In our annual "Off the Cuff" awards, we asked children's booksellers to vote for their picks in a variety of categories. The winners (and bookseller comments, where appropriate) appear below.

Favorite Picture Book of the Year

The Friend by Sarah Stewart, illus. by David Small

Favorite Novel of the Year (three-way tie)

Al Capone Does My Shirts by Gennifer Choldenko ("totally original!"); Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta ("perfectly honest, perfectly real, and perfectly written"); So B. It by Sarah Weeks

Best Book Title (tie)

One of Those Hideous Books Where the Mother Dies by Sonya Sones; Al Capone Does My Shirts

Best Opening Line
"If your teacher has to die, August isn't a bad time of year for it" (from The Teacher's Funeral: A Comedy in Three Parts by Richard Peck)

Your Vote to Win the Newbery

The Sea of Trolls by Nancy Farmer ("her books are so deliciously different")
Honorable mentions: Becoming Naomi León by Pam Muñoz Ryan ("great writing, wonderful story"); So B. It; Ida B

Your Vote to Win the Caldecott

The Friend
Honorable mention: If Not for the Cat by Jack Prelutsky, illus. by Ted Rand; Miss Bridie Chose a Shovel by Leslie Connor, illus. by Mary Azarian

Most Memorable Character in a Lead Role
Ida B, from Ida B: ...and Her Plans to Maximize Fun, Avoid Disaster, and (Possibly) Save the World by Katherine Hannigan ("what a voice!")
Honorable mention: Bea, from The Friend

Best Sequel

The People of Sparks by Jeanne DuPrau ("just as good as City of Ember, yet unexpectedly different")

Funniest Book

Science Verse by Jon Scieszka, illus. by Lane Smith
Honorable mention: KnuffleBunny by Mo Willems

Most Promising New Author

Katherine Hannigan

Most Promising New Illustrator (tie)
Polly Dunbar (Flyaway Katie; Dog Blue)
Chuck Richards (Jungle Gym Jitters)

Favorite Book to Hand-sell (tie)

Ish by Peter H. Reynolds ("such a nice message!")
America the Beautiful by Robert Sabuda

Most Unusual Book of the Year

Mr. Maxwell's Mouse by Frank Asch, illus. by Devin Asch

Best Anthology

Unwitting Wisdom: An Anthology of Aesop's Fables, retold and illus. by Helen Ward
Honorable mentions: Tripping over the Lunch Lady: And Other School Stories, edited by Nancy Mercado; Thanks & Giving: All Year Long by Marlo Thomas and Friends

Best New Series
Shredderman by Wendelin Van Draanen
Honorable mention: The Bartimaeus Trilogy by Jonathan Stroud

Best Nonfiction Treatment of a Subject

The Race to Save the Lord God Bird by Phillip Hoose

Best Novel for Teens That Adults Would Love if They Knew About It (tie)

Saving FrancescaHow I Live Now by Meg Rosoff

Best Audiotape

Dragon Rider by Cornelia Funke, read by Brendan Fraser

The "For Adults, Not Children" Award (tie)

The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon by Stephen King
In the Shadow of the Ark by Anne Provoost ("very, very mature... it's beautifully told but mostly beyond our YA")

Most Overdone Subjects
"Daddy and me" books; bodily functions; teen chick lit, "mean girls" books ("I'm so tired of this trend"); and celebrity picture books ("Pleeeze, publishers, cut it out. We are so sick of poorly written, poorly edited, ill-conceived vanity books"; "any celebrity book excluding Jamie Lee Curtis and John Lithgow"; "boo to Jay Leno—the book isn't that funny, Billy Crystal—he tried, and Madonna —they don't sell")

Most Disappointing Sales for a Book (tie)

Bucking the Sarge by Christopher Paul Curtis; Wild About Books by Judy Sierra, illus. by Marc Brown ("great book but sales have only been modest and we don't know why")

Books You Were Happiest to See Back in Print

The Silly Book by Stoo Hample; Betty Crocker's Cookbook for Boys and Girls

Hottest Selling Book to Go Out of Stock
The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg
Honorable mentions: Egyptology by Emily Sands; Tails by Matthew Van Fleet; Guji Guji by Chin-Yuan Chen

Most Responsive Publisher

Holtzbrinck ("consistently reliable"); "any publishers that have children's reps—those reps are an invaluable resource!"

Most Effective Marketing Campaign

The talking Count Olaf display ("it caught people's eyes and ears"); the Junie B. Jones bus tour ("the young woman who played Junie was fabulous and the planning was outstanding")

Most Annoying Marketing Campaign
The talking Count Olaf display ("the constant patter drove our staff batty; luckily the voice box had an off switch"); the Shadowmancer "blinking red eye display"

Best Publisher Promotional Materials

"The Polar Express Ride for Reading boxcars helped us encourage donations to a local 'Gift of Reading' program"; the Duck for President campaign

Oddest Request by a Customer

"A customer asked for an abridged version of To Kill a Mockingbird, because her three-year-old was 'enjoying Moby Dick' "

Most Garbled Title Request

I Love You Like Crazy Glue (for I Love You Like Crazy Cakes)

Funniest Thing a Kid Did or Said in Your Store
"A seven-year-old asked me if I was 'the boss of this place' because 'it always pays to get the person who really knows the answers.' Yikes!"

Most Unusual Complaints from a Customer

"About Sabuda's Alice in Wonderland: 'too colorful.' And about Sabuda's America the Beautiful: 'not colorful enough' "
"A customer brought back the Billy Crystal book because her husband said it was too boring to read to his granddaughter."
Someone said, "I don't want to read the book because it might ruin the movie."