2023 Blue Hen Award nominees

 

Young Readers

Hurry Up! : a Book About Slowing Down by Kate Dopirak

A busy boy and his dog learn to slow down and enjoy life together in this lyrical, rhyming picture book perfect for hurried families everywhere.

For one busy boy, life is all hurry up, hurry down, hurry round and round and round! That is until he takes a big breath…and a big break…and slows down to see all the wonderful things in the world around him.

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I Am Every Good Thing by Derrick Barnes

I am
a nonstop ball of energy.
Powerful and full of light.
I am a go-getter. A difference maker. A leader.

The confident Black narrator of this book is proud of everything that makes him who he is. He’s got big plans, and no doubt he’ll see them through–as he’s creative, adventurous, smart, funny, and a good friend. Sometimes he falls, but he always gets back up. And other times he’s afraid, because he’s so often misunderstood and called what he is not. So slow down and really look and listen, when somebody tells you–and shows you–who they are. There are superheroes in our midst!

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Ohana Means Family by Ilima Loomis

Join the family, or ohana, as they farm taro for poi to prepare for a traditional luau celebration with a poetic text in the style of The House That Jack Built.

An American Library Association Notable Children’s Book

This is the land that’s never been sold, where work the hands, so wise and old, that reach through the water, clear and cold, into the mud to pick the taro to make the poi for our ohana’s luau.

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If You Come to Earth by Sophie Blackall

In this picture book, a boy writes a letter to an imagined alien, explaining all the things he will need to know about Earth and the people who live here–and adding a postscript asking what the alien might look like.

If you come to Earth, there are a few things you need to know. . .
We live in all kinds of places.
In all kinds of homes.
In all kinds of families.
Each of us is different. But all of us are amazing.
And, together, we share one beautiful planet.

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There’s a Ghost in This House by Oliver Jeffers

A captivating new picture book with interactive transparent pages, from world-renowned artist Oliver Jeffers.

Hello, come in.
Maybe you can help me?

A young girl lives in a haunted house, but has never seen a ghost. Are they white with holes for eyes? Are they hard to see? She’d love to know! Step inside and turn the transparent pages to help her on an entertaining ghost hunt, from behind the sofa, right up to the attic. With lots of friendly ghost surprises and incredible mixed media illustrations, this unique and funny book will entertain young readers over and over again

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Middle Readers

The Magical Reality of Nadia by Youssef Bassem

Inspired by the author’s real life experiences, this rollicking, charming novel follows sixth grade Egyptian immigrant Nadia as she navigates the ups and downs of friendships, racism, and some magic, too!
Nadia loves fun facts. Here are a few about her:
• She collects bobbleheads — she has 77 so far.
• She moved from Egypt to America when she was six years old.
• The hippo amulet she wears is ancient… as in it’s literally from ancient Egypt.
• She’s going to win the contest to design a new exhibit at the local museum. Because how cool would that be?!
(Okay, so that last one isn’t a fact just yet, but Nadia has plans to make it one.)

But then a new kid shows up and teases Nadia about her Egyptian heritage. It’s totally unexpected, and totally throws her off her game.

And something else happens that Nadia can’t explain: Her amulet starts glowing! She soon discovers that the hippo is holding a hilarious — and helpful — secret. Can she use it to confront the new kid and win the contest?

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The Becket List by Adele Griffin

Adventure and discover with the bold and intrepid Becket Branch when her family’s move from city to a country farm means big changes!

Everything is changing for Becket Branch. From subways to sidewalks to safety rules, Becket is a city kid born and raised. Now the Branch family is trading urban bustle for big green fields and moving to Gran’s farm, where Becket has to make sense of new routines from feeding animals to baling hay. And as much as Becket loves to yell “Beautiful Alert!” there’s a lot about the countryside that is just plain odd.

But Becket is ready to put her own spin on country life. Whether selling her mouth-puckering lemonade, feeding hostile hens, or trying to make a best friend of her new neighbor Frieda Franca, Becket is determined to use her city smarts to get a grip on farm living. Laugh and learn with Becket as she mucks through the messy, exuberant human experience of change she didn’t ask for, in a story that sparkles with quirky characters and lasting connections.

