Last year we looked back at a couple of our favorite books of the year, and frankly, it seems like a good tradition! There were a LOT of fantastic books that came out this year, so choosing a few was hard, but we tried. So, without further ado, our favorites:
Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
Ok, I had a couple of problems with this book. But it was still my favorite read of the year, and the final book in the best written YA series since Harry Potter. I could not wait to get my hands on this book and find out what happened to Katniss, Gale and Peeta. If you’re one of the few people who has not read the Hunger Games trilogy, order them for yourself TODAY and get reading. You are in for a treat. If, like me, you devoured the books the instant they were published, settle in and wait for the movies. They should be good – Suzanne Collins is writing the screenplays herself.
Palazzo Inverso by D. B. Johnson
This is one of the most innovative books I read this year, and one of the most clever. Inspired by the work of M.C. Escher, it’s about his young apprentice, who has helped him create a world where up is down and down is up. And so is the book. You can read the book through and then turn it upside down and read it backwards, and all the upside-down images still make sense. The drawings are beautiful, and even my 3-year-olds are inspired by the perspective. A wonderful introduction to both a fascinating artist, and a way of looking at the world…
It’s a Book by Lane Smith
And this may just be my overall favorite book of the year. It’s certainly the one I have gifted the most! A young jackass can’t figure out what to do with a book. It doesn’t tweet, blog, scroll, or do any of the other things he is used to doing. His friends the monkey and the mouse show him how fun reading can be, and he loses himself in the book… it’s adored by kids, yet the humor is also slyly aimed at adults. Give this book to every reader in your life!
Mockingbird by Kathryn Erskine
Here’s an intriguing heroine for upper elementary and middle schoolers. I must admit, as an adult, I was hooked, too. Caitlin is a talented artist struggling through fifth grade in the aftermath of her brother’s death. Her situation is especially poignant because of the manner of Devon’s death–gunned down at the local middle school by a fellow student–and her relationship to her brother. He was the family member who helped her cope with her Asberger’s Syndrome, often helping interpret the world around her. Rather than depressing, this book is actually enlightening, as we see the world through Caitlin’s mental processes and come to understand her unique vision. It’s an extraordinarily touching novel, and will spark discussions on important themes such as compassion, empathy, healing as a community, and overall tolerance.
Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly
In the guise of a novel of a contemporary teen enduring 21st century adolescent angst, this story is truly much much more. Through the eyes of Andi, an 18-year-old musical prodigy, readers learn more about the French revolution, musical theory–and even political intrigue in the 18th century in a time-travel section that links a present-day mystery about the genetics of the French royal family with the shifting loyalties in France over 200 years ago. This is a multi-layered young adult novel, which to my mind succeeds in keeping the reader intrigued and eager to learn more. Truly a book I kept my nose buried in until I had completed it.
Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper
Melody is a brilliant thinker with a photographic memory and insights beyond her 11 years. But all those around her have no idea about her intellectual capabilities since she is trapped within her body by cerebral palsy, unable to speak or even perform the most basic physical functions. Through Melody, the reader gains insights into what it is like to be in a special education class where people severely underestimate your abilities. As the novel progresses, Melody is able to demonstrate her abilities, and ultimately her amazing personality. Realistically, this gives her a new set of problems and issues to work through. Another fascinating and well-written novel from Sharon Draper.
What were your favorite books of the year? Are there any new releases you’ve already got your eye on for 2011? (We both have our fingers crossed that 2011 brings another book in each of Rick Riordan’s new series – the Kane books and the Lost Hero series. And Molly & Jacob are hoping for another Elephant and Piggie – which is actually coming in March!)