Best Books of 2007 (So Far)

MotherReader has suggested we all post our Best Books of 2007 (So Far)

Here are mine:

Toddlers:

Fish, Swish! Splash, Dash! by Suse MacDonald
Orange Pear Apple Bear by Emily Gravett

Preschool:

At Night by Jonathan Bean
The Chicken-Chasing Queen of Lamar County by Janice N. Harrington
Edwardo: the horriblest boy in the whole wide world by John Burningham
The Incredible Book Eating Boy by Oliver Jeffers
Mary and the Mouse, the Mouse and Mary by Beverly Donofrio
The Pink Refrigerator by Tim Egan
A Seed Is Sleepy by Dianna Hutts Aston
What Happens on Wednesdays by Emily Jenkins

Elementary:

Comets, Stars, the Moon and Mars by Douglas Florian
The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick
The Magic Horse of Han Gan by Jiang Hong Chen
Moxy Maxwell Does Not Love Stuart Little by Peggy Gifford
The Talented Clementine by Sara Pennypacker
The Navigator by Eoin McNamee

Tweens:

Emma-Jean Lazarus Fell Out of a Tree by Lauren Tarshis
Reaching for Sun by Tracie Vaughn Zimmer
The Wednesday Wars by Gary D. Schmidt
Skullduggery Pleasant by Derek Landy

Teens:

Epic by Conor Kostick
The Plain Janes by Cecil Castellucci
A Swift Pure Cry by Siobhan Dowd
Twisted by Laurie Halse Anderson
Wildwood Dancing by Juliet Marillier

Looking forward to everyone’s lists!

What Happens on Wednesdays

What Happens on Wednesdays by Emily Jenkins, pictures by Lauren Castillo.

I am a fan of Emily Jenkins’ That New Animal, so I was glad to see a new picture book by her. 

The story of this picture book is told by a young girl who tells the readers about what happens in her family on a Wednesday.  Each detail is lovingly told with care and sometimes with a sense of glee.  The wonder of it is that very little actually happens on a Wednesday that is unusual, so it is really a normal day for this urban child.  She is surrounded by a loving family where both mother and father are equally involved in taking care of her.  Just wonderfully accepted as the norm.

Jenkin’s prose is flawless.  It invites readers in with the down-to-earth tone and small touches that bring it all to life.  In particular, the “no-kissing day” theme captures this little girl perfectly.  Jenkins manages in a picture book to show and not tell, which is quite a trick.  Pair this masterful prose with Castillo’s art and you have a complete treat.  This is Castillo’s first picture book and her art is strong, comfortable and very warm.  For some reason this book bring to mind one of my favorite childhood books, Tell Me a Mitzi by Lore Groszmann Segal.  Perhaps it is the urban setting or the familial warmth, but that is certainly a book to find if you adore this one as much as I do. 

High recommended and one of my favorites of the year, this is a nice read aloud for four through seven year olds.

Leaves

Leaves by David Ezra Stein.

There are so many lovely fall books, but this one should be added to your collection.  A bear is enjoying his first year.  He is loving everything until the leaves begin to fall.  He tries to put them back, but it isn’t the same.  So he sits and watches the leaves fall until he grows sleepy and goes to hibernate in a hole filled with dry leaves.  When he comes back out in spring, he sees the buds of leaves on the trees and once again is filled with joy at the world.

The language here is so very simple but powerful.  Words are used in ways that allow you to feel their resonance, yet stay welcoming for children.  In fact, the language is so simple and brief that toddlers will enjoy the book, but I would also share it with four and five year olds.  The illustrations add to the power of the book with some illustrations left without words so that they stand on their own, underlining the silence of winter as well as the glory of the falling leaves.  I especially appreciate the use of color as the seasons change so that the oranges and yellows of autumn become the whiteness of winter and then the green of spring.  The illustrations echo the words because they too are simple but powerful.

If you are looking for a great fall book, try this one.  Perfect for days in October when the leaves are blowing around, children are treasuring the ones with bright colors, and the touch of winter is felt.

Madeleine L'Engle (1918-2007)

Our planet just tilted a little and hole has been left behind.

Madeleine L’Engle, author of so many incredible books, has died at the age of 89.  She is best known for my favorite of her books, A Wrinkle in Time, which won the Newbery Award in 1963. 

She introduced so many children in the 1960s and 1970s to the wonder of science fiction.  Wrinkle in Time forever colored the way I saw the universe and our world.   Her art was in the blending of scientific detail, great characters and wonderful prose.  If you haven’t read Wrinkle in Time, take this time to read it in honor of its incredible author.