Archive for January 3, 2013


Costa Children’s Award

Maggot Moon

Sally Gardner has won the Costa children’s award for Maggot Moon, a book I look forward to reading.  It’s a book about a dyslexic teen boy living in an alternate England. 

What I find most intriguing is that Gardner herself is dyslexic.  She did not read until she was 14 years old.  Best of all, her book is being celebrated for its language and beautiful writing. 

Now Gardner goes on to compete for the overall Costa Award.  I look forward to reading Maggot Moon and to seeing if it can take the whole shebang!

Here are my top ten picks for children’s nonfiction this year.  Most are picture books and I’ve snuck one in for teens as well.  The links below will take you to my full reviews.

boy who harnessed the wind fantastic jungles

The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by William Kamkwamba – Autobiographical picture book about a teen boy from Malawi who built a windmill out of scraps.  Luminous and compelling reading.

Fantastic Jungles of Henri Rousseau by Michelle Markel – A striking and superb biography of the artist who came to his craft late in life.

georgia in hawaii island

Georgia in Hawaii by Amy Novesky – This gorgeous picture book biography takes a look at Georgia O’Keeffe’s trip to Hawaii and how it impacted her art.

Island: A Story of the Galapagos by Jason Chin – Learn about the history of the Galapagos Islands and the wonders of nature and evolution in this incredible read.

12843717-the-letter-q life in the ocean

The Letter Q by Sarah Moon – (My sneaky way of putting in my favorite teen nonfiction book) This entire book is letters from gay and lesbian authors to their younger selves.  It’s an inspirational collection worth lingering over.

Life in the Ocean by Claire A. Nivola – Journey deep under the sea with this inspiring biography of biologist and oceanographer Sylvia Earle.

looking at lincoln mrs harkness and the panda

Looking at Lincoln by Maira Kalman – A fresh and radiant biography of Abraham Lincoln that manages to be both colorful and playful.

Mrs. Harkness and the Panda by Alicia Potter – A marvelous picture book biography of an unlikely adventurer willing to take amazing risks.

ocean sunlight seed by seed

Ocean Sunlight by Molly Bang – Learn about how the sun makes life on earth possible with this winning combination of poetry and science.

Seed by Seed by Esme Raji Codell – This beautiful picture book biography makes the story of Johnny Appleseed resonate with modern readers with his focus on the environment and shared community.

I narrowed my picks for the best in children’s fiction this year to these fifteen.  They range from historical fiction to fantasy.  You just can’t go wrong with any of them!  The links connect to my full reviews:

great unexpected greyhound of a girl in a glass grimmly

The Great Unexpected by Sharon Creech – Hope and life connections make this a book that will delight existing Creech fans and create new ones.

A Greyhound of a Girl by Roddy Doyle – A ghost story that is meticulously crafted and beautiful.

In a Glass Grimmly by Adam Gidwitz – Ideal for reluctant readers looking for the gore in fairy tales, this book is engaging and wonderfully twisted.

laugh with the moon liar and spy lions of little rock

Laugh with the Moon by Shana Burg – Travel to Malawi with Clare and her father in this book filled with its strong culture, the stark differences between America and Africa, and the warmth of the people.

Liar & Spy by Rebecca Stead – A beautifully crafted novel for middle graders with a stellar character at its heart.

The Lions of Little Rock by Kristin Levine – A powerful novel about the battle for integration in Little Rock with complex and interesting characters and a riveting storyline.

mighty miss malone my mixed-up berry blue summer one and only ivan

The Mighty Miss Malone by Christopher Paul Curtis – A luminous protagonist shows the human side of the Great Depression in this book from a master of his craft.

My Mixed-Up Berry Blue Summer by Jennifer Gennari – This debut novel is the perfect summer read while also being strong and courageous about gay parenting.

The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate – Ivan moved into my heart this spring and has never left it.  One of the most captivating reads of the year.

one year in coal harbor sadie and ratz summer of the gypsy moths

One Year in Coal Harbor by Polly Horvath – Return to the world of Everything on a Waffle with this sequel that is just as charming and exquisite as the first.

Sadie and Ratz by Sonya Hartnett – The best beginning reader of the year, perfect for wild children with hands that get into all sorts of trouble.

Summer of the Gypsy Moths by Sara Pennypacker – This hope-filled book starts with a death and strangers and ends with hope and family.

twelve kinds of ice what came from the stars wonder

Twelve Kinds of Ice by Ellen Bryan Obed – In only 64 slim pages, this quiet but powerful book about ice will have you reaching for your skates with tears in your eyes.

What Came from the Stars by Gary D. Schmidt – Two starkly different worlds are drawn together through a single boy in this book that is part science fiction and part reality novel and entirely glorious.

Wonder by R. J. Palacio – The story of a regular kid with an uncommon face will have you laughing, crying and loving it entirely.

Here are my top 10 picks for graphic novels for children and teens this year.  Did I miss any great ones?  Let me know!  As always, these are solely the books I got around to reading this year.

The links below are to my full reviews of each title.

13356190-cardboard chopsticks drama

Cardboard by Doug TenNapel – Take a box made of magical cardboard and one creative kid and you have utopia, right?  Wrong!  Kids will gobble up this dark graphic novel.

Chopsticks by Jessica Anthony – Told only in photographs, this book is filled with tension and twists.  A great pick for older teens.

Drama by Raina Telgemeier – Telgemeier follows up Smile with this equally engaging look at high school theater.

12833770-explorer friends with boys giants beware

Explorer: the Mystery Boxes by Kazu Kibuishi – Seven short stories all deal with opening a mystery box in this rich graphic novel anthology.

Friends with Boys by Faith Erin Hicks – This engaging graphic novel is a combination of realistic homeschooled teen heading to high school and paranormal ghost story.

Giants Beware! By Jorge Aguirre – Claudette is looking to head out to slay the giant that has terrorized her town, but the quest will be a difficult one!  A spunky, strong heroine and some very funny companions make this a quest you will want to take.

legends of zita little white duck

Legends of Zita the Spacegirl by Ben Hatke – A wonderful follow-up to the first Zita book, this time Zita has to deal with fame and an imposter.

Little White Duck: a Childhood in China by Na Liu – A beautiful graphic novel autobiography about the author’s childhood in China during the 1970s.

secret of the stone frog year of the beasts

The Secret of the Stone Frog by David Nytra – Fine black-and-white drawings create a unique graphic novel in this surreal tale of two children who wake up in an enchanted forest and try to return home again.

The Year of the Beasts by Cecil Castellucci – Text alternates with graphic novel in this book that is lush and sizzling.

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