The Center for Children's Books


Graduate School of Library and Information Science
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Youth Literature Festival 2014 - October 2014

Selected and annotated by Anna Shustitzky

Highlights works of authors featured in the College of Education's Youth Literature Festival 2014 that have been Recommended by the Bulletin in the last five years.


Aronson, Sarah. Believe. Carolrhoda Lab, 2013. 290p. Gr. 9-12.
When six-year-old Janine Collins was the only survivor of a devastating bombing in Israel, she became an unwitting symbol of hope for people trying to understand the tragedy in the context of their faith. As the ten-year anniversary of the bombing approaches, Janine is forced back into the spotlight and her role as the so-called “soul survivor” is further complicated when the man who rescued her—now a famous religious leader—suspects that she has healing powers.

Aronson, Sarah. Beyond Lucky. Dial, 2011. 256p. Gr. 4-7.
Ari Fish attributes his success on the soccer field to a lucky trading card featuring a soccer star who’s a local hero. When the card goes missing, his luck and his playing both falter as he is forced to confront difficult situations on and off the field without his good-luck charm. Friendships are tested as Ari tries to uncover the truth and recover his luck in time for the big game.

Aylesworth, Jim. Cock-a-doodle-doo, Creak, Pop-pop, Moo; illus. by Brad Sneed. Holiday House, 2012. 32p. 3-6 yrs.
Using lyrical rhymes and watercolor illustrations in the distinct American regionalist style, this book describes a family’s busy day working on the farm. Everyone—including the animals—has a part in creating a delightful cacophony of sounds that aptly describes life on a farm.

Charlton-Trujillo, e.E. Fat Angie. Candlewick, 2013. 272p. Gr. 7-10.
Angie’s world has fallen apart. Her family is broken, her classmates are cruel, her therapist is deeply unsympathetic, and the world is convinced that her war-hero sister has died in Iraq. When a new girl arrives in town with a “one hundred and ninety-nine percent wow” personality, Angie finds acceptance, hope, and maybe more in this unexpected ally.

Cross, Julie. Tempest. Dunne/St. Martin’s Griffin, 2012. 352p. Gr. 9-12.
College life is treating Jackson Meyer very well: he’s a normal guy, he has a girlfriend, and he can travel backwards in time at will. When his girlfriend, Holly, is fatally shot in an ambush, he panics and accidentally jumps back two years, unable to return and save her. Trapped in the past, he seeks answers about his abilities and discovers a whole network of secrets and lies surrounding his extraordinary gift.

Greenberg, Jan. The Mad Potter: George E. Ohr, Eccentric Genius; by Jan Greenberg and Sandra Jordan. Porter/Roaring Brook, 2013. 53p. illus. with photographs. Gr. 4-7.
Though he only became famous long after his death, self-proclaimed “mad potter” George E. Ohr spent his life proudly creating beautiful, eccentric works out of Mississippi clay. His unusual story is supplemented here by a generous collection of photographs, both modern photos of his work and turn-of-the-century snapshots of the artist himself in unexpectedly humorous poses. Readers interested in more information can also consult the extensive bibliography, learn about how to assess pottery or even create something of their very own.

Greenfield, Eloise. The Great Migration: Journey to the North; illus. by Jan Spivey Gilchrist. Amistad/HarperCollins, 2011. 32p. Gr. 2-4.
This masterful collection tells stories of the Great Migration through free-verse poetry and striking mixed-media illustrations, capturing the perspectives of many who were affected by the transition. Simple, effective writing and evocative illustrations make the story personal and accessible to a young audience learning about this important time in history.

Harrington, Janice N. Busy-Busy Little Chick; illus. by Brian Pinkney. Farrar, 2013. 32p. 5-7 yrs.
Little Chick and his siblings are cold tonight, but in the morning their Mama Nsoso promises to build them a new nest. When his family becomes distracted again and again, Little Chick takes it upon himself to create a new nest for everyone to share. With a chorus of peo-peo-peo and cwa-cwa-cwa, Little Chick’s story is a charming interpretation of the Nkundo fable “The Hen’s House.”

