Monday, December 31, 2012

Favorite Young Adult Novels of 2012

As with my previous End of the Year posts, I have limited books to those released in 2012.  This created a bit of a dilemma for me.  I read probably more YA in 2012 than in 2011, but some of it was published in years prior to 2012 or were Advanced Reader copies for books coming out in 2013.  So, I have chosen to limit my list to my top 6 favorites, and one I wished I had read.

Every Day by David Levithan (Knopf Books) -In the hands of a lesser writer, the concept of this book would have failed.  "A" wakes each day in a different body and a different place.  As I read this one, I kept being amazed by the insight on life and relationships that Levithan artfully wove into this novel.

Necromancing the Stone by Lish McBride (Henry Holt) - This is the sequel to Hold Me Closer Necromancer and I loved it.  Read my interview with Sam here.

Black Heart (Curse Workers #3) by Holly Black (Margaret K. McElderry ) - I thought that Black Heart was one of the best final books in a trilogy.   If you haven't read the Curse Worker series, you can start with White Cat and read straight through.

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein (Hyperion) - A smart, well-written story about two young women during WWII.  This one may take a bit to get into but hang in there.  You may want tissues at the end.

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo (Henry Holt and Co.) - High fantasy, magic, adventure, and more.

Cinder by Marissa Meyer (Feiwel & Friends) - Cyborg Cinderella? How can you not be drawn to a concept like that? A bit science fiction, a bit dystopian, and a definite fairy tale re-telling.

And the one book I wish I had read in 2012...

The Fault In Our Stars by John Green (Penguin)

So, what were your favorite YA books in 2012?

It's Monday! What are you reading? Picture Books to YA - 12/31/12

It's Monday! What are you reading? is hosted by Sheila of Book Journey. Jen & Kellee from Teach Mentor Texts have adapted this to focus on Picture Books to Young Adult Books.

I've been trying to catch up on my end of 2012 reading...

The Goblin Secrets by William Alexander - Magic, adventure, witches, goblins, and steampunk - an enjoyable, fast read.

Out of Reach by Carrie Arcos - Arcos' debut novel draws you in and gives readers a look at the life of a drug addict from the perspective of a family member. 

Hereville: How Mirka Met a Meteorite by Barry Deutsch - A fun follow-up to Hereville: How Mirka Got Her Sword.

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo - I have been meaning to read this for months.  For fans of high fantasy.

I am reading this one slowly...

Writing About Reading: From Book Talk to Literary Essays, Grade 3-8 by Janet Angelillo - Thanks Donalyn for the recommendation.

So, what are you reading?

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Favorite Middle Grade Novels of 2012

Since I limited all of the titles to ones that were released in 2012, it automatically eliminated some great books I read in 2012 that were released in 2011 (or before) and it also eliminated 2013 releases that I read in Advanced Readers form.  Each of the titles below were special to me.  They made me laugh, or cry, or both.  They took me to new places, and I discovered new things.  All are books that I would hand to the right student or place in a classroom library or purchase for a school library.  Many are ones that I have book talked at a teachers' night or spent time hand-selling at my local indie bookstore.  Some may go on to win awards, and some have won awards.   Enjoy!   

The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate (HarperCollins) - I read this early in 2012 and read it over and over again as I shared Ivan's story with students as read alouds.  Check out my post on Katherine Applegate's visit, click here.

Goblin Secrets by William Alexander (Margaret K. McElderry) - This was one of the last Middle Grade books I read in 2012.  Beautifully written. Magical.

Liar & Spy by Rebecca Stead (Random House) - I love Stead's writing and Georges story left an emotional imprint on me.

The Great Unexpected by Sharon Creech (HarperCollins) Beautifully written, with quirky characters, humor, mystery/adventure, and Creech makes you care what happens.

One for the Murphys by Lynn Mullaly Hunt (Penguin) - I read this story about a young girl in foster care in one sitting.  Tissues may be needed (at least I needed them).

Three Times Lucky by Sheila Turnage (Penguin) - I listened to this one and would highly recommend the audiobook.  A story of friendship and mystery in a little town called Tupelo Landing.

The Humming Room by Ellen Potter (Feiwel & Friends)  - It is Ellen Potter and a re-telling of The Secret Garden.  Two of my favorites in one book.

The Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom by Christopher Healy; Illustrations Todd Harris (Walden Pond Press) - What happens after the "happily ever after"? A unique twist on some of our favorite fairy tales.


The Secret of the Fortune Wookiee by Tom Angleberger (Abrams) - It's Tom Angleberger and it's the 3rd book in the Origami Yoda series - need I say more? 

Capture the Flag by Kate Messner (Scholastic) - Messner writes some of the best characters out there.  This adventure mystery is the start of a series.  Read it now so that you will be ready for book 2: Hide and Seek out April 2013.

So, what were your favorite middle grade novels in 2012?

Friday, December 28, 2012

Favorite Miscellaneous Books of 2012

Since I am still reading a few last Middle Grade and YA novels, I decided to do a miscellaneous favorites post before my Middle Grade and YA posts.  I limited all of the titles to ones that were released in 2012. 

Early Readers and Chapter Books

Sadie and Ratz by Sonya Hartnett; Illustrated by Ann James (Candlewick Press) - This early chapter book is filled with humor and sibling challenges that are oh so real.  Not always easy to find in a bookstore, this was a favorite title of mine that needs more attention. 

Bink & Gollie: Two For One by Kate DiCamillo & Alison McGhee; Illustrated by Tony Fucile (Candlewick Press) - See my write up over on the Nerdy Book Club post here.

Rabbit and Robot: The Sleepover by Cece Bell (Candlewick Press) - An early reader that seemed to get over looked.  A story of friendship and humor.  This one had me laughing out loud. 

