Denver Public Library 2011 Best & Brightest Children's Books

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Denver Public Library


Page
1

2011 Best & Brightest
Children’s Books

kids.denverlibrary.org

Denver Public Library

2011 Best & Brightest Children’s Books



Picture Books


Naamah and the Ark at Night

by Susan Campbell Bartoletti, illust
rated by Holly Meade.
(
Toddler
-

Preschool)
Recommended by Gwen and Lisa.

This lovely picturebook takes a slice of life on Noah's Ark to tell a lyrical bedtime story.

As night falls, the ark
pitches in the waves, and the animals are restless.

But at night, Naamah, Noah's wife, sings

everyone to
sleep, animals, and people too.

The book takes the familiar root of the Noah story, but does not re
-
tell it,
leaving families to tell the version of the flood that they like best.

ECRR: Phonological
A
wareness


Mine!
by Shutta Crum, illustrat
ed b
y Patrice Barton.
(
Toddler
-

1st grade)
Recommended by Ann
.

A toddler gleefully regales his infant and canine companions with a one note narrative, "Mine. Mine. Mine.",
as he collects all the toys in a room. When the baby claims the last toy for herself and the dog joins in, chaos
ensues! The illustrations of this
nearly wordless tale are all from a kids
-
eye view and perfectly capture the
characters emotions. While great for toddlers and preschoolers, older kids with younger siblings will enjoy
this story as well.

ECRR: Narrative S
kills


Mitchell’s License

by Halli
e Durand, illus
trated by Tony Fucile.
(
Toddler
-

1st grade)
Recommended by
Ann.

Mitchell,a rambunctious preschooler, expertly avoids bedtime by hopping onto Dad's shoulders, aka his very
own car. Need to back
-
up? Shift into reverse by tugging Dad’s ears.


Need to beep the horn?

Give Dad’s nose
a whack! A fun
bedtime romp for both kids and their pl
ayful, patient parents.
ECRR: V
ocabulary


Blue Chicken

by Deborah Freedman. (Preschool)
Recommended by Lisa
.

Little chicken just wants to help. After all, the
re is a lot to paint in the farmyard. But when little chicken
accidentally bumps into the blue paint, chaos ensues. Who would have thought that one tiny chicken and one
jar of paint could make such a mess. How can little chicken ever “undo” the blue? The j
uxtaposition of the
black and white with the colors and the adorable little chicken make this book a sure winner for the prescho
ol
set (and their parents too!) ECRR: Narrative S
kills


I Spy with My Little Eye

by Edward Gibbs. (
Toddler
-

Preschool)
Recommended by Kristi and Chufo
.

Look through the book’s eye spy hole and you will see something white. Your clue? It li
ves in the Arctic.
What is it? A

polar bear. This fun guessing game story gives color clues that describe various animals. Great
for you
nger kids.

ECR
R: Print M
otivation


Say Hello to Zorro!
by Carter Goodrich. (Preschool
-

1st grade)
Recommended by Lisa, Chufo and Gwen.

Mr. Bud is a dog who knows what he likes. He keeps his family on a very strict schedule. So Mr. Bud is not a
happy po
och when Zorro shows up. A new dog was definitely not part of the plan. It turns out that Zorro is
not thrilled with Mr. Bud either. Friendship does not seem likely, until the dogs discover that they like the
same schedule. Soon they are best buddies and t
he family is still following a strict schedule. Delightfully
expressive illustrations highlight this tale of friendship.


Worms for Lunch?

by Leonid Gore. (Toddler
-

Kindergarten)
Recommended by Lisa
.

Curious little worm wants to know who would ever want

to eat a worm. He asks an eclectic group of animals
what they like to eat. The monkey likes bananas and the bunny likes carrots. Is there anyone who eats
worms? When he finally finds someone who does, it is time for little worm to get out of there! Bright

pictures
and die cut pages make this an engaging guessing game for young readers.

ECRR: Print Awareness,
Narrative Skills





Denver Public Library


Page
2

2011 Best & Brightest
Children’s Books

kids.denverlibrary.org

Blue Chameleon
by Emily Gravett.

(Preschool
-

1st grade)

Recommended by Chufo.


Blue chameleon is searching for a friend but he can’t seem to find anyone like him.

He tries changing into
different colors and shapes but nothing works.

Could it be possible that chameleon would never find
someone like him?

Follow blue chameleon in thi
s wonderful journey about colors and shapes as he finds
what he has been looking for.

ECRR: Vocabulary


The Woods

by Paul Hoppe.

(Preschool
-

1st grade)

Recommended by

Gwen
.

This cumulative story tells what happens when a boy loses his rabbit before bed
time and must enter the
woods to find it again.

Every bear, giant, or three
-
headed dragon seems pretty scary until the boy finds out
how he can help them.

Cartoonish illustrations and little jokes make this a sure
-
fire bedtime winner.

ECRR:
Print Motiva
tion, Narrative Skills


Red Sled
by Lita Judge.
(Preschool)

Recommended by Kristi, Rachel, and Lisa.

What happens when some forest animals get their paws on a child’s red sled? Joyriding for sure. How many
animals can fit at one time? This beautifully
illustrated book let’s the pictures tell the story with a few
descriptive s
ounds thrown in for fun. ECRR: Phonological Awareness, V
ocabulary


I Want My Hat Back
by Jon Klassen. (
1st
-

3rd grade)

Recommended by Ann

and Kristi
.

Poor bear


he’s lost his ha
t and wants it back. Bear asks several different animals, “Have you seen my hat?”
and no one has, although rabbit is suspiciously sporting a red hat as he emphatically denies ever seeing such
a thing. Kids and adults alike will have fun solving the mystery

of the missing hat and depending on their
disposition, delight or despair in the surprise ending. ECRR:
Print A
wareness


Anton Can Do Magic

by Ole Konnecke. (
Preschool & up
)
Recommended by

Rache
l

and Chufo.

Anton is the proud owner of a magic hat and
wand which he uses to make a bird and a friend disappear and
reappear. Anton is convinced he is using magic, but the cartoon style illustrations tell a different story. This is
a great book depicting t
he imaginary lives of children. ECRR: Narrative S
kills


Tell Me the Day Backwards

by Albert Lamb.
(Preschool
-

1st grade)

Recommended by Chufo
.

Tell Me the Day Backwards is a wonderful story, ideal for developing Narrative Skills.

Our main character
Timmy Bear plays one last game with his mama right before

bedtime.

In the game, Timmy has to

remember
what happened through
out the day in reverse.

ECRR: Narrative Skills


Tex: A Book for Little Dreamers

by Dorie Lawson.

(Preschool)

Recommended by Lisa
.

Who hasn’t dreamed of riding the open range and sleeping

under the stars? Luke sure has. He lives far away
from the prairie but dreams of riding his pony and working on the farm. There are animals and crops to tend
and repairs to make. Tex is a very busy rancher. This story is sparse and simple. The text is min
imal,
highlighting the photos that tell the story. Moving from black and white to color photos enhances the sense of
place and the pull of Luke's imagination.


Me...Jane

by

Patrick McDonnell. (Preschool
-

2nd grade)

Recommended by Ann, Chufo, Kristi and

Lisa.

This picture book biography celebrates imagination and curiosity as it links Jane Goodall’s childhood
connections with animals and nature to her adult work with chimpanzees in Tanzania. While primarily
illustrated in muted watercolor, McDonnell seam
lessly incorporates photos and even some sketches Goodall
made as a child.



