Newtons Book News

Childrens Book Reviews

Best of the Best of 2008

Here is my annual “best of the best” list from 2008.   The first 11 books are geared for ages nine and up.   The last four are my top picture books of the year.

We Are the Ship: The Story of Negro League Baseball , written and illustrated by Kadir Nelson, is an oversized picture book that is filled with the history of the African American baseball league and the segregation and discrimination that these little known heroes of the sport endured.   Much work went into writing and painting the breathtaking pictures.

Safe At Home , by Sharon Robinson, is about ten-year-old Elijah Breeze who is having the hardest summer of his life.   His father has just died; his mother has moved them from the suburbs to New York City’s Harlem area; and he has to spend the summer at baseball camp. But his life’s lessons are just about to begin.

The Candy Shop War , by Brandon Mull, has four young friends, Nate, Summer, Trevor, and Pigeon, who are befriended by Belinda White, the owner of a candy shop where the candy has magical ingredients – and the exciting mystery begins.

The Magic Half , by Annie Barrows, is a story about Miri who accidentally travels back in time to 1935 and discovers Molly, a girl in need of a real family to call her own. This unique story has all of the elements of a page-turner.

The Missing: Found , by Margaret Peterson Haddix , is an exciting story about an unidentified airplane that appears out of nowhere. The surprise comes when the passengers are all babies and with no pilot or flight attendants!   Where did this plane come from and why was it full of these youngsters?

The Boy Who Dared:   A Novel Based on the True Story of a Hitler Youth , by Susan Campbell Bartoletti, is based on a true account about 16-year-old Helmuth Hubner who listens to the BBC news on an illegal short-wave radio and soon discovers that Germany is lying to the people. He tries to expose the truth with leaflets, but is caught and tried for treason.   This inspirational story showcases a brave hero from World War II.

Americans Who Tell the Truth , compiled and illustrated by Robert Shetterly, has 50 of what the author feels are outstanding Americans who had to stand up for what was right and showed courage in doing so.

Peter Pan in Scarlet , by Geraldine McCaughrean, won the competition for the first official sequel to the original James Matthew Barrie classic.  The story continues with the children all grown, but they soon discover that there are problems in Neverland.

Puddlejumpers , by Mark Jean and Christopher C. Carlson, is a terrific fantasy about Ernie, an unhappy, problematic 13-year-old, who has no parents and has just been sent to a working farm.   The exciting adventures begin when the farmer’s baby is kidnapped.

Paint the Wind , by Pam Munoz Ryan, is a griping story about loss of family, which is then found once again.   Maya lives with her grandmother who is stern and unfeeling.   But her life is about to change when she moves to Wyoming where she learns love of horses – and family.

Atlas of the Universe , by Dr. Mark A. Garlick, is an oversized look into the depths of space and the incredibly interesting stars and planets.  Planets, the moon, the Milky Way and more, fill pages with color and intensity along with most interesting information.

Sally and the Purple Socks , by Lisze Bechtold, takes on a whole new meaning of mail ordering because Sally the duck has just ordered some very strange purple socks that seem to grow and grow.

Scoop , by John Kelly, and illustrated by Cathy Tinknell, is a hilarious visual treat about reporter Monty Molenski who tries desperately to get a front page story.   But what he doesn’t realize is the story is right in front of him all of the time!

The Cemetery Keepers of Gettysburg , by Linda Oatman High, and illustrated by Laura Francesca Fillipucci, is based on one of the worse battles that took place on the property of a family’s farm.

Dadblamed Union Army Cow , by Susan Fletcher, and illustrated by Kimberly Bulcken Root, is another picture book about the Civil War.   The story is based on a true account about a cow that follows her soldier into the Civil War and receives a medal.

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