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  • Bulletin Blue Ribbons 2019
  • Deborah Stevenson, Editor


In our January issue, a title was accidentally omitted from the 2019 Blue Ribbons Nonfiction list. We deeply regret the error, as it’s a wonderful title that richly deserves its honor. Here’s the entry:

Bryan, Ashley. Infinite Hope: A Black Artist’s Journey from World War II to Peace; written and illus. by Ashley Bryan and with photographs. Dlouhy/Atheneum, 2019. Gr. 7-12.

The legendary author/illustrator turns his gaze to his World War II experience in the US, UK, and France in this fascinating nontraditional narrative comprising his wartime letters and artwork with some added explanation and period images; it’s a very personal take on war from a man who was inspired by his experience to study peace (November).


It's that reflective time of year again, when we cast our eyes back to the books of the past twelve months and see which ones hold magic for us from this perspective. It was an especially glorious year for history, both fiction and nonfiction, while the picture books offered superb originality. You may not have known you needed a book about the Greek gods and World War I, the birth of food safety laws, or a wolf merchant's trip to the marketplace, but 2019 proves that we all do.


Allen, Kate. The Line Tender. Dutton. Gr. 5-8

Be sure to bring tissues to this well-crafted weeper in which twelve-year-old Lucy processes her fresh grief over a lost friend by following her late mother's passion, tracking and studying sharks. (April)

Berry, Julie. Lovely War. Viking. Gr. 9-12

In Berry's triumphant piece of historically focused fiction, the Greek goddess of love offers up a tale of four people brought together during World War I, the devastating toll it takes on them, and their hopeful resilience. (February)

Griffin, Sarah Maria. Other Words for Smoke; illus. by Magdalena Valcarcel Reyes. Greenwillow/HarperCollins. Gr. 9-12

This genre-defying book traverses timelines and dimensions when brother and sister Rossa and Mae visit their aunt in Ireland and uncover the legacy of a tragedy so awful it literally ripped a hole in the universe. (February)

Kelly, Erin Entrada. Lalani of the Distant Sea; illus. by Lian Cho. Greenwillow. Gr. 4-6

Young Lalani hopes to find a cure for her ailing mother when she travels to the fabled island of Isa; intertwined with her journey are the tales of Ziva, a restless spirit, and Hetsbi, a young village boy, giving this enthralling story broad appeal. (September)

King, Amy Sarig. The Year We Fell From Space; illus. by Nina Goffi. Levine/Scholastic. Gr. 4-7

Twelve-year-old Liberty is left unmoored and unsure, especially of herself and her own mental health, when her father leaves in this insightful, quietly compelling look at depression and family dynamics. (October)

Lại, Thanhhà. Butterfly Yellow. Harper. Gr. 8-12

Lai weaves a tender and at times unexpectedly buoyant tale of healing with the story of eighteen-year-old Hă`ng and her search for her baby brother after she flees from Vietnam. (September) [End Page 237]

Mann, J. Albert. What Every Girl Should Know: Margaret Sanger's Journey. Atheneum. Gr. 7-10

In this highly accessible fictionalized account of reproduction rights pioneer Margaret Sanger, Mann focuses on her early life, providing an absorbing look at the crushing drudgery of housework and childcare that provided her with deeply personal reasons for her later crusade. (January)

Sepetys, Ruta. The Fountains of Silence. Philomel. Gr. 8-12

The lives of four teenagers intersect in 1957 Spain with both tragedy and love in a tale made even richer by Sepetys' use of primary sources and the book's wealth of back matter. (October)

Tamaki, Mariko. Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up with Me; illus. by Rosemary Valero-O'Connell. First Second. Gr. 8-12

The graphic novel format works particularly well here, with manga-esque styled characters and a simple palette, and the book portrays the toxic relationship between love-smitten Freddy and her on again/off again (but always awful) girlfriend Laura Dean with authentic realism. (May)

Thomas, Angie. On...


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pp. 237-241
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