Although a manageable 35 titles were nominated in this category, organizers decided to split it by age group to level the playing field for books pitched to little kids. So there are 10 finalists:
Ages 12 and under
Amelia Rules, vol. 3: Superheroes
by Jimmy Gownley
This book has a great cast of characters and bright, colorful art that uses the space on each page in creative ways. The issues dealt with by the kids in this book don't shirk from the hard stuff of kids' lives: divorce, moving, bullying, and a friend dying. But these tough issues are presented in very kid-friendly ways.
Babymouse: Beach Babe
by Jennifer Holm and Matt Holm
This book is just right for this age group. Babymouse deals with typical problems of childhood. The illustrator uses of color in the art as a visual cue when Babymouse is dreaming.
The Baby-Sitters Club: Kristy's Great Idea
by Ann Martin, Rina Telgemeier
There are a variety of personalities in the characters, and the girls work well together, showing initiative and solving problems. The art is a nice blend of American Comics and Manga styles.
Kat and Mouse
by Alex De Campi; pictures by Federica Manfredi
Two "less cool girls" in a clique-filled private school use their brains to solve a mystery and win out over the evil "cool" kids. A science experiment in the back gives the reader a chance to try the science the girls used to solve the mystery. The art is a good introduction to Manga style art.
To Dance: A Ballerina's Graphic Novel
by Siena Siegel and Mark Siegl
Aladdin / Simon & Schuster
This book is a graphic memoir. The story and the art work exceptionally well together. The book has a great message for anyone who must abandon his/her first passion: you can go back to it, in some form, later in life.
Ages 13 and up
American Born Chinese
by Gene Yang
The story in this book speaks to the universal experience of any teen who has just wanted to fit in. The blend of the three story strands is masterful.
by Linda Medley
In this 450+ page fairy tale, the art is very detailed and perfectly matched to the story. The author creates a believable world with unique and believable characters, weaving together well-known fairy tale fragments and allusions in her completely original story.
Dramacon Vol. 2
by Svetlana Chmakova
This book give the reader an insider's view of the world of comic making: what it's like to go to a Con, how a young writer or artist breaks into the industry, even the debate between pure Manga and the new artistic styles that blend Manga and American Comics.
Flight Vol. 3
by Kazu Kibuishi & others
This is a great collection of stories and styles -- artistic styles as well as storytelling styles. Definitely a book to read again and again.
by Jessica Abel
The search for one's identity is rarely an easy thing. The character in this book is naiive, idealistic, and in Mexico without being able to speak fluent Spanish. The story is layered with art, politics, history, culture, and language.