BCCB 2020 Blue Ribbons

The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books has announced their 2020 Blue Ribbons, the best books of that year. Here is the list:


Box: Henry Brown Mails Himself to Freedom by Carole Boston Weatherford, illustrated by Michele Wood

Ducks! by Deborah Underwood, illustrated by T. L. McBeth

Evelyn Del Rey Is Moving Away by Meg Medina, illustrated by Sonia Sanchez

Girl on a Motorcycle by Amy Novesky, illustrated by Julie Morstad

Home Base by Nikki Tate, illustrated by Katie Kath

I Am Every Good Thing by Derrick Barnes, illustrated by Gordon C. James

Outside In by Deborah Underwood, illustrated by Cindy Derby

The Paper Boat by Thao Lam

The Three Brothers by Marie-Louise Gay

Up on Bob by Mary Sullivan


All He Knew by Helen Frost

Black Girl Unlimited by Echo Brown

Cat Ears on Elizabeth by Rachel Vail, illustrated by Paige Keiser

Donut Feed the Squirrels by Mika Song

The Girl Who Speaks Bear by Sophie Anderson

Leaving Lymon by Lesa Cline-Ransome

Long Way Down: The Graphic Novel by Jason Reynolds, illustrated by Danica Novgorodoff

The Magic Fish by Trung Le Nguyen

Miss Meteor by Tehlor Kay Mejia and Anna-Marie McLemore

Raybearer by Jordan Ifueko

They Went Left by Monica Hesse

Thieves of Weirdwood by William Shivering and Christian McKay Heidicker

Thorn by Intisar Khanani

Tigers Not Daughters by Samantha Mabry

The Way Back by Gavriel Savit

Ways to Make Sunshine by Renee Watson, illustrated by Nina Mata

We Are Not Free by Traci Chee

When Life Gives You Mangos by Kereen Getten


Being Frog by April Pulley Sayre

The Black Friend: On Being a Better White Person by Frederick Joseph

The Cat Man of Aleppo by Irene Latham and Karim Shamsi-Basha, illustrated by Yuko Shimizu

Chance by Uri Shulevitz

Dancing at the Pity Party by Tyler Feder

Dragon Hoops by Gene Luen Yang

Everything Sad Is Untrue by Daniel Nayeri

Honeybee: The Busy Life of Apis Mellifera by Candace Fleming, illustrated by Eric Rohmann

The Lights and Types of Ships at Night by Dave Eggers, illustrated by Annie Dills

The Racers: How an Outcast Driver, an American Heiress, and a Legendary Car Challenged Hitler’s Best by Neal Bascomb

The Rise and Fall of Charles Lindbergh by Candace Fleming

Snow Birds by Kirsten Hall

Yang Warriors by Kao Kalia Yang

Cover image.

Yang Warriors by Kao Kalia Yang, illustrated by Billy Thao (9781517907983)

In the Ban Vinai refugee camp, there is a group of young warriors who train together. They run drills, balance rocks on their heads, meditate and wield branches as sacred swords. They are led by Master Me, a ten-year-old who teaches them. One day, Master Me meditated and decided that the warriors must leave camp and forage for greens. But no Hmong person was allowed to leave the camp without permission. People had been beaten for doing it and some had even disappeared. But Master Me was set on carrying out the mission. The narrator of the story is a young girl whose older sister was in the warrior group. She was 7 years old, scared but determined to carry out the mission. That day, the warriors stealthily left camp and returned carrying morning glory greens. Many were injured on the mission, but that day they became more than children playing at being warriors and became true heroes to everyone in the camp.

Yang tells the story of life in a Hmong refugee camp through the eyes of her childhood self. The hardships, violence and rules of being in such a camp are foundational to the overall story, though not the direct focus. The tale really is about the power of children to be heroes for their families, the determination and courage to take action in the face of injustice, and the way that real life heroes are so much more important than those with capes.

The illustrations by Thao are unique and interesting. He makes each of the children recognizable even though they move as a group of warriors. He uses interesting frames throughout the images, showing the children through doorways or from the fire itself as danger increases. The illustrations are stirring and also show just how young these children were.

A tale of child heroes in a Hmong refugee camp that is worth cheering for. Appropriate for ages 4-7.

Reviewed from copy provided by University of Minnesota Press.