Making a Friend

by Alison McGhee, illust
rated by Marc Rosenthal. (P
reschool
-

1st grade) Recommended
by Lisa
.

Snow! What is better than newly fallen snow? A snowman of course! A

snowman can be a friend. But a
snowman can’t last forever. Sun and changing season inevitably carry the snowman away. But nothing that
you love is ever gone completely. The boy finds hints of his snowman all around. He is in the fog and the rain
and the p
ond. As soon as it snows again, the boy once again builds his friend. The sparse text and simple
pictures belie the deeper message present in the refrain repeated through the text: “what you love will
always

be with you.”

ECRR: Narrative S
kills





Denver Public Library


Page
3

2011 Best & Brightest
Children’s Books

kids.denverlibrary.org

Over an
d Under the Snow

by Kate Messner, illustrated by Christopher Silas Neal.

(Preschool
-

2nd grade)

Recommended by Gwen and Ann.

This non
-
fiction picturebook tells about winter life over and under the snow.

It describes the small animals
who live in the su
bnivean zone and the larger animals who find shelter and hibernate above the snow.

The
premise of a child and her father cross
-
country skiing through the woods and examining this winter world
works well.

The color palette and word choices are just right,

leav
ing you ready for a hot cocoa.
ECRR:
Vocabulary, Narrative Skills


The Gingerbread Man Loose in the School

by Laura Murry, illustrated by Mike Lowery.

(Kindergarten
-

2nd grade)

Recommended by Gwen.

Baking a gingerbread man at school leads to all
kinds of rhyming silliness when the classroom full of children
leave their little man behind at recess.

Turning the classic story on its head, the gingerbread man runs all
over the school trying to catch up with the kids.

The graphic panel illustrations
and text give this story
appeal for slightly older kids and new readers.

ECRR: Print Awareness, Phonological Awareness


Soccer Hour
by Carol Nevius, illustrate
d by Bill Thomson. (Preschool
-

2nd grade)

Recommended by Ann,
Chufo and Kristi.

In this ode t
o all things soccer, the game comes alive with rhyming text and action
-
packed, realistic
illustrations from a variety of perspectives. As with other Nevius and Thomson books (Karate Hour, Baseball
Hour), the players are a multi
-
ethnic group of girls and bo
ys. All the illustrations are hand painted and each
one took Thomson approximately 100 hou
rs to finish
--

amazing! ECRR: P
honol
ogical A
wareness


Brother Sun, Sister Moon
by Katherine Paterson.

(Preschool

-

2nd Grade)

Recommended by

Chufo
.

In Brother Sun,

Sister Moon, Katherine Paterson offers us Saint Francis' Canticle of the Creatures hymn in a
beautiful poetic language.

What make this book stand out are the exquisite cut
-
paper illustrations done by
Pamela Dalton.


Stars

by Mary Lyn Ray, illustrated by

Marla Frazee.

(Preschool
-

2nd grade)

Recommended by Ann, Lisa,
Gwen and Kristi.

Book
-
ended by characters gazing at the night sky, this quiet, contemplative book invites readers to immerse
themselves in the world of stars. Whether they’re using their imagination to create a magic wand or sledding
in the snow, the characters find stars
everywhere. Frazee’s detailed illustrations capture kids in a variety of
settings and moods, from gleeful

adventure to lonely sadness. There’s lots to talk about and explore here
with a group of kids or one
-
on
-
one. ECRR:
Letter Knowledge, Narrative S
kills


The Bear Who Shared
by

Catherine Rayner.

(Preschool
-

1st grade)

Recommended by Chufo.


There’s nothing else Norris the bear loves the most than his favorite fruit…plorringes.

As he waits under the
tree for the last plorringe to fall, he notices that

he isn’t the only one who loves plorringes.

Ultimately, the
plorringe falls on bear’s head and being a wise bear, he knows it’s best to share.


Animals Home Alone
by Loes Riphagen.

(Preschool

-

3rd grade)

Recommended by Becker
.

What do the animals (pet
s, stuffed, the ones in pictures) do when people leave the house? Children and
adults will love following the various adventures and will go back again and again to see and tell all the
pieces of the story in this wordless book.

ECRR: Narrative
S
kills


Bl
ackout
by John Rocco.

(Preschool

-

3rd grade)

Recommended by

Becker.

Everyone in the family is too busy doing their own thing to spend time together
--
until the lights go out. The
blackout brings the family
--
and the whole diverse neighborhood
--

together, if only for a while, and reminds
the central family that their moments
together can be just as fun as computer games and talking on the
phone.

ECRR: Narrative
Skills






Denver Public Library


Page
4

2011 Best & Brightest
Children’s Books

kids.denverlibrary.org

Where’s Walrus
by Stephan Savage. (Toddler
-

1st grade)

Recommended by Kristi, Ann, Chufo, and
Rachel.

Walrus has escaped from the zoo while everyone's
napping. He’s finding the outside world pretty interesting.
Can he blend into his surroundings and avoid being recaptured by the zookeeper? How easy is it for large
mammal to hide in plain sight? Kids will have fun trying to spot walrus in the brightly col
ored illustrations.

ECRR: Narrative Skills


Square Cat
Elizabeth Schoonmaker.

(Kindergarten
-

1st grade)

Recommended by Lisa.

Eula is a square cat in a round world. Everyone else is round. There are many reasons that Eula wants to be
round. When she fal
ls down she can’t get back up. And forget about modern fashion. A skirt on a square cat
-

ick! But with the help of two round but true friends, Eula finds some very good things about being square.
The illustrations are sure to draw some smiles while while
touching on themes like friendship and self
esteem.


Dinosaur vs. The Library
by Bob Shea.

(Preschool
-

1st grade)

Recommended by Lisa and Kristi.

Dinosaur is back and he is facing his toughest opponent yet, the library. Dinosaur is on his way to the lib
rary.
He encourages everyone he meets to roar with him. He wins every time. But roaring is not good in the
library. Can he make it all the way through storytime without a single roar?

ECRR: Print
A
wareness


I’m a Shark!

by Bob Shea.

(Preschool

-

1st grad
e)
Recommended by

Becker.

I’m a shark
--
I’m not scared of anything! Is that a SPIDER???? A bragging shark shows us that everyone’s
afraid of something, but maybe that’s ok in this silly tale of “I’m braver than you.”

ECRR: Vocabulary



Do You Know Which
Ones Will Grow?

by Susan A. Shea.

(Preschool
-

2nd grade)

Recommended by
Gwen, Ann and Kristi.

A chick grows into a chicken, so will a cupcake grow into a cake?

With lots of little questions to think about,
comparisons to make, rhyming text, and fun fol
d
-
out pages, this book really has it all for kids just figuring
out life.

ECRR: Phonologi
cal Awareness, Print Motivation


Earth to Clunk

by Pam Smallcomb, illustrated by Joe Berger.

(Kindergarten
-

2nd grade)

Recommended
by

Gwen.

The boy in this book is

forced to be pen pals with Clunk from the planet Quazar.

But he doesn’t want a pen
pal.

So instead of writing a letter, he sends his sister to the planet Quazar and Clunk sends back a Zoid.

The two send each other a series of worse and worse presents u
ntil they finally find some common ground
and become friends.

The silly premise and increasingly funny alien packages equal a very good time.

Give
this one to all those kids looking for alien books
-

and anyon
e else.

ECRR: Print Motivation


Caveman A B.
C. Story

by Janee Trasler.

