Horn Book Guide Outstanding & Superior Books for 2010




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Horn Book Guide – Outstanding & Superior Books for 2010

Grades 4-6


Outstanding – Fiction and Nonfiction

Anderson, Laurie Halse Forge
   297 pp. Atheneum (Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing) 2010. ISBN 978-1-4169-6144-4
(1) 4-6 Seeds of America series. Fugitive slave Curzon takes over narration from Isabel in this sequel to Chains. Only fifteen, he enlists in the Continental Army, serving alongside white soldiers encamped for the winter at Valley Forge. Anderson seamlessly weaves her fictitious characters into history in a cohesive, well-researched narrative about the Revolutionary War that still focuses foremost on developing characters and their relationships.
Intermediate Fiction; History, American--Revolutionary War; Valley Forge (PA); Soldiers; African Americans; Slavery; Fugitive slaves

Appelt, Kathi Keeper
   409 pp. Atheneum (Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing) 2010. ISBN 978-1-4169-5060-8
(1) 4-6 Illustrated by August Hall. Ten-year-old Keeper "borrows" a boat to search for her (possibly) mermaid mama. Appelt's haunting, wistful novel alternates between Keeper's travails on the boat and flashbacks that tease out her past. Folkloric elements and magic realism are beautifully integrated into this tale of a girl slowly learning the truth about herself. Hall's shadowy, atmospheric mixed-media illustrations leave room for readers' imaginations to flow.
Intermediate Fiction; Sports--Sailing; Mermaids; Family--Mother and daughter; Vehicles--Boats and boating; Texas

Freedman, Russell The War to End All Wars: World War I
   170 pp. Clarion 2010. ISBN 978-0-547-02686-2
(1) 4-6 With an abundance of historical photographs and a characteristically lucid, well-organized text, Freedman documents the history of the First World War: from its tangled beginnings, through years of stalemate, to the collapse of empires and uneasy peace, and ending with a brief description of the rise of Hitler. Freedman's narrative, dedicated to his WWI veteran father, is dramatic and often heart-wrenching. Bib., ind.
Modern History; History, Modern--World War I

Gleitzman, Morris Once
   165 pp. Holt 2010. ISBN 978-0-8050-9026-0
(1) 4-6 This Holocaust parable plays its main character's naiveté against readers' likely knowledge of the historical realities--the juxtaposition is believable and not at all precious. Gleitzman manages to find a grain of hope in the unresolved (and likely dire) conclusion, but this is the rare Holocaust book for young readers that doesn't alleviate its dark themes with a comforting ending.
Intermediate Fiction; Jews; History, Modern--Holocaust; History, Modern--World War II; Poland; Survival; Orphans; Concentration camps

Greene, Stephanie Happy Birthday, Sophie Hartley
   128 pp. Clarion 2010. ISBN 978-0-547-25128-8
(1) 4-6 For Sophie's "double-digit" birthday, she wants a special pet: a baby gorilla. Things get out of hand when she announces that her parents have consented. At the same time, older sister Nora moves out of the bedroom the two have always shared. All the plot strands merge in a satisfying denouement that's tidy but not in the least predictable.
Intermediate Fiction; Behavior--Truthfulness and falsehood; Pets; Gifts; Birthdays; Family--Siblings; Schools--Elementary schools; Friendship

Lord, Cynthia Touch Blue
   186 pp. Scholastic 2010. ISBN 978-0-545-03531-6
(1) 4-6 After the state threatens to close its school, Maine islanders take in foster kids to increase enrollment; Tess's family fosters thirteen-year-old Aaron, who's not exactly eager about it. Tess is well versed in axioms about luck, and each chapter opens with a different one. Her narration gives readers a real feeling for island life, while her sense of humor keeps things light.
Intermediate Fiction; Superstition; Schools; Islands and island life; Maine; Luck; Foster homes; Musical instruments--Trumpet; Musicians; Family

Macaulay, David Built to Last
   272 pp. Houghton (Houghton Mifflin Trade and Reference Division) 2010. ISBN 978-1-547-34240-5
(1) 4-6 Cathedral, Castle, and Mosque are substantially revised for an omnibus celebration. Color has been added, and larger, more active figures heighten detail. Compositions are more animated, showing varied visual points of view. Reorganization of the texts, too, facilitates understanding of both construction processes and how the societies functioned. The whole conveys a clearer--and more dramatic--sense of the magnitude of these undertakings. Glos.
Visual Arts; Architecture; Buildings

Montgomery, Sy Kakapo Rescue: Saving the World's Strangest Parrot
   74 pp. Houghton (Houghton Mifflin Trade and Reference Division) 2010. ISBN 978-0-618-49417-0
(1) 4-6 Photographs by Nic Bishop. Scientists in the Field series. Montgomery and Bishop trek to Codfish Island off New Zealand's coast to bring us a marvelous account of the efforts of naturalists to save the kakapo. Montgomery's in-depth descriptions and Bishop's glorious photographs cover all aspects of the conservation effort. Layered into the account is information on New Zealand's history, its unique biodiversity, and the devastating consequences of human settlement on its fragile ecosystem. Bib., ind.
Birds; Environment--Conservation--Wildlife; Animals--Parrots; Scientists; New Zealand

Morris, Gerald The Legend of the King
   295 pp. Houghton (Houghton Mifflin Trade and Reference Division) 2010. ISBN 978-0-547-14420-7
(1) 4-6 Squire's Tales series. This final series installment tackles the end of Camelot: death, destruction, and the extinction of chivalry. Morris's great accomplishment is tracing these events without dampening the courage and optimism of his big-hearted protagonists. The knights' simplicity, honor, and kitchen-table philosophizing will continue to entrance readers, straight through to the end of this thrilling, elegiac, hope-from-the-ashes saga.
Intermediate Fiction; Middle Ages; Knights and knighthood; Great Britain; Arthur, King; Kings, queens, and rulers; Adventure and adventurers

Peirce, Lincoln Big Nate: In a Class by Himself
   216 pp. HarperCollins/Harper 2010. ISBN 978-0-06-194434-5 LE ISBN 978-0-06-194435-2
(1) 4-6 Sixth grader Big Nate (from the syndicated cartoon strip) is convinced that he's destined for greatness--but he seems destined for trouble. Nate's voice, at once sarcastic and optimistic, captures this goofy, awkward time. There's so much to like here--illustrations or cartoon panels on every page, fast-paced trouble for our hero, and laugh-out-loud commentary on the day-to-day monotony of school.
Intermediate Fiction; Schools--Middle schools; Cartoons and comics; Humorous stories; Behavior

Perkins, Lynne Rae As Easy as Falling Off the Face of the Earth
   354 pp. Greenwillow (HarperCollins Children's Books Group) 2010. ISBN 978-0-06-187090-3 LE ISBN 978-0-06-187091-0
(1) 4-6 On his way to summer camp, fifteen-year-old Ry discovers that the camp has gone out of business; when he hops off the train to call his grandfather, it leaves without him, stranding him in the middle of nowhere. A lot happens in the novel--parents, grandfathers, and dogs go MIA--and wherever Perkins's warm, funny, wise narrative goes is where a reader wants to be.
Intermediate Fiction; Animals--Dogs; Family--Grandfathers; Luck; Adventure and adventurers; Seasons--Summer; Voyages and travels

Ryan, Pam Muñoz
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