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2011 Notable Children's Books

Each year the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC) identifies the best of the best in children's books.

Younger Readers | Middle Readers | Older Readers | All Ages

Younger Readers

Bob Graham. April and Esme, Tooth Fairies
On their first assignment, two young tooth fairy sisters journey by night into the huge world of humans to collect Daniel Dangerfield's tooth and fly it safely home.
Aaron Reynolds. Back of the Bus
From the back of the bus, an African American child watches the arrest of Rosa Parks.
Rukhsana Khan. Big Red Lollipop
Having to take her younger sister along the first time she is invited to a birthday party spoils Rubina's fun, and later when that sister is asked to a party and baby sister wants to come, Rubina must decide whether to help.
Kate DiCamillo and Alison McGhee. Bink and Gollie
Two roller-skating best friends--one tiny, one tall--share three comical adventures involving outrageously bright socks, an impromptu trek to the Andes, and a most unlikely marvelous companion.
Bill Thomson. Chalk
A wordless picture book about three children who go to a park on a rainy day, find some chalk, and draw pictures that come to life.
Mo Willems. City Dog, Country Frog
Through the seasons, whenever City Dog visits the country he runs straight for Country Frog's rock to play games with him, but during the winter things change for them both.
Duncan Tonatiuh. Dear Primo: A Letter to My Cousin
Two cousins, one in Mexico and one in New York City, write to each other and learn that even though their daily lives differ, at heart the boys are very similar.
Carmen Tafolla. Fiesta Babies
Babies enjoy the colorful fiesta with singing, dancing, hugs, and kisses.
Eric Velasquez. Grandma's Gift
The author describes Christmas at his grandmother's apartment in Spanish Harlem the year she introduced him to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Diego Velazquez's portrait of Juan de Pareja, which has had a profound and lasting effect on him.
Sandra Markle. Hip-Pocket Papa
When the eggs of the hip-pocket frog hatch, the father sits "while the tadpoles wiggle up his hind legs and into the hidden pockets on his hips." But that is only the beginning of a fascinating adventure--the father must evade predators while searching for the perfect place for his froglets to emerge.
David Ezra Stein. Interrupting Chicken
Little Red Chicken wants Papa to read her a bedtime story, but interrupts him almost as soon as he begins each tale.
David Elliott. In the Wild
A woodcut-illustrated collection of poems that celebrates wild animals.
Grace Lin. Ling & Ting: Not Exactly the Same!
Ling and Ting are identical twins that people think are exactly the same, but time and again they prove to be different.
Keith Baker. LMNO Peas
Busy little peas introduce their favorite occupations, from astronaut to zoologist.
Jacqueline Woodson. Pecan Pie Baby
When Mama's pregnancy draws attention away from Gia, she worries that the special bond they share will disappear forever once the baby is born.
Salley Mavor. Pocketful of Posies: A Treasury of Nursery Rhymes
An illustrated collection of sixty-four traditional nursery rhymes.
Deborah Underwood. The Quiet Book
From the quiet of being the first one awake in the morning to "sweet dreams quiet" when the last light is turned off, simple text explores the many kinds of quiet that can exist during the day.
Susan Middleton Elya. Rubia and the Three Osos
Retells the story of Goldilocks and the three bears in rhyming text interspersed with Spanish words, which are defined in a glossary.
Philip C. Stead. A Sick Day for Amos McGee
Amos McGee, a friendly zookeeper, always made time to visit his good friends: the elephant, the tortoise, the penguin, the rhinoceros, and the owl. But one day--'Ah-choo!'--he woke with the sniffles and the sneezes. Though he didn't make it into the zoo that day, he did receive some unexpected guests.
Dean Hacohen. Tuck Me In!
The reader helps tuck in baby animals at bedtime using pages with flaps to serve as blankets.
Mo Willems. We Are in a Book!
Gerald and Piggie discover the joy of being read. But what will happen when the book ends?
Vivian French. Yucky Worms
While helping Grandma in the garden, a child learns about the important role of the earthworm in helping plants grow.