(Preschool)

Recommended by

Chufo
.

Letter knowledge has never been so much fun to learn.

Follow the caveman through this hilarious ABC tale
as he encounters all sorts of creatures, nature and situations that follow along the al
phabet.

ECRR: Letter
Knowledge


Press Here

by Hervé Tullet. (
All ages)


Recommended by Kristi, Ann, Chufo, Becker, Lisa and Gwen
.

Start by pressing the yellow dot on the cover and watch how this interactive book adds dots, changes their
color and moves
them around when the readers tilts and shakes the book by following the directions on each
page. What can the reader make those crazy dots do next?

ECRR: Print Motivation


T
he Queen of France
by Tim Wadham. (Preschool
-

2nd grade) Recommended by Gwen
.

Whe
n Rose puts on her necklaces, bracelets, and crown, she becomes the Queen of France.

The Queen of
France talks with Rose’s parents and soon decides she might like to trade places with Rose, who has such a
loving family.

But when the parents say how much
they would miss their Rose, the Queen changes her
mind.

This story celebrates the power of imagination and will delight all of those little princesses.

ECRR:
Vocabulary





Denver Public Library


Page
5

2011 Best & Brightest
Children’s Books

kids.denverlibrary.org

Hooray for Amanda and Her Alligator
by Mo Willems.
(1st
-

3rd grade)

Recommended by Lisa, Ann,
Kristi and Becker

Amanda’s best friend is her stuffed alligator. She likes surprising him. Alligator likes surprising Amanda too.
But when Amanda surprises Alligator with a new Panda friend, he is upset. What if Amanda likes her
new
friend better? It turns out Panda might be the best surprise ever. Willems

use of expressive illustrations and
clever details make this friendship story worth sharing again and again.


The Twins’ Blanket

by Hyewon Yum. (Preschool


1st grade) Recommend
ed by Ann.

Ever since they were born, twin girls have shared everything, including their bed and blanket. But now
they’re 5 years old and it’s time for each to have their own bed. Ah, but who gets the blanket? Yum’s vibrant
illustrations help unfold a solu
tion in this lovely sibling story. ECRR:
Narrative S
kills




Readers


I Broke My Trunk
by Mo Willems. (Preschool
-

1st grade)

Recommended by Kristi
.

Gerald is telling his friend Piggie the sad story of how he broke his trunk. Lifting Rhinos and grand
pianos at
the same time is heavy work, but not the cause of Gerald’s problem. How did he do it? the answer is a
surprise to Piggie and maybe the reader too.




Fiction


Have Fun, Anna Hibiscus!

by Atinuke.
Recommended by Ann
.



Realistic Fiction



1st
-

3rd
grade

Anna Hibiscus is back in her fourth book. Anna lives in “Africa. Amazing Africa.” and is ready for her next
adventure


visiting her maternal grandmother in Canada for Christmas. In Africa, Anna lives with her
parents, twin brothers Double and Troubl
e, grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. Her grandmother in
Canada lives alone, in the snow. Will Anna be warm enough? Will there be anyone to play with? Another
wonderful entry in an endearing series.


Close to Famous
by Joan Bauer.

Recommended by Lis
a
.




Realistic Fiction



4th
-

6th grade

Foster McFee has a dream. She wants to have her own cooking show. She practices all the time. Baking
takes her mind off of her learning disabilities and she is very good at it. When she and her mom have to
leave Memphis and her mother’s abusive boyfriend,
they end up in Culpepper West Virginia. Soon Foster’s
baking helps introduce her to the residents of this tiny town. Foster begins making friends, selling cupcakes
and finally learning to read. Then her mother’s ex shows up. Will Foster have to start all o
ver again?


Floors

by Patrick Carman. Recommended by Lisa
.



Fantasy/Humor



4th


5th

grade

Leo has the coolest job imaginable. He helps his dad take care of the Whippet Hotel.

The Whippet Hotel is
not your normal hotel. It was built by the eccentric
Merganzer Whippet. There are surprises on every floor.
There are hidden floors and hidden rooms. There are also the mysterious and strange guests. But all is not
well at the Whippet Hotel. Merganzer has disappeared and the hotel is in danger of being sold.

On top of
that, it seems as though the hotel is falling apart. Then Leo starts getting mysterious notes and clues about
how to save the hotel. Who is the mystery man who watches the hotel? Is someone inside sabotaging the
hotel? Will Leo find the clues an
d solve the mystery before it is too late?




Denver Public Library


Page
6

2011 Best & Brightest
Children’s Books

kids.denverlibrary.org

Sidekicks
by Jack Ferraiolo.

Recommended by Kristi
.



Fantasy/Action/Humor



5th grade & up

Scott Hutchinson is an ordinary middleschooler by day and Bright Boy, the sidekick to superhero crime
fighter Phantom Justice by night. He’s incognito at school but when an embarrassing incident occurs with his
spandex uniform and gets televised, he hears
everyone laughing at him. Thankfully, nobody at school knows
who he is, until he and his nemesis sidekick Monkeywrench, unmask each other in a fight one night. The
worst part? It’s a girl from his school.


Tuesdays at the Castle

by Jessica Day George.

Re
commended by Gwen and Rachel
.



Fantasy



3rd
-

5th grades

Princess Celie lives in a castle with a mind of its own, and, every Tuesday, the castle changes something
-

maybe a new turret this week, or the kitchen has moved.

Only Celie seems able to keep up
with the changes
and understand the castle’s whims.

When the king and queen are ambushed away from home and their fate
is unknown, Celie and her siblings must use her knowledge of the castle to survive and keep peace in their
kingdom.


Tomorrow Girls

seri
es by Eva Gray.

Recommended by K
risti and Becker.



Dystopian Fiction/A
ction



4th
-

6th grade

Louisa and Maddie are best friends. Maddie’s soldier parents are away getting ready to fight the Alliance, a
secret Canadian insurgency group bent on infiltrating
and taking over the US. Global warming has made food
scarce and life is hard. Louisa’s wealthy parents lie and say Maddie is their daughter to get both girls into the
Country Manor School. An exclusive place where life is easier and they can get an educati
on. They meet their
roommates Evelyn and Rosie. But some thing's weird at this school. They confiscate all the students’
technology and classes teach more about survival and warfare than math. When they discover the school is a
cover for the Alliance and t
hey are all potential kidnappees, they run away. The four girls don’t always get
along, but they need each other.

The four books in this action packed series, each book is told from a
different girl’s perspective, tell their story of survival, triumph, an
d friendship.


Charlie Joe Jackson’s Guide to not Reading
by Tom Greenwald.

Recommended by Chufo
.



Realistic Fiction



4th
-

6th grade

What if you could get through school without reading an entire book?

That’s Charlie Joe Jackson’s life
mission.

Getting
through life without ever reading an entire book from cover to cover.

But now he is in
middle school and his friend Timmy decides that he’s tired of covering for him.

To what extreme lengths
would Charlie go to get out of reading a book?


True (...Sort o
f)

by Katherine Hannigan.

Recommended by Chufo, Gwen, Lisa and Kristi
.



Realistic Fiction



4th
-

6th grade

Dellie has always had an irrepressible spirit, boundless energy, and sense of fun. Unfortunately, many things
she sees as fun get her into trouble.
After being told over and over again that she is "bad," one day Dellie
begins to think she really is bad and she loses her buoyancy. She slouches, she picks fights, she makes her
mother cry. When the mysterious new girl in school absorbs Dellie's attention
, she realizes that by watching
and making a new friend, maybe she can stay out of trouble. Thus begins a beautiful friendship and the
healing of Dellie's issues. This book is absolutely heartbreaking and equally full of love and joy.






