2017 Rebecca Caudill Young Readers’ Book Award

The Rebecca Caudill Young Readers’ Book Award is given annually to the author of the book voted most outstanding by students in grades 4-8 in participating Illinois schools.  Named in honor of Rebecca Caudill who lived and wrote in Urbana, Illinois for nearly 50 years, the award is given in recognition for her literary talent and the widespread appeal of her books. Below are this year’s top titles preceded by the number of votes they received.




The Crossover by Kwame Alexander

2295 Votes

The Crossover
By: Kwame Alexander

Fourteen-year-old twin basketball stars Josh and Jordan wrestle with highs and lows on and off the court as their father ignores his declining health.  Ages 10 and up


The War That Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

1892 Votes

The War That Saved My Life
By: Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

A young disabled girl and her brother are evacuated from London to the English countryside during World War II, where they find life to be much sweeter away from their abusive mother.  Ages 10 and up

Masterminds by Gordon Kormon

1471 Votes

By: Gordon Korman

A group of kids discovers they were cloned from the DNA of some of the greatest criminal masterminds in history for a sociological experiment. Ages 8 and up

Fish in a Tree by Lynda Mullaly Hunt

1412 Votes

Fish in a Tree
By: Lynda Mullaly Hunt

Ally’s greatest fear is that everyone will find out she is as dumb as they think she is because she still doesn’t know how to read.  Ages 10 and up



Rain Reign by Ann M. Martin

1396 Votes

Rain Reign
By: Ann M. Martin

Struggling with Asperger’s, Rose shares a bond with her beloved dog, but when the dog goes missing during a storm, Rose is forced to confront the limits of her comfort levels, even if it means leaving her routines in order to search for her pet.  Ages 8 and up

Echo by Pam Munoz Ryan

1140 Votes

By: Pam Munoz Ryan

Lost in the Black Forest, Otto meets three mysterious sisters and finds himself entwined in a prophecy, a promise, and a harmonica–and decades later three children, Friedrich in Germany, Mike in Pennsylvania, and Ivy in California find themselves caught up in the same thread of destiny in the darkest days of the twentieth century, struggling to keep their families intact, and tied together by the music of the same harmonica.  Ages 10 and up


The Fourteenth Goldfish by Jennifer L. Holm

1054 Votes

The Fourteenth Goldfish
By: Jennifer L. Holm

Ellie’s scientist grandfather has discovered a way to reverse aging, and consequently has turned into a teenager–which makes for complicated relationships when he moves in with Ellie and her mother, his daughter.  Ages 9 and up

The Night Gardener by Jonathan Auxier

823 Votes

The Night Gardener
By: Jonathan Auxier

Irish orphans Molly, fourteen, and Kip, ten, travel to England to work as servants in a crumbling manor house where nothing is quite what it seems to be, and soon the siblings are confronted by a mysterious stranger and secrets of the cursed house.  Ages 10 and up

The Paper Cowboy by Kristin Levine

752 Votes

The Paper Cowboy
By: Kristin Levine

In a small town near Chicago in 1953, twelve-year-old Tommy faces escalating problems at home, among his Catholic school friends, and with the threat of a communist living nearby, but taking over his hospitalized sister’s paper route introduces him to neighbors who he comes to rely on for help.  Ages 10 and up


The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud

633 Votes

The Screaming Staircase
By: Jonathan Stroud

Follows three young operatives of a Psychic Detection Agency as they battle an epidemic of ghosts in London. Ages 10 and up

How I Became a Ghost by Tim TIngle

580 Votes

How I Became a Ghost: A Choctaw Trail of Tears Story
By: Tim Tingle

A Choctaw boy tells the story of his tribe’s removal from its Mississippi homeland, and how its exodus to the American West led him to become a ghost –one able to help those left behind.  Ages 8 and up

