As with my previous End of the Year posts, I have limited books to those released in 2012. This created a bit of a dilemma for me. I read probably more YA in 2012 than in 2011, but some of it was published in years prior to 2012 or were Advanced Reader copies for books coming out in 2013. So, I have chosen to limit my list to my top 6 favorites, and one I wished I had read.
Every Day by David Levithan (Knopf Books) -In the hands of a lesser writer, the concept of this book would have failed. "A" wakes each day in a different body and a different place. As I read this one, I kept being amazed by the insight on life and relationships that Levithan artfully wove into this novel.
Black Heart (Curse Workers #3) by Holly Black (Margaret K. McElderry ) - I thought that Black Heart was one of the best final books in a trilogy. If you haven't read the Curse Worker series, you can start with White Cat and read straight through.
Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein (Hyperion) - A smart, well-written story about two young women during WWII. This one may take a bit to get into but hang in there. You may want tissues at the end.
Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo (Henry Holt and Co.) - High fantasy, magic, adventure, and more.
Cinder by Marissa Meyer (Feiwel & Friends) - Cyborg Cinderella? How can you not be drawn to a concept like that? A bit science fiction, a bit dystopian, and a definite fairy tale re-telling.
Since I limited all of the titles to ones that were released in
2012, it automatically eliminated some great books I read in 2012 that were released in 2011 (or before) and it also eliminated 2013 releases that I read in Advanced Readers form. Each of the titles below were special to me. They made me laugh, or cry, or both. They took me to new places, and I discovered new things. All are books that I would hand to the right student or place in a classroom library or purchase for a school library. Many are ones that I have book talked at a teachers' night or spent time hand-selling at my local indie bookstore. Some may go on to win awards, and some have won awards. Enjoy!
The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate (HarperCollins) - I read this early in 2012 and read it over and over again as I shared Ivan's story with students as read alouds. Check out my post on Katherine Applegate's visit, click here.
Goblin Secrets by William Alexander (Margaret K. McElderry) - This was one of the last Middle Grade books I read in 2012. Beautifully written. Magical.
Liar & Spy by Rebecca Stead (Random House) - I love Stead's writing and Georges story left an emotional imprint on me.
The Great Unexpected by Sharon Creech (HarperCollins) Beautifully written, with quirky characters, humor, mystery/adventure, and Creech makes you care what happens.
One for the Murphys by Lynn Mullaly Hunt (Penguin) - I read this story about a young girl in foster care in one sitting. Tissues may be needed (at least I needed them).
Three Times Lucky by Sheila Turnage (Penguin) - I listened to this one and would highly recommend the audiobook. A story of friendship and mystery in a little town called Tupelo Landing.
The Humming Room by Ellen Potter (Feiwel & Friends) - It is Ellen Potter and a re-telling of The Secret Garden. Two of my favorites in one book.
The Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom by Christopher Healy; Illustrations Todd Harris (Walden Pond Press) - What happens after the "happily ever after"? A unique twist on some of our favorite fairy tales.
Capture the Flag by Kate Messner (Scholastic) - Messner writes some of the best characters out there. This adventure mystery is the start of a series. Read it now so that you will be ready for book 2: Hide and Seek out April 2013.
So, what were your favorite middle grade novels in 2012?
Since I am still reading a few last Middle Grade and YA novels, I decided to do a miscellaneous favorites post before my Middle Grade and YA posts. I limited all of the titles to ones that were released in 2012.
Early Readers and Chapter Books
Sadie and Ratz by Sonya Hartnett; Illustrated by Ann James (Candlewick Press) - This early chapter book is filled with humor and sibling challenges that are oh so real. Not always easy to find in a bookstore, this was a favorite title of mine that needs more attention.
Bink & Gollie: Two For One by Kate DiCamillo & Alison McGhee; Illustrated by Tony Fucile (Candlewick Press) - See my write up over on the Nerdy Book Club post here.
Rabbit and Robot: The Sleepover by Cece Bell (Candlewick Press) - An early reader that seemed to get over looked. A story of friendship and humor. This one had me laughing out loud.
Lulu Walks the Dogs by Judith Viorst; Illustrated by Lane Smith (Simon & Schuster) - Rarely does a sequel or companion novel live up to the first book, but this sequel is as enjoyable if not more than the first one. Definitely one of my choices for a read aloud in 1st or 2nd grade classes.
October Mourning: A Song for Matthew Shepard by Lesléa Newman (Candlewick Press) - This novel in verse is a touching tribute to Matthew Shepard. A powerful book comprised of 68 poems with additional endnotes and resources. (For YA audiences)
The Wild Book by Margarita Engle - Written in free verse, this book takes a look at a young girl living in Cuba at the beginning of the 1900's. Readers experience Fefa's life through lyrical prose and visual storytelling.
Cardboard by Doug TenNapel (Graphix) - Magical cardboard takes on a "Twilight Zone" feel in this graphic novel. Creepy and fascinating with a message.
Drama by Raina Telgemeir (Graphix) - Telgemeir's
humor and ability to celebrate the day to day stuff in the lives of
tweens to young teens is remarkable. DRAMA focuses more on the behind
the scenes folks of the Drama club rather than the characters with
Hades: Lord of the Dead (Olympians #4) by George O'Connor (First Second) - The fourth book in the Olympians focuses not only on Hades but also Persephone and Demeter. O'Connor's Greek/Geek notes at the end add additional insight to the various volumes in this series.
Book Trailer for Hereville: How Mirka Got Her Sword
Hereville: How Mirka Met a Meteorite by Barry Deutsch (Amulet) - A strong female character who is also an Orthodox Jewish heroine? I had my doubts when I picked up the first book, but Deutsch won me over. He continues to impress me with this follow-up as Mirka has some lessons to learn and some problems to solve that won't happen quickly and will require thought.
Prince of the Elves (Amulet Vol. 5) by Kazu Kibuishi (Graphix) - I
love this series and this may be the best one yet. The ending was certainly a cliff-hanger and left me wanting more. The series
continues to build and the characters continue
to face hard choices and the consequences that follow.
Legends of Zita the Spacegirl by Ben Hatke (First Second) - In the second book in the series, Zita must learn to come to terms with public attention and her role in everything and what happens when you let someone else step in.
Bird and Squirrel On the Run by James Burks (Graphix) - The odd couple is resurrected in this graphic novel about an industrious squirrel and an irresponsible Bird. Students love Burks books. Hope to see more of this odd couple.
Squish #4: Captain Disaster by Jennifer L. Holm and Matt Holm (Random House) - I love Babymouse, but adore Squish. In each book, I think I come to appreciate this loveable amoeba even more. Also, there are some great messages that can be used as discussion starters in classes.
So what were some of your favorite books this year?
It is that time of year. Time to decide which books made the top of my list. I have poured over my GoodReads picture book shelf. I have debated over books that were on my earlier lists. And I finally narrowed it down to 12 top picture books for 2012. Some of my previous choices made the final cut but I still love those early favorites too.
Here are my choices for 2012 in no particular order. Will one of them receive a shiny sticker to adorn the cover of the book? Maybe. Maybe not! I really selected each of them because I just really liked them. Enjoy!
Laundry Day by Maurie J. Manning (Clarion Books) - Thanks Nerdy Book Club for putting this one on my radar. I really love the illustrations and sense of adventure in this one.
Oliverby Birgitta Sif (Candlewick Press) - Quirky, sweet, and just a special book and one that I felt never received the attention that it should have.
Squid and Octopus: Friends Foreverby Tao Nyeu (Penguin) - Well, you know my undying love for this book. I have been talking about this one from the beginning of the year before it even came out.
Greenby Laura Vaccaro Seeger (Roaring Brook Press) - What a beautifully constructed concept book. Every page is perfect.
When Blue Met Eggby Lindsay Ward (Penguin) - The cut-paper art in this one is phenomenal. And the story is sweet and wonderful.
Bear Has a Story to Tellby Philip C. Stead; Illustrated by Erin E. Stead (Roaring Brook Press) - I'm partial to bears and I am partial to the work of husband and wife team Philip and Erin Stead. Charming, quiet, and wonderful!
I'm Boredby Michael IanBlack; Illustrated by Debbie Ridpath Ohi (Simon & Schuster)- This one makes me laugh again and again. And the illustrations knock it out of the park for me.
Hello! Hello!by Matthew Cordell (Hyperion) - A message that we all need to be reminded of.
And Then It's Springby Julie Fogliano; Illustrated by Erin E. Stead (Roaring Brook Press) - You already know my love of Erin Stead's work and this one is beautifully illustrated.
Bot and Boy by Ame Dyckman; Illustrated by Dan Yaccarino (Knopf Books) - One of my favorite stories of friendship.
Penguin and Pinecone by Salina Yoon (Walker Children's) - And another special story of friendship that I had to include in this list.
Usually, I like to include my top Young Adult Book Picks but I have to admit that my reading in that category of books was way down. I don't feel that I can adequately recommend Young Adult books this year. However, there is one book that I must spotlight. The one book that was probably the best book I read throughout the whole year. And that would be...
A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness - This is what I wrote when I first finished the book: "Wow! Wow! What a heart-wrenching/breathtakingly beautiful book. Ness has created a brilliant tribute to Siobhan Dowd." I read this book on the recommendation of John Schu (@mrschureads on Twitter). He was right. It is truly a moving and powerful story. A story about a boy who must answer the call of the Monster who comes at the same time each night. Conor is trying to cope with his mother's illness and struggles with repeated nightmares. But just as Conor wants something from the Monster who comes each night, the Monster expects something in return. Will Conor be able to answer the Monster and in return answer his own questions? This is one book that moves beyond being for a specific age level. Instead, we all must answer the call. Read this one with a box or two of tissues.
And if you haven't seen this picture book, I tend to consider it in the same category as A Monster Calls.
The Scar by Charlotte Moundlic, Illustrated by Olivier Tallec - I had no clue what this book was truly about. The cover shows a little boy with what appears to be an injured knee. As I flipped open this book, and started to read, I immediately had to reach for tissues. The Scar deals with loss. The loss of a mother and how one young boy seeks to cope with his loss. Maybe if I had read this book in any other year, I might have just thought of it as a good reference for children who had lost a parent. One of those books that you include in your library for just that situation. However, I believe that the timing of this book - coming on the heels of A Monster Calls - made it even that more powerful. A must read, but don't forget the tissues.
and to leave us on a happier note - Early Chapter Books
Lastly, for a category that gets lost often among picture books, and middle grade novels...the hard to write for Early Chapter Books. If you haven't read these three books, then you need to read them and add them to your library. My second and third graders love these three books.
Marty McGuire by Kate Messner - Writing
for children in grades 1 to 3 is not easy. Kate Messner has created
magic with Marty McGuire. A character who is funny and far from annoying. Messner connects with her readers because she knows them and knows what they will love. My second and third graders adore Marty and are thrilled that there will be more books in the series. This one makes a great read aloud and a wonderful book to recommend to both girls and boys.
Trouble With Chickens by Doreen Cronin - This year, there wasn't just one great new early chapter book but several. Cronin, a master picture book writer, has made a successful transition to chapter books. And any book with chickens on the front of it will typically indicate that laughter will be involved. Cronin mixes great characters with a Noir style mystery. And great news...there will be more of JJ and the chickens.
Frankie Pickle: The Mathematical Menance by Eric Wight - Frankie Pickle books are what I have affectionately called hybrids. Part graphic novel and part chapter book. These books are super popular with my second and third graders. They are fun to read and also have a message that is meaningful. In this third book in the series, Frankie must overcome his fear of math, and he does it in typical Frankie style.
Happy New Year and may 2012 bring many more wonderful books to read and share!
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