Booklist Editors' Choice: Books for Youth

About the Booklist Editors' Choice: Books for Youth
Committed to providing a broad selection of outstanding books that mixes popular appeal with literary excellence, the Books for Youth editorial staff has chosen the titles below as best-of-the-year fiction, nonfiction, and picture books.

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Fiction

2012 Selection(s)

Middle Readers

A Boy Called Dickens

By Deborah Hopkinson. Illus. by John Hendrix. Random/Schwartz & Wade, $17.99 (9780375867323). Gr. 3–5.

Less a biography than a slice-of-life, this fictionalized story follows a young, starving Dickens as he dreams of writing. With illustrations that define “Dickensian,” this is an inspiring look at a young nobody with great expectations.


The Boy on Cinnamon Street

By Phoebe Stone. Scholastic/Arthur A. Levine, $16.99 (9780545215121). Gr. 4–7.

Four-foot-seven Louise Terrace lives with her grandparents following a family tragedy—the details of which she’s blocked out—in this achingly sweet, heartbreaking title.


The Extraordinary Education of Nicholas Benedict

By Trenton Lee Stewart. Illus. by Diana Sudyka. Little, Brown/Megan Tingley, $17.99 (9780316176194). Gr. 4–6.

At his latest orphanage, nine-year-old Nicholas Benedict relies on his intellect, courage, and ingenuity to outwit bullies while solving a mystery and forming a makeshift family. Dry wit and vivid characters make this a story to remember.


Jump into the Sky

By Shelley Pearsall. Knopf, $16.99 (9780375836992). Gr. 5–8.

Based on historical events, Pearsall’s poignant novel, set in the Jim Crow South of 1945, follows a young teen’s reunion with his father, a member of an elite African American paratrooper battalion.


Lulu and the Duck in the Park

By Hilary McKay. Illus. by Priscilla Lamont. Albert Whitman, $13.99 (9780807548080). Gr. 2–4.

Lulu’s teacher doesn’t want any more animals in class, but when an unhatched egg winds up in Lulu’s pocket, she finds an unexpected ally. Lulu, a biracial girl in a multicultural classroom, stars in a story great for moving transitional readers to chapter books.


Older Readers

Sophia’s War: A Tale of Revolution

By Avi. Simon & Schuster/Beach Lane, $16.99 (9781442414419). Gr. 6–8.

In 1780, four years after witnessing the hanging of Benedict Arnold, 16-year-old Sophia puts her life on the line by spying on British officers. Avi weaves historical events and details into a suspenseful novel of intrigue and adventure.


Middle Readers

Splendors and Glooms

By Laura Amy Schlitz. Candlewick, $17.99 (9780763653804). Gr. 4–8.

In this brooding Dickensian novel, three resilient children struggle with difficult circumstances and surprising plot twists in their lives. The novel’s strength lies in the vividly drawn characters and the subtle depiction of menacing evil.


Starry River of the Sky

By Grace Lin. Illus. by the author. Little, Brown, $17.99 (9780316125956). Gr. 3–6.

Lin’s companion to the Newbery Honor Book Where the Mountain Meets the Moon (2009) introduces runaway Rendi and the Village of Clear Sky. Chinese folklore is interwoven throughout the enchanting narrative.


Three Times Lucky

By Sheila Turnage. Dial, $16.99 (9780803736702). Gr. 4–6.

A tiny North Carolina community provides this memorable first novel’s backdrop, but murder is at the forefront as Mo, the young narrator, tells of her colorful family and neighbors in a fresh, distinctive voice.


Twelve Kinds of Ice

By Ellen Bryan Obed. Illus. by Barbara McClintock. Houghton, $16.99 (9780618891290). Gr. 4–7.

In this precise, evocative book, 20 short chapters introduce the different kinds of ice that take one family through the winter. McClintock’s pen-and-ink drawings, subtle yet celebratory, capture ice in all its incarnations.


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