Usually, neither one of us is a huge fan of end of the year lists. But when we came across Jon Scieszka’s article for the LA Times, we both found ourselves nodding in agreement over his enthusiasm for books for reluctant readers, humor enthusiasts, graphic book aficionados, and just plain terrific new reads.
He inspired us to reflect back on 2009 and the current great state of Children’s Literature. Here are a few of our most recent –and favorite–discoveries.
The Two Bobbies: A True Story of Hurricane Katrina, Friendship, and Survival by Kirby Larson and Mary Nethery, illustrated by Jean Cassels.
Meet the two Bobbies: Bobcat and Bobby, two pets abandoned during the Katrina evacuation. They wandered around New Orleans together for at least 4 weeks before they were turned over to an animal shelter and named by the workers. Their story is told simply, but with a compelling narrative that unfolds to draw readers in. At the shelter, when the two friends are separated, Bobby creates such a ruckus that they bring Bobcat to him, and the volunteer workers discover that Bobcat is blind, and Bobby has been acting as his “seeing eye dog.” Though the original owners are never found, the two Bobbies are eventually adopted by a new family. The illustrations are just right for the book, in soft pastel shades that complement the text. I appreciated the real-life photo of the two critters included in the Afterword. This book has been enjoyed by the many children I’ve shared it with–and has brought tears to the eyes of adult animal lovers.
Sisters and Brothers: Sibling Relationships in the Animal World by Steve Jenkins and Robin Page.
There are lots of non-fiction picture books about parents and their babies in the animal world, but I’ve never seen one before that explores the the world of animals as siblings growing up together. I love the torn-paper collages that create large intriguing images. And on each spread, there is a small quote that humorously illustrates one of the interesting facts about the animal siblings. For example, did you know that peregrine falcons “practice” dive-bombing to catch their prey–on their brothers and sisters? They need to be careful of each other so not to really injure their sibling at the speed of up to 200 miles per hour. On the page with this information, one falcon says to the other: “Isn’t it your turn to be the pigeon?” Interesting facts abound about black widow spiders who eat their siblings, and wild turkey brothers who are best friends for life. This is a nonfiction text that will grab the attention of young reader–and their families.
Mom is the one in our family who is up on the latest releases for younger kids. I tend to introduce my toddlers to old favorites and things we chance upon at the library. But these are on our current favorites from this year:
Tough Chicks by Cece Meng, illustrated by Melissa Suber
This was a gift from Mom for Easter which we recommended then, and having my own little tough chick named Molly instantly made it my favorite. We forgot about it for a while, and the kids rediscovered it on their own, and it’s been in heavy rotation lately.
We’re a big Skippyjon Jones family. We read his earlier books a lot for a while, and then kind of put him aside. This fall, we unearthed the wonderful CD of Judith Schachner reading Skippyjon Jones in Mummy Trouble, and it made us really excited for the new book, which is a worthy addition to a great series. (Also worth mentioning that anything spice-related is also adored in our house, and gives us an opportunity to play one of our favorite “games“.)
I tend to keep more current on YA novels, which I read for my own pleasure. I’m was most excited this year about the release of these four sequels to series I really love (in order of the degree of embarrassment admitting this causes me).
Al Capone Shines My Shoes by Gennifer Choldenko (recommend proudly)
The Last Olympian by Rick Riordan (not embarrassed and looking forward to the movie!)
Peter and the Sword of Mercy by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson (teeny bit pink – I’m too old and too girly to be loving this series so much)
Splendor by Anna Godberson (hugely red in the face here – this is basically Gossip Girl set at the turn of the last century and it’s mortifying how quickly I’ve devoured these books)
What were your favorite books of the year? Are there any new releases you’ve already got your eye on for 2010?