Friday, December 30, 2011

Year in Review Post #5: Secrets & Sharing Soda's Books of the Year

Today, I’d like to present my favorite books published in 2011. I have sorted this post according to category, focusing only on those categories that I regularly review.

My criteria for selecting these books were:
  • literary quality
  • kid appeal
  • personal enjoyment of the book
  • potential use in story time (for picture books) 
Though I have made some remarks on this page, my full reviews provide more detailed reasons that these books are my favorites. Access my reviews by clicking on the titles below.

    Favorite Young Adult Contemporary Novel

    (Dutton Juvenile - Penguin Group)

    An original style, gorgeous descriptions, and an important and hard-learned lesson make this book stand out among others of the genre. Some bloggers have criticized the book’s protagonist for being too needy and modeling clingy behavior when it comes to boys, but I think this realism and emotion are precisely what make the story work so well. Readers who decide not to let main character Joy’s initial mistakes turn them off will find a well-written and wonderful story about overcoming unrequited love.

    Honorable Mention:
    Shine by Lauren Myracle (Amulet Books - Abrams)
    Past Perfect by Leila Sales (Simon Pulse - Simon & Schuster)
    Ten Miles Past Normal by Frances O’Roark Dowell (Atheneum - Simon & Schuster)

    Favorite Middle Grade Novel
    (Amulet Books - Abrams)

    This quiet novel about the impact of an orange tree on a California neighborhood is filled with poetics turns of phrase and memorable characters. It’s not an action-packed novel by any means, but the artistic story telling and sensory descriptions give it a unique place in the world of children’s literature. If I could have any book win the Newbery this year, it would be this one.

    Honorable Mention:
    Breadcrumbs by Anne Ursu (Walden Pond Press - HarperCollins)
    Ten Rules for Living With My Sister by Ann M. Martin (Feiwel & Friends - Macmillan)

    Favorite Chapter Book

    Toys Come Home

    by Emily Jenkins
    illustrated by Paul O. Zelinsky
    (Schwartz & Wade - Random House)

    Carefully selected language and a warm, nostalgic tone are the hallmarks of this prequel to Toys Go Out and Toy Dance Party. A girl’s toys come to life with their many philosophical questions and concerns about their role in her life, resulting in an emotional and bittersweet tale of love, loss, and change.

    Honorable Mention: 
    The Trouble with Chickens by Doreen Cronin, illustrated by Kevin Cornell

    Favorite Easy Reader

    by Dana Meachen Rau
    (Random House)

    Sunny summer illustrations and simple language make this book a fast-paced and fun read for beginning readers. The dual meaning of “flip flop” as both shoes and indecisiveness works exceptionally well, and the illustrations offer so much extra detail not mentioned in the text, creating a lovely portrait of summer freedom.

    Honorable Mention:
    Aggie Gets Lost by Lori Ries, illustrated by Frank W. Dormer (Charlesbridge Publishing)
    Amelia Bedelia Makes a Friend by Herman Parish, illustrated by Lynne Avril (Greenwillow Books - HarperCollins)

    Favorite Picture Book

    Grandpa Green
    by Lane Smith
    (Roaring Brook Press - Macmillan)

    I have yet to meet a Lane Smith book I didn’t love, but this one caught me off guard by making me cry! Grandpa Green has recreated his entire life in a garden of carefully pruned bushes, which his grandson uses to help him remember his past, even as old age begins to rob him of his memories. The book strikes just the right balance between bitter and sweet and manages to capture the poignancy of aging without becoming maudlin. Just a beautiful book.

    Honorable Mention:
    Shoe-La-La by Karen Beaumont, illustrated by LeUyen Pham
    Blackout by John Rocco

    Favorite Book in Graphic Format

    Nina in that Makes Me Mad
    by Hilary Knight
    (Toon Books - Candlewick Press)

    Nina gets mad in lots of different situations, which are comically drawn by Hilary Knight in a series of panels. This book is great for teaching emotional intelligence to preschoolers in an engaging way, and it also articulates different types of anger for which even an adult might not have found the proper words. This book reminds us that it’s okay to feel angry sometimes, as long as we recognize our anger, tell someone about it, and constructively work to resolve it.

    Honorable Mention: The Meaning of Life and Other Stuff  by Jimmy Gownley

    What were your favorite books of 2011?

    Check back tomorrow for my final post of the year, in which I will reveal the grand total of books I read in 2011.


    1. Funny... I couldn't stand Back When You Were Easier to Love. lol The other book choices look good though. I love picture books!

    2. Picture books are the best!

      Can I ask what you didn't like about Back When You Were Easier to Love? I have seen a lot of interesting opinions about it.


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