OREM Orem children's librarian Patricia Castelli has assembled a list of 100 of the best children's books of the 21st century. This is the second part of a partial list. The complete list is available on the Orem City Library Web site: lib.orem.org
SISTER GRIM SERIES. THE FAIRY-TALE DETECTIVES: Michael Buckley. Pictures by Peter Ferguson. Grades 3-6.
Sabrina and Daphne are descended from the famous Brothers Grimm. It is their family's duty to keep a lid on the fairy tale characters, which can be dangerous.
THE TALE OF DESPEREAUX: BEING THE STORY OF A MOUSE, A PRINCESS, SOME SOUP AND A SPOOL OF THREAD: Kate DiCamillo. Grades 3-6.
Despereaux, a mouse in love with a princess, is banished to the dungeon of the castle for speaking to a human. Despereaux finds courage, adventure and, of course, love.
THE MIRACULOUS JOURNEY OF EDWARD TULANE: Kate DiCamillo. Grades 3-6.
Edward Tulane is a china rabbit fond of himself. When he is taken from the child who loves him he begins a journey where he learns to care about others.
TOAD RAGE: Morris Gleitzman. Grades 3-6.
Limpy is a young toad on a quest to first discover why people deliberately squash toads flat on Australian highways and then find a way to make toads lovable to humans.
THE LIBERATION OF GABRIEL KING: K.L. Going. Grades 4-6.
Gabriel King's best friend Frita has a plan for liberating Gabriel from his fears. But Frita has a fear of her own. It takes a community willing to fight racism to make her safe.
WHO WON THE WAR? Phyllis Naylor. Grades 4-6.
The boys start the war when girls move in across the footbridge. Twelve months later, the girls are moving away. This series is full of practical jokes and get-even schemes.
THE SCARECROW AND HIS SERVANT: Philip Pullman. Illustrated by Peter Bailey. Grades 4-6.
Roald Dahl fans will relish this tale of a scarecrow come alive and the young orphan boy, Jack, who becomes his servant.
Fiction: Middle grade/teen:
WHALES ON STILTS: M.T. Anderson. Illustrations by Kurt Cyrus. Grades 4-7.
Three children try to save life as we know it from whales on stilts with laser-beam eyes prepared to burn the world. Humor jumps out at you when you least expect it.
WHITTINGTON: Alan Armstrong. Illustrated by S.D. Schindler. Grades 4-7.
Whittington is descended from the cat in the Dick Whittington tale. A parallel story is about the relationships among the animals and the boy the cat encourages to read.
CRISPIN: THE CROSS OF LEAD: Avi. Grades 5-8.
The village priest tells a recently orphaned boy known only as Asta's son that his true name is Crispin. He then tells him to come to him in secret that night and he will tell him more, but Crispin finds the priest dead. Crispin is accused of the murder and must flee. The sequel is "Crispin: At the Edge of the World."
THE PENDERWICKS: A SUMMER TALE OF FOUR SISTERS, TWO RABBITS AND A VERY INTERESTING BOY: Jeanne Birdsall. Grades 4-8.
Enjoy a pleasant, old-fashioned story of a family that encounters fun, adventure, and a little danger during the family's August holiday in the Berkshire Mountains.
THE TEQUILA WORM: Viola Canales. Grades 5-9.
A Mexican-American girl's determination to make something of herself takes her from a barrio in a Texas border town to prestigious schools on scholarships, and back again.
COLIBRI: Ann Cameron. Grades 5-8.
Colibri is a 12-year-old Mayan girl in Guatemala in a story that has it all. The rich culture portrayed is almost as interesting as the riveting plot and collection of characters.
CHARLOTTE'S ROSE: A.E. Cannon. Grades 5-8.
Charlotte is a spunky 12-year-old crossing the prairies with Mormon immigrants. When a young mother dies after childbirth, Charlotte volunteers to carry the baby to Utah.
AL CAPONE DOES MY SHIRTS: Gennifer Choldenko. Grades 5-8.
Moose is not happy to finish seventh grade on Alcatraz Island where his father works as an electrician/prison guard. Instead of baseball after school, he has to look after his "10-year-old" sister, Natalie. The trouble is that Natalie has been 10 for seven years.
THE LAST APPRENTICE THE REVENGE OF THE WITCH: Joseph Delaney. Illustrations by Patrick Arrasmith. Grades 5-8.
Thomas Ward is apprenticed to the "Spook" whose job is to keep evil at bay. This is a scary book! "Book Two, Curseof the Bane" is even scarier as Tom has to fight an ancient horror while trying to avoid the Quisitor, an evil priest who will execute the Spook unless Tom can save him.
RAT BOYS: A DATING EXPERIMENT: Thom Eberhardt. Grades 5-9.
