2013 Favorites File

In 2013, I read about 350 books! That count includes many picture books but also middle grade chapter books and even a handful of books for adults and young adults. I attempt here to highlight around 20 of my favorites published in 2013 (or 2012!), though I feel I left many excellent books behind. Click any of the images to head over to Goodreads for plot summaries. I also throw in a few other favorite reading moments from the year, including my favorite Newbery and Caldecott books. 

What were some of your favorite reads in 2013? Do share!

Favorite Picture Books

A sweet tale for lovers of big cities, dream followers and romantics at heart.

_________________________

I loved this animal reference book so much I gifted it twice this holiday season.

_________________________

A touching tale of family and memories.

_________________________

Inventive and just silly good fun.

_________________________

A kid-friendly Einstein biography which beautifully captures his spirit.

_________________________

Magical and imaginative.

_________________________

A testament to never ceasing wonder and collaboration.

_________________________

Creepy and delightful.

_________________________

Favorites for Middle Grades

Holly Goldberg Sloan reminds me of humanity’s capacity for goodness + resilience.

_________________________

An exciting kid-centered medical thriller.

_________________________

A magical story of good fighting evil, but it is Oscar you’ll remember.

_________________________

Wacky but in a delightful way.

_________________________

Smart and sassy girl detectives provide for a page turning read.

_________________________

One to make you think about how your actions affect others, but doused with lots of humor, too.

_________________________

A slightly creepy adventure and coming of age story.

_________________________

A Judy Blume-style story for today’s tweens.

_________________________

I loved it so much that I read it and then did it as a read aloud with my kids.

_________________________

Favorite Nonfiction for Middle School and up

A stunning testament to the horrors of war, but also to those who survived it’s very darkest elements. 

_________________________

Non-fiction that reads like a spy novel.

_________________________

Favorite Young Adult

An 1980s love story for those who think they couldn’t possibly like love stories.

_________________________

Other Favorites

Best “How’d I Miss That?” Book

_________________________

  

Sequels That Delivered

_________________________

Favorite Newbery I Read in 2013. Hard to pick as I read a lot of dud Newbery books, but this was the closest to a favorite.

_________________________

Favorite Caldecott I Read in 2013 — a 2013 Caldecott Honor.

Caldecott Challenge Update, #13

This is my latest check-in for the Caldecott Challenge, where I am reading all the Caldecott Medal and Honor books from 1938 to the present. Today I wrap up my thoughts on the award years 1958 and 1959. You may have to wade through some titles, but there are definitely a few worth pulling out from the shelves here.

_________________________________________________________________

1958 Caldecott Medal

Time of Wonder

By Robert McCloskey

This is a beautiful book that celebrates a child’s wide-eyed time in nature. I know it’s set in Maine, but it reminds me of Washington’s San Juan islands. Softly colored illustrations set the gentle tone.

______________________________________

1958 Caldecott Honor

1 is One

By Tasha Tudor

1isoneimage

This is a very sweet counting book for numbers 1-20. It is filled with lovely, nostalgic illustrations of sweet kids and animals doing activities like painting picking flowers, and making flower wreaths.

_________________________________________________________________

1958 Caldecott Honor

Anatole and the Cat

Illustrated by Paul Galdone and written by Eve Titus

This is cute, but I prefer the original Anatole book, which won an honor in 1957. Here he out smarts a cat so that he can continue his cheese tasting work.

_________________________________________________________________

1958 Caldecott Honor

Fly High, Fly Low

By Don Freeman

flyhighflylow

I rather liked this cute story about two pigeons finding their own unique home, and what happens when that cozy space is disrupted.  I bet many kids today would enjoy this title, too!

Favorite line: “Suddenly, like a bolt out of the blue, Midge felt their perch give a terrible lurch!”

_________________________________________________________________

1958 Caldecott Honor

Mr. Penny’s Race Horse

By Marie Hall Ets

This title was so densely worded, it left me feeling very restless. On many occasions, the text of one sentence is split between two pages (via a page turn), which is something as a reader of picture books drives me crazy. The story line of a man finding fame and possibly fortune in his animals wasn’t enough to keep me interested in what felt like a very long story. Certainly not one to seek out in my opinion. Our very large library system only has one copy and it is kept out of regular circulation in Central Storage.

_________________________________________________________________

1959 Caldecott Medal

Chanticleer

Adapted from Chaucer and illustrated by Barbara Cooney

I loved the richly detailed illustrations by the author/illustrator who did one of my all-time favorite, Miss Rumphius. The story, which is an adaptation of Chaucer’s tale, comes across as too preachy and moralistic, and I’m just not sure today’s kids will connect with it. It could have a place, though, when doing a lesson on morals and fables in literature.