Denver Public Library


Page
7

2011 Best & Brightest
Children’s Books

kids.denverlibrary.org

A Gaggle of Gobli
ns
by Suzanne Harper.

Recommended by Lisa
.



Fantasy



4th
-

6th grade

Poppy Malone is a scientist. She does not believe in magic or mythological creatures. This is somewhat of a
problem because her parents are paranormal investigators. They are always draggi
ng Poppy and her siblings
around to search for mysteries. In the latest move, Poppy ends up in an old “haunted” house. In the course
of her exploration, Poppy sees what she thinks is a goblin. Impossible! Yet all her research leads her to
believe it is tru
e. In her attempt to prove that there really are goblins, she and her siblings end up trapped in
the goblin’s underground lair. It will take all her bravery and knowledge to rescue them before it is too late.


Ghost Hunt 2: More Chilling Tales of the Unkow
n
by Jason Hawes. Recommended by Lisa
.



Horror/Ghost
S
tories



4th grade &
up

This is a collection of stories based on the actual cases of the Atlantic Paranormal Society. They claim to have
helped hundreds of people with paranormal experiences. This
collection includes a ghost who loves dogs, a
strange haunting in a revolutionary home and a trip to Alcatraz. More spooky than scary, these are a fun
read for kids who are interested in “real” hauntings. The book includes an section on using the technolog
y
and tips for kids who are interested in ghost hunting themselves.


Small as an Elephant

by Jennifer Jacobson.

Recommended by

Becker
.



Realistic F
iction/Mental
I
llness



4th
grade

& up

When Jack wakes up in the campground in Maine on the first day of his vacation and his mother is missing,
he’s not that surprised. This has happened before. He just has to find her, or make it home to Boston, and
most of all keep anyone from finding out th
at he’s on his own. His quest turns into a search for the only
elephant in Maine. Kids may not understand that Jack’s mom has bipolar disorder, but they will feel his
emotions on every step of his journey.


Max Quick the Pocket and the Pendant
by Mark Jef
frey.

Recommended by Kristi.



Fantasy/M
ystery



4th

-

7th grade

Young Max, a troubled boy with a mysterious past, joins Casey, a girl also unaffected, when the rest of the
world was frozen in time on a journey across America, and time itself, seeking the so
urce of the "Time
-
stop."
There are also some very ancient people who are searching for something hidden on earth, they have
stopped time to try and find it. They can travel through books.

Max seems to hold the secret, but why can
he only remember so far b
ack?


Eight Keys
by Suzanne Lafleur.


Recommended by Lisa and Kristi.



R
ealistic Fiction



4th
-

6th grade

Elise has lived with her aunt and uncle since she was a baby. She doesn’t even remember her parents. There
are the mysterious locked doors in the barn,
which Elise has wondered about, but mostly ignored. Then she
starts having trouble. Middle school is different. She doesn’t fit in. Elise pulls away from her best friend
Franklin because of teasing and bullying. Suddenly she is questioning everything. One
night, her uncle gives
her a key to one of the rooms in the barn. It turns out Elise’s father has left things in each room to help Elise
when she is older. The problem is, what do the things in the room mean? This is a touching story of love,
memory and gr
owing up.






Denver Public Library


Page
8

2011 Best & Brightest
Children’s Books

kids.denverlibrary.org

13 Gifts

by Wendy Mass.

Recommended by

Rachel
.



Realistic Fiction with a T
ouch of
M
agic



4th grade & up

The action starts right away in
13 Gifts
, with twelve
-
year
-
old Tara attempting to steal a goat from the
Principal's office. Tara's motives were pure; she just wanted to fit in with the popular kids at school but she
was caught and punished anyway. The principal suspended Tara from school and her

parents sent her to the
small, quiet town where they grew up. This move sets off a series of mysterious events that end up
challenging Tara to grow from a loner to an outgoing teenager, all before her 13th birthday. Mass skillfully
delivers the message th
at our actions impact others, no matter what our motives are.


The Apothecary

by Maile Meloy.
Recommended by Gwen, Kristi and Lisa
.



Science Fiction/Historical Fiction



5th grade & up

American Janie and her parents have just fled to Cold War London when
she meets Benjamin, the son of the
neighborhood apothecary.

Everything in this new place gets very exciting and confusing very quickly when
the apothecary is kidnapped by spies and the children discover he was in possession of an ancient book of
potions t
hat the Russians are trying to steal.

After teaming up with some of the apothecary’s colleagues, the
children use the book to stop a nefarious plot involving an atomic bomb and save the world from destruction.

The intrigue of WWII
-
era spies, the magic of

a potion that can turn people to birds, the romance of first
love, all of it is written in gorgeous, perfect pitch
-

by turns pulse
-
pounding or tender.


Ghetto Cowboy

by G. Neri.

Recommended by Ann
.



Realistic Fiction



5th


8th grade

When 12 year old
Cole’s mom finds out he’s been skipping school, she decides she’s had enough. She drives
from Detroit to Philadelphia and drops him off with the father he’s never met. Cole is not just in a new city,
but an entirely different world. His dad is one the last

remaining urban cowboys, maintaining stables and
providing an alternative for neighborhood kids to life on the street. Father and son struggle to connect with
the horses providing a bridge. Neri was inspired to write the novel after reading a Life magazin
e article about
the last remaining African
-
American cowboys in Brooklyn and Philadelphia.


Sparrow Road

by Sheila O’Connor. Recommended by Kristi and Lisa.



Realistic Fiction



4th


6th

grade

Raine spends the summer at a mysterious artist's colony with her m
om and some very interesting residents.

There she discovers a secret about her past. Her mother has kept her father a secret and now he wants to
meet her. It seems he might have loved alcohol more that her when she was little. Her mom wants to make
the mo
ve permanent, but what about her grandpa and her friends back home? what kind of a relationship
does she want with her dad? an honest exploration of par
enthood from the eyes of a 12 year
-
old girl.


Akata Witch

by Nnedi Okorafor
. Recommended by Kellie.



Ma
gic/Mystery



5th


9th grade

Sunny moved back to Nigeria from the US with her family, and she's really feeling how different she is. She's
an albino, really great at soccer (which is so not a girl thing in Nigeria), and proud of the fact that she's good
at
school. When her friends Orlu and Chichi (who study magic with a local elder) tell Sunny that she too has
magical powers, she embarks on a journey that will put her face to face with her family's shrouded past.





Denver Public Library


Page
9

2011 Best & Brightest
Children’s Books

kids.denverlibrary.org

Liesel & Po
by Lauren Oliver.

Recommended by Lisa
.



Fantasy



4th grade & up

Liesl is an orphan. She lives locked away in an attic bedroom. Her stepmother has contemplated killing her,
just as she killed Liesl’s father. But for now, she leaves Liesl alone with just the mice and the
shadows. Then
one day, Po appears. Po is a ghost who has briefly crossed over to the living side. He is drawn to Liesl for
reasons he can’t explain. Liesl is just grateful to have a friend. Through a complicated series of missteps,
Liesl and the Alchemist’
s apprentice Will end up with a powerful magical spell intended for Liesl’s stepmother.
With Po’s help, Liesl and Will try to right the wrongs done before her stepmother and the alchemist catch
them.


