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Best Books of 2009
Middle Readers

The Underneath Appelt, Kathi. The Underneath. Illus. by David Small.
Intertwining stories of an embittered man, a loyal hound, an abandoned cat and a vengeful lamia sing of love, loss, loneliness and hope. (2009 Newbery Honor Book)






Frogs Bishop, Nic. Frogs.
Bishop presents salient facts about frogs through clear text, augmented with fascinating photographs of species around the world. Even the frog-phobic will be fascinated. (Winner of 2009 Gryphon Award)







MasterpieceBroach, Elise. Masterpiece. Illus. by Kelly Murphy.
An artistic beetle with a yen for adventure and a lonely 11-year-old boy team up to catch the thief who has stolen a priceless Albrecht Durer from the Metropolitan Museum of Art.







A River of Words: The Story of William Carlos Williams Bryant, Jen. A River of Words: The Story of William Carlos Williams. Illus. by Melissa Sweet.
Sweet’s mixed-media collage and primitive watercolors flow seamlessly with Bryant’s prose to reveal the important bits and pieces of Williams’ ordinary, yet extraordinary, life as a doctor and poet. (2009 Caldecott Honor Book)




The London Eye Mystery Dowd, Siobhan. The London Eye Mystery.
In a race against time, twelve-year-old Ted, with his sister Kat, uses his special skills and perceptions to discover how their cousin Salim disappeared while riding the London Eye, the world’s tallest observation wheel.







Bird Elliott, Zetta. Bird. Illus. by Shadra Strickland.

A young boy, Mehkai, nicknamed Bird because he loves to draw birds, finds solace in his art work as his beloved grandfather dies and his admired older brother Marcus succumbs to drug addiction. (2009 Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe New Talent Author Award)






Moonshot: The Flight of Apollo 11. Floca, Brian. Moonshot: The Flight of Apollo 11.
In watercolors, ink and acrylics, the story of how the Apollo 11 mission unfolded. (Winner of New York Times Best Illustrated Children’s Book Award)







The Graveyard Book Gaiman, Neil. The Graveyard Book. Illus. by Dave McKean.
A child marked for death by an ancient league of assassins escapes into an abandoned graveyard, where he is reared and protected by its spirit denizens. A delicious mix of murder, fantasy, humor and human longing, Gaiman’s tale is told in magical, haunting prose. (2009 Newbery Medal Book)







The Storyteller’s Candle/La velita de los cuentos.González, Lucía. The Storyteller’s Candle/La velita de los cuentos. Illus. by Lulu Delacre.
Text and sepia tone illustrations present the biographical story of Pura Belpré, the first Puerto Rican librarian hired by the New York Public Library, who introduces the public library to immigrants living in El Barrio and hosts the neighborhood’s first Three Kings’ Day fiesta. (2009 Belpré Author Honor Book and Illustrator Honor Book)




Rapunzel’s Revenge. Hale, Shannon and Dean Hale. Rapunzel’s Revenge. Illus. by Nathan Hale.
In a vibrantly illustrated graphic novel set in a make-believe frontier land, an untraditional Rapunzel escapes the tower, uses her long braids as weapons, and takes revenge on the wicked Mother Gothel.







What To Do About Alice? How Alice Roosevelt Broke the Rules, Charmed the World, and Drove Her Father Teddy Crazy! Kerley, Barbara. What To Do About Alice? How Alice Roosevelt Broke the Rules, Charmed the World, and Drove Her Father Teddy Crazy! Illus. by Edwin Fotheringham.
Growing up as the daughter of the President was not easy, but being the President and father of Alice Roosevelt was not easy either. Kerley’s playful use of language and Fotheringham’s rollicking illustrations converge to introduce energy and outrageousness. (2009 Sibert Honor Book)




Savvy Law, Ingrid. Savvy.
This rich first-person narrative draws readers into a wild bus ride, winding through the countryside on a journey of self-discovery for Mibs Beaumont and her companions. (2009 Newbery Honor Book)







We are the Ship: The Story of Negro League Baseball.Nelson, Kadir. We are the Ship: The Story of Negro League Baseball.
Tells the story of Negro League baseball from its beginnings in the 1920s through the decline after Jackie Robinson crossed over to the majors in 1947. (Winner of Coretta Scott King Award for Literature)




Boys of Steel: The Creators of Superman.
Nobleman, Marc Tyler. Boys of Steel: The Creators of Superman. Illus. by Ross MacDonald.

Part picture book, part graphic novel, this is the fascinating story of how two high school friends created a superhero that endures to this day.






Piano Starts Here: The Young Art Tatum.Parker, Robert Andrew. Piano Starts Here: The Young Art Tatum.
Parker imagines renowned jazz pianist Tatum’s early years, employing a first person narrative that takes readers from his Toledo youth to big city clubs and concert halls. Luminous watercolors compellingly extend the text. (2009 Schneider Family Book Award)




When the Wolves Returned: Restoring Nature's Balance in Yellowstone.Patent, Dorothy Hinshaw. When the Wolves Returned: Restoring Nature's Balance in Yellowstone. Photographs by Dan Hartman and Cassie Hartman.
Lively photographs, capturing images of wildlife, and an easy text make it clear to young readers the beneficial impact to the ecosystem when wolves were reintroduced.



Wanda Gág: The Girl Who Lived to Draw. Ray, Deborah Kogan. Wanda Gág: The Girl Who Lived to Draw.
This intimate portrait of the creator of Millions of Cats combines Gág’s own words with more detailed text to describe a girl who never let go of her dream. Lush illustrations suggest Gág’s style and versatility.




Knucklehead: Tall Tales & Mostly True Stories about Growing Up.
Scieszka, Jon. Knucklehead: Tall Tales & Mostly True Stories about Growing Up. Scieszka.

A hilarious saga of growing up in a household with five brothers during the 1950’s and 1960’s by the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, illustrated with candid pictures from the period.






How I Learned Geography.Shulevitz, Uri. How I Learned Geography.
Recounting memories of his family’s flight from the Warsaw Blitz and his years as a refugee during World War II, Shulevitz employs watercolor and ink to depict a boy liberated from his dreary existence through flights of fancy inspired by the map his father buys in the village market. (2009 Caldecott Honor Book)



Elizabeth Leads the Way: Elizabeth Cady Stanton and the Right to Vote.
Stone, Tanya Lee. Elizabeth Leads the Way: Elizabeth Cady Stanton and the Right to Vote. Illus. by Rebecca Gibbon.

This introductory biography outlines Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s childhood realization of the secondary status of women and continues with her adult activism that lead to the right to vote for women. Folk art expands the text.




Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit.
Uehashi, Nahoko. Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit. Illus. by Yuko Shimizu. Tr. by Cathy Hirano.

Balsa, a female warrior, accepts the task of protecting a young prince from demons and his father’s assassins. Prince Chagum is the Moribito, the guardian of the sacred spirit. Together they must find in each other the source of strength they need to prevail. (2009 Batchelder Award Book)




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