_________________________________________________________________

1959 Caldecott Honor

What Do You Say, Dear?

Illustrated by Maurice Sendak and written by Sesyle Joslin

Humorous scenes are portrayed and the reader is prompted to come up with an appropriate, polite response. A great one to teach manners. I must admit some of the scenes were odd, but then again Sendak, did illustrate them!

_________________________________________________________________

1959 Caldecott Honor

Umbrella

By Taro Yashima

umbrellaimage

A sweet story of a young girl who is very excited to use her new boots and umbrella. Many kids will connect to the challenges of waiting and anticipating. These city-focused illustrations remind me a lot of Don Freeman’s work.

_________________________________________________________________

1959 Caldecott Honor

The House that Jack Built: La Maison Que Jacques A Batie

By Antonio Frasconi

housethatjackimage

This book has some fun illustrations (linoleum block printing?) with a modern feel to them. The cummulative The House that Jack Built story is told in both French and English. This would be great to share with a dual language child, or just for the fun of trying on a French accent.

_________________________________

Until next time, find all these books reviewed over at my Goodreads Caldecott bookshelf. You can also follow along in the Caldecott discussions, fondly called Nerdcott, at Twitter using the hashtag #nerdcott, or join us in the stress-free Challenge! Find out more about the challenge here in Laura’s original post or Anna’s original post.

Caldecott Challenge Update, #12

This is my latest check-in for the Caldecott Challenge, where I am reading all the Caldecott Medal and Honor books from 1938 to the present. Today I share my thoughts on the Caldecott years 1956 and 1957, which I found to be a mixed bag of titles to revisit and others to archive.

_________________________________________________________________

1956 Caldecott Medal

Frog Went-A-Courtin

Retelling by John Lanstaff and illustrations by Feodor Rojankovsky

This is a retelling of a nursery rhyme/ballad that many children will still enjoy today. Admittedly, the word play is often fun. I also enjoyed the illustrations.

Next to come in was a spotted snake,

Passing ’round the wedding cake.
______________________________________

1956 Caldecott Honor

Crow Boy

By Taro Yashima

crowimage 

The llustrations, while surely revolutionary for the era, just aren’t my style. Crow is the story of an outcast boy, who is teased and ostracized, but in the end others realize he is just very misunderstood.  It would be interesting to use this in a classroom today when talking about bullying issues.

_________________________________________________________________

1956 Caldecott Honor

Play With Me

By Marie Hall Ets

In this story, a young girl runs from animal to animal in an effort to find someone to play with her. This is definitely a Caldecott where I liked the story better than the illustrations, and even the story, at best, was so-so for me. I enjoyed her 1945 Caldecott Honor book, In the Forest, much more.

_________________________________________________________________

1957 Caldecott Medal

A Tree is Nice

Illustrated by Marc Simont and written by Janice Udry

treeisniceimage

I liked this one a lot, especially the skinny, tall format of the book design. It profiles what we enjoy about trees and what they provide us both emotionally and physically. It would be great paired with A Leaf Can Be . . .  by Laura Purdie Salas.

_________________________________________________________________

1957 Honor

Anatole

Illustrated by Paul Galdone and written by Eve Titus

anatoleimage

I thought this was very cute and it reminded me a lot of the movie Ratatouille. Anatole, a mouse with refined taste, goes out to get food for his family and provides some human cheese makers with some anonymous feedback in the process. It includes some great vocabulary and a few French phrases.

_________________________________________________________________

1957 Caldecott Honor

Gillespie and the Guards

Illustrated by James Daugherty and written by Benjamin Elkin

I’m not the biggest fan of the coloration Daugherty uses in his illustrations (Daniel Boone and Andy and the Lion) which are heavy on the brown and gold tones, but I did enjoy this tale of a clever boy outwitting the grown ups.

_________________________________________________________________

1957 Caldecott Honor

Lion

By William Pene Du Bois

I found this one to be very odd. Angels are creating the animals, and as artisans they go through many iterations to get the lion and its features “just right’. Some of the pictures were pretty bizarre.

_________________________________

Until next time, find all these books reviewed over at my Goodreads Caldecott bookshelf. You can also follow along in the Caldecott discussions, fondly called Nerdcott, at Twitter using the hashtag #nerdcott, or join us in the stress-free Challenge! Find out more about the challenge here in Laura’s original post or Anna’s original post.

72 days, 78 books – My Favorite Book-A-Day Titles

With October right around the corner, summer seems like but a memory, but there are still a few book titles lingering with me from my time spent reading during my kids’ summer vacation. This summer was my second time participating in the Book-A-Day event. I didn’t get to all of the titles I mentioned in my kick-off post, but I blame a bunch of other new titles that cut in line! Needless to say, with 78 books, I did indeed read a lot of great books. Mind you, 78 books sounds impressive, but close to 2/3 were picture books.

  • Picture Books: 53
  • Easy Readers: 2
  • Middle Grade Novels/Chapter Books: 17
  • Graphic Novels: 3
  • Young Adult Novels: 2
  • Adult Biographies: 1

Seventy-two days, seventy-eight books. Here are some of my favorite reads of the summer! Click on the images to get a synopsis of the title at Goodreads.

Favorite author of the summer

Tom Angelberger

    

Favorite picture books (a mix of fiction and non-fiction)

Favorite Caldecott Books

Favorite Graphic Novel

Favorite Middle Grade Novels

Favorite Newbery Medal Book

Favorite Young Adult Novel

What were some favorites at your house this summer? Please do share!

Caldecott Challenge Update, #11

This is my latest check-in for the Caldecott Challenge, where I am reading all the Caldecott Medal and Honor books from 1938 to the present. This book stack has books from award year 1955 and includes one that couldn’t be renewed because it was needed to fulfill another hold. Clearly one that kids are still enjoying today.  I’ve now read 145 of the Caldecott award books.

_________________________________________________________________

Cinderella

By Marcia Brown, with text adapted from Charles Perrault

1955 Caldecott Medal

I was slow in getting to my pile of Caldecott’s this time and was unable to renew this one (hooray for overdue fines!) as it was needed to fulfill a hold in our large library system, which has 43 copies. Clearly, the story of Cinderalla has a broad and enduring appeal and this retelling is nice. My own Caldecott side-kick, Small, saw it come out of the library book bag and said, “Oh, yeah, I’ve read that one at the school.” I must admint that I’m not the biggest fan of Marcia Brown’s looser illustration style as seen here and in her The Steadfast Tin Soldier but they do suit the magical feel of the story.

_________________________________________________________________

The Thanksgiving Story

Illustrated by Helen Sewell and written by Alice Dalgliesh

1955 Caldecott Honor

As the title suggests this is the story of the first Thanksgiving. The tale actually begins in England and focuses on one Pilgrim family as they board their ship, cross the Atlantic and endure their challenging settlement days. This would be a good tale to reinforce the background story for the holiday in a classroom setting, though it’s not exactly a riveting story and feels a bit too wordy. I liked the illustrations, though many pages are rather dreary with their brown and grey tones.

_________________________________________________________________

Wheel on the Chimney

Illustrated by Tibor Gergely and text by Margaret Wise Brown

1955 Caldecott Honor

Hands down, the illustrations steal the show on this one. There are lots of lovely pastoral scenes and many amazing illustrations of birds in flight. On more than one occasion, I gasped out loud as I turned the page. An interesting story about migratory storks that I suspect many kids might still like today.

_________________________________________________________________

Book of Nursery and Mother Goose Rhymes

Illustrated by Marguerite de Angeli

1955 Caldecott Honor

This is a giant volume at close to 200 pages and it is packed with lots of familiar and many lesser known rhymes that will most likely enchant young readers. Each page has lots of illustrations that are either larger sketches or smaller ones interspersed with the text. A few color plates are scattered throughout, but I actually prefer her black and white sketches. I think this would make a lovely gift for a young child.

_________________________________

Until next time, find all these books reviewed over at my Goodreads Caldecott bookshelf. You can also follow along in the Caldecott discussions, fondly called Nerdcott, at Twitter using the hashtag #nerdcott, or join us in the stress-free Challenge! Find out more about the challenge here in Laura’s original post or Anna’s original post.

09.03.12: It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

Thanks to Jen and Kellee at Teach Mentor Texts for hosting the meme “It’s Monday! What are you reading? From Picture Books to YA”. Check out Jen and Kellee’s site to see what others are reading through their posted links. You can also find posts from folks using the hashtag #IMWAYR on Twitter.

Happy Labor Day! The sun is out here in Seattle for the holiday weekend and the back-to-school supplies and first day outfits are just about complete for school restarting for my daughters on Wednesday. We will officially have a fifth grader and third grader under our roof! This will be the first year in many that I won’t be heavily involved in the PTSA, so stepping back will be a new role for me, but one I’m needing for a while. It will give me some time to reflect on what I want to do when I grow up. In the meantime, I read!

Book-A-Day Challenge: 72 books

Read to date: 79 books

Days into the challenge: 70 days

Click on the cover images for the synopsis of each book.

Picture books

   

I enjoyed both these books a lot. A slight nod goes to How Rocket Learned to Read for it’s story as kids will love that. Rocket Writes a Story, however, has its own merits and would be so great to share with primary grade kids about the writing process. I love the expressive illustrations.(2010 and 2012)

_______________________________

The plot felt a little forced, but Dectective (Little Boy) Blue solves a mystery with the help of lots of nursery rhyme characters. Tedd Arnold, of Fly Guy fame, does these illustrations with a great comic book-feel. (2011)

_______________________________

I read this stack of 1955 Caldecott Award year books. Look for my write up later in the week.

Novel for middle grades:

Angleberger has another hit with this third installment in the Origami Yoda series. The origami wisdom continues to spill forth to the BLANK middle school, this time dispensed through a Chewbacca fortune teller animated by Sarah with some help from Han Foldo as translator. Like the previous books tween social problems and worries are told from various viewpoints in a witty manner. My youngest, in third grade, adores the series, though I’m sure some of tween-ishness is over her head. (2012)

Finished on audio . . . 

The Famous Five was a favorite series that I enjoyed from my childhood, so this was a fun way to share it with my kids. Here the four British kids and their loyal dog have a fun and mysterious adventure by the sea. The narrator did a great job with the voices for a huge number of characters. (1953)

Finished for The Newbery Challenge:

This was not as painful as I had suspected it would be, but I’m not sure I’d recommend it beyond someone specifically looking to learn more about life in 1920s China. It is the tale of a young apprentice coppersmith who finds him self in all kinds of adventures and mishaps. (1932)

This week’s Reading Adventures:

Continuing these books–

1936 Newbery Medal

_______________________________

My oldest and I are really enjoying the suspense of this as a read aloud. (2012)

_______________________________

What are you reading? Have a great reading week!

08.27.12: It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

Thanks to Jen and Kellee at Teach Mentor Texts for hosting the meme “It’s Monday! What are you reading? From Picture Books to YA”. Check out Jen and Kellee’s site to see what other’s are reading through their posted links. You can also find posts from folks using the hashtag #IMWAYR on Twitter.

More Seattle sunshine and more camping for us this last week, as we try to squeeze in those last few summer adventures before school starts next week. I was able to get in some great picture books, finish a fun novel for middle graders, and make good progress with a Newbery book. I’m on track to finish my Book-A-Day challenge by next Tuesday, with a lot of thanks to my picture book reading. 🙂

Book-A-Day Challenge: 72 books

Read to date: 68 books

Days into the challenge: 63 days

Click on the cover images for the synopsis of each book.

Picture books I really enjoyed last week . . .

This really is a fantastic imaginative non-fiction book. It is beautifully illustrated with fun rhyming text that is also informative about all the ways that leaves are useful. When you add the author’s terrific explanations and glossary it would make a great addition to a primary classroom’s plant study unit. (2012)

_______________________________

The ever pessimistic rat and always optimistic rabbit make for a fun pair. A great one for kids to practice drawing inferences from the illustrations, as the text for most pages is limited to “Good news” and “Bad news”. Also great for modeling how we react when things go a miss. Great cartoonish-style illustrations. (2012)

_______________________________

Fun to read tale of two robots trying to out-do each other with their costume additions. Lots of fun details to check out on the end papers, too. Perfect for preschool-primary grades. (2012)

_______________________________

Other picture books I read:

 

Funny book for the middle grades:

Crazy good fun for kids happy to suspend disbelieve as the plot is wildly outrageous. The bad guy is actually a kid with a devious plan to take over the country sporting, of course, a fake mustache. My usual Angleberger-loving third grader couldn’t get into this one, but I found it had lots of laugh out loud moments that many kids will enjoy. (2012)

This week’s Reading Adventures:

Continuing these books–

1933 Newbery medal winner. I’m close to finishing . . . really.

_______________________________

I started this one with Tall and she’s loving it, which doesn’t always happen with books I suggest. At her request, we’re finding stolen moments to read it, including her PT exercise time! (2012)

_______________________________

Finishing on audio . . .

I adored the Famous Five books as a kid, and was so excited to find this one on the audiobook shelf at the library for our latest weekend camping road trip drive. The narrator does an awesome job with all the voices and my girls are loving the suspense about the mysterious flashing lights at the signal house. We’ll try to wrap this up this week. (1953)

Upcoming . . .

Dobry is technically the next book I need to read in the Newbery Challenge, but it looks like my library will have to get this one for me via inter-library loan. So in the meantime, I’ll pick up Caddie Woodlawn, the 1936 Newbery winner.

This week I’ll also get to pile of Caldecott picture books from award year 1955.

What are you reading? Have a great reading week!