D
ogtag Summer
by Elizabeth Partridge.

Recommended by A
nn, Lisa and Kristi
.



Historical Fiction



5th


8th grade

In 1980, Tracy is 12 years
-
old and living with her adoptive mom and dad, a Vietnam vet, in California.
Tracy’s birth mother was Vietnamese and her birth father an American soldier. One afternoon Tracy

and her
best friend Stargazer, the son of hippie, anti
-
war parents, find her Dad’s old ammo box in the garage. When
they open it, they discover a set of dog tags and set into motion a series of events with a life of their own.
Tracy starts remembering hor
rifying details from her life in Vietnam in 1974 and 1975 while her dad is
struggling with PTSD issues of his own. A moving, coming of age story. Includes a detailed Q & A appendix
by the author.


Big Nate on a Roll

by Lincoln Peirce.

Recommended by Ann a
nd Chufo.



Realistic Fiction
/Graphic



3rd


8th grade

Big Nate is back in his third book and so is his arch rival, Artur. The sixth
-
graders’ Timber Scout troop is in
the midst of a fund
-
raiser and Nate is determined to be the top
-
seller so he can win a new s
kateboard. With
plenty of action and laughs, this series is a great option for kids looking for Diary of Wimpy Kid

alikes.


Wonderstruck
by Brian Selznick.

Recommended by Kristi, Ann and Chufo
.



Mystery



4th grade & up

Dual stories that take place in 1927
with Rose Kincaid, a deaf daughter of a famous actress in silent film, and
Ben who lives in Minnesota in 1975. Rose’s story is told in pictures, Ben’s mostly in words. Ben has just lost
his mother and has never known his father, but he has discovered a clu
e about who he might be in his
mother’s things. This clue leads him to the Natural History Museum in NY where he finds a wolf diorama that
takes place on the lake where he lives in MN. Can that be a coincidence? He also sees an old lady who visits
the dior
ama every day. Who is she? The beautiful illustrations make this book an interesting “read.”


The Great Wall of Lucy Wu
by Wendy Wan
-
Long Shang.

Recommended by Ann and Chufo
.



Realistic Fiction



4th


6th grade

Lucy is positive sixth grade is going to be her best year ever. Her annoying, perfect older sister is finally
heading off to college leaving her with a bedroom all to herself and Lucy’s destined to be captain of the
basketball team. Everything comes crashi
ng down when her father announces her great aunt, Yi Po, is
arriving from China and will share Lucy’s room during her months
-
long visit. And on top of everything else,
her parents insist she attend Chinese school which conflicts with basketball practice. A

tender, humorous look
at family and friendship.






Denver Public Library


Page
10

2011 Best & Brightest
Children’s Books

kids.denverlibrary.org

Aliens on Vacation

by Clete Smith.

Recommended by Gwen
.



Science Fiction



5th grade & up

This fun fish
-
out
-
of
-
water (or aliens
-
out
-
of
-
water) tale begins when Scrub is sent to spend the summer with
his
grandma at her kooky bed and breakfast. It has a space theme, and readers discover early on that it's
actually a hotel for visiting aliens and Scrub must spend his summer disguising the aliens so they will blend
in on earth. But it’s not so easy keeping al
iens from giving themselves away, especially when a snoopy
sheriff is determined to catch Grandma doing anything suspicious so he can shut down her B&B.

Throw in
some basketball and a budding romance and you have the perfect quick read for reluctant reade
rs.


The Emerald Atlas
by

John Stephens.

Recommended by Gwen,

Rachel, and Lisa
.



Fantasy



4th grade & up

It begins in the dark of night, when Kate, Michael, and Emma are spirited away from their parents because
they are destined for something amazing and mu
st be protected. The protection takes the form of a series of
odious orphanages, and thus the classic
-
feeling fantasy begins. Bad orphanages, magical events, dwarves,
giants, an evil witch with a horrible plan
-

all of these old friends are arranged in suc
h a way to create a
gripping and original new adventure. What really stands out is Stephens' writing
-

the emotional balance is
perfect; the relationships and choices the children make are gut
-
wrenchingly real. This novel is fantastic.


Breadcrumbs

by Anne

Ursu.

Recommended by Gwen,

Kristi, and Lisa
.



Fantasy



4th grade & up

Hazel lives in the world of imagination and is not so good at navigating a world of hard facts, rules, and a
new social scene when she has to leave her progressive school to attend the
local public school. The saving
grace in Hazel's life is her best friend Jack, who lives next door, also attends public school, and understands
her perfectly. When a magical shard of glass, full of malcontent, gets into Jack's eye during a snowball fight,
Hazel's world falls apart.

Jack will no longer spend time with her and then he completely disappears, lured
away by the Snow Queen.

Here is where the sad and familiar story becomes fantastical.

Hazel sets out on a
quest into the woods, battling familiar

fairy tale scenarios and characters, to rescue Jack.

Along the way, she
learns about her own strength and the validity of imagination.


EllRay Jakes is Not a Chicken

by Sally Warner. Recommended by Ann
.



Realistic Fiction



2nd


4th grade

EllRay is the sma
llest kid in his 3rd grade class, even counting the girls. Lately, he’s also become the target
of class bullies, Jared and Stanley. There’s also the problem of his latest progress report. The one that said,
“Behavior: Needs Improvement”. With a trip to Dis
neyland at stake, can EllRay stay out of trouble for one
week? A great, humorous beginning chapter book and start to a wonderful new series.


Pie
by Sara Weeks. Recommended by Rachel
.



Realistic Fiction



3rd grade & up

Alice spent every Saturday at her Aunt
Polly's famous pie shop helping Polly with simple tasks, so when Polly
dies unexpectedly Alice is devastated. The town responds with uproar when they learn that Polly left her
award
-
winning (and secret) pie crust recipe to her beloved, but grumpy cat, Lard
o. Alice's mother and many
of the neighbors suddenly get the baking bug, trying to replicate Polly's recipe, but someone else uses more
nefarious means to discover the recipe. It's up to Alice to find out who broke into her aunt's empty pie shop
and kidnap
ped Lardo the cat. While investigating, Alice learns valuable lessons about what really matters in
life: friendship, family, and following your passion.







Denver Public Library


Page
11

2011 Best & Brightest
Children’s Books

kids.denverlibrary.org

Nonfiction


A Butterfly is Patient

by Diana Hutts Aston, illustrated by Sylvia Long.

(Preschool


4th grade)
Recommended by Ann
.

From the end pages to the double page spreads, Long’s watercolors tracing the life cycle of butterflies are a
visual delight. Aston’s weaving of brief poetic text, along with slightly longer scientific explanations, make
th
is book work for a

wide
-
range of readers.

ECRR: V
ocabulary,
N
arrative
S
kills


Ruby, Violet, Lime: Looking for Color

by Jane Brocket.

(Preschool
-

2nd grade)

Recommended by

Gwen.

More than just a typical color book that explains how the colors build upon

each other, this lively book uses
all kinds of great vocabulary to introduce other shades of familiar colors like chartreuse, blush, chestnut, and
navy.

Bold and beautiful photographs of familiar objects illustrate the color variations.


In Search of Sas
quatch

by Kelly Milner Halls.

(4th grade & up)
Recommended by Lisa and Ann
.

