The 2014 Rebecca Caudill Master List (Part 2/3)

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.

               Part One | Part Two Part Three 

The Apothecary by Maile Meloy. Putnam, 2011. Interest level: Grades 6-8. 

Putnam's Description: 

It's 1952 and the Scott family has just moved from Los Angeles to London. Here, fourteen-year-old Janie meets a mysterious apothecary and his son, Benjamin Burrows - a fascinating boy who's not afraid to stand up to authority and dreams of becoming a spy. When Benjamin's father is kidnapped, Janie and Benjamin must uncover the secrets of the apothecary's sacred book, the Pharmacopoeia, in order to find him, all while keeping it out of the hands of their enemies - Russian spies in possession of nuclear weapons. Discovering and testing potions they never believed could exist, Janie and Benjamin embark on a dangerous race to save the apothecary and prevent impending disaster.

Skip Prichard interviews Maile Meloy. 

Download The Apothecary discussion guide. 


The Hunt for the Seventh by Christine Morton-Shaw. HarperCollins, 2008. Interest level: Grades 5-8. 

Harper's Description: 

 A haunted mansion.
Six dead children.
A garden of statues.
With every step he takes around the carefully manicured grounds of Minerva Hall, Jim is haunted by the ghosts of children, long dead, whom no one else can see. Urging him to "find the Seventh," the children leave him cryptic clues pointing to a devastating ancient prophecy that only he can stop from being fulfilled.
Jim befriends another boy—Einstein, who lives at the Hall. Einstein is autistic and very, very smart. If anyone can help Jim find the Seventh, perhaps he can—Einstein clearly knows more than he is saying. At the same time, the dead children seem to be leaving Jim some sort of macabre treasure trail.


Ghetto Cowboy by G. Neri. Candlewick, 2011. Interest level: Grades 4-8.

Candlewick's Description: 

When Cole’s mom dumps him in the mean streets of Philadelphia to live with the dad he’s never met, the last thing Cole expects to see is a horse, let alone a stable full of them. He may not know much about cowboys, but what he knows for sure is that cowboys aren’t black, and they don’t live in the inner city. But in his dad’s ’hood, horses are a way of life, and soon Cole’s days of skipping school and getting in trouble in Detroit have been replaced by shoveling muck and trying not to get stomped on. At first, all Cole can think about is how to ditch these ghetto cowboys and get home. But when the City threatens to shut down the stables-- and take away the horse Cole has come to think of as his own-- he knows that it’s time to step up and fight back. Inspired by the little-known urban riders of Philly and Brooklyn, this compelling tale of latter -day cowboy justice champions a world where your friends always have your back, especially when the chips are down. 

Download the reading and activity guide. 


Ways to Live Forever by Sally Nicholls. Scholastic, 2008. Interest level: Grades 6-8. 

Scholastic's Description: 

1. My name is Sam.
2. I am eleven years old.
3. I collect stories and fantastic facts.
4. I have leukemia.
5. By the time you read this, I will probably be dead.

Living through the final stages of leukemia, Sam collects stories, questions, lists, and pictures that create a profoundly moving portrait of how a boy lives when he knows his time is almost up.

Ways to Live Forever was adapted for the big screen. 

True facts about Ways to Live Forever.


Wonder by R.J. Palacio. Knopf, 2012. Interest level: Grades 5-8. 

Knopf's Description:

August Pullman was born with a facial deformity that, up until now, has prevented him from going to a mainstream school. Starting 5th grade at Beecher Prep, he wants nothing more than to be treated as an ordinary kid—but his new classmates can’t get past Auggie’s extraordinary face. WONDER, now a #1 New York Times bestseller and included on the Texas Bluebonnet Award master list, begins from Auggie’s point of view, but soon switches to include his classmates, his sister, her boyfriend, and others. These perspectives converge in a portrait of one community’s struggle with empathy, compassion, and acceptance. 

Random House created a wonderful discussion and educator guide.

Becky Anderson sat down with R.J Palacio.

Check out R.J.'s nerdy essay. 

Chip Kidd chatted with R.J. Palacio about Wonder and Choose Kind.

Download a CHOOSE KIND certificate

Wonder made Betsy Bird's Top 100 Children’s Novels poll

R.J. Palacio reads a chapter from Wonder.

Colby Sharp interviewed R.J. Palacio.  

 Children’s literature expert Anita Silvey featured Wonder on D.E.A.R. Day.  


Bamboo People by Mitali Perkins. Charlesbridge, 2010. 

Charlesbridge's Description: 

This coming-of-age story is narrated by two fourteen-year-old boys on opposing sides of the conflict between the Burmese government and the Karenni, one of the many ethnic minorities in Burma. Chiko, a studious Burmese youth, has been seized by the government for his liberal views and is conscripted into the Burmese army. Tu Reh, a Karenni boy whose home and bamboo fields are destroyed by the Burmese soldiers, is eager to fight for his people. When Chiko and Tu Reh meet, a close friendship is forged, demonstrating their courage to overcome violence and prejudice.

Erin Broderick is an innovative teacher-librarian in Newton, Massachusetts. I invited Erin on Watch. Connect. Read. to chat about Mitali Perkin's visit to her school library.

I wrote the words in green, and Erin wrote the words in black. Thank you, Erin!

* Mitali Perkins visited my school library to talk with 4th graders about writing (and reading!) between cultures. Mitali visits with the 4th graders every year and we always eagerly anticipate her presentation!

*Mitali emphasized that we all need stories. Stories to find ourselves in and stories to lose ourselves in. She talked about her experience growing up with immigrant parents and trying to fit in among her peers in the United States.

*I connect students with authors because of the correlations students make to their own writing and experience. I had several students really make strong connections to the stories Mitali was sharing about feeling different from the majority of her classmates.

*Bamboo People is now the most sought out book among 4th graders. It is also a wonderful story about an unexpected friendship that develops among the political unrest and conflict in Burma.

*I am certain my students walked away from Mitali’s visit rethinking the power of stories. She shared some books that were important to her during her childhood, and I heard children murmuring about their own keystone books, ones they reread and reread. The stories she shared about her family and career also sparked discussion and curiosity among the students.

*I always recommend Mitali’s books to readers who appreciate new perspectives and insight to life in other cultures (and some who may not know it yet!). Since she is a local author, students are always eager to read a book written by someone who lives in their town!

*Mr. Schu, you should have asked me about our new school library blog! The comments were fast and furious after Mitali's visit, including 5th graders remembering her fondly, and awed students when Mitali herself commented back.

                Part One | Part Two Part Three 


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