The Bulletin of

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of the Center for Children's Books

Blue Ribbons are chosen annually by the Bulletin staff and represent what we believe to be the best of the previous year's literature for youth. See the Blue Ribbon Archive for other lists from 1990 through the present. Please feel free to copy, download, or link to these lists. We ask only that you cite the source.

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2013 Blue Ribbons

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Congratulations, authors and publishers: you presented us with one of the strongest fiction categories in years; tough work for us, but in a gratifying way, and it’s left us with one of our longer fiction lists.  On the nonfiction front, we saw a particularly strong focus on American history, while picture books were a wonderfully motley crew, ranging from the moving to the mooing.  So pass these around and read up.

Deborah Stevenson, Editor


Dowell, Frances O’Roark. The Sound of Your Voice, Only Really Far Away. Atheneum. Gr. 5-7 (September)
Dowell continues her nuanced and honest exploration of middle-school dynamics in this third installment of the series that follows friends Kate and Marylin (The Secret Language of Girls, BCCB 7/04, The Kind of Friends We Used to Be, BCCB 5/09) as the now seventh-graders negotiate new and changing relationships.  

Hassan, Michael. Crash and Burn. Balzer + Bray. Gr. 8-12 (March)
The voice of Steve Crashinsky, aka Crash, an ADD, hard-partying teen who’s surprisingly become a hero, is chillingly authentic as he relays his high school experiences, complete with sex, pot, and apathetic adults in this provocative indictment of contemporary cultural values.

Haydu, Corey Ann. OCD Love Story. Simon Pulse. Gr. 8-12 (September)
Witty, endearing, and as the title suggests, a bit compulsive, narrator Bea finds herself falling for a similarly obsessive guy in her therapy group in this compassionate but optimistic examination of neuroses.

Madison, Bennett. September Girls. HarperTeen. Gr. 9-12 (July/August)
This utterly unconventional supernatural romance features Sam, a jaded seventeen-year-old boy whose summer fling with an otherworldly girl forces him to his reconsider his ideas of love and adulthood.

Medina, Meg. Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass.  Candlewick. Gr. 8-12 (March)
Brutally honest but ultimately hopeful, this examination of bullying follows high-schooler Piddy, whose torment at the hands of another girl leaves wounds both physical and emotional.

Moskowitz, Hannah. Teeth. Simon Pulse. Gr. 9-12 (February)
Love, loyalty, and sacrifice are deftly explored in this ungothic gothic novel that depicts the plight of Teeth, an insolent human/fish hybrid, and his growing and complicated friendship with a human teen.

Rosoff, Meg. Picture Me Gone. Putnam. Gr. 5-8 (December)

A perceptive young girl on a road trip with her father is torn between her desire to learn her father’s secrets and her wish to remain protected in this elegantly written coming-of-age tale.


Rowell, Rainbow. Fangirl. St. Martin’s Griffin. Gr. 8-12 (November)

Nuanced characterization of Cath, an introverted freshman more comfortable in the world of fan fiction than her in her new college dorm, lends complexity and warmth to this humorous romcom.

Sloan, Holly Goldberg. Counting by 7s. Dial. Gr. 5-8 (September)
Deftly sidestepping cloying lessons about individuality and resourcefulness, Sloan presents a sensitive look at a quirky girl who has always been unconditionally accepted by her parents, and who must adjust to how to live without them after their unexpected deaths.

Smith, Sherri. Orleans. Putnam. Gr. 7-10 (March)
In a futuristic and fever-ridden New Orleans flooded by hurricanes and walled off from the rest of the country, a girl struggles not only to survive but to save her beloved friend’s baby.

Sternberg, Julie. Like Bug Juice on a Burger; illus. by Matthew Cordell. Amulet/Abrams. Gr. 2-3 (May)

Homebodies in particularly will enjoy this compassionate but pragmatic story that follows young Eleanor as she endures a trip to summer camp.

Timberlake, Amy. One Came Home. Knopf. Gr. 5-8 (February)
Sharpshooting, counterfeiting, a smart protagonist, and a compelling mystery—what more could you ask out of a book about a nineteenth century Wisconsin girl out to find her missing sister, and discovering herself along the way?

Yang, Gene Luen. Boxers; Saints; written and illus. by Gene Luen Yang, color by Lark Pien.  First Second/Roaring Brook. Gr. 8-12 (November)

The complexities of political and religious conflict are made personal in this powerful set of companion graphic novels that takes a look at China’s Boxer Rebellion from two different sides.


Bolden, Tonya. Emancipation Proclamation: Lincoln and the Dawn Of Liberty; illus. with photographs. Abrams. Gr. 5-9 (February)
Bolden places the famous Civil War document in historical and cultural context, chronicling the events that led up to it and explaining its effects, in this compelling investigation.