Haskell, Merrie. Handbook for Dragon Slayers. Harper/HarperCollins, 2013. 324p. Gr. 5-7.
Tilda is far more interested in her writing than in fulfilling her responsibilities as a princess. When a greedy relative seizes her lands, she is happily relieved of her duties and turns to a life of adventure with her two friends. She soon finds herself caught up in adventures of mythic proportions, complete with a Wild Hunt, a trio of magic horses, and—of course—dragons, all in the process of determining her own fate.

Haskell, Merrie. The Princess Curse. Harper/HarperCollins, 2011. 325p. Gr. 6-9.
Aspiring herbalist Reveka is only mildly interested when she hears about a dancing curse afflicting the twelve princesses of the land. In fact, she finds it ridiculous and downright silly… that is, until she learns about the hefty reward for whoever can break it. With designs on the reward money in mind, she sets off on a journey all the way to the Underworld and discovers that the curse reaches much farther than anyone had imagined.

Johnson, Jaleigh. The Mark of the Dragonfly. Delacorte, 2014. 400p. Gr. 5-7.
A mysterious girl bearing the Mark of the Dragonfly—and therefore the king’s protection—has almost completely lost her memory when Piper finds her while scavenging the wreckage of a caravan in this steampunk dystopia. In an effort to recover the girl’s memory and her true identity, the two embark on a dangerous journey, stowing away on a train to the capital and amassing a team of allies with game-changing secrets of their own.

Kasza, Keiko. Silly Goose’s Big Story; written and illus. by Keiko Kasza. Putnam, 2012. 32p. 4-7 yrs.
Goose loves telling stories to his friends, and for the most part they all enjoy acting them out together. But when Goose refuses to share the spotlight—“They are my stories, so I’m the hero!”—his friends become understandably upset. In the midst of their argument, a wolf comes in and scoops up poor Goose. Quick thinking, a great story, and a team of heroic friends are just what Goose needs to get out of danger.

McGinty, Alice. Gandhi: A March to the Sea; illus. by Thomas Gonzalez. Amazon Children’s, 2013. 40p. 7-10 yrs.
Centered on a specific chapter in Gandhi’s legacy, this story places his Salt March in historical context and makes it accessible to young readers newly interested in the topic. Introducing elements such as the caste system and Gandhi’s personal history, this educational narrative is complimented by dynamic full-page illustrations and a supplemental history at its conclusion.

Powell, Patricia Hruby. Josephine: The Dazzling Life of Josephine Baker; illus. by Christian Robinson. Chronicle, 2014. 100p. Gr. 5-8.
As is fitting for its eponymous heroine, Josephine tells its story with a dazzling combination of loose, dynamic illustrations and words that dance with rhythm. From difficult beginnings to an enchanting career on the international stage and eventual financial turmoil, readers are introduced to Josephine Baker’s incredible courage and spirit through an unconventional, poetic narrative that recognizes the cultural significance of Baker’s dramatic story.

Reedy, Trent. Words in the Dust. Levine/Scholastic, 2011. 288p. Gr. 6-10.
Severe facial deformities mark thirteen-year-old Zulaikha as an outsider in her Afghani village, but when American soldiers grant the opportunity for surgery, she hopes that her struggles will be over. At the same time, she begins learning to read through the help of a family friend, and her loved ones are going through big transitions of their own. Reedy artfully weaves together the narratives of American intervention and personal coming-of-age as told through Zulaikha’s perspective.

Rosenstock, Barb. The Camping Trip That Changed America: Theodore Roosevelt, John Muir, and Our National Parks; illus. by Mordicai Gerstein. Dial, 2012. 32p. 6-9 yrs.
In 1903, naturalist John Muir invited Theodore Roosevelt on a camping trip that would change the fate of the American landscape. During their wonderful trip, Muir argued for the preservation of America’s wilderness and convinced Roosevelt to take the issue to Congress, thus creating the National Parks as we know them. “Teedie” and “Johnnie” are lively characters in a beautifully illustrated landscape, making this an entertaining and accessible story for young readers interested in American history.

Ward, Jennifer. Mama Built a Little Nest; illus. by Steve Jenkins. Beach Lane, 2014. 38p. 5-8 yrs.
Bird mamas (and papas) build a variety of nests for their chicks, as cleverly described through poetry and beautifully illustrated with cut-paper art. The memorable rhymes are supplemented on each page by useful facts about the birds, their habitat and the materials they use. Young readers with piqued interest can consult a list of related websites for more information.

Top