2008 Award Winning Children’s Books

To compliment this list Salt Lake County Youth Services Librarian Anna Zanarini has also compiled her picks for the best children’s books for 2008.


2008 Award-Winning Books for Children – ALA Awards

There are many awards given out to children’s books. Here’s a list of the books which have either won or were given an honor by the American Library Association (ALA) in 2008. The descriptions of the Awards and the books are taken directly from the ALA website which is listed under each award title.
John Newbery Medal: Award for Best Writing
The Newbery Medal was named for eighteenth-century British bookseller John Newbery. It is awarded annually by the Association for Library Service to Children, a division of the American Library Association, to the author of the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children.

Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! Voices from a Medieval

by Laura Amy Schlitz

In “Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! Voices from a Medieval Village,” thirteenth-century England springs to life using 21 dramatic individual narratives that introduce young inhabitants of village and manor; from Hugo, the lord’s nephew, to Nelly, the sniggler. Schlitz’s elegant monologues and dialogues draw back the curtain on the period, revealing character and relationships, hinting at stories untold. Explanatory interludes add information and round out this historical and theatrical presentation.

Newbery Honor Books

Elijah of Buxton by Christopher Paul Curtis

In Elijah of Buxton, Elijah is the first free-born child in Buxton, a Canadian community of escaped slaves, in 1860. With masterful storytelling, vibrant humor, and poignant insight into the realities of slavery and the meaning of freedom, Curtis takes readers on a journey that transforms a “fra-gile” 11-year-old boy into a courageous hero.

The Wednesday Wars by Gary D. Schmidt

In The Wednesday Wars, seventh-grader, Holling Hoodhood, is convinced his teacher hates him. Through their Wednesday afternoon Shakespeare sessions she helps him cope with events both wildly funny and deadly serious. “To thine own self be true” is just one of the life lessons he learns.

Feathers by Jacqueline Woodson

Feathers tells the story of how a new boy’s arrival in a sixth-grade classroom helps Frannie recognize the barriers that separate people, and the importance of hope as a bridge. Transcendent imagery and lyrical prose deftly capture a girl learning to navigate the world through words.

Randolph Caldecott Medal: Award for Best Illustration


The Caldecott Medal was named in honor of nineteenth-century English illustrator Randolph Caldecott. It is awarded annually by the Association for Library Service to Children, a division of the American Library Association, to the artist of the most distinguished American picture book for children.

The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick
From an opening shot of the full moon setting over an awakening Paris in 1931, this tale casts a new light on the picture book form. Hugo is a young orphan secretly living in the walls of a train station where he labors to complete a mysterious invention left by his father. In a work of more than 500 pages, the suspenseful text and wordless double-page spreads narrate the tale in turns. Neither words nor pictures alone tell this story, which is filled with cinematic intrigue. Black & white pencil illustrations evoke the flickering images of the silent films to which the book pays homage.

Caldecott Honor Books

Henry’s Freedom Box: A True Story from the Underground Railroad, illustrated by Kadir Nelson, written by Ellen Levine

Inspired by an antique lithograph, Kadir Nelson has created dramatically luminous illustrations that portray Henry “Box” Brown’s ingenious design to ship himself in a box from slavery to freedom.

First the Egg by Laura Vaccaro Seeger
Laura Vaccaro Seeger’s innovative concept book on transformations, First the Egg uses strategically placed die-cuts to provide an astonishing visual explication of the word “then.” Her richly textured brushstrokes creatively reveal the process of metamorphosis for young readers.

The Wall: Growing Up Behind the Iron Curtin by Peter Sís

The Wall: Growing Up Behind the Iron Curtain, a graphic memoir of Sís’s youth in Prague, brilliantly weds artistic and design choices to content: tight little panels with officious lines and red punctuation; full-bleed line-and-watercolor spreads of nightmares and dreams; color and absence of color.

Knuffle Bunny Too: A Case of Mistaken Identity by Mo Willems

Willems sets the stage for one of the most dramatic double-paged spreads in picture-book history in Knuffle Bunny Too: A Case of Mistaken Identity. Masterful photo collages take Trixie and her daddy through their now-familiar Brooklyn neighborhood to the Pre-K class where Trixie discovers that her beloved Knuffle Bunny is not “so one-of-a-kind anymore.”

Theodor Seuss Geisel Award: Award for Best Book for Beginning Readers

The Theodor Seuss Geisel Award is given annually to the author(s) and illustrator(s) of the most distinguished American book for beginning readers published in English in the United States during the preceding year.

There Is a Bird on Your Head! by Mo Willems

In this humorous account of Elephant Gerald and Piggie’s ongoing friendship, Gerald learns that there is something worse than having a bird on your head – having two birds on your head! Trying to help her friend, the always-playful Piggie ends up with a problem of her own.

Geisel Honor Books

First the Egg by Laura Vaccaro Seeger

Simple words and paintings create a jewel-like package in a stylish yet unpretentious book in First the Egg, inviting the new reader in again and again. Lush, textured paint combined with die cuts in a trim size just right for deep thinkers, introduces the age-old chicken-and-egg riddle for the youngest reader.

Hello, Bumblebee Bat, written by Darrin Lunde, illus. by Patricia J. Wynne

Nine questions and answers introduce the world’s smallest bat in Hello, Bumblebee Bat, an informational book for emerging readers. Straightforward text pops out of a sparse background allowing this little mammal to describe its habitat and characteristics in an intriguing and accessible way.

Jazz Baby, written by Lisa Wheeler, illustrated by R. Gregory Christie

Bebop rhyme and repeated stanzas are just the right rhythm for young readers in Jazz Baby, a nostalgic celebration of dancing, singing and playing music. New words are effortlessly repeated as they bounce into the text and become part of the joyful gouache paintings that swing high and low with the movement of one lucky baby at the center of this loving family.

Vulture View, written by April Pulley Sayre, illustrated by Steve Jenkins

In Vulture View, rhyming lyrical text, juxtaposed with dramatic textured collage come together in an innovative combination of science and poetry for new readers. Spare text placed on vivid backgrounds introduces new readers to a day in the life of turkey vultures.

Sibert Medal: For the Best Informational Book for Children

The Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Award is awarded annually to the author(s) and illustrator(s) of the most distinguished informational book published in English during the preceding year.

The Wall: Growing Up Behind the Iron Curtin by Peter Sís

In his deeply felt memoir set in mid-20th century Prague, Sís contrasts the constrictive walls of the communist state with his personal quest for artistic freedom. Black & white drawings accentuated with sharp punches of red are brightened with splashes of color as hope gradually takes hold. Sís takes us from his childhood, when fear, suspicion and lies permeated everyday life, to the “Prague Spring” of 1968 and beyond, a time when “everything seemed possible.”

Sibert Honor Books

Lightship by Brian Floca

In simple, stately prose that perfectly complements his luminous watercolors, Floca introduces the lightship Ambrose, its crew and cat. Masterful use of the historical present tense, deft, humorous touches and detailed endpapers engage young children while acknowledgments and notes in the book, fore and aft, provide context.

Nic Bishop Spiders by Nic Bishop

Even the squeamish will be awed by Bishop’s oversized, dramatic and vibrant up-close color photographs of more than a dozen types of spiders in “Nic Bishop Spider.” His compelling, conversational and knowledgeable text provides basic information and startling facts which all ages will relish.

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