Brown, Don. The Great American Dust Bowl; written and illus. by Don Brown. Houghton. Gr. 4-7 (October)

Brown employs a graphic novel format and his inimitable storytelling style in this vivid, evocative exploration of the causes, experience, and legacy of the Dust Bowl.

Joffo, Joseph. A Bag of Marbles; ad. by Kris; illus. by Vincent Bailly, tr. by Edward Gauvin. Graphic Universe. Gr. 6-10 (November)
This graphic-novel-styled memoir chronicles the experiences of Jo and Maurice Joffo, Jewish brothers in World War II France who move around the country evading the grasp of the Nazis and the collaborating French forces.


Rusch, Elizabeth. Eruption!: Volcanoes and the Science of Saving Lives; illus. with photographs by Tom Uhlman et al. Houghton. Gr. 5-9 (September)

Striking photographs, thoughtful description of the people who live near volcanoes, and gripping international science stories make this outing an exceptional entry in a the field of natural disaster books.

Sandler, Martin W. Imprisoned: The Betrayal of Japanese Americans during World War II; illus. with photographs. Walker. Gr. 5-9 (July/August)
This thorough, well-illustrated overview poignantly chronicles the experience of Japanese Americans in internment camps and in heroic military action.

Sheinkin, Steve. Lincoln’s Grave Robbers; illus. with photographs. Scholastic. Gr. 6-10 (January)
Nineteenth-century period atmosphere infuses this riveting and bizarre true story about a group of small-time criminals’ plan to make their fortune by seizing the late president’s remains and holding them for ransom.

Stone, Tanya Lee. Courage Has No Color: The True Story of the Triple Nickles, America’s First Black Paratroopers. Candlewick. Gr. 5-9 (January)
Any story this amazing deserves a rich book packed with illustrations, plenty of end matter, and solid storytellling; Stone delivers in this gripping account of the first all black parachute infantry company from World War II.         

Winter, Jonah. You Never Heard of Willie Mays?!: illus. by Terry Widener. Schwartz & Wade. Gr. 3-5 (February)
Even readers who imagine themselves indifferent to baseball will be absolutely captivated by this rousing story of Willie “Say Hey” Mays, one of the sport’s greatest all-around players.



Bean, Jonathan. Big Snow; written and illus. by Jonathan Bean. Farrar. 4-8 yrs (November)

Homey illustrations enhance this irresistible story of a kid who can’t wait for the slowly falling snow to accumulate and turns all his chores into snowy imaginings.

Browne, Anthony. One Gorilla: A Counting Book; written and illus. by Anthony Browne. Candlewick. 3-7 yrs (January)
Animal portraits of astonishing detail and individuality reflect our connection with our simian relatives in this volume that is both counting book and tacit narrative about the primate family.

Bunting, Eve. The Cart That Carried Martin; illus. by Don Tate. Charlesbridge. 5-8 yrs (December)

Low-key you-are-there text and streamlined unfussy watercolors brim with subtle emotion in this story of Martin Luther King’s funeral procession through Atlanta.


Collins, Suzanne. Year of the Jungle; illus. by James Proimos. Scholastic. 5-7 yrs (October)

This intimate and authentic picture book draws on Collins’ own childhood experience in the story of a young girl’s difficulty in dealing with her father’s absence in the Vietnam War.

Jenkins, Emily. Water in the Park; illus. by Stephanie Graegin. Schwartz & Wade. 5-8 yrs (July/August)
People, dog, and water watching—there isn’t much else one could one want out of a day at the park, particularly when it’s all offered with intricately detailed illustrations and poetic yet plainspoken narration.      

LaRochelle, David. Moo!; illus. by Mike Wohnoutka. Walker. 4-7 yrs (November)
This madcap tale of a cow engaged in an illicit road adventure depends entirely on her speech for text and demonstrates just how much comic variety can be extracted from the simple word “Moo.”

Morales, Yuyi. Niño Wrestles the World; written and illus. by Yuyi Morales. Porter/Roaring Brook. 4-7 yrs (September)
Although he may only be a luchador in his own mind, young Niño is still a force to be reckoned with in this exuberant, warm picture book that celebrates lucha libre (and a joyously inclusive big brother) with gusto.

Scieszka, Jon.  Battle Bunny; by Jon Scieszka and Mac Barnett, and Alex; illus. by Matthew Myers but mostly Alex. Simon. Gr. 1-3 (December)

Both a sendup of saccharine period picture books and a tribute to kid invention, this deliciously comic outing follows young Alex’s savage textual and illustrative transforming of a treacly bunny tale into a saga of a thwarted attempt at world rabbit domination.

Snicket, Lemony. The Dark; illus. by Jon Klassen. Little. 5-7 yrs (June)
Dramatic gouache and digital illustrations emphasize the potential power of the dark to frighten, even while the text alludes to the ways in which children and make peace with it as a potentially helpful (or at least harmless) aspect of life.          

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