the beauty of all people, inside and out.
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