Marci and her friend are determined to have dates for the spring fling, determined enough to use magic to transform two rats into dream dates. Trouble ensues.
THE SEA OF TROLLS: Nancy Farmer. Grades 5-9.
Here's a meaty and exciting fantasy placed in 793 A.D. that draws on Norse and Celtic mythologies for a rip-roaring adventure. Not for the faint of heart.
I, CORIANDER: Sally Gardner. Grades 5-9.
Coriander's father is a royalist, and her beautiful mother has a gift for healing both dangerous attributes in 1643 London with Cromwell in power. Coriander is saved from death by a magical heritage she didn't know she possessed.
THE OLD WILLIS PLACE: Mary Downing Hahn. Grades 5-8.
Dianna and her brother live in the woods. The new caretaker has a daughter Dianna is determined to befriend, but Georgie reminds her there is danger if people see them.
PRINCESS ACADEMY: Shannon Hale. Grades 5 and up.
The stone quarry workers on Mount Eskel live isolated lives until their village is selected for the next Princess Academy. All the girls from 13-17 must learn the ways of a princess (reading and writing included) so the Prince can choose his bride from among them.
HOOT: Carl Hiaasen. Grades 5-9.
Though Roy is picked on by the biggest, meanest bully at the school, he doesn't let it get him down in this ecology/mystery book.
IDA B AND HER PLANS TO MAXIMIZE FUN, AVOID DISASTER AND (POSSIBLY) SAVE THE WORLD: Katherine Hannigan. Grades 4-7.
Ida B, an exuberant fourth-grader, has been happily home-schooled but now has to go to public school. She is determined to be miserable, but you can't keep a good kid down.
EVERYTHING ON A WAFFLE: Polly Horvath. Grades 4-8.
When Primrose Squarp's parents are lost at sea, only Primrose keeps her optimism. A cook who serves everything on a waffle befriends Primrose. (Each chapter ends with a recipe.)
WORTH: A. LaFaye. Grades 5-8.
John Worth is taken from an orphan train by a farmer to help with chores. The farmer's wife and disabled son are determined to ignore John, but wounds heal when they become a family.
SAFFY'S ANGEL, INDIGO'S STAR, PERMANENT ROSE, CADDY EVERY AFTER: Hilary McKay. Grades 6 and up.
Meet the lovable, eccentric Casson family living in chaos in the English countryside with their artist mother while Dad must live alone in his London flat to create art. The charm of these books is characterization but they are not lacking in plot. There is always plenty going on in the Casson household, much of it very funny, some of it shocking.
A SINGLE SHARD: Linda Sue Park. Grades 5-8.
One 1,000 years ago, a little Korean village was known for its pottery's beauty. Tree-ear is an orphan who works to become a great potter's apprentice. His hopes lie in a piece of broken pottery.
THE TEACHER'S FUNERAL: A COMEDY IN THREE PARTS. Richard Peck. Grades 4-8.
Russell views the teacher's funeral as his ticket to freedom. Never did he imagine the replacement would come so fast, not to mention from his own house.
THE RIVER BETWEEN US: Ri chard Peck. Grades 5 and up.
In 1916, a teen accompanies his father on a road trip to Illinois in a Model T to see his father's folks at home on the Mississippi River. There Grandmother Tilly reveals experiences in the Civil War.
BECOMING NAOMI LEON: Pam Mun Ryan. Grades 4-8.
Shy Naomi lives with Gram and little brother Owen when their mother shows up determined to take Naomi but not Owen. Gram decides to take them to find their father in Mexico.
LOSER: Jerry Spinelli. Grades 4-6.
If there is a novel that can teach compassion, perhaps it is this one. Zinkoff is not without his challenges, but it is in fourth grade that he is labeled Loser. He shines for his resilience.
SO B. IT: A NOVEL: Sarah Weeks. Grades 5 and up.
Heidi knows you don't have to be perfect to love and be loved. She lives with a severely mentally disabled mother and an agoraphobic neighbor. When she is 12, she decides to search for who she is, even though it means taking a cross-country bus trip alone.
LISTENING FOR LIONS: Gloria Whelan. Grades 4 and up.
Rachel is 13 when her missionary parents die in the flu epidemic in Africa. Rich neighbors come to bring her to their home. Is it possible that they expect Rachel to pretend she is their daughter?
TADPOLE: Ruth White. Grades 4-8.
Four sisters live in Kentucky, poor but happy. Their guitar-picking cousin comes to visit to get away from a cruel guardian. The family fights for him, but it is 1950. The authorities have other ideas.
EACH LITTLE BIRD THAT SINGS: Deborah Wiles. Grades 4-7.
Comfort Snowberger is writing a funeral etiquette book. She lives in the family funeral home. What will happen when she has to choose between what she loves most and what is right?
