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Saturday 20 January 2018

My Reading Year in Review

Maureen sums up her 10 favourite reads from 2017, with a 'note to self' that she plans to read more books for younger readers during this year.

Happy New Year to everyone. I hope that this brings lots of wonderful reading and you find some new ‘friends’.
I am going to open this year’s blogs with a reflection on some of last year’s highlights for me, not all of them 2017 publications, and not all Australian. When I started considering what I would include I realised that I hadn’t read much aimed at younger readers so that is my resolution for this year.
I have listed my choices alphabetically by title, not by preference:

Goldfish Boy by Lisa Thompson. Great mystery story about a twelve-year old coping with his OCD, which causes constant hand-washing and his isolation, yet with a positive outlook. Good companion to John Green’s older readers’ s title, Turtles All the Way Down.

Say Zoop! by Herve Tullet. Tullet has done it again with this visually vibrant picture book full of sounds, actions and interaction, probably too long and energetic for book full of sounds, actions and interaction, probably too long and energetic for bedtime but a great way to get kids involved in the reading process.

Small Things by Mel Tregonning. It’s such a pity Mel did not get to see how well this book, about a boy’s inner demons, was received. Wordless, the art work pulls the reader into each page to empathise with the boy's struggles.  A picture book, but not for the very young.

Swan Lake by Anne Spudvilas. I read this as an ebook and it works well in that format. Spudvilas retells the story of the ballet with word summaries of each act, but mainly through charcoal drawings with added light and colour, stretching across the double page spread, allowing the tensions to shine through.

Take Three Girls by Cath Crowley, Simmone Howell and Fiona Wood. Three girls tell their version of their lives and changing priorities, a school assignment, and the cyber bullying they are all coping with. Full of references to youth culture. Great for older readers.

The Hate You Give by Angie Thomas. Set in the United States, this is the story of Starr, who splits her life between home in a poor neighbourhood, the rich school she attends, and the aftermath of witnessing the police shooting her best friend. Should she speak out as to what really happened or remain silent and safe? It’s full of controversial issues and discussion points, powerfully written.

This Book Just Ate My Dog by Richard Byrne. Bella’s dog disappears into the gutter of the book, as do all the people who come to help her. It’s not a 2017 publication but this doesn’t detract from the fun of the story where both the main character and the reader know what’s going on.

Through the Gate by Sally Fawcett. A wonderful picture book depiction of the confusion and heartache to a child of moving to a ‘new’ house which needs renovating, but slowly adapting to the new environment and learning to accept the foibles, changes and advantages of the new place.

Was Not Me! by Shannon Horsfall. A child’s attempted explanation for all his naughty actions by blaming it on his imaginary twin brother, named 'Was Not Me'. Preschoolers will enjoy the humour and parents will recognise their own exasperations.

The Wolf Wilder by Katherine Rundell. In this historical novel mixing fact and fantasy, set in Russia in winter, Feo is learning to be a wolf-wilder. With revolution brewing everywhere, she befriends Ilya and, after her mother is captured, she has to rescue her and protect the wolves.

I wonder if I would have chosen a different list on another day. Maybe just a more difficult process getting my list down to my self-imposed 10. What would you have on your list of best in 2017? Are any the same as mine?

Maureen Mann
Retired Teacher-Librarian and Avid Reader

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