A Time to Dance by Padma Venkatraman

529 Votes

A Time to Dance
By: Padma Venkatraman

Losing her leg after an injury, Indian dancer Veda begins retraining on her prosthetic leg before falling in love with a young man who approaches dance from a spiritual perspective and helps Veda understand herself and the world.  Ages 12 and up

Rhyme Schemer by K.A. Holt

509 Votes

Rhyme Schemer
By: K.A. Holt

A novel in verse about Kevin’s journey from bully to being bullied, as he learns about friendship, family, and his talent for poetry.  Ages 10 and up

Stella By Starlight by Sharon Draper

465 Votes

Stella by Starlight
By: Sharon M. Draper

Stella lives in the segregated South, in Bumblebee, North Carolina, to be exact about it. Some stores she can go into. Some stores she can’t. Some folks are right pleasant. Others are a lot less so. The Klan hasn’t bothered them for years, but one late night, while wandering around outside, Stella and her little brother see something they’re never supposed to see, something that is the first flicker of change to come, unwelcome change by any stretch of the imagination.  Ages 10 and up


Nightbird by Alice Hoffman

456 Votes

By: Alice Hoffman

Twig, aged twelve, is practically ignored by classmates and other residents of Sidwell, Massachusetts, but gets along fine with just her mother and brother, whose presence must be kept secret, until descendants of the witch who cursed her family move in next door and want to be her friends. Ages 10 and up

Turning 15 on the Road to Freedom: My Story of the 1965 Selma Voting RIghts March by Lynda Blackmon Lowery

358 Votes

Turning 15 On the Road to Freedom: My Story of the Selma Voting Rights March
By: Lynda Blackmon Lowery

As the youngest marcher in the 1965 voting rights march from Selma to Montgomery, Albama, Lynda Blackmon Lowery proved that young adults can be heroes. Jailed eleven times before her fifteenth birthday, Lowery fought alongside Martin Luther King, Jr. for the rights of African-Americans. In this memoir, she shows today’s young readers what it means to fight nonviolently (even when the police are using violence, as in the Bloody Sunday protest) and how it felt to be part of changing American history. Ages 11 and up

The Secret Hum of a Daisy by Tracy Holczer

363 Votes

The Secret Hum of a Daisy
By: Tracy Holczer

After 12-year-old Grace’s mother’s sudden death, Grace is forced to live with a grandmother she’s never met. Then she discovers clues in a mysterious treasure hunt–one that will help her find her true home.  Ages 10 and up

The Great Trouble: A Mystery of London, the Blue Death, and a Boy Called Eel by Deborah Hopkinson

241 Votes

The Great Trouble: A Mystery of London, the Blue Death, and a Boy Called Eel
By: Deborah Hopkinson

Eel, an orphan, and his best friend Florrie must help Dr. John Snow prove that cholera is spread through water, and not poisonous air, when an epidemic sweeps across their London neighborhood in 1854.  Ages 10 and up

The Port Chicago 50 : Disaster, Mutiny, and the Fight for Civil Rights by Steve Sheinkin

205 Votes

The Port Chicago 50: Disaster, Mutiny, and the Fight for Civil Rights
By: Steve Sheinkin

On July 17, 1944, a massive explosion rocked the segregated Navy base at Port Chicago, California, killing more than 300 sailors who were at the docks, critically injuring off-duty men in their bunks, and shattering windows up to a mile away. On August 9th, 244 men refused to go back to work until unsafe and unfair conditions at the docks were addressed. When the dust settled, fifty were charged with mutiny, facing decades in jail and even execution.  Ages 10 and up

The Story of Owen: Dragon Slayer of Trondheim

205 Votes

The Story of Owen: Dragon Slayer of Trondheim
By: E.K. Johnston

In an alternate world where industrialization has caused many species of carbon-eating dragons to thrive, Owen, a slayer being trained by his famous father and aunt, and Siobahn, his bard, face a dragon infestation near their small town in Canada.  Ages 12 and up



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