The Center for Children's Books


Graduate School of Library and Information Science
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Youth Literature Festival 2012 - October 2012

Annotated by Tad Andracki

Highlights works of authors featured in the College of Education's Youth Literature Festival 2012 that have been Recommended by the Bulletin in the last five years.


Balliet, Blue. The Danger Box. Scholastic, 2010. 320p. Gr. 4-7.
Zoomy’s summer is complicated when a visit from his estranged father leaves him in possession of a mysterious box, and in it, an old notebook…that someone else wants. Aided by his new friend, Lorrol, he must figure out why the notebook is so important, and stay one step ahead of the dangerous stranger.

Balliet, Blue. The Wright 3. Scholastic, 2006. 320 p. Gr. 6-9.
This sequel to the acclaimed Chasing Vermeer finds Calder, Petra, and Tommy rallying along with their sixth-grade class to save Frank Lloyd Wright’s Robie House from demolition. Strange coincidences and intricate codes—hallmarks of Balliett’s work—abound in a captivating mystery, tinged with the complexities of friendship.

Bishop, Nic. Lizards. Scholastic, 2010. 48 p. Gr. 3-6.
In the hands of esteemed photographer Bishop, lizards leap to life in these pages. A beautiful book with a surprising amount of factual content, this will delight kids who are already interested in the strange, scaly world of the lizard, as well as those captivated by good photography.

Bishop, Nic. Butterflies and Moths. Scholastic, 2009. 48 p. Gr. 3-6.
Bishop covers lots of informational ground in this photographic delight, not only obligatory stories of metamorphosis, but quirky, unusual facts, too.

Bruchac, James and Joseph Bruchac, adaptors. The Girl Who Helped Thunder and Other Native American Folktales. Sterling, 2008. 96 p. Gr. 4-8.
James and Joseph Bruchac (son and father, respectively), have joined forces to collect and retell a number of Native American tales in this anthology. The two take care to preserve the cultural specificity and oral roots of each tale, and the results are an informative, enjoyable book that’s great for reading alone or reading aloud.

Bruchac, Joseph. March Toward the Thunder. Dial, 2008. 304 p. Gr. 5-9.
When Abenaki teenager Louis Nolette, for reasons he himself doesn’t even quite understand, decides to sign up for the Irish Brigade during the Civil War, he finds himself locked in an alternating game of terrible waiting and sudden violent clashes with the Southern forces. But more importantly, he finds himself developing fierce camaraderie with his fellow soldiers in spite of his difference from them.

Fleming, Candace. Amelia Lost: The Life and Disappearance of Amelia Earhart. Schwartz and Wade, 2001. 128 p. Gr. 5-9.
Fleming recounts the life story of Amelia Earhart as she grows up from a child into her acclaimed celebrity pilot status. Fleming explores interesting questions: How did Earhart not only gain but also engineer her fame? Did radio listeners hear pleas for help before she disappeared? What was it like to see (or rather, not see) Earhart disappear?

Fleming, Candace. Clever Jack Takes the Cake. Schwartz and Wade, 2010. 40 p. 5-8 yrs.
Jack wants desperately to give the princess something special for her birthday. So, in spite of his poverty, he manages to scrape together a wonderful cake. But on the way to her party, he meets a number of familiar fairytale figures, all clamoring for a piece of the cake. Jack shows up at the princess’s palace forlorn and without a gift worthy of the princess—or does he?

Fleming, Candace. Seven Hungry Babies. Atheneum, 2010. 40 p. 4-7 yrs.
Mama Bird has seven new bundles of joy in her life…and they want something to eat! Mama Bird can only find enough food for one baby at a time, and she grows increasingly exhausted as she tries to keep up with her increasingly impatient chicks. Can she possibly manage to handle them all?

Harrington, Janice N. The Chicken-Chasing Queen of Lamar County. Kroupa/Farrar, 2007. 34 p. 4-8 yrs.
The title character in this book has one daily activity she just can’t give up—chasing the chickens down on her grandmother’s farm. Eventually, we see her come up against her match: Miss Hen, who’s every bit as clever and quick-on-her-toes. But one day, in pursuit of Miss Hen, our chicken-chaser makes a startling discovery…

Keding, Dan. The United States of Storytelling: Folktales and True Stories from the Eastern States. Libraries Unlimited, 2010. 290 p.
Keding, Dan. The United States of Storytelling: Folktales and True Stories from the Western States. Libraries Unlimited, 2010. 254 p.
Keding, a GSLIS instructor, talented musician, and beloved storyteller, carefully curates this collection of stories from across the US. Organized by state of origin, the collection ranges from rollicking tall tales to chilling ghostly legends and historical anecdotes. Background details are included for each story, providing an excellent resource for librarians and storytellers.

