Smithsonian Notable Books for Children 2009

Our annual list of children's books highlights the most fascinating titles published in the past year

Smithsonian magazine's 2009 Notable Books for Children. (Candlewick Press / Little, Brown Books for Young Readers / Lee & Low Books, Inc. / Holiday House, Inc.)

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Heroes of the Environment by Harriet Rohmer, illustrated by Julie McLaughlin
In Mexico, a superstar wrestler campaigns to preserve habitats for sea turtles and whales. A teenage girl discovers a method for removing a toxic chemical from the Ohio River. What they hold in common is a passionate belief that one person can make a difference.

The Yggssey by Daniel Pinkwater
Wacked out, shot through with sorcery and utterly original as always, Pinkwater’s account of a girl who happens to notice that L.A.’s once-thriving ghosts seem to be vanishing amounts to a first-class page turner.

If I Had a Hammer written and photographed by David Rubel
An absorbing chronicle of Habitat for Humanity, which for a quarter century has created shelter from the ground up, everywhere from West Virginia to a Brazilian village, where children no longer sleep beneath a table when the rains begin.

Hannah’s Winter by Kieran Meehan
Witty and unpredictable, fantastical and touching, Meehan’s novel is set in present-day Japan. An ancient message uncovered in a Japanese family’s stationery shop sends two teenage sleuths on a quest for truth.

Juicy Writing: Inspiration and Techniques for Young Writers by Brigid Lowry
The author of many outstanding young adult novels, including Follow the Blue, shares her secrets and explores the rewards of creativity.

Shine, Coconut Moon by Neesha Meminger
Samar is a typical teenager—obsessed by school, friends and boys—until an uncle arrives from India, wanting to connect her family to its rich and contradictory Sikh heritage.

Marching for Freedom by Elizabeth Partridge
A documentary account of events in Selma, Alabama in the spring of 1965—when even children marched in support of the campaign for voting rights— is amplified by unforgettable contemporary photographs.

Pharaoh’s Boat by David Weitzman
Splendid drawings and compelling narrative meld past and present, revealing the secrets of shipwrights working in the shadow of the Pyramids and recognizing the contribution of the archaeologist who excavated the 4,600-year-old vessel they crafted.

The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Prisoner’s Dilemma by Trento Lee Stewart
Four friends who have already sorted out some evildoers find that they must unravel clues in an ominous new plot against their families. Suspense of a high order.

The Man Who Flies with Birds by Carole Garbuny Vogel and Yossi Leshem
Internationally renowned ornithologist Leshem has revolutionized our understanding of migration patterns and also has worked tirelessly for peace in the Middle East—reaching one bird lover at a time.


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