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CCB Newsletter
November 2011

In this Newsletter…


News and Updates

Just Released: The Bulletin’s 2011 Guide Book to Gift Books!

Available to download here, the Bulletin’s annual Guide Book to Gift Books features an extensive sampling of books worthy of wrapping for holidays, birthdays, or any gift-giving occasion.  Designed to help match titles to potential recipients, the Guide divides titles into four categories based on likely audience, and all are followed by a succinct annotation—though browsing through the entire Guide is encouraged!  All titles have been reviewed and recommended by the professionals at the Bulletin.  For more on the Guide, check out this month’s feature

CCB Brown Bags: Presenters Wanted!

This semester, the CCB has begun hosting a series of brown bag discussions, all focused on some aspect of literature for youth.  We’re excited to continue these casual-yet-informative discussions in the coming months, starting with Dr. Kate McDowell’s presentation on Race and Fantasy Literature for Youth (November 3) and a visit from Paula Carns, librarian at the University’s Literature and Languages Library, who will be sharing resources to find children’s books from Latin America and the Caribbean (December 1).  We’d like to invite any of you—from students to practicing professionals—to share your area of passion or expertise in literature for children or young adults.  If you have a topic you’d like to present, just email us at!


November Calendar

Thursday, November 3: CCB Brown Bag: Race and Fantasy Literature for Youth, 11-12pm
Thursday, October 13: Youth Lit Book Club, 5-6pm
                                    Discussing Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly
Monday, November 21-Friday, November 25: CCB Closed (Thanksgiving)
Tuesday, November 29: Graphic Novel Book Club, 7-8pm at Espresso Royale
Thursday, December 1: CCB Brown Bag: Children's Books from Latin America and the Caribbean

Events take place at the CCB unless otherwise noted. For complete descriptions of events, visit the calendar on our website.


New Bibliographies on the CCB Website

Novel Graphic Novels: New Graphic Novels and Comic-style Books
Created by Laurel Halfar

Holy Days and Holidays
Created by Tricia Dean


Feature: Behind the Bulletin’s Guide to Gift Books

Produced annually by The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books, the Guide Book to Gift Books features over 300 of the best books for gift-giving, as recommended by the trusted Bulletin.  Read on for a behind-the-scenes peek at how these titles are chosen with Kate Quealy-Gainer, assistant editor at the Bulletin. 

What kinds of books make the list? What determines a great gift book?
As corny as it may sound, what makes a gift book is often in the eye of the giver, which is why we like to include a variety of books that appeal to a diverse group of readers. The Guide Book to Gift Books is organized by age groups into four categories (Picture Books, Books for Young/Beginning Readers, Books for Middle Readers, and Books for Older Readers) and covers a wide range of genres, from animal stories to nonfiction biographies to dystopian sci-fi to fun how-to books.

Of course, we also look at the quality of the books, which is perhaps the most important aspect of the list.  The Guide only includes books that have received an R (recommended) or an R* (special distinction) from the Bulletin. The Guide remains separate from your typical "Best of the Year" book list, however, because of the diverse set of books included; middle grade mysteries or humorous nonfiction pieces, for example, don't often make it onto those "Best of" lists and we like to recognize them here. Readers want a good book, but they also want one that will interest them—the goal of the gift giver is to meet both criteria.

The Guide Book to Gift Books features titles from prior to 2011.  How long can a great book stay on the list?
All titles on the list have all been published within the last three years, and as of the publication of the Guide, have been verified as still in print. After their three-year run, the books are retired from the list (but still well loved!). We do this to keep the list as current as possible, as well as up to speed with the latest trends in readership. For example, a few years back, the Guide was chock full of supernatural romances to help gift book selectors keep up with the Twilight trend. This year, that trend has seemed to cool off a bit, and dystopian novels and a few unique ghost stories have replaced those supernatural romances.  The Guide is interesting that way, as it is sort of a little microcosm of the trends both in the publishing industry and what is being recommended to and read by children and teens. 

Who is the Guide Book to Gift Books written for?  Why release the Guide as a free download?
We try to write the Guide for anyone who is looking to give books for gifts, regardless of their experience in the world of children's and young adult literature. We hope that the information we include about the featured titles is just enough to help those people make decisions about their gift giving, without being overwhelming.  For the past few years, we’ve released it as a free downloadable PDF.  Of course we think it is a valuable resource, but we also believe it should remain accessible.  Buying books as gifts can already be costly endeavor, especially around the holidays when you might be buying for more than one person.

I know that librarians also like to take a look at the list at the end of the year to see if there are any books that they may have overlooked in their ordering, or when they are trying to get ideas for book clubs or storytimes.  Many librarians often get asked for the latest “gotta have it” books, and the Guide is a great place to start.  Here is a list that helps people navigate through the thousands of new children's books published every year, and helps them find the perfect one for whomever they happen to buying a gift for. 

To download The Bulletin’s Guide Book to Gift Books, available as a PDF, click here.  PDF files are read using Adobe's Acrobat Reader. Download a free copy of Acrobat here.      