THE HOUSE OF THE SCORPION: Nancy Farmer. Grades 7 and up.
Matt is a clone of the chief drug lord in the country Opium, a man still alive because of harvested body parts. While international law says clones must have their brains destroyed at birth, Matt is educated and lives a life of privilege. Can he escape the harvest?
THE ORACLE PROPHECIES: THE ORACLE BETRAYED. THE SPHERE OF SECRETS: DAY OF THE SCARAB. Catherine Fisher. Grades 6-12.
In "The Oracle Betrayed," Mirany is the newest priestess, and yet the Oracle has told her the God is betrayed. She must seek out the true incarnation of the God.
In "The Sphere of Secrets," Alexos, the 10-year-old boy who is the God of the Oracle, is on a quest of atonement to bring water back to their parched land.
"Day of the Scarab" is a satisfying conclusion to an unusual fantasy with fabulous characters and an intriguing world..
THE GOOSE GIRL, ENNA BURNING, RIVER SECRETS: Shannon Hale. Grade 6 and up.
Three related novels have their start in the Grimm's fairytale, "The Goose Girl." The crown princess of Kildenree has her identity stolen by her lady-in-waiting. The princess works as a goose girl until she can regain her rightful position. The second and third books are original stories, the main characters friends of the princess. All can stand alone but why miss reading all three?
THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHT-TIME: Mark Haddon. High school and up.
Christopher, a 15-year-old with autism, investigates a dog's violent death. Christopher relates his perceptions of everyday life in harsh language, but he reveals an unforgettable view of the world.
THE FIRST PART LAST: Angela Johnson. High school.
The book begins with teen Bobby's struggles to care for his newborn, then tells us how he came to be a single parent. A parallel book for younger readers is Heaven (1999).
AN INNOCENT SOLDIER: Josef Holub. Translated by Michael Hoffman. Grades 7 and up.
Napoleon's disastrous Russian campaign is seen through the eyes of one of its most insignificant soldiers. Adam comes to serve an aristocratic lieutenant, and they help one another survive amid inconceivable hardship and against terrible odds.
BLACK JUICE: Margo Lanagan. High school and up.
This excellent collection of short stories is comprised of science fiction and dark fantasy, including horror. The stories range from an elephant tribe rescuing their keeper to a young woman executed by slowly sinking into a tar pit while her bereaved family "sings her down."
SLEEPING FRESHMAN NEVER LIVE: David Lubar. Grades 6-9.
Scott records his anxieties about high school in a journal of advice to his unborn sibling, a humorous sideline to his real life where he trys to be near a beautiful girl.
AIRBORN: Kenneth Oppel. Grades 6-10.
Cabin boy Matt Cruse loves life on an airship. He finds more adventure than he ever expected in this alternate history that introduces a mysterious creature of the air, pirates, and a beautiful heiress. In the sequel, Skybreaker, Matt encounters a new batch of bad guys and another unknown and very dangerous creature of the air.
CUBA 15: Nancy Osa. Grades 6-10.
Violet Paz is planning her quinceanera, a big party when she turns 15. She's also busy with her humor monologue for the school's speech team based on her zany family's domino tournament.
WEE FREE MEN, A HAT FULL OF SKY: Terry Pratchett. Grades 6-10.
Tiffany doesn't know she's a witch until she whacks an evil creature, and the wee free men (6-inches tall with very bad manners) send her on a rescue mission into a strange land. In A Hat Full of Sky the young witch-in-training battles an ancient but bodiless creature, again with the help of her 6-inch friends.
THE LIGHTNING THIEF: Rick Riordan. Grades 6-10.
Percy Jackson is 12 years old and used to having unusual problems, such as mysteriously vaporizing his pre-algebra teacher. Percy's problems stem from the fact (unknown to him until now) that he is a son of a Greek god and there are a number of monsters out to kill him. His sword-wielding adventures continue in The Sea of Monsters.
SMALL STEPS: Louis Sachar. Grades 7-12.
This sequel to Holes has its own set of villains and unlikely heroes. Armpit is focused on short-term goals (small steps) to stay out of trouble after his stay at Camp Green Lake. All is going according to plan until X-Ray shows up with a scheme for easy money that requires Armpit's savings.
THE SCHWA WAS HERE: Neal Shusterman. Grades 6-9.
Calvin Schwa, a Brooklyn 8th grader, is somehow unnoticeable. Antsy figures the Schwa's invisibility is marketable, but when the two are caught the real adventure begins.
THE BOOK THIEF: Markus Zusak. Illustrations by Trudy White. Grades 6 and up.
Death relates the story of Liesel Meminger, a little girl living in Nazi Germany. She loves books. Though WWII keeps Death very busy, Liesel's life is a distraction to him.