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The Girl Who Stole an Elephant by Nizrana Farook

Chaya, a nobleman’s rebellious, outspoken, no-nonsense daughter, just can’t resist the shiny temptations the king’s palace has to offer. But playing Robin Hood for her impoverished community doesn’t come without risks, and when Chaya steals the queen’s jewels from a bedside table―a messy getaway jeopardizes the life of a close friend. After an equally haphazard prison break, Chaya barely escapes on the king’s prized elephant! With leeches and revolution lurking in the jungle, Chaya leads her companions on a thrilling adventure. After leaving her village as a thief, can she return as a hero? Or will Chaya’s sticky fingers be the beginning―or the end―of everything for the intrepid gang?

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Buster by Caleb Zane Huett

Buster’s a therapy dog who needs to take matters into his own paws to help a boy understand his own anxiety even if it means breaking a few rules.

Buster’s in big trouble. He’s been dragged to Dog Court for breaking one of the most sacred of all dog rules: Never, ever talk to a human, or let a human know how smart you really are.

But he swears he had a good reason! The boy he’s been taking care of, Tonio, needed his help in a big way. You see, Tonio is afraid all the time — afraid of saying or doing the wrong thing, afraid of making a fool of himself or (even worse) hurting someone else’s feelings. His doctor thinks having a therapy dog will help his anxiety — and Buster wants to help. He really wants to help. Even if it means breaking the rules

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Starfish by Lisa Fipps

Ever since Ellie wore a whale swimsuit and made a big splash at her fifth birthday party, she’s been bullied about her weight. To cope, she tries to live by the Fat Girl Rules–like “no making waves,” “avoid eating in public,” and “don’t move so fast that your body jiggles.” And she’s found her safe space–her swimming pool–where she feels weightless in a fat-obsessed world. In the water, she can stretch herself out like a starfish and take up all the room she wants. It’s also where she can get away from her pushy mom, who thinks criticizing Ellie’s weight will motivate her to diet. Fortunately, Ellie has allies in her dad, her therapist, and her new neighbor, Catalina, who loves Ellie for who she is. With this support buoying her, Ellie might finally be able to cast aside the Fat Girl Rules and starfish in real life–by unapologetically being her own fabulous self.

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Middle Readers Graphic Novels

Lightfall. Book one, The girl & the Galdurian by Tim Probert

Deep in the heart of the planet Irpa stands the Salty Pig’s House of Tonics & Tinctures, home of the wise Pig Wizard and his adopted granddaughter, Bea. As keepers of the Endless Flame, they live a quiet and peaceful life, crafting medicines and potions for the people of their once-prosperous world. All that changes one day when, while walking through the woods, Bea meets Cad, a member of the Galdurians, an ancient race thought to be long-extinct. Cad believes that if anyone can help him find his missing people, it’s the Pig Wizard. But when the two arrive home, the Pig Wizard is nowhere to be found–all that’s left is the Jar of Endless Flame and a mysterious note. Fearing for the Pig Wizard’s safety, Bea and Cad set out across Irpa to find him, while danger fights its way out of the shadows and into the light. Will these two unexpected friends find the beloved Pig Wizard and prevent eternal darkness from blanketing their world? Or has Irpa truly seen its last sunrise?

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The Okay Witch by Emma Steinkellner

Thirteen-year-old Moth Hush loves all things witchy. But she’s about to discover that witches aren’t just the stuff of movies, books, and spooky stories. When some eighth-grade bullies try to ruin her Halloween, something really strange happens. It turns out that Founder’s Bluff, Massachusetts, has a centuries-old history of witch drama. And, surprise: Moth’s family is at the center of it all! When Moth’s new powers show up, things get totally out-of-control. She meets a talking cat, falls into an enchanted diary, and unlocks a hidden witch world. Secrets surface from generations past as Moth unravels the complicated legacy at the heart of her town, her family, and herself

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The Worry (Less) Book by Rachel Brian

This is a book for people who worry (so, yeah-everyone!) We all have a mixture of fun and not-so-fun feelings. and everyone feels worried sometimes. But too much anxiety can get in the way. So this book is here to help you: from recognizing when you’re feeling anxious and worried, to taking charge by training your brain and using awesome techniques to help you feel good again, this book will have you worrying less and living more.

