Gripping stories, inspiring illustrations -- these books deserve to be called the year's best.


Best Children's Books

Clear space on your kids' bookshelves for these Newbery Medal (for best children's book) and Caldecott Medal (for best picture book) award winners. Check these out!

Kira Kira


By Cynthia Kadohata

2005 Newbery Medal winner

Two sisters lie on their backs, watching the stars and repeating the Japanese word for glittering: "kira-kira." Like this quiet opening scene, Kadohata's tenderly nuanced novel glitters with plain and poignant words that describe the strong love within a Japanese-American family from the point of view of younger sister Katie. Personal challenges and family tragedy are set against the oppressive social climate of the South during the 1950s and early 1960s. (Atheneum)

Al Capone does my Shirts

Al Capone Does My Shirts

By Gennifer Choldenko

2005 Newbery Honor Book

Alcatraz is the evocative backdrop for Al Capone Does My Shirts -- a highly original novel set in 1935. Twelve-year-old Moose Flanagan tells about his travails on "the Rock," where his father has taken a job. Hilarious antics are deftly interwoven with themes of isolation and imprisonment, compassion and connection. (Putnam Publishing Group)

The Voice that Challenged a Nation

The Voice That Challenged a Nation: Marian Anderson and the Struggle for Equal Rights

By Russell Freedman

2005 Newbery Honor Book

The Voice that Challenged a Nation meticulously explores resonant themes with the masterful structure of a musical composition. Eloquent, economic prose sheds a personal light on one woman's sometimes reluctant role as a symbol in the struggle against racism and her calling to share an illustrious gift. (Clarion Books)

Lizzie Bright

Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy

By Gary D. Schmidt

2005 Newbery Honor Book

Set in Maine in 1912 and propelled by a tragic historical event, Schmidt's powerfully haunting novel probes a forbidden friendship between a preacher's son and a dark-skinned girl from a nearby island. Steeped in imagery and laced with surprising humor, Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy explores powerlessness, possibility, and the profound impact individuals can make. (Clarion Books)

Kittens First Full Moon

Best Picture Books

Kitten's First Full Moon

Illustrated and written by Kevin Henkes

2005 Caldecott Medal Winner

Henkes employs boldly outlined organic shapes and shades of black, white, and gray with rose undertones on creamy paper to tell a simple story of a kitten who mistakes the moon for a bowl of milk. The moon, the flowers, the fireflies' lights, and the kitten's eyes create a comforting circle motif. The gouache and colored pencil illustrations project a varied page design that rhythmically paces the spare text.


Red book

The Red Book

Illustrated and written by Barbara Lehman

2005 Caldecott Honor Book

With a simplicity that belies their depth, Lehman's nuanced watercolor illustrations in The Red Book transport a city girl, an island boy, and the viewer beyond their familiar worlds. This wordless picture book offers an enticing visual journey with surprising twists and reveals the mysterious power of books. (Houghton Mifflin)

Coming on Home Soon

Coming on Home Soon

Illustrated by E.B. Lewis, written by Jacqueline Woodson

2005 Caldecott Honor Book

Evocative watercolor paintings in Coming on Home Soon illuminate a story of cross-generational love and convey the longing of a child anticipating her mother's return. Lewis' portraiture and attention to light sources, from cold winter hues to warm interior tones, reflect the loneliness of the child and the comforting strength of her grandmother.

(Putnam Publishing Group)

Knuffle Bunny

Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale

Illustrated and written by Mo Willems

2005 Caldecott Honor Book

In Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale an ordinary trip to the laundromat with Dad becomes a hilarious epic drama of miscommunication when Trixie realizes that her beloved stuffed animal is left behind. This energetic comedy, illustrated with an unconventional combination of sepia-tone photographs and wry cartoon ink sketches, charms both parents and children. (Hyperion)

Originally published on, March 2005.

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