Middle Readers

Jan Greenberg and Sandra Jordan. Ballet for Martha: Making Appalachian Spring
Tells the story behind the creation of "Appalachian Spring," describing Aaron Copland's composition, Martha Graham's intense choreography and Isamu Noguchi's set design.
Mary Kay Carson. The Bat Scientists
Follow bat scientists into the trenches--and caves--and experience the fight to save the beloved bats.
Laban Carrick Hill. Dave the Potter: Artist, Poet, Slave
Chronicles the life of Dave, a nineteenth-century slave who went on to become an influential poet, artist, and potter.
Barbara O'Connor. The Fantastic Secret of Owen Jester
After Owen captures an enormous bullfrog, names it Tooley Graham, then has to release it, he and two friends try to use a small submarine that fell from a passing train to search for Tooley in the Carter, Georgia, pond it came from, while avoiding nosy neighbor Viola.
Sarah C. Campbell. Growing Patterns: Fibonacci Numbers in Nature
What's the biggest mathematical mystery in nature? Fibonacci numbers! The pattern creeps up in the most unexpected places. It's clear that math holds secrets to nature and that nature holds secret numbers.
Bob Raczka. Guyku: A Year of Haiku for Boys
When you’re a guy, nature is one big playground-no matter what the season. Nature also has a way of making a guy appreciate important stuff-like how many rocks it takes to dam up a stream, or how much snow equals a day off from school. So what kind of poetry best captures these special moments, at a length that lets guys get right back to tree-climbing and kite-flying? Why, guyku, of course!
Loree Griffin Burns. The Hive Detectives: Chronicle of a Honey Bee Catastrophe
Bees don't just produce honey. Your food supply depends on them. Apiarist Dave Hackenberg's bees have a busy travel schedule, pollinating around the United States from February to July. So when Dave inspected four hundred of his hives and found that the bees had simply vanished, a dream team of bee scientists got to work.
Steve Jenkins and Robin Page. How to Clean a Hippopotamus
Learn about the ingenious lifestyles of some of the world's most unusual animal partners.
Sy Montgomery. Kakapo Rescue: Saving the World's Strangest Parrot
On remote Codfish Island off the southern coast of New Zealand live the last 91 kakapo parrots on earth. Originally this bird numbered in the millions before humans brought predators to the islands. Now on the isolated island refuge, a team of scientists is trying to restore the kakapo population.
Amy Novesky. Me, Frida
Artist Frida Kahlo finds her own voice and style when her famous husband, Diego Rivera, is commissioned to paint a mural in San Francisco, California, in the 1930s and she finds herself exploring the city on her own.
Nic Bishop. Nic Bishop Lizards
Photographer Nic Bishop introduces the beauty and diversity of lizards.
Laura Amy Schlitz. The Night Fairy
When Flory the night fairy's wings are accidentally broken and she cannot fly, she has to learn to do everything differently.
Jewell Parker Rhodes. Ninth Ward
In New Orleans' Ninth Ward, twelve-year-old Lanesha, who can see spirits, and her adopted grandmother have no choice but to stay and weather the storm as Hurricane Katrina bears down upon them.