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Max Meow. 1, Cat Crusader by John Gallagher

Max is just a regular cat in Kittyopolis, trying to make it big as a podcaster UNTIL he accidentally takes a bite of an RADIOACTIVE SPACE MEATBALL at his best friend, scientist Mindy’s, SECRET LAB. Then before you can say MEOWZA, Max becomes…(drum roll!)…The CAT CRUSADER! Being a super hero is fun (Super strength? Check! Flying? YES!!!)–but not if you get so cocky, you forget your best friend! Will Max learn to listen? Will he and Mindy make up? And together, can Max and Mindy save Kittyopolis from the evil Agent M and BIG BOSS?!

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Measuring Up by Lily LaMotte

Twelve-year-old Cici has just moved from Taiwan to Seattle, and the only thing she wants more than to fit in at her new school is to celebrate her grandmother, A-má’s, seventieth birthday together. Since she can’t go to A-má, Cici cooks up a plan to bring A-má to her by winning the grand prize in a kids’ cooking contest to pay for A-má’s plane ticket! There’s just one problem: Cici only knows how to cook Taiwanese food. And after her pickled cucumber debacle at lunch, she’s determined to channel her inner Julia Child. Can Cici find a winning recipe to reunite with A-má, a way to fit in with her new friends, and somehow find herself too?

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Teen Readers

Punching the Air by Ibi Zoboi

From award-winning, bestselling author Ibi Zoboi and prison reform activist Yusef Salaam of the Exonerated Five comes a powerful YA novel in verse about a boy who is wrongfully incarcerated. The story that I thought was my life didn’t start on the day I was born. Amal Shahid has always been an artist and a poet. But even in a diverse art school, he’s seen as disruptive and unmotivated by a biased system. Then one fateful night, an altercation in a gentrifying neighborhood escalates into tragedy. “Boys just being boys” turns out to be true only when those boys are white. The story that I think will be my life starts today. Suddenly, at just sixteen years old, Amal’s bright future is upended: he is convicted of a crime he didn’t commit and sent to prison. Despair and rage almost sink him until he turns to the refuge of his words, his art. This never should have been his story. But can he change it? With spellbinding lyricism, award-winning author Ibi Zoboi and prison reform activist Yusef Salaam tell a moving and deeply profound story about how one boy is able to maintain his humanity and fight for the truth, in a system designed to strip him of both.

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Raybearer by Jordan Ifueko

Tarisai has always longed for the warmth of a family. She was raised in isolation by a mysterious, often absent mother known only as The Lady. The Lady sends her to the capital of the global empire of Aritsar to compete with other children to be chosen as one of the Crown Prince’s Council of 11. If she’s picked, she’ll be joined with the other Council members through the Ray, a bond deeper than blood. That closeness is irresistible to Tarisai, who has always wanted to belong somewhere. But The Lady has other ideas, including a magical wish that Tarisai is compelled to obey: Kill the Crown Prince once she gains his trust. Tarisai won’t stand by and become someone’s pawn—but is she strong enough to choose a different path for herself?

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Firekeepers Daughter by Angeline Boulley

Daunis, who is part Ojibwe, defers attending the University of Michigan to care for her mother and reluctantly becomes involved in the investigation of a series of drug-related deaths.

Daunis Fontaine has never quite fit in, either in her hometown or on the nearby Ojibwe reservation. She dreams of college, but when her family is struck by tragedy she puts her future on hold to care for her fragile mother. The only bright spot is meeting Jamie, a new recruit on her brother Levi’s hockey team. When Daunis witnesses a shocking murder, she reluctantly agrees to go undercover, drawing on her knowledge of chemistry and Ojibwe traditional medicine to track down the source of a new drug. How far will she go to protect her community, if it threatens to tear apart the only world she’s ever known?

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They Went Left by Monica Hesse

Germany, 1945. The soldiers who liberated the Gross-Rosen concentration camp said the war was over, but nothing feels over to eighteen-year-old Zofia Lederman. Her body has barely begun to heal; her mind feels broken. And her life is completely shattered: Three years ago, she and her younger brother, Abek, were the only members of their

family to be sent to the right, away from the gas chambers of Auschwitz-Birkenau. Everyone else–her parents, her grandmother, radiant Aunt Maja–they went left.
Zofia’s last words to her brother were a promise: Abek to Zofia, A to Z. When I find you again, we will fill our alphabet. Now her journey to fulfill that vow takes her through Poland and Germany, and into a displaced persons camp where everyone she meets is trying to piece together a future from a painful past: Miriam, desperately searching for the twin she was separated from after they survived medical experimentation. Breine, a former heiress, who now longs only for a simple wedding with her new fiancé. And Josef, who guards his past behind a wall of secrets, and is beautiful and strange and magnetic all at once.

