Sunday, December 16, 2012

My Personal Best or These are the 2012 Books I Liked

  This post was supposed to be about holiday book giving....except that Hanukah ended Saturday night, and unless you live near the world's best stocked indie bookstore (or don't mind paying an arm and a leg for expedited online delivery), it's a little late for holiday book shopping. Not only that, but in my last post on the topic, I think I expressed my unease in recommending books for you to give. You know the reading ability and taste of your book recipient.  I don't.

   In fact, I would never give a book that I hadn't read myself.  So in the interest of informed book giving, here's a list of my favorite books published in 2012 that  you should read.  This way you'll be prepared for book giving the rest of this year.

    This is a real quirky list, guided only by my own reading tastes.  I hope there's at least one book here that will ring your holiday chimes.

    Here are my favorite books of the year.

      Young adult

      1.  Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein. Two English girls find themselves in the middle of Nazi Occupied France with a mission to accomplish.  Mystery, intrigue, told from a double POV, this one was a real nail biter. This is available in every format you can imagine, including MP3 downloads and Audio Book.  256 pp.

      2.  We've Got a Job: The 1963 Birmingham Children's March. When I was researching Yankee Girl. I was surprised to find how little had been written about this chapter of Civil Rights history. The arrest of 4,000 elementary through high school students, peacefully protesting inequality in Birmingham , Alabama is a story that I incorporate in my school visits...and that my audiences have a hard time believing.  This account focuses on four of the participants and their lives before, during and after the march. This is not available electronically, although it is on audio CD, and on Audible Audio. 176 pp.

      3.  Never Fall Down by Patricia McCormick.  This is based on a true story of an 11-year old Cambodian boy who survived the Killing Fields by playing music for the Khmer Rouge. McCormick does not spare the harrowing details in what is ultimately an uplifting story.  Available one-book and Audible Audio.

     Middle grade

      1.  Drama by Raina Telgemeier. This hilarious graphic novel about backstage of a middle school musical (Moon Over Mississippi!) is by the author of last year's Smile (which was as dark as this book is lighthearted.) Available only in hard or soft cover. 240 pp.(Note this is for you who wonder where all the humorous books have gone.)

     2.  Wonder by R.J. Palacio.  Fifth grader Auggie Pullman has such a severe facial deformity that he has been home-schooled. . .until now. Beginning with Auggie's POV, the story then switches to that of his classmates, his sister, her boyfriend and others, culminating in a Big Picture of a community struggling with compassion and acceptance. Available in e-format, audio CD, Audible Audio. 320 pp.

     3.  Titantic: Voices from the Disaster by Deborah Hopkinson.  Just when you think you have read everything there is to read on this subject, Hopkinson unearths first person accounts and archival pictures (taken by a passenger who got off at the last port before before the sinking). Guess what James Cameron got everything right! Although this is avail be in e-book, audio CD and Audible Audio, I would recommend the hardcover for the clarity of the pictures.  304 pp.

       Picture books

     1.  And Then It's Spring by Julie Fogliano, ill. by Erin Stead.  Illustrated by last year's Caldecott winner, a boy and his dog, tired of winter, decide to plant a garden.  But first ....there must be spring.
Any kid who has lived through a winter that lasted just a little too long will identify with this one.
Hardcover only.

     2.  Olivia and the Fairy Princesses by Ian Falconer. Olivia, that precocious piglet, is up to her snout in princesses. In the sparkly-pink world of princessdom, how can a pig who prides herself on individuality, make her mark?  IMHO, this title is the best of the Olivia series (possibly because I too, am tired of sparkly=pink princesses.) Available in e-book.

     3.  Green by Laura Vaccaro Seeger.  How many kinds of green are there?  More than you could ever imagine, as this concept book proves.  This is a title to sit and savor, over and over. Hardcover only.

      Here are some more titles I liked.

Young adult:  The Fault in Our Stars--John Green;  The Diviners--Libba Bray;  Ask the Passengers--A.S. King;  Grave Mercy--Robin LaFevers;  No Crystal Stair--Vaunda Michaux Nelson;  The Raven Boys--Maggie Stiefater;  Dodger--Terry Pratchett;  Beyond Courage:  The Untold Story of Jewish Resistance During the Holocaust--Doreen Rappaport; Bomb:  The Race to Build--and Steal--the World's Most Dangerous Weapon--Steve Sheinkin;  Moonbird: A Year on the Wind with the Great Survivor B95--Phillip Hoose;  Cinder--Marissa Meyer

Middle grade:  Legends of Zita the Spacegirl--Ben Hatke;  Nathan Hale's Dangerous Tales:  Big, Bad Ironclad--Nathan Hale; Crow--Barbara Wright;  The Lions of Little Rock--Kristin Levine;  The White Zone--Carolyn Marsden;  Hereville:  How Mirka Got her Sword--Barry Deutsch;  Summer of the Gypsy Moths--Sara Pennypacker; Liar & Spy--Rebecca Stead;  One Times Square:  A Century of Change at the Crossroads of the World--Joe McKendry;  May B--Caroline Starr Rose; Starry River of the Sky--Grace Lin;  Son--Lois Lowry; Temple Grandin:  How the Girl Who Loved Cows Embraced Autism and Changed the World--Sy Montgomery

Picture books:  Z is for Moose--Kelly Bingham; Unspoken:  A Story from the Underground Railroad--Henry Cole;  The Town Mouse and the Country Mouse--Helen Ward;  Barnum's Bones:  How Barnum Brown Discovered the Most Famous Dinosaur in the World--Tracey Fern;  Sky Color--Peter Reynolds;
Fifty Cents and a Dream: Young Booker T. Washington--Jabari Asim;  A Home for Bird--Philip Stead;
Electric Ben:  The Amazing Life and Times of Benjamin Franklin--Robert Byrd; Sleep Like a Tiger--Mary Logue

   In addition, two of my all-time favorites, Kevin Henkes and Rick Riordan have new titles this year.  I didn't include them because these two guys have yet to write a book I didn't love.  Everything by them is great!

    And if for some reason you haven't read Charlotte's Web (the movies do not come close to the book), now is the time.

  Don't forget to enter our Book Giveaway for JoAnn Macken's How to Write a Poem Step by Step.  See JoAnn's guest post for details.

Posted by Mary Ann


Kenda Turner said...

Thanks for sharing your favorite books of the year. There are titles here I've not heard of and now want to check out... :-)

Carmela Martino said...

Great lists, MA. Thanks for sharing! I've read only a few of these so far.

Anne@HeadFullofBooks said...

I liked Code Name Verity, too, though I didn't add it to my list because the beginning was so confusing. Students at my school don't like it as much as I thought they would, which is a pity.