Is there such a thing as Sasquatch? Almost every culture has a creature that resembles a Sasquatch.
Hundreds of normal, everyday people claim to have seen them. Some have even ta
ken pictures or movies of
what looks like a giant ape man running through the forest. There are even casts of huge footprints
preserved forever. The only thing missing is conclusive proof. The Sasquatch is one of the most intriguing
cryptids (creatures tha
t are not recognized by traditional science). If so many people have seen him, where
is he hiding? Until we have conclusive proof, we will continue to wonder if Sasquatch is really out there.


The Great Big Book of Families
by Mary Hoffman, illustrated by
Ros Asquith.

(Preschool
-

1st grade)

Recommended by Gwen and Lisa
.

This adorably illustrated book makes a great jumping off point for discussion about all kinds of families and
how they live. It touches on differences in families and ways of life and mak
es sure they all are weighed with
equal importance. Perfect for young children.


Can We Save the Tiger?

by Martin Jenki
ns, illustrated by Vicky White.
(Kindergarten


3rd grade)
Recommended by Ann and Kristi
.

The answer is yes! Jenkins’s conversational t
ext and White’s gorgeous, detailed pencil and oil paint
illustrations provide an accessible introduction to extinct, endangered and recovering species. The large trim
size also helps make this a book kids will want to pore over again and again.


Just a Sec
ond: A Different Way to Look at Time

by Steve Jenkins.

(All ages)

Recommended by Gwen,
Chufo and Ann.

How many people are born every second?

How many does that make in a year?

How far does a satellite
zoom in one second?

How far does a tortoise lumber

in one minute?

How many times does your heart beat
in a day?

How many new cars leave the factory in a month?

This fascinating, scary, amazing book will
enthrall readers with all kinds of facts about what happens in a second...minute...hour...day... and

will give
readers an entirely new perception of time.

It is full of random and kid
-
friendly facts paired with Jenkins’
signature and gorgeous paper collage illustrations.






Denver Public Library


Page
12

2011 Best & Brightest
Children’s Books

kids.denverlibrary.org

Meet the Dogs of Bedlam Farm

by Jon Katz.

(Kindergarten & up)

Recommended by
Becker and Lisa.

There are four dogs on Bedlam Farm, and they each have a specific job to do. One guards the flocks, one
herds the sheep, one is a therapy dog, and one is everyone’s friend. Great pictures, and good demonstration
that everyone has special t
alents.


Big Wig: A Little History of Hair

Kathleen Krull, illustrated by Peter Malone.

(3rd grade & up)

Recommended by Gwen
.

From our primate ancestors and cavewomen to Marie Antoinette’s elaborate wigs and Shirley Temple’s
corkscrew curls, this histor
y of fashionable hair has lots of funny, fascinating, and random facts.

Our local
Madame C.J. Walker has an entry.

Perfect for those kids looking for the braiding books
-

try this too!


Wheels of Change: How Women Rode the Bicycle to Freedom (With a Few
Flat Tires Along the
Way)
by Sue Macy.

(4th grade & up)

Recommended by Lisa and Ann.

Do you have a bike? I bet most people would say yes. Did you know that the invention of the bike changed
lives? I bet most people would say no. Yet the invention of the
bicycle opened the world up for a lot of
people. Interestingly enough, women benefited tremendously from bicycles. Before the bike, people were
severely limited by the cost and difficulty of travel. This kept many women isolated and stuck at home. But
bike
s removed this restriction. Suddenly people could move around easily. Bicycles were cheap to maintain
and easy to store. But freedom was not the only benefit of bikes. Bikes changed attitudes, fashion and
conventions. With the use of photos, cartoons and o
ther primary sources, Wheels of Change explores the
women’s movement through the story of the bicycle.


Hatch!
by Roxie Munro.

(Kindergarten & up)

Recommended by Lisa and Kristi.

Who is coming out of that egg? Can you guess? This book is a great
introduction to the many types of birds.
With an interesting mix of common and exotic birds and beautiful illustrations of them, this book will keep
readers of all ages engaged.

Which bird builds a nest as big as a car? Which bird can stay underwater for
18
minutes? Which bird is your favorite?


Heart and Soul: The Story of America and African Americans

by Kadir Nelson.

(3rd grade & up)

Recommended by Gwen and Ann.

Nelson tells the story of America through the eyes of African Americans, particularly thro
ugh the eyes of a
grandmother telling the story of her own family members who were slaves and her experiences through the
election of our first African American president.

Accessible language and Nelson’s always breath
-
taking
illustrations make this a tru
ly special book for families to share.


The Elephant Scientist

by Caitlin O’Connell and Donna M. Jackson, photographs by Caitlin O’Connell and
Timothy Rodwell. (5th


8th grade) Recommended by Ann.

Travel to the Namibian desert with scientist Caitlin O’C
onnell as she studies elephants in Etosha National Park
and makes a ground
-
breaking discovery.
Through her observations, O’Connell discovers that in addition to
rumbles (vocalizations)

and trumpets
, elephants also c
ommunicate via seismic signals by making
the ground
vibrate. They actually “hear” through their feet using vibration sensitive cells. Another outstanding entry in
the Scientists in the Field series.


Doggy Whys

by Lila Prap. (Kindergarten & up)

Recommended by

Becker.

Though not the best source for a research project on dogs, this amusing book gives some serious and some
not so serious answers to questions kids might have about dogs, like why they sniff each other’s butts
(sarcastic answers given by cats, of course).

A
musing illustrations and descriptions of various breeds are a
fun way to start learning about dogs.


Denver Public Library


Page
13

2011 Best & Brightest
Children’s Books

kids.denverlibrary.org

The Mangrove Tree: Planting Trees to Feed Families
by Susan Roth.


(2nd grade & up) Recommended
by Lisa.

Scientist Dr. Gordon Sato had a simple but revolut
ionary idea. When faced with the difficulty of life in the
small village of Hargigo in the African country of Eritrea, Dr Sato decided to plant some mangrove trees. Just
this simple act saved the entire village. The mangroves brought fish and other creatur
es to the shore, where
the people could easily catch them. The leaves provided food for the goats, which provided more milk. Soon
the village was thriving. This story is a moving example of how one person can make a huge difference. The
book is designed to

be read in two ways. For younger readers, it provides a simple cumulative story of the
changes brought by the trees. For older readers, there is much more depth about the changes and Dr. Sato
himself. This book works really well on both levels.


Swirl by
Swirl: Spirals in Nature
by Joyce Sidman, illustrated

by Beth Krommes.

(Kindergarten & up)

Recommended by Becker, Ann,

and Kristi.

Gorgeous illustrations show the many ways that spirals occur in the natural world, from hibernating animals
to unfurling ferns to galaxies.


About Hummingbirds: A Guide for Children

by Cathryn Sill and John Sill. (All ages)

Recommended by
Rachel.

Cathryn

Sill uses simple, informative language to introduce young children to the amazing lives of
hummingbirds. Watercolor illustrations depicting a variety of hummingbirds in their natural habitat
complement the text beautifully. An afterward provides further i
nformation on various types of
hummingbirds, allowing for deeper investigation. This book also has a glossary that will familiarize children
with science vocabulary words like iridescent, nectar, and species.


Wild Women of the Wild West
by Jonah Winter.

(2nd grade & up)

Recommended by Rachel
.

Fifteen brave, groundbreaking women of the west are featured in Wild Women of the Wild West, with a one
page biography and a portrait of each woman. The stories of these unique lives are engaging and
inspirational.
Winter chose to include well
-
known characters like sharpshooter Annie Oakley and other,
lesser
-
known women such as Mary Ellen Pleasant, businesswoman and underground railroad agent in San
Francisco. An introduction, timeline of the Wild West, and map of th
e United States in 1850 provide context
for the stories of these amazing women.


