The 2014 Rebecca Caudill Master List (Part 3 of 3)

Schools and libraries in Illinois promote the Rebecca Caudill Young Readers' Book Award. It is a children's choice program for readers in grades four through eight. The 2014 Rebecca Caudill master list was released last week. 

The purposes of the Rebecca Caudill Young Readers' Book Award are 

*To encourage children and young adults to read for personal satisfaction. 

*To develop a statewide awareness of outstanding literature for children and young people and to promote a desire for literacy. 

*To encourage cooperation among Illinois agencies providing educational and library service to young people. 

Words in the Dust by Trent Reedy. Scholastic, 2011. Interest level: Grades 7-8. 

Zulaikha hopes. She hopes for peace, now that the Taliban have been driven from Afghanistan; a good relationship with her hard stepmother; and one day even to go to school, or to have her cleft palate fixed. Zulaikha knows all will be provided for her--"Inshallah," God willing.
Then she meets Meena, who offers to teach her the Afghan poetry she taught her late mother. And the Americans come to her village, promising not just new opportunities and dangers, but surgery to fix her face. These changes could mean a whole new life for Zulaikha--but can she dare to hope they'll come true?

Trent Reedy chats with Cheryl Klein about Words in the Dust. 

Al Roker's Book Club read Words in the Dust


Okay for Now by Gary Schmidt. Clarion, 2011. Interest level: Grades 7-8. 

In this companion novel to The Wednesday Wars, Doug struggles to be more than the "skinny thug" that some people think him to be. He finds an unlikely ally in Lil Spicer, who gives him the strength to endure an abusive father, the suspicions of a town, and the return of his oldest brother, forever scarred, from Vietnam. Schmidt expertly weaves multiple themes of loss and recovery in a story teeming with distinctive, unusual characters and invaluable lessons about love, creativity, and survival.

Download the Okay for Now educator guide. 

Vicky Smith chats with Gary Schmidt. 

Gary Schmidt finds the process of kids turning toward adulthood fascinating and intriguing. 

Gary Schmidt presented at the 2011 National Book Festival. 

Boys Without Names by Kashmira Sheth. Balzer + Bray, 2010. Interest level: Grades 5-8. 

For eleven-year-old Gopal and his family, life in their rural Indian village is over: We stay, we starve, his baba has warned. They flee to the big city of Mumbai in hopes of finding work and a brighter future. Gopal is eager to help support his struggling family, so when a stranger approaches him with the promise of a factory job, he jumps at the offer.
But there is no factory, just a stuffy sweatshop where he and five other boys are forced to work for no money and little food. The boys are forbidden to talk or even to call one another by their real names. Locked away in a rundown building, Gopal despairs of ever seeing his family again.
But late one night, when Gopal decides to share kahanis, or stories, he realizes that storytelling might be the boys' key to survival. If he can make them feel more like brothers than enemies, their lives will be more bearable in the shop—and they might even find a way to escape.

Please click here to hear the recording. 

Download the Boys Without Names discussion guide. 


Candy Bomber: The Story of the Berlin Airlift's Chocolate Pilot by Michael O. Tunnell. Charlesbridge, 2010. Interest level: Grades 4-8. 

World War II was over, and Berlin was in ruins. US Air Force pilot Gail Halvorsen wanted to bring some happiness to the children of the city-but what could one man in one plane do?

Download the discussion and activity guide. 


The Running Dream by Wendelin Van Draanen. Knopf, 2011. Interest level: Grades 6-8. 

Jessica thinks her life is over when she loses a leg in a car accident. She's not comforted by the news that she'll be able to walk with the help of a prosthetic leg. Who cares about walking when you live to run?
As she struggles to cope with crutches and a first cyborg-like prosthetic, Jessica feels oddly both in the spotlight and invisible. People who don't know what to say, act like she's not there. Which she could handle better if she weren't now keenly aware that she'd done the same thing herself to a girl with CP named Rosa. A girl who is going to tutor her through all the math she's missed. A girl who sees right into the heart of her.

With the support of family, friends, a coach, and her track teammates, Jessica may actually be able to run again. But that's not enough for her now. She doesn't just want to cross finish lines herself—she wants to take Rosa with her.

"Make sure you always have hope in the mail." -Wendelin Van Draanen 
Wendelin Van Draanen shares her passion for libraries. 

Blizzard of Glass: The Halifax Explosion of 1917. Holt, 2011. Interest level: Grades 4-8. 

Holt's Description: 
On December 6, 1917 two ships collided in Halifax Harbour. One ship was loaded top to bottom with munitions and one held relief supplies, both intended for wartorn Europe. The resulting blast flattened two towns, Halifax and Dartmouth, and killed nearly 2,000 people. As if that wasn't devastating enough, a blizzard hit the next day, dumping more than a foot of snow on the area and paralyzing much-needed relief efforts.

Breaking Stalin's Nose by Eugene Yelchin. Holt, 2011. Interest level: Grades 4-8. 

Sasha Zaichik has known the laws of the Soviet Young Pioneers since the age of six:
The Young Pioneer is devoted to Comrade Stalin, the Communist Party, and Communism.
A Young Pioneer is a reliable comrade and always acts according to conscience.
A Young Pioneer has a right to criticize shortcomings.
But now that it is finally time to join the Young Pioneers, the day Sasha has awaited for so long, everything seems to go awry. He breaks a classmate's glasses with a snowball. He accidentally damages a bust of Stalin in the school hallway.  And worst of all, his father, the best Communist he knows, was arrested just last night.

Eugene Yelchin thanks the 2012 Newbery Selection Committee. 

Breaking Stalin's Nose has an interactive website.

Roger Sutton asks Eugene Yelchin five questions. 


  1. Wow, some terrific books on the list, I was excited to learn about a few new titles but to have actually read 4 already!


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