New Books We Just Had to Read
Every month, the CCB Graduate Assistants highlight books reviewed in the most recent issue of the Bulletin that we were excited to read.  These decisions are based on personal preference, but all books listed are Recommended by the Bulletin. For complete reviews, visit the Bulletin website ( to learn how to subscribe.

Laurel’s Choice: Zahra’s Paradise by Amir, illus. by Khalil
Reading Level: Gr. 10 up
Pages: 272
Publisher and Year: First Second/Roaring Brook, 2011
ISBN: 978-1-59643-642-8
Price: $19.99
Mehdi, a young Iranian man, goes missing after participating in the mass protests regarding the controversial election of President Ahmadinejad in 2009. In this fictionalized graphic retelling of the events surrounding the wake of the contested vote in Tehran, Iran, we follow Hassan, Mehdi’s older blogger brother, and their mother, Zahra, as they search to find answers about the truth behind Mehdi’s disappearance. The pair leads us through a labyrinth of corruption and unanswered questions while they scour the local hospital, prison, morgue, courts, and cemetery in hopes of finding their lost loved one. Eventually, they discover the tragic truth to Mehdi’s whereabouts: he was killed and buried in a secret government plot in Zahra’s Paradise, a large cemetery outside of Tehran. Background information on the election, a glossary, and additional relevant resources supplement this fictional depiction of a country in distress and one family’s struggle for truth in the aftermath of tragedy.

Anna’s Choice: The Apothecary by Maile Meloy
Reading Level: Gr. 6-9
Pages: 353
Publisher and Year: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-399-25627-1
Price: $16.99

Award-winning short story writer, Maile Meloy, packs her first novel for youth full of intrigue, spies, and a bit of magic. Blacklisted and suspected of communist activity, 14-year-old Janie Scott and her screenwriter parents flee to London during the rise of the Cold War.  Homesick and alone, Janie struggles to transition from her Hollywood lifestyle to the rationed and uniformed life at St. Beden’s. It’s not long before Janie befriends Benjamin Burrows, the curiously gutsy apothecary’s son.  With secret dreams of becoming a spy, Benjamin quickly secures Janie’s confidence and the two begin to investigate some of London’s more questionable characters. But when the apothecary (who happens to be no ordinary apothecary) is kidnapped, Benjamin is entrusted with the security of his father’s ancient and highly wanted Pharmacopeia, and the two friends find themselves in the midst of an international threat of nuclear proportions. As Janie and Benjamin unlock the secrets of the Pharmacopeia, they are challenged to open their minds to new possibilities of every kind. First envisioned for film, their bounding adventure unravels at a high-speed cinema pace, while still taking time to skid through the historical backdrop of the still bomb-scarred streets of 1952 London.  With this delightful, smart, and charming adventure, Meloy writes a middle-school smash hit. 

Lauren’s Choice: Stay With Me by Paul Griffin
Reading Level: Gr. 9-12
Pages: 304
Publisher and Year: Dial, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-8037-3448-7
Price: $16.99

Sixteen-year-old Mack might not be sure of too much, but he’s definitely got dogs figured out.  School doesn’t seem to be for him, and he faces constant volatility with his alcoholic, abusive father.  Dogs, though, are Mack’s easy, natural companions—they sometimes just have to be taught tenderness.  Then, Mack meets Céce at the restaurant they both work at, and he’s sure of one more thing: love.  Céce’s got her own instable family, but she’s building the confidence—and the grades—to go somewhere.  Mack and Céce fall hard and fast for each other, in the way only 16-year-olds (with hardly anything in common) can do.  But though Mack exhibits the most tender of hearts when he’s with dogs, and the gentlest of hands when he touches Céce, sometimes that angry static that buzzes in his head becomes just too loud to drown out.  The consequences of Mack’s anger are very painful and very real—Céce tries futilely to fix things, whereas Mack seems to resign himself to a life of punishment. But Mack’s gifted ways with dogs brought him closer to Céce once before, and it just might happen again.  With heartbreaking conflict and a multidimensional depiction of young love, Griffin offers young adult readers another winner.  


Highlighted Book from Our Wish List

Haven, Kendall F. Story Proof: The Science Behind the Startling Power of Story. Libraries Unlimited, 2007. 164 p. ISBN 978-1-59158-546-6.

This text looks to validate the power of storytelling through research, focusing on storytelling’s impact on brain development in children and adults. 

For more book selections or to order this one, visit the CCB’s Amazon Wish List.


CCB Fall Hours and General Information

Note: The CCB will be closed November 21-25 due to Thanksgiving Break.  Regular hours will resume Monday, November 28. 

Monday: 10 am – 5 pm
Tuesday: 10 am – 7 pm
Wednesday: 3 pm – 7 pm
Thursday: 10 am – 7 pm
Friday: 10 am – 5pm

For more information about the CCB and our collection, please visit the About Us page on our website.

To stay up-to-date with CCB events and news, be sure to ‘like’ our brand-new Facebook page

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The Center for Children's Books | Graduate School of Library and Information Science | University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
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