All the Way to America: The Story of a Big Italian Family and a Little Shovel

by Dan Yaccarino.

(Preschool
-

3rd grade)

Recommended by Gwen and Ann.

Beginning with a great
-
g
reat
-
grandfather who grew up in Italy, Yaccarino ties the generations of his family
together with a little silver shovel and some sage words of advice: work hard, enjoy life, and love your
family. The silver shovel is used for many purposes throughout the
generations, simple tasks in different
careers, all of which children can relate to. The story can be a jumping off point for your own family history,
or telling about our nation's immigrants, or life in New York City tenements, or the history of grocery s
tores.
It can go any direction.

Yaccarino's illustrations are always appealing
-

simple and colorful for young eyes,
but with enough details to engage older children too.


Meadowlands: A Wetlands Survival Story

by Thomas Yezer
ski.
(2nd


5th grade)

Recommended by
Ann
.

Through large and small detailed watercolors, this nonfiction picture book tells the story of the slow but sure
recovery of New Jersey’s Meadowlands. Once written off as a dumping ground full of debris and toxic waste,
these 30 square m
iles across the river from Manhattan now boast recovered wetlands and the

r
eturn of 45
species of fish and 332 species of birds. A hopeful tale of urban, open space conservation.



Denver Public Library


Page
14

2011 Best & Brightest
Children’s Books

kids.denverlibrary.org

Poetry


Emma Dilemma: Big Sister Poems

by Christine O’Connell George, illus
trated by Nancy Carpenter.

(2nd


5th grade)

Recommended by Ann.

Little sisters can be fun and frustrating. From looping yarn all over Jessica’s room to embarrassing her at a
soccer game, Emma is definitely a dilemma. George’s poems and Carpenter’s
spot
-
on illustrations explore
the complicated relationship between the sisters with tenderness, anger, and humor weaving their way
through the pages.


Peaceful Pieces: Poems and Quilts About Peace

by Anna Grossnickle Hines. (Kindergarten


5th grade)

Reco
mmended by Ann.

Hines uses bold, handmade quilts to illustrate her original poems and the combined effect is stunning. She
explores this abstract concept from multiple perspectives


personal, family, global


which often overlap.
End notes include informa
tion on peacemakers included in some of the illustrations (Mohandas Gandhi,
Nelsons Mandela, Samantha Smith) and on her quilting process.


Lemonade, and Other Poems Squeezed from a Single Word
by Bob Raczka, illustrated by Nancy

Doniger.
(2nd grade & up)

Recommended by Kristi and

Ann
.

Clever poems that take the letters of one word and create a poem about what that word means, for example,
the letters from pepperoni are used to create a poem about pizza. A fun puzzle, poetry book.


Hound Dog’s Haiku: and O
ther Poems for Dog Lovers

by Michael J. Rosen, illustrated by Mary Azarian.

(2nd


5th grade)

Recommended by Ann and Becker.

Rosen’s text and Azarian’s woodcut illustrations team up to capture the energy and spirit of 20 different dog
breeds. Each featur
ed dog gets a full 2
-
page spread and end notes include additional information about each
breed.


Twosomes: Love Poems from the Animal Kingdom

by Marilyn Singer.

(Kindergarten
-

3rd grade)
Recommended by Gwen.


This collection of two line love poems by animals is sweet, funny, and has a lot of word play. Here is a love
poem about earthworms: We’re perfect together.

I guarantee/that I dig you

and you dig me.

Hearts are
also incorporated into all of the illustra
tions.

Can you find them?


Cousins of Clouds: Elephant Poems

by Tracie Vaughn Zimmer, illustrated by Sean Addy and Megan
Halsey.

(Kindergarten


5th)

Recommended by Ann.

From folklore to poaching to transportation, this books covers the wide
-
ranging wo
rld of pachyderms.
Zimmer’s hybrid poetry and brief, informational text along with Addy and Halsey’s mixed media collage work
together to create a refreshing change of pace from your usual nonfiction and poetry fare.






Denver Public Library


Page
15

2011 Best & Brightest
Children’s Books

kids.denverlibrary.org

Biography


Alicia Alonso: Prima
Ballerina

by C
armen T. Bernier. (1st grade &

up)

Recommended by
Rachel

and Ann
.

After overcoming great physical and political obstacles, Alicia Alonso is now one of Cuba’s most famous
dancers. She lost her peripheral vision at 19 and spent a year in bed
recovering from injuries. Throughout
her convalescence she visualized and imagined ballet dances. Now 90 and losing her sight, Alonso still runs
the Ballet Nacional de Cuba and choreographs dances. This book expresses her life through vibrant
illustrations

and poetic text.


Just Being Audrey

by Margaret Cardillo, illustrated by Julia Denos.

(3rd
-

5th grade)

Recommended by
Gwen
.

This graceful biography skims the surface of Audrey Hepburn’s life
-

the simple text highlights the important
moments in her lif
e, her films, and her humanitarian work.

The gorgeous illustrations perfectly capture
Audrey's look and glamor. It's a beautiful book and an inspiring jumping
-
off point.

Pair with some of
Hepburn’s classic films.


Amelia Lost: The Life and Disappearance
of Amelia Earhart
by Candance Fleming.

(5th


8th grade)
Recommended by Ann, Kristi, Chufo and Lisa
.

Crisp prose combined with plenty of photos, maps and other primary sources make for an engaging read.
Chapters alternate between the search for Earhart’s
missing plane and a more traditional chronological
biography. This technique pulls the reader along for the ride through Earhart’s life in all its messy complexity.


A Nation’s Hope: The Story of Boxing Legend Joe Louis
by Matt de la Peña, illustrated by K
adir Nelson.

(3rd


8th grade)

Recommended by Ann and Gwen
.

Joe Louis was on a roll in the 1930s, racking up boxing victories until Germany’s Max Schmeling stopped him
in his tracks in 1936. This loss and subsequent rematch and victory two years later,
provide the framework
for this stunning picture book biography. As always, Nelson’s illustrations are spectacular and pair nicely with
de la Peña’s poetic text.


Drawing from Memory

by Allen Say.
(3rd
-

8th grade)

Recommended by Ann and Kristi.

In a mix

of text, drawings and photographs, Caldecott winner Say weaves the story of his early years in
Tokyo. From living on his own at 12 years old to apprenticing under cartoonist Noro Shinpei, this is a
fascinating autobiography.


Marcel Marceau
by Gloria Spel
man.

(2nd
-

5th grade)

Recommended by Chufo and Ann.

From an early age, Marcel Marceau knew that he wanted to entertain people.

His hero was Charlie Chaplin.

But life was hard when he was growing up on the border of France and Germany during World War
II.

He
didn’t let war ruin his dreams of becoming a performer and by age 20 he was studying with the famous mime
Etienne Decroux.

Marcel went on to become one of the most famous mime artists who entertained the world
during the Twentieth century.







Denver Public Library


Page
16

2011 Best & Brightest
Children’s Books

kids.denverlibrary.org

Balloons Over Broadway: The True Story of the Puppeteer of Macy’s Parade

by Melissa Sw
eet.
(Kindergarten


3rd grade)
Recommended by Ann
.