George Ancona. Ole! Flamenco
Photo-essay about Flamenco, a southern Spanish art form that incorporates song, dance, and music, tracing its cultural history and focusing on a contemporary young girl and her brother as they learn the traditional style of movement and instrument playing.
Rita Williams-Garcia. One Crazy Summer
In the summer of 1968, after travelling from Brooklyn to Oakland, California, to spend a month with the mother they barely know, eleven-year-old Delphine and her two younger sisters arrive to a cold welcome as they discover that their mother, a dedicated poet and printer, is resentful of the intrusion of their visit and wants them to attend a nearby Black Panther summer camp.
Calvin Alexander Ramsey and Gwen Strauss. Ruth and the Green Book
When Ruth and her parents take a motor trip from Chicago to Alabama to visit her grandma, they rely on a pamphlet called "The Negro Motorist Green Book" to find places that will serve them. Includes facts about "The Green Book."
Tim Tingle. Saltypie: A Choctaw Journey from Darkness into Light
Choctaw author Tim Tingle tells the story of his family's move from Oklahome Choctaw country to Pasadena, Texas. Spanning fifty years, the book describes the problems encounted by his Choctaw grandmother from her orphan days at an Indian boarding school to hardships she met at her new home on the Texas Gult Coast. It is the story of one family's efforts to honor the past while struggling to gain a foothold in modern America.
Mark Alan Stamaty. Shake, Rattle & Turn That Noise Down! How Elvis Shook Up Music, Me and Mom
Recounts the author's childhood determination to emulate Elvis Presley after being inspired by the iconic artist's music, describing how he drove his mother crazy while perfecting his Elvis-style dancing and singing before performing in a talent show.
Raina Telgemeier. Smile
From sixth grade through tenth, Raina copes with a variety of dental problems that affect her appearance and how she feels about herself.
Tom Angleberger. The Strange Case of Origami Yoda
Sixth-grader Tommy and his friends describe their interactions with a paper finger puppet of Yoda, worn by their weird classmate Dwight, as they try to figure out whether or not the puppet can really predict the future. Includes instructions for making Origami Yoda.
Adam Gidwitz. A Tale Dark and Grimm
Follows Hansel and Gretel as they walk out of their own story and into eight more tales, encountering such wicked creatures as witches, along with kindly strangers and other helpful folk. Based in part on the Grimms' fairy tales Faithful Johannes, Hansel and Gretel, The seven ravens, Brother and sister, The robber bridegroom, and The devil and his three golden hairs.
Matt Dembicki, editor. Trickster: Native American Tales: A Graphic Collection
Collects over twenty trickster stories, in graphic novel format, from various Native American traditions, including tales about coyotes, rabbits, ravens, and other crafty creatures and their mischievous activities.
Jennifer L. Holm. Turtle in Paradise
In 1935, when her mother gets a job housekeeping for a woman who does not like children, eleven-year-old Turtle is sent to stay with relatives she has never met in far away Key West, Florida.

