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

Smithsonian Notable Books for Children 2009

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

For Older Readers
(Ages 10 and up)

Genius of Common Sense written and illustrated by Glenna Lang and Marjory Wunsch
An American heroine of the first order, Jane Jacobs perceived cities as places where we thrive on interconnectedness. Her vision, eloquently explicated here, revolutionized our urban landscapes. For all ages.

Crows & Cards by Joseph Helgerson
Hilarious, touching and grounded in the American tall-tale tradition, Helgerson’s account of Zebulon Crabtree, who falls in with a riverboat gambler in 1849 St. Louis, has all the makings of a classic. Perfect as a read-aloud for somewhat younger children also.

Earth Heroes: Champions of the Wilderness by Bruce and Carol L. Malnor, illustrated by Anisa Claire Hovemann; Earth Heroes: Champions of the Ocean by Fran Hodgkins, illustrated by Cris Arbo
Profiles of dedicated scientists and environmentalists shed new light on science conducted in the field.

Marcelo in the Real World by Francisco X. Stork
This novel, richly layered and satisfyingly complex, is at once a legal thriller and a love story—but most of all, a tale of an autistic protagonist finding his way forward when demanding choices must be made.

The Secret of the Yellow Death by Suzanne Jurmain
A portrayal of the researchers who put their lives on the line to solve a medical mystery constitutes a true-life tale that will inspire the next generation of medical investigators.

Lifting the Sky by Mackie d’Arge
On a tumbledown ranch in Wyoming, a teenage girl who befriends wild creatures and possesses her own kind of clairvoyance finds that a real home is at last within her grasp.

Almost Astronauts: 13 Women Who Dared to Dream by Tanya Lee Stone
In 1958, an unspoken rule was in place: astronauts must be male and must be white. The pioneers who challenged the system were pathfinders for young women who today fly jets and take off for missions in space.

Journey of Dreams by Marge Pellegrino
As a girl and her family set out on a harrowing escape from war-torn Guatemala, they rely on family and a tradition of storytelling to sustain them on their flight to freedom. Pellegrino’s powerful novel is set against the backdrop of events as they unfolded in 1980s Central America.

City Boy by Jan Michael
In Malawi, an orphaned boy, sent to the country to live with his relatives, believes that only the past has any meaning—until he begins to glimpse his future.

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