But the deeper Zofia digs, the more impossible her search seems. How can she find one boy in a sea of the missing? In the rubble of a broken continent, Zofia must delve into a mystery whose answers could break her–or help her rebuild her world.

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Legendborn by Tracey Deonn

After her mother dies in an accident, Bree Matthews wants nothing to do with her family memories or childhood home. A residential program for bright high schoolers at UNC-Chapel Hill seems like the perfect escape–until Bree witnesses a magical attack her very first night on campus. A young mage who calls himself a ‘Merlin’ attempts–and fails–to wipe Bree’s memory of everything she saw. His failure unlocks Bree’s own unique magic and a buried memory with a hidden connection: the night her mother died, another Merlin was at the hospital. Now she’ll do whatever it takes to find out the truth, even if that means infiltrating the Legendborn as one of their initiates

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Teen Readers Graphic Novels

Heartstopper Volume 1 by Alice Oseman

Boy meets boy. Boys become friends. Boys fall in love. Shy and softhearted Charlie Spring sits next to rugby player Nick Nelson in class one morning. A warm and intimate friendship follows, and that soon develops into something more for Charlie, who doesn’t think he has a chance. But Nick is struggling with feelings of his own, and as the two grow closer and take on the ups and downs of high school, they come to understand the surprising and delightful ways in which love works.

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Teen Titans: Raven by Kami Garcia

When a tragic accident takes the life of seventeen-year-old Raven Roth’s foster mom—and Raven’s memory—she moves to New Orleans to live with her foster mother’s family and finish her senior year of high school.

Starting over isn’t easy. Raven remembers how to solve math equations and make pasta, but she can’t remember her favorite song or who she was before the accident. When strange things start happening—things most people

would consider impossible—Raven starts to think it might be better not to know who she was in her previous life.

But as she grows closer to her foster sister, Max, her new friends, and Tommy Torres, a guy who accepts her for who she is now, Raven has to decide if she’s ready to face what’s buried in the past…and the darkness building inside her.

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Lore Olympus by Rachel Smythe

Persephone, young goddess of spring, is new to Olympus. Her mother, Demeter, has raised her in the mortal realm, but after Persephone promises to train as a sacred virgin, she’s allowed to live in the fast-moving, glamorous world of the gods. When her roommate, Artemis, takes her to a party, her entire life changes: she ends up meeting Hades and feels an immediate spark with the charming yet misunderstood ruler of the Underworld. Now Persephone must navigate the confusing politics and relationships that rule Olympus, while also figuring out her own place–and her own power.

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The Magic Fish by Trung Le Nguyen

Tiến loves his family and his friends…but Tiến has a secret he’s been keeping from them, and it might change everything. An amazing YA graphic novel that deals with the complexity of family and how stories can bring us together.
Real life isn’t a fairytale.
But Tiến still enjoys reading his favorite stories with his parents from the books he borrows from the local library. It’s hard enough trying to communicate with your parents as a kid, but for Tiến, he doesn’t even have the right words because his parents are struggling with their English. Is there a Vietnamese word for what he’s going through?
Is there a way to tell them he’s gay?

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The Hazards of Love by Stan Stanley

The hazards of love follows a queer nonbinary teen from Queens who’d dragged into a mysterious, fantastical place. Can they hustle their way back home? Amparo’s deal with the talking cat was simple: a drop of blood and Amparo’s name to become a better person. Their mother and abuela would never worry about them again, and they’d finally be worthy of dating straight-A student Iolanthe. But when the cat steals their body, becoming the better person they were promised, Amparo’s spirit is imprisoned in a land of terrifying, flesh-hungry creatures known as Bright World. With cruel and manipulative masters and a society that feeds on memories, Amparo must use their cleverness to escape, without turning into a monster like the rest. On ‘the other side,’ Iolanthe begins to suspect the new Amparo has a secret, and after the cat in disguise vanishes, she’s left searching for answers with a no-nonsense medium from the lesbian mafia and the only person who might know the truth about Bright World.

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