McGinty, Alice. Darwin: With Glimpses into His Private Journal and Letters. Houghton, 2009. 48 p. Gr. 3-6.
McGinty brings together the main facets of Darwin’s Origin of Species and the development of his theory of natural selection in this book formatted to look like Darwin’s journal.

Montgomery, Sy. Kakapo Rescue: Saving the World’s Strangest Parrot. Illus. with photographs by Nic Bishop. Houghton, 2010. 74 p. Gr. 5-9.
The kakapo parrot once populated the islands of New Zealand in the millions. Now there are fewer than 100 left, with humans bringing non-native predators to their habitat. Sy Montgomery and photographer Nic Bishop capture the breathtaking travels of a team of scientists dedicated to preserving the kakapo by observing Lisa, a kakapo parrot mother, and her newborn chick. Kakapo Rescue won the Robert F. Sibert Medal for Informational Books in 2011.

Mora, Pat. Dizzy in Your Eyes: Poems about Love. Knopf, 2010. 176 p. Gr. 6-10.
Each poem in this collection is told through the voice of a different teen who, in one form or another, is experiencing love. The poems vary greatly in form, style, and content, and that’s what makes this collection so solid. Explanations of the poetic forms used help make this an accessible volume for poetry introduction.

Mora, Pat. Yum! ¡Mmmm! ¡Qué rico!: America’s Sproutings. Lee and Low, 2007. 32 p. Gr. 3-5.
Mora collects historical, agricultural, and cultural information about fourteen foods native to the Americas and then writes a haiku for each of them in this paired poetry and information book. The short poems make this a fun classroom book or read-aloud.

Neri, G. Yummy: The Last Days of a Southside Shorty. Illus. by Randy DuBurke. Lee and Low, 2010. 96 p. Gr. 5-10.
This graphic novel relates the tragic true story of Roger “Yummy” Sandifer, an eleven-year-old Chicago gang member who shoots and kills a young girl. He desperately avoids the police and ends up being assassinated by members of his own gang.

Okorafor, Nnedi. Akata Witch. Viking, 2011. 368 p. Gr. 6-9.
Sunny Nwazue doesn’t fit in with her Nigerian classmates. She is Nigerian by blood, but was born in the US and is also albino. So it’s not a huge surprise when she finds out she’s a Leopard—someone with juju and magical abilities. Can she tame her talents and help new friends stop the Black Hat from killing anyone else?

Okorafor-Mbachu, Nnedi. Shadow Speaker. Jump at the Sun/Hyperion, 2007. 336 p. Gr. 7-9.
Ejii can hear shadows. They surround her. It’s 2070 in Nigeria, and her father was beheaded five years ago. When she sets out on a dangerous quest across the Sahara to find Jaa, her father’s killer, she also finds her confidence, and with it, the opportunity to stop a supernatural war.

Sayre, April Pulley. Vulture View. Illus. by Steve Jenkins. Holt, 2007. 32 p. 4-8 yrs.
What is a day in the life of a vulture like? Sayre uses rhyming text paired with collage illustrations to show us: it’s not quite as gross or scary as you might imagine.

Sayre, April Pulley. If You’re Hoppy. Illus. by Jackie Urbanovic. Greenwillow, 2011. 36 p. 2-4 yrs.
A playful twist on the ever-popular “If You’re Happy and You Know It,” this book provides all sorts of kinesthetic fun for the boisterous reader: Instead of relating your emotional state, what kind of animal might you be if you’re “hoppy”? Or if you’re flapping your wings?

Wagner, Hilary. Nightshade City. Holiday House, 2010. 262 p. Gr. 5-8.
The Catacombs is a kingdom of rats that exists far below the human Trillium City. Killdear and his henchman Billycan seized control over the Catacombs in a coup eleven years ago. But a resistance has been growing. Can Juniper, Vincent, and Victor lead their ragtag group of rebels into a force to overcome their oppressors?

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