Nonfiction picture books:
ACROSS A DARK AND WILD SEA: Don Brown. Calligraphy by Deborah Nadel. Grades 4-6.
The value of medieval manuscripts is brought to life in this biography of an Irish Prince, Columcille, who fought a war for a book of Bible psalms.
THE MAN WHO WALKED BETWEEN THE TOWERS: Modicai Gerstein. Grades 2-6.
Philippe Petit's unauthorized 1974 walk between the World Trade Center towers is the subject of this lyrical (and dizzying) picture book.
WHAT DO YOU DO WITH A TAIL LIKE THIS? Steve Jenkins and Robin Page. Preschool.
This book isn't about only tails, but noses, ears, eyes, feet, and mouths. The striking watercolor cut-paper illustrations are emphasized by surrounding white space.
THE DINOSAURS OF WATERHOUSE HAWKINS: AN ILLUMINATING HISTORY OF MR. WATERHOUSE HAWKINS, ARTIST AND LECTURER:
Barbara Kerley. Illustrated by Brian Selnick. Grades 3-6.
Hawkins was the first person to make life-sized models of dinosaurs. Selznick's art captures the spirit of the time in this Caldecott Honor book.
WHAT PRESIDENTS ARE MADE OF: Hanoch Piven. All ages.
Quirky facts/illustrations feature U.S. presidents portrayed with collages: peanuts for Jimmy Carter, recording paraphernalia for Richard Nixon.
MICHAEL ROSEN'S SAD BOOK: Michael Rosen. Pictures by Quentin Blake. All ages.
Michael Rosen shares his sadness at the unexpected death of his 18-year-old son Eddie in a powerful and poetic book that follows Rosen through his grief.
SEQUOYAH: THE CHEROKEE MAN WHO GAVE HIS PEOPLE WRITING: James Rumford. Translated into Cherokee by Anna Sixkiller Huckaby. Grades 2-4.
A bilingual text with beautiful art, this brief biography pays tribute to Sequoyah, the man who helped save his cultural heritage by inventing a written language.
SIR WALTER RALEIGH AND THE QUEST FOR EL DORADO; JOHN WINTHROP, OLIVER CROMWELL, AND THE LAND OF PROMISE; THE REAL REVOLUTION: THE GLOBAL STORY OF AMERICAN INDEPENDENCE: Marc Aronson. Grades 8 and up.
A trilogy of American history from a global perspective, these books show how there are many ways to look at the past.
GROWING UP IN HITLER'S SHADOW: Susan Campbell Bartoletti. Grades 6 and up.
The power the young can have for good or ill is clear in the story about members of the Hitler Youth organizations. Life stories of youth who resisted Hitler are included.
THE JOURNEY THAT SAVED CURIOUS GEORGE: THE TRUE WARTIME ESCAPE OF MARGRET AND H.A. REY: Louise Borden. Illustrated by Allan Drummond. All ages.
The account of how the manuscript for Curious George got out just ahead of the Nazis with vintage photographs, Rey's picture book art, and Drummond's illustrations.
INVISIBLE ALLIES: MICROBES THAT SHAPE OUR LIVES: Jeannette Farrell. Grades 5 and up.
The enormous role of miniscule microbes that are essential to our lives and life on this planet is explained in a conversational style.
THE VOICE THAT CHALLENGED A NATION: MARION ANDERSON AND THE STRUGGLE FOR EQUAL RIGHTS: Russell Freedman. Grades 4 and up.
Marion Anderson's accomplishments against the background of discrimination that was law in the United States when she was building her vocal career.
THE RACE TO SAVE THE LORD GOD BIRD: Phillip Hoose. Grades 5 and up.
The history of the large ivory-billed woodpeckers that once lived in the bottomlands of America's southern rivers and in Cuba includes 100 years of efforts to save them.
AN AMERICAN PLAGUE: THE TRUE AND TERRIFYING STORY OF THE YELLOW FEVER EPIDEMIC OF 1793: Jim Murphy. Grades 5 and up.
The diary of a disease begins in early August of 1793, unfolding day by day as pieces of a puzzle. It is also a rich picture of 18th-century Philadelphia.
JOHN LENNON, ALL I WANT IS THE TRUTH: Elizabeth Partridge. High school and up.
A photographic history of one of the 20th century's best known musicians. Begins with John Lennon's unhappy childhood, chronicles his world-wide fame and struggles.
SECRETS OF A CIVIL WAR SUBMARINE: SOLVING THE MYSTERIES OF THE H.L.HUNLEY: Sally M. Walker. Grades 5-up.
The history of the Confederate development of a submarine is combined with the modern-day recovery of the H.L. Hunley and its crew to solve parts of a Civil War mystery.