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Sunday 15 December 2013

My best books for 2013

Over the past few days, wondering what to write for my blog, I have been trying to create a list of my ten favourite children’s and young adult books of the year. I am sometimes one of those people for whom the most recent is the best. Thank goodness that every year I keep a record of all my reading. 

It’s been hard work as I have to reject some which have made a big impact. I have resisted the temptation to restrict myself to my favourite genre, picture books, because it would mean I couldn’t include some wonderful titles. It’s been a hard process and if I were to write this in another few days, my list may be different.  So here we are. Today’s ten (well, maybe eleven!) favourite books of 2013 but not in preference order – that would have been too challenging! 

Welcome Home by Christina Booth

The story of a boy and a whale and the need to preserve these wonderful creatures. Its wonderful language and evocative watercolour illustrations create a sense of place for those who know the Derwent River. 
The Wombats Go on Camp by Roland Harvey

A group of children and their teachers go on camp. Harvey’s inimitable style reflects the comic as well as serious nature of all the activities, and some of the kids’ names are superb. This is a fun picture book for primary age students, especially those who have experienced being on camp.   

Xander’s Panda Party by Linda Sue Park and Matt Phelan

To celebrate Xander’s birthday he wants to have a party. He knows there are no other pandas in the zoo, but  each time he decides on an animal group to invite, he realises there are some animals which don’t fit his parameters. By the end everyone has been included.  

How the Dinosaur Got to the Museum by Jessie Hartland

The story of a diplodocus longus from its life through to how its fossilised remains arrived at the Smithsonian Museum, and all the people who were involved in its display. Told in a similar format to The House that Jack Built, this book meets the need of those many youngsters obsessed with dinosaurs.  

Funny bums by Mark Norman

An introductory look at animals’ backsides, and why the animals themselves are shaped the way they are. The quirky humour draws in the young reader.  

Journey by Aaron Becker

A wordless picture book which takes the reader on an exciting adventure after the young girl draws a doorway on her bedroom wall and enters a new highly imaginative world, her magic red crayon in hand. It’s a wonderful opportunity for storytelling. 

Exclamation mark! by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Tom Lichtenheld

This is a great introduction for young readers to the use of punctuation. It’s presented in a humorous but not didactic way. There are multiple levels to the narrative, showing readers that they can stand out from the crowd as well as fit in with everyone else. 

The Song for a Scarlet Runner by Julie Hunt

Peat, a feisty young girl, is forced to undertake a quest but she discovers it is one without treasures and physical battles. She discovers herself and her powers on the way. Along the way she meets many wonderful characters, Stiltboy perhaps being the most unexpected.  

The Vanishing Moment by Margaret Wild

This is an interesting multi-voice novel. Three young people tell their stories of life in a small town and how tragedy has affected them. There are occasional overlaps of perspectives and interconnections between them. 

Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell

Set in 1986, this is the story of the developing relationship between eccentric dresser Eleanor and Park with his Korean heritage. There are so many themes: school bullying, dysfunctional families, 1980s music and more, but it’s a great love story, a thought-provoking read and a fabulous description of first love. 

The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt and Oliver Jeffers

A humorous look at what happens when the crayons decided to complain that they are overworked (while some are underworked). Duncan, the narrator, works to solve the problem. Young readers may find that their use of colour changes after reading this book.   

Have you seen all these? What are your favourites?

Maureen Mann

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