Lulu Walks the Dogs by Judith Viorst; Illustrated by Lane Smith (Simon & Schuster) - Rarely does a sequel or companion novel live up to the first book, but this sequel is as enjoyable if not more than the first one.  Definitely one of my choices for a read aloud in 1st or 2nd grade classes.

Marty McGuire Digs Worms! by Kate Messner; Illustrated by Brian Floca (Scholastic) - Hop on over to my Nerdy Book Club post for my comments on this one.


October Mourning: A Song for Matthew Shepard by Lesléa Newman (Candlewick Press) - This novel in verse is a touching tribute to Matthew Shepard.  A powerful book comprised of 68 poems with additional endnotes and resources. (For YA audiences)

The Wild Book by Margarita Engle - Written in free verse, this book takes a look at a young girl living in Cuba at the beginning of the 1900's.  Readers experience Fefa's life through lyrical prose and visual storytelling. 

A Poem as Big as New York City: Little Kids Write About the Big Apple by Teachers Writers Collaborative; Illustrated by Masha D'yans (Universe) - This book inspired me to take on a poetry art project this year with two groups of students.  Children's poems combine to bring New York City to life.

UnBeeLievables: Honeybee Poems and Paintings by Douglas Florian (Beach Lane Books) - Bee poems, bee facts and bee paintings combine together to bring new understanding to the life of Honeybees. 

Graphic Novels

Cardboard by Doug TenNapel (Graphix) - Magical cardboard takes on a "Twilight Zone" feel in this graphic novel.  Creepy and fascinating with a message.

Drama by Raina Telgemeir (Graphix) - Telgemeir's humor and ability to celebrate the day to day stuff in the lives of tweens to young teens is remarkable. DRAMA focuses more on the behind the scenes folks of the Drama club rather than the characters with starring roles.

Hades: Lord of the Dead (Olympians #4) by George O'Connor (First Second) - The fourth book in the Olympians focuses not only on Hades but also Persephone and Demeter.  O'Connor's Greek/Geek notes at the end add additional insight to the various volumes in this series.

Book Trailer for Hereville: How Mirka Got Her Sword

Hereville: How Mirka Met a Meteorite by Barry Deutsch (Amulet) - A strong female character who is also an Orthodox Jewish heroine? I had my doubts when I picked up the first book, but Deutsch won me over.  He continues to impress me with this follow-up as Mirka has some lessons to learn and some problems to solve that won't happen quickly and will require thought. 

Prince of the Elves (Amulet Vol. 5) by Kazu Kibuishi (Graphix) - I love this series and this may be the best one yet. The ending was certainly a cliff-hanger and left me wanting more. The series continues to build and the characters continue to face hard choices and the consequences that follow.

Legends of Zita the Spacegirl by Ben Hatke (First Second) - In the second book in the series, Zita must learn to come to terms with public attention and her role in everything and what happens when you let someone else step in. 

Bird and Squirrel On the Run by James Burks (Graphix) - The odd couple is resurrected in this graphic novel about an industrious squirrel and an irresponsible Bird. Students love Burks books.  Hope to see more of this odd couple.

Squish #4: Captain Disaster by Jennifer L. Holm and Matt Holm (Random House) - I love Babymouse, but adore Squish.  In each book, I think I come to appreciate this loveable amoeba even more.  Also, there are some great messages that can be used as discussion starters in classes.

So what were some of your favorite books this year?

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Favorite Picture Books of 2012

It is that time of year.  Time to decide which books made the top of my list.  I have poured over my GoodReads picture book shelf. I have debated over books that were on my earlier lists.  And I finally narrowed it down to 12 top picture books for 2012.  Some of my previous choices made the final cut but I still love those early favorites too.  

Here are my choices for 2012 in no particular order.  Will one of them receive a shiny sticker to adorn the cover of the book? Maybe.  Maybe not! I really selected each of them because I just really liked them. Enjoy!  

Laundry Day by Maurie J. Manning (Clarion Books) - Thanks Nerdy Book Club for putting this one on my radar.  I really love the illustrations and sense of adventure in this one.

Oliver by Birgitta Sif (Candlewick Press) - Quirky, sweet, and just a special book and one that I felt never received the attention that it should have.

Squid and Octopus: Friends Forever by Tao Nyeu (Penguin) - Well, you know my undying love for this book.  I have been talking about this one from the beginning of the year before it even came out.

Green by Laura Vaccaro Seeger (Roaring Brook Press) - What a beautifully constructed concept book.  Every page is perfect.

When Blue Met Egg by Lindsay Ward (Penguin) - The cut-paper art in this one is phenomenal.  And the story is sweet and wonderful.

Bear Has a Story to Tell by Philip C. Stead; Illustrated by Erin E. Stead (Roaring Brook Press) - I'm partial to bears and I am partial to the work of husband and wife team Philip and Erin Stead.  Charming, quiet, and wonderful!

I'm Bored by Michael Ian Black; Illustrated by Debbie Ridpath Ohi (Simon & Schuster) - This one makes me laugh again and again.  And the illustrations knock it out of the park for me.


Hello! Hello! by Matthew Cordell (Hyperion) - A message that we all need to be reminded of. 

And Then It's Spring by Julie Fogliano; Illustrated by Erin E. Stead (Roaring Brook Press) - You already know my love of Erin Stead's work and this one is beautifully illustrated.

Bot and Boy by Ame Dyckman; Illustrated by Dan Yaccarino (Knopf Books) - One of my favorite stories of friendship.

Penguin and Pinecone by Salina Yoon (Walker Children's) - And another special story of friendship that I had to include in this list.

What were your favorite picture books in 2012?