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Best children's books of 2008

December 4, 2008



Birmingham, 1963
By Carole Boston Weatherford (Wordsong, 39 pp., $19.95)
In this 2008 award winner aimed at “tween” readers, Weatherford relies on spare but powerful verse paired with a picture-book format to examine a notorious day in civil rights history. (4/15/08)

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Shift
By Jennifer Bradbury (Atheneum, 256 pp., $16.99)
This lovely story for teen readers is a tale of friendship, self-discovery, and coming-of-age explored through a cross-country bike trip and the mysterious disappearance of a friend. Young readers will lose themselves in its breathless, brilliantly woven plot. (6/17/08)

Eleven
By Patricia Reilly Giff (Random House, 165 pp., $15.99)
Tough, skinny Sam struggles with a learning disability so he turns to Caroline, a new girl at school, to supply the reading skills needed to help him unravel a mystery about his own identity. It’s the excellently rendered relationships that make this book sing. (6/17/08)

The Calder Game

By Blue Balliett (Scholastic Press, 375 pp., $17.99)
Calder’s whimsical yet sophisticated art is at the center of Blue Balliett’s new puzzle novel. Fans of her earlier book “Chasing Vermeer” will be thrilled to join Calder Pillay and his friends Pietra and Tommy on another adventure, this time in Woodstock, England, where a Calder sculpture has just been donated to a 1,000-year-old village – only to vanish. (6/17/08)

A Thousand Never Evers
By Shana Burg (Delacorte Press, 320 pp. $15.99)
This superb coming-of-age novels set within the African-American struggle for freedom and equality is told through the eyes of a 12-year-old named Addie Ann Picket living in the small town of Kuckachoo, Miss., in 1963. Good storytelling and historical facts and events are interwoven into the fabric of this tale in a natural, unfeigned manner. (8/1/08)

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