Monday, December 31, 2012

Secrets & Sharing Soda's Books of the Year (2012)

It's the last day of 2012, so it's time to tally up the books I've read and choose my favorites.

First, the stats:

I read 1516 books this year (16 more than my goal, and 500 more than last year). They break down as follows:

From these books, I have selected my favorites in the categories and genres that I regularly review. My criteria for selecting these books were: literary quality, kid appeal, personal enjoyment of the book, and potential use in story time/library programs. Titles link to my reviews.

Favorite Young Adult Contemporary Novel 

Since You Left Me
by Allen Zadoff
(Egmont USA)

Honorable Mention:
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green (Dutton Books - Penguin Group)
Love and Other Perishable Items by Laura Buzo (Knopf Books for Young Readers - Random House)
Nothing Special by Geoff Herbach (Sourcebooks Fire)

Favorite Middle Grade Novel 
by Natalie Dias Lorenzi

Honorable Mention: 
The Boy on Cinnamon Street by Phoebe Stone (Arthur A. Levine Books- Scholastic)
Ruby Redfort: Look into My Eyes by Lauren Child ( HarperCollins Children's Books)
About Average by Andrew Clements (Atheneum Books for Young Readers- Simon & Schuster)

Favorite Chapter Book
Stella Batts: Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow
by Courtney Sheinmel, illustrated by Jennifer A. Bell

(Sleeping Bear Press) 

Honorable Mention: 
Hooey Higgins and the Shark by Steve Voake (Candlewick Press)
Ivy and Bean Make the Rules by Annie Barrows (Chronicle Books)
Calvin Coconut: Rocket Ride by Graham Salisbury (Wendy Lamb Books - Random House)

Favorite Easy Reader 
by Jeff Mack
(Philomel Books - Penguin Group)

Honorable Mention: 
Bink and Gollie: Two for One by Kate DiCamillo and Alison McGhee, illustrated by Tony Fucile (Candlewick Press)
Penny and her Doll by Kevin Henkes (Greenwillow Books - Harper Collins)

Favorite Picture Book
by Katie Cleminson

Honorable Mention:
Extra Yarn by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Jon Klassen (Balzer + Bray- Harper Collins)
Faster! Faster! by Leslie Patricelli (Candlewick Press)
Lemonade in Winter by Emily Jenkins, illustrated by G. Brian Karas  (Schwartz & Wade  - Random House)

Favorite Book in Graphic Format
Secret Diary
by Julien Neel
(Lerner Publishing Group)
Honorable Mention:
Her Permanent Record by Jimmy Gownley (Atheneum Books for Young Readers- Simon & Schuster)

What were your favorite books of 2012? Did you nominate them for Cybils? Tomorrow, find out the names of the finalists in each category over on the Cybils blog.

Caldecott Challenge Post #67

Timothy Turtle by Al Graham, illustrated by Tony Palazzo. Published 1946. Caldecott Honor 1947.

This is a well-written rhyming picture book. It plays with repetition and rhythm to create a fun reading experience. Like The Treasure, this is a story about making a journey that changes how you view yourself and your home upon your return. Only when Timothy stops trying to become famous does he succeed; he gains his fame from the humbling experience of being tipped over onto his back and needing to save himself. Al Graham is no Dr. Seuss, but this book uses words not commonly used in picture books - agog, swimmingly, bemoan, , etc. - that make it a great tool for exposing kids to new vocabulary. The words themselves are probably more interesting than the story, but the language was enough to keep me interested.

The Boats on the River by Marjorie Flack, illustrated by Jay Hyde Barnum. Published 1946. Caldecott Honor 1947.

The sweet dedication at the start of this book is the first thing that caught my eye: “To Timmy who helped to make this book from his grandmother, who made the words and his father, who made the pictures.” What a nice thing it must be for a child to have relatives who write and illustrate books for him! Kids love to learn about transportation, and this book remains a relevant exploration of the different types of boats that travel by river. The illustrations reminded me of The Little House by Virginia Lee Burton, and I think the books would pair nicely for preschoolers and early elementary school kids.

Fish for Supper by M.B. Goffstein. Published 1976. Caldecott Honor 1977.

This is a basic, but charming little story about a grandmother’s daily routine. The illustrations are spare, tiny, and colorless, but they have a cartoonish quality that makes Grandma an appealing character. I love how prim and proper she looks in every image, whether she’s handling her boat or cleaning her fish. I’m a little bit surprised that a quiet, simple little book like this was ever given an award, but clearly there is more to it than just the daily activities of a grandmother.

Madeline’s Rescue by Ludwig Bemelmans. Published 1953. Caldecott Medal 1954.

I don’t like this one as much as the original Madeline, and it’s surprising to me that this one won the Caldecott Medal while the original only got an Honor. The pages with paintings are very well done, but the line art on the alternating pages looks sloppy to me. The dog aspect of the story - and the cute ending where there are enough puppies to around - is a huge hit with kids, but compared with Madeline, this one seems forgettable.

If All the Seas Were One Sea by Janina Domanska. Published 1971. Caldecott Honor 1972.

I really enjoyed the geometric illustrations that accompany this poem. I find their symmetry very interesting and satisfying. Despite its age, this is a book I can imagine using in story time, especially with babies and toddlers.

See other Caldecott Challenge participants' blogs on the challenge page at LibLaura5. Follow my challenge progress here.

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