Sweet uses her trademark collage and mixed media illustrations to bring to life the history of the Macy’s
Thanksgiving Day Parade and the story of immigrant Tony Sarg, the man who created the parade’s first giant
balloons. In 1924, the first year of the parade, more people turned out than expected and not everyone
could see the floats. Sarg’s solution? If mari
onettes are controlled by strings from above, maybe balloon
puppets could be controlled by strings from below. From those first balloons in 1925 to SpongeBob today,
Sarg’s legacy lives on.


The Watcher: The Story of Jane Goodall

by Jeanette Winter.

(1st
-

4th grade)

Recommended by Lisa

Jane Goodall has spent her life watching animals. From the time she was a young girl observing robins on the
roof until she traveled to Africa and began her life’s work, Jane Goodall dedicated her life to understanding
and
protecting the natural world. Jeanette Winter’s moving prose and vibrant pictures are a moving tribute to
a woman who has dedicated her life to protecting the chimpanzees she loves. An endnote provides readers
with more information about Jane Goodall and h
er work.




Graphic


Zita the Spacegirl
by Ben Hatke.

(3rd
-

5th grade)

Recommended by Lisa
.

When Zita and her friend are exploring they find a strange device. It has a big red button, which Zita can’t
help but push. Next thing she knows, her friend is
swept away by aliens. What’s a girl to do? She follows of
course. Picking up a motley crew of space riff raff along the way, Zita battles aliens and prophecies of doom
trying to save her friend.


Binky Under Pressure

by Ashely Spires.

(Grades K
-
4)

Recommended by

Becker

Binky has gotten used to his routine, but everything is disrupted when a foster cat, Gracie, comes to stay
with his family. But she’s REALLY there to assess his Space Cat skills! More laughs in the third Binky book.


Bake Sale

by Sar
a Varon.

(3rd


8th grade)

Recommended by Ann.

Cupcake and Eggplant are best friends. Cupcake runs a bakery and the two play in a band together.
Cupcake’s culinary hero is Turkish Delight. Will Cupcake be able to earn enough money to travel with
Eggplant

to meet Turkish Delight? With this sweet story, Varon perfectly captures the spirit of friendship and
even includes some of Cupcake’s recipes in the back.




Denver Public Library


Page
17

2011 Best & Brightest
Children’s Books

kids.denverlibrary.org

Spanish


Todo es canci n : antolog a po tica
by Alma Flor Ada.

(2nd grade &

up)

Recommended
by Chufo
.

This book is a wonderful selection of poems written by Alma Flor Ada. The author includes an introduction to
poetry that will help the reader understand the mechanics of poetry and the different types of it.

The book is
set up by themes which

i
nclude

the parts of the body, school, numbers, vowels, family, animals
, food,
nature, and much more. ECRR:
Phonological Awareness


La Cucaracha
by Monica Bergna.

(Preschool

-

1st Grade)

Recommended by Chufo
.

La Cucaracha is a traditional song

that goe
s back to the 1800’s but became popular during the Mexican
Revolution in 1913.

This book is an adaptation to some of the popular verses of the song with beautiful
illustrations that

will bring the book to alive. ECRR:
Phonological Awareness


Marisol McDo
nald no combina/ Marisol McDonald Doesn’t Match
by Monica Brown.

(1st


3rd grade) Recommended by Chufo and
Ann
.

Marisol is no ordinary kid.

She loves penaut butter and jelly burritos.

She loves soccer
-
playing pirates.

She
loves everything that doesn’t

match.

She loves being different.

But will her friends think she’s an odd ball
for being different? Will this Peruvian
-
Scottish
-
Amer
ican girl fit anywhere? ECRR:
Vocabulary, Narrative
Skills


Una bandera a cuadros/ One Checkered Flag

by Michael Dahl.

Recommended by Chufo
.

Racing Cars, Counting, Colors… What can go wrong? Nothing can go wrong except a lot of fun learning about
numbers while reading about racing cars.

Aprende a contar del 1 al 12 mientras te diviertes.

ECRR: Print
Motivation, Vocabula
ry


l Pe ue o Hoplita
by Arturo Pérez
-
Reverte.

(1st


3rd grade)
Recommended by Chufo
.

Hoplita a young spartan wants to fight the war more than anything.

Unfortunately our young hero is too
young for action but he will be asked to carry out an important mission that only he can deliver.

Join our
hero Hoplita and the other warriors at the f
amous battle of Thermopylae.

ECRR: Vocabulary


Nate El Grande: Unico en su clase

by Lincoln Pierce.

(3rd


8
th

grade)
Recommended by Chufo
.

Nate El Grande: Unico en su Clase is a translation from the book originally published in English by the tittle
B
ig Nate: In a Class by Himself.

This is a won
derful book similar in style to
those of
the
Diary of a Wimpy
Kid series.



Ardilla Miedosa

by Melanie Watt.

(1st


3rd grade)
Recommended by Chufo
.

Scaredy Squirrel is back once again but this time she is b
ack in Español.

Follow Scaredy Squirrel as she
adventures off into the unknown….and likes it!

ECRR: Vocabulary, Narrative Skills.





Denver Public Library


Page
18

2011 Best & Brightest
Children’s Books

kids.denverlibrary.org

Denver Public Library

2011 Mock Caldecott Bookl
ist



All the Water in the World

written by George Ella Lyon and illustrated by Katherine Tillotson


A Ball for Daisy

written and illustrated by Chris Raschka


Blackout

written and illustrated by John Rocco


Bone Dog

written and illustrated by Eric Rohmann


Brother Sun, Sister Moon

written by Katherine Paterson, illustrated by Pamela Dalton


Grandpa Green

written and illustrated by Lane Smith


Me…Jane

written and illustrated by Patrick McDonnell


Naamah and the Ark at Night

written by Susan Campbell Bartoletti, illustrated by Holly
Meade


Over and Under the Snow

written by Kate Messner, illustrated by Christopher Silas Neal


Red Sled

written and illustrated by Lita Judge


Stars

written by Mary Lyn Ray, illustrated by Marla Frazee


Swirl by Swirl: Spirals in Nature

written by Joyce Sidman, illustrated by Beth Krommes




On November 30, 2011, librarians Lisa Champion and Gwen Vanderhage led a mock Caldecott workshop at
the Denver Public Library. We discussed the above titles and
then voted. Here are our results!


Wh
at We Think Will Win

Winner:
Grandpa Green

written and illustrated by Lane Smith

Honor:
Swirl by Swirl: Spirals in Nature

written by Joyce Sidman, illustrated by Beth Krommes


What We Want to Win

Winner:
Red Sled

written and illustrated by Lita Judge

Honor:
Me…Jane

written and illustrated by Patrick McDonnell




Denver Public Library


Page
19

2011 Best & Brightest
Children’s Books

kids.denverlibrary.org

Denver Public Library

2011 Mock Newbery Booklist



Chime

by Franny Billingsly


Inside O
ut &
Back A
gain

by Thannhha Lia


A Monster Calls

by Patrick Ness


Sparrow Road

by Sheila O’Connor


Liesl &
Po

by Lauren Oliver


Okay for Now

by Gary Schmidt


Wonderstruck

by Brian Selznick


Breadcrumbs

by Anne Ursu




On January 4, 2012, librarians Lisa Champion and Kristi Harder will lead a mock Newbery workshop at the
Denver Public Library. We’ll be discussi
ng the above titles and then voting. Can we pick this year’s winner?
Read as many of the titles as you can and join us for what’s sure to be a spirited discussion!