Each year a committee of the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC) identifies the best of the best in children's books. According to the Notables Criteria, "notable" is defined as: Worthy of note or notice, important, distinguished, outstanding. Here are the 2014 Notable Children's Books for Middle Readers, which is for Grades 3 - 5, ages 8 - 10.
The Animal Book: A Collection of the Fastest, Fiercest, Toughest, Cleverest, Shyest--and Most Surprising--Animals on Earth. Jenkins, Steve. Illus. by the author. Houghton Readers will lose themselves in this compendium of animals living and extinct, chock full of interesting facts and beautiful illustrations.
Barbed Wire Baseball. Moss, Marissa. Illus. by Yuko Shimizu. Abrams
Set in the internment camps of WWII, beautiful Japanese-style ink-and-calligraphy illustrations bring to life the story of Kenichi Zenimura, the father of Japanese-American baseball.
Battle Bunny. Scieszka, Jon and Barnett, Mac. Illus. by Matthew Myers. Simon & Schuster
Not at all interested in his tame birthday gift, Alex remakes Birthday Bunny explode with chainsaws, megaton bombs, and pro-wrestling moves. An irreverent tale.
Battling Boy. Pope, Paul. Illus. by the author. First Second
In this explosive homage to superhero stories of yesteryear, the children of godlike beings are Acropolis's best hope for defeating supervillain Sinestro. The start of a trilogy.
Better Nate Than Ever. Federle, Tim. Simon & Schuster
Having run away from home, exuberant Nate experiences a variety of catastrophes and revelations on his way to becoming a Broadway star. Fresh, funny, and hopeful. (A 2014 Stonewall Honor Book)
Bluffton: My Summers with Buster. Phelan, Matt. Illus. by the author. Candlewick
In this distinctively-visual,nostalgic graphic novel, Henry is resigned to spending a boring summer in Muskegon, Michigan, until young Buster Keaton arrives in town to spend the summer with his vaudeville troupe.
Bo at Ballard Creek. Hill, Kirkpatrick. Illus. by LeUyen Pham. Holt
Set during the Alaska 1920s gold rush, orphaned Bo is adopted by two tough but loving gold miners; she experiences plenty of adventure, charmingly illustrated.
The Boy on the Wooden Box: How the Impossible Became Possible...on Schindler's List. Leyson, Leon. illus. Atheneum
Leon Leyson, the youngest person saved by Oskar Schindler, memorably describes the Krakow ghetto, the Nazi factory where he worked, and his life in the U.S. after the war.
The Boy Who Loved Math: The Improbable Life of Paul Erdös. Heiligman, Deborah. Illus. by LeUyen Pham. Roaring Brook
Readers will gain insight into the life of a genius in this colorful introductory biography of an brilliant unconventional mathematician.
Doll Bones. Black, Holly. Margaret K. McElderry
In a distinctive coming-of-age tale, three friends set out on a life-altering quest driven by the presence of a sinister china doll that haunts their dreams and waking hours. (A 2014 Newbery Honor Book)
Eruption!: Volcanoes and the Science of Saving Lives. Rusch, Elizabeth. Illus. by Tom Uhlman. Houghton
Compelling writing and informative photographs and maps explore the inner workings of volcanoes and highlights the work of a group of scientists dedicated to preventing the human tragedy caused by eruptions around the world.
Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library. Grabenstein, Chris. Random
After notorious gamemaker Luigi Lemoncello designs the town library, Kyle and 11 kids are locked inside overnight and won’t be free until they solve a series of puzzles based on famous books. Quirky and fun.
Farmer Will Allen and the Growing Table. Martin, Jacqueline Briggs. Illus. by Eric-Shabazz Larkin. Readers to Eaters
Farmer Will Allen and his Genius Project to encourage people to grow food for their own table, are introduced in this lively and engaging tale.
Flora & Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures. DiCamillo, Kate. Illus. by K. G. Campbell. Candlewick
In this homage to comic books, natural-born cynic Flora Belle Buckman and Ulysses, a flying, poetry-writing squirrel, join forces to overcome Ulysses’ arch-nemesis, encountering a cast of quirky characters. (The 2014 Newbery Medal Book)
Gone Fishing: A Novel in Verse. Wissinger, Tamera Will. Illus. by Matthew Cordell. Houghton
Laugh-out-loud verse and humorous line drawings capture an older brother’s frustration and a little sister’s exuberance when they spend the day fishing with dad.
The Great American Dust Bowl. Brown, Don. Illus. by the author. Houghton
Employing graphic novel format, Don Brown paints a vivid and startling picture of the 10-year span of dust storms that devastated the Midwest, and explores the human causes of this environmental disaster.
How to Catch a Bogle. Jinks, Catherine. Illus. by Sarah Watts. Harcourt
In rough Victorian England, 10-year-old Birdie proudly works as an apprentice to a bogler, luring out the scary monsters that are eating children. Fast-paced, lots of historical detail, and starring a resourceful young heroine.
Knock Knock : My Dad's Dream for Me. Beaty, Daniel. Illus. by Bryan Collier. Little Brown Beatty conveys loss and hope through poignant text and illustrations as a boy struggles to understand the absence of his father and their daily game of "Knock, Knock." (The 2014 Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award Book)
The Lightning Dreamer: Cuba's Greatest Abolitionist. Engle, Margarita. Harcourt
Tula fights for freedom and education for herself, and ultimately for women, slaves, and dissenters, in a poetic story of nineteenth-century Cuban abolitionist and writer Gertrudis Gómez de Avellaneda. (A 2014 Belpré Author Honor Book)
Lincoln's Grave Robbers. Sheinkin, Steve. Scholastic
A thrilling account of a brazen plan by desperate counterfeiters to steal the body of Abraham Lincoln and use it as ransom for the release of a fellow felon.
Look Up! Bird-Watching in Your Own Backyard. Cate, Annette LeBlanc. Illus. by the author. Candlewick
This spirited, accessible introduction to the art and science of birding features immersive, fact-filled cartoon art punctuated with tongue-in-beak bird commentary via word bubbles and humorous asides. (A 2014 Sibert Honor Book)
The Mad Potter: George E. Ohr, Eccentric Genius. Greenberg, Jan and Jordan, Sandra. Roaring Brook/Neal Porter
This fascinating account of the life and work of eccentric and inventive ceramic artist George E. Ohr is enhanced by photographs and information about where to see his art today. (A 2014 Sibert Honor Book)
Mister Orange. Matti, Truus. Illus. by Jenni Desmond. Trans. by Laura Watkinson. Enchanted Lion
When his older brother enlists in 1943, Linus Muller assumes family responsibilities that introduce him to “Mister Orange,” Dutch painter Piet Mondrian. A coming of age story and a celebration of the power of art. (The 2014 Batchelder Award Book)
Monster on the Hill. Harrell, Rob. Illus. by the author. Top Shelf
In this witty graphic novel set in an alternative 1860s England, towns are proud to have scary monsters; when Rayburn disappoints his villagers, they help him reach his full potential of terror.
P. S. Be Eleven. Williams-Garcia, Rita. HarperCollins/Amistad
In this riveting sequel to One Crazy Summer, the Gaither sisters return to their grandmother's house in New York City, where they struggle with the chaos of turbulent times and changing family relationships. (The 2014 Coretta Scott King Author Award Book)
Pancho Rabbit and the Coyote: A Migrant's Tale. Tonatiuh, Duncan. Illus. by the author. Abrams
An emotional story of the effects of undocumented immigration on those who leave and those who stay behind. Through traditional folk elements, readers follow young Pancho Rabbit in his arduous journey across the border in search of his father. (A 2014 Belpré Author Honor Book and Illustrator Honor Book)
Rooftoppers. Rundell, Katherine. Illus. by Terry Fan. Simon & Schuster
In a tale that soars with hope and humanity, Sophie has fled Victorian London to go mother-hunting in Paris. Bounding above the streets, a pack of homeless young “rooftoppers” assist in her search. Lyrical and poetic.
Serafina's Promise: A Novel in Verse. Burg, Ann E. Scholastic
Set in Haiti and told in verse, 11-year-old Seraphina and her poor but loving family endure hunger, floods, and earthquakes while the determined girl never gives up her dreams of going to school and becoming a doctor.
Soldier Dog. Angus, Sam. Feiwel and Friends
During World War I, 14-year old Stanley becomes one of the first “keepers” of Britain’s Messenger Dog Service, training two beloved dogs with whom he endures the horrors of trench warfare.
A Splash of Red: The Life and Art of Horace Pippin, Bryant, Jen. Illus. by Melissa Sweet. Knopf
This engaging picture book biography of artist Horace Pippin captures the essence of his life and work through tightly woven narrative and vibrant illustrations. (A 2014 Sibert Honor Book and Schneider Family Book Award Book)
Sugar. Rhodes, Jewell Parker. Little, Brown
After Emancipation, young Sugar's forbidden friendship with the plantation owner’s son and her connection with Chinese immigrant workers advances her dream of a better life far from the plantation.
Treasury of Egyptian Mythology. Napoli, Donna Jo. Illus. by Christina Balit. National Geographic
In this exemplary book of folklore, Napoli introduces young readers to Egyptian mythology with vivid language and illustration and anchors the tales in intriging and research-supported interpretation.
The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp. Appelt, Kathi. Atheneum
In this comical tall tale, the swamp is threatened by developers and an unlikely crew of characters including the Swamp Man, the raccoon brothers, and 12-year-old Chap set out to save it.
The War within These Walls. Sax, Aline. Illus. by Caryl Strzelecki. Trans. by Laura Watkinson. Eerdmans
With powerful text and stark illustrations, this novella provides a harrowing account of Jewish suffering in the Warsaw ghetto during World War II. (A 2014 Batchelder Honor Book)
When Stravinsky Met Nijinsky: Two Artists, Their Ballet, and One Extraordinary Riot. Stringer, Lauren. Illus. by the author. Harcourt
Illustrations dance across the page as Russian composer Stravinsky and choreographer Nijinsky collaborate on “The Rite of Spring,” creating a modern ballet that polarized their artistic world.
When the Beat Was Born: DJ Kool Herc and the Creation of Hip Hop. Hill, Laban Carrick. Illus. by Theodore Taylor III. Roaring Brook
Vibrant illustrations and brief text introduce DJ Clive Campbell, who took popular dance music, stretched the breaks in the songs, and turned basic rhythms into hip-hop. ((The 2014 Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe New Talent Award Book)
Words with Wings. Grimes, Nikki. Boyds Mills/WordSong
Gabriella journeys from daydreamer to writer thanks to the intervention of an empathetic teacher. An engaging novel told in verse. (A 2014 Coretta Scott King Author Honor Book)