12.28.2012

The Best Middle-Grade and Chapter Books of 2012

While I have made four "Best of" picture books list now, this is only my second "Best of" list for middle-grade and chapter books and I am still refining it. As I was compiling and winnowing my list for this year, I noticed some themes. So, this year the list is categorized! And, like a stripy shirt or the right pair of jeans, I am hoping the categories will hide the true heft of the list(s). I'll start with a genre that has existed for a very long time, (John Bellairs, an author from my childhood, is a great example and I really need to review his books here) mysteries with a bit of magic but I just sort of noticed it this year. Interestingly enough, three of the four books in this category could also be termed Historical Fantasy, mysteries with a touch of magic set in the past, my favorite! And, please excuse the size of the graphic novel list. It was too hard to narrow it down...


The Best MYSTERIES with MAGIC of 2012






The Apothecary by Maile Meloy




The Aviary by Kathleen O'Dell




Horten's Miraculous Mechanisms by Lissa Evans





13 Hangmen by Art Corriveau






The Best HISTORICAL FICTION of 2012










Tracks by Diane Lee Wilson



The BEST ANIMAL STORIES of 2012





Tua and the Elephant by RP Harris, illustrated by Taeun Yoo




The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate











Neversink by Barry Wolverton






The best REALISTIC FICTION of 2012



Wonder by RJ Palacio






Libby of High Hopes by Elise Primavera



Same Sun Here by Silas House and Neela Vaswani





Summer of the Gypsy Moths by Sara Pennypacker







The Best FANTASY of 2012



The Spindlers by Lauren Oliver












Cold Cereal by Adam Rex






The BEST GHOST STORIES of 2012




The Whispering House by Rebecca Wade





A Greyhound of a Girl by Roddy Doyle





The Best GRAPHIC NOVELS of 2012









DRAMA by Raina Telgemeier



A Wrinkle In Time adapted and illustrated by Hope Larson




The Stone Frog by David Nytra



Earthling! by Mark Fearing




Fangbone! Third-Grade Barbarian by Michael Rex




Explorer : The Mystery Boxes edited by Kazu Kibuishi




Friends with Boys by Faith Erin Hicks


Best CHAPTER BOOKS of 2012




The Great Cake Mystery by Alexander McCall Smith





Mrs Noodlekugel by Daniel Pinkwater




Sadie and Ratz by Sonya Hartnett




And, of course, these brilliant graphic-novel-beginnning-to-read books from TOON BOOKS that came out in 2012!









The BEST ADULT BOOK THAT IS GREAT FOR TEENS of 2012





12.24.2012

Best Picture Books of 2012

THE BEST PICTURE BOOKS OF 2012


This marks my fourth annual list of the best picture books of the year. This also marks my last year of compiling this list as a professional story-time lady. Working at the bookstore, weekly story times were always my favorite part of the job. I loved trying out books on the kids (who, on the whole, sat rapt no matter what I read) and I especially loved finding lesser known books to share with my little listeners. Besides the chagrin I feel at the loss of event that was part of my life for seventeen years, I am a little nervous about my abilities to share the best in picture books with you without the opportunity to test drive them on a live audience, so to speak. However, there is a lovely little independent bookstore near my office and I think I might just start heading over there once a week for their story time so I stay in touch with the people these books are being written and illustrated for. 

I tried to keep my list to 20 books and failed. So, to make it seem not-so-long, I have divided it into categories!

14 PICTURE BOOKS I JUST LOVE - 
FOR THE ART AND THE STORY





























































Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox















MATTHEW CORDELL SPECIAL MENTION


These three books would have made it onto this "best of list" anyway, but I just thought it was so cool that this spectacular author/illustrator had FOUR picture books out this year, three of which I reviewed here and read at story time and love to bits!





 









BEST WORDLESS PICTURE BOOKS

I think that Enchanted Lion has this genre covered, especially while Arthur Geisert keeps making books!










BEST ROBOT BOOKS
 Need I say more?





BEST HALLOWEEN BOOK (or anytime book) OF THE YEAR
The rhyme and pace of Nathan Hale and Rick Walton, as well as the illustrations, are spot on and they parody Ludwig Bemelman's MADELINE in the best spirit possible.



 BEST INTERACTIVE BOOK
Alan Ahlberg returns to the glory of the JOLLY POSTMAN books that he wrote and his wife Janet illustrated. This time, daughter Jessica takes over the illustrating and does a lovely job.








 BEST CONCEPT BOOK 

A brilliant example of what a creative mind paired with fantastic design can do with an old theme.





BEST PICTURE BOOK FEATURING A
SURREALIST ARTIST AS A CHARACTER
DB Johnson is a genius when it comes to taking an adult figure from the world of art, history or philosophy and making the person and concept they are best known for (as he did with Henry David Thoreau in his Henry books) interesting to kids.






BEST PICTURE BOOK FEATURING A BEAT WRITER AS A CHARACTER
This book captures wonderfully the exuberant love of his country and joyful freedom of travel that Jack Kerouac experienced and channeled into his book On the Road.








BEST PICTURE BOOK THAT INTRODUCES WORLD RELIGIONS TO KIDS
A spectacular journey through the Muslim world and holidays, gorgeously illustrated.









BEST NON-FICTION PICTURE BOOK
This beautifully written and delightfully illustrated book tells the story of Julia Child's Parisian cat, Minette.