Older Readers

Enrique Flores-Galbis. 90 Miles to Havana
When unrest hits the streets of Havana, Cuba, Julian's parents must make the heartbreaking decision to send him and his two brothers away to Miami via the Pedro Pan operation. But when the boys get to Miami, they are thrust into a world where bullies seem to run rampant and it's not always clear how best to protect themselves.
S. D. Nelson. Black Elk's Vision: A Lakota Story
Learn about the life of the Lakota-Oglala medicine man Black Elk from his childhood in the American West to his efforts to teach the world about his people's religion and culture, preserving the Native American way of life and his belief that we all have the power to make the world a better place.
Deborah Wiles. Countdown
With the world hurtling toward nuclear war following the Cuban Missile Crisis, twelve-year-old D.C. native Franny Chapman must navigate the complex world of adolescence in 1960s America.
Truus Matti. Departure Time
A tale of a girl in two stories, one involving a fox and rat, the other involving her constantly-traveling father.
Pam Munoz Ryan. The Dreamer
A fictionalized biography of the Nobel Prize-winning Chilean poet Pablo Neruda, who grew up a painfully shy child, ridiculed by his overbearing father, but who became one of the most widely-read poets in the world.
Philip Reeve. Fever Crumb
Foundling Fever Crumb has been raised as an engineer although females in the future London, England, are not believed capable of rational thought, but at age fourteen she leaves her sheltered world and begins to learn startling truths about her past while facing danger in the present.
Margarita Engle. The Firefly Letters: A Suffragette's Journey to Cuba
Draws on little-known Cuban history to tell a stirring story in poetry. Based on the diaries and letters of Swedish suffragist Fredrika Bremer, who spent three months in Cuba in 1851, the story focuses on oppressed women, the privileged as well as the enslaved, in three alternating free-verse narratives.
Margi Preus. Heart of a Samurai
In 1841, rescued by an American whaler after a terrible shipwreck leaves him and his four companions castaways on a remote island, fourteen-year-old Manjiro, who dreams of becoming a samurai, learns new laws and customs as he becomes the first Japanese person to set foot in the United States.
Russell Freedman. Lafayette and the American Revolution
Recounts how the aristocratic Frenchman, who disdained court life and craved battlefield glory, came to the aid of the Continental Army and ended up one of George Washington's closest associates and friends. From Lafayette's mostly fatherless childhood and military career to his exile for his part in the French Revolution and his final, vindicated days.
Kathryn Erskine. Mockingbird
Ten-year-old Caitlin, who has Asperger's Syndrome, struggles to understand emotions, show empathy, and make friends at school, while at home she seeks closure by working on a project with her father.
Clare Vanderpool. Moon Over Manifest
Twelve-year-old Abilene Tucker is the daughter of a drifter who, in the summer of 1936, sends her to stay with an old friend in Manifest, Kansas, where he grew up, and where she hopes to find out some things about his past.
Janne Teller. Nothing
When thirteen-year-old Pierre Anthon leaves school to sit in a plum tree and train for becoming part of nothing, his seventh grade classmates set out on a desperate quest for the meaning of life.
Paolo Bacigalupi. Ship Breaker
In a futuristic world, teenaged Nailer scavenges copper wiring from grounded oil tankers for a living, but when he finds a beached clipper ship with a girl in the wreckage, he has to decide if he should strip the ship for its wealth or rescue the girl.
Susan Campbell Bartoletti. They Called Themselves the KKK
Documents the history and origin of the Ku Klux Klan from its beginning in Pulaski, Tennessee, and provides personal accounts, congressional documents, diaries, and more.
Anne-Laure Bondoux. A Time of Miracles
In the early 1990s, a boy with a mysterious past and the woman who cares for him endure a five-year journey across the war-torn Caucasus and Europe, weathering hardships and welcoming unforgettable encounters with other refugees searching for a better life.
Joyce Sidman. Ubiquitous: Celebrating Nature's Survivors
Poems and factual information about some of the creatures that live on Planet Earth.
Stuart Stotts. We Shall Overcome: A Song that Changed the World
Discusses a world famous protest song.
G. Neri. Yummy: The Last Days of a Southside Shorty
Yummy: The Last Days of a Southside Shorty is a compelling graphic dramatization based on events that occurred in Chicago in 1994. This gritty exploration of youth gang life will force readers to question their own understandings of good and bad, right and wrong.

All Ages

Steve Jenkins. Bones: Skeletons and How They Work
A guide to human and animal skeletons provides informative comparisons while sharing such facts as the number of bones in the human body and the ways that skeletal structures work.
Joyce Sidman. Dark Emperor and Other Poems of the Night
A collection of poems that celebrate the wonder, mystery, and danger of the night and describes the many things that hide in the dark.
Elisha Cooper. Farm
Describes the activities on a busy family farm from the spring when preparations for planting begin to the autumn when the cats grow winter coats and the cold rains begin to fall.
Jason Shiga. Meanwhile
In this choose-your-own adventure graphic novel, a boy stumbles on the laboratory of a mad scientist who asks him to choose between testing a mind-reading device, a time machine, and a doomsday machine.
Marilyn Singer. Mirror, Mirror: A Book of Reversible Verse
A collection of short poems which, when reversed, provide new perspectives on the fairy tale characters they feature.
Suzy Lee. Shadow
A little girl uses her imagination and a light bulb to go on an adventure in a dark attic.