It’s that time of year again! Here’s my year in review, with most of my questions originating from The Story Siren. Although I tried to keep the list short, over the year other ideas for categories have occurred to me and been added.
1. Best novel you read?
Bog Child by Siobhan Dowd
Written by Siobhan Dowd, an author who died too young. Dowd and Bog Child were named winners of the 2008 Carnegie Medal in Literature, an award that recognizes the year’s best children’s book published in the United Kingdom.
2. Worst novel you read?
Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins
I really tried to like Hex Hall. Honest! I even read the sequel, but didn’t care for the whole Sophie is a witch, then demon twist, but either is cool story line.
3. Best nonfiction book you read?
Dear Teen Me: Authors Write Letters to Their Teen Selves by E. Kristen Anderson and Miranda Kenneally (Editors)
What I liked best is that the letters were compiled from authors of all walks. One author was a geek, another a cheerleader, another a loser, another a rich kid. None of those differences mattered in the long run. They all struggled to grow up and find themselves. Some of them have overcome the scars of rejection, while others to this day face insecurities.
4. Best picture book?
I Need My Monster by Amanda Noll
My reading club and I read this delightful picture book, as part of our reading of Golden Sower nominees in 2011-2012. It won second place or honorable mention.
5. Best intermediate book?
Fish by Gregory Mone
I discovered this seafaring adventure in my search for books suitable for boys. There are pirates and treasure hunts galore! Need I say more?
6. Best young adult book?
Good Enough by Paula Yoo
Ever feel as if the quiet and smart kids are under-represented in books? Or at the very least, they’re not portrayed in a positive enough light? Good Enough is about a hilarious debut novel about Patti, a Korean-American girl struggling to live up to her immigrant parents’ expectations. Patti is also an overachiever who longs to stand out but also fit in, a conflict to which I well relate.
7. Best book that was outside of your comfort zone?
Code Talker by Joseph Bruchac
Aside from a few classics such as Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry by Mildred Taylor, I have sadly ignored books by authors outside of my North American Caucasian middle-class culture. Thanks to an Intercultural Communication course, my reading horizons have started to expand.
8. Best classic that you reread this year?
The Prydain Chronicles by Lloyd Alexander
Rediscover this old classic set about Taran, an Assistant Pig-Keeper who dreams of being a grand hero. Prydain is a magical land, but its geography, culture, and names are based on ancient Wales. My favorite remains the third, wherein Taran searches for his family and finds hard truths about himself. I reread it multiple times as a teenager, when seeking for my own identity.
9. Best cultural or regional book?
Emily of New Moon trilogy by Lucy Maud Montgomery
In many ways, Emily is the opposite of the beloved Anne of Green Gables. Yet its in those differences that I most relate to Emily. We’re both introverted, serious, passionate, and moody creatures who aspire to write.
10. Best special interests book?
Mockingbird by Kathryn Erskine
After contacting Katryn Erskine for an interview, I discovered she had traveled to my home province of Newfoundland. Since that time, we have exchanged emails and photos. Mockingbird is about a girl with Aspergers and draws on Erskine’s own experiences with her daughter. She’s also written The Absolute Value of Mike, which is about a boy with a learning disability. I read both because of being a resource teacher. I love Erskine’s books, but am equally tickled that we share some common passions.
11. Best series you read?
The Dark Divine by Bree Despain
On a whim, I entered a draw for this trilogy by Bree Despain because the author was Christian but writing fantasy. Despain gives a fresh twist on the worn-out werewolf lore, while imparting important truths about faith.
12. Most surprising book you read?
Heart of a Samurai by Margie Preux
Winner of the 2011 Newbery, Heart of a Samurai, is set in 1841 when Japan’s borders remain closed to all Western nations. Fourteen-year-old Manjiro is curious and eager to learn everything he can about the American culture, where he finds himself after being rescued at sea. With his hard-won knowledge of the West, Manjiro later finds himself in the unique position of being able to persuade the emperor to ease open the boundaries around Japan.
13. Most disappointing book you read?
The Other Side by Jacqueline Woodson.
Pretty much all of the multicultural books which I read for younger readers I enjoyed. I wish the same could be said for the picture books. Too often, whether they were fictional tales such as The Other Side or biographies of heroes, I found them preachy and issue-driven.
14. Book I can’t believe I waited to read?
The Witch Family by Eleonor Estes
Ever wonder what you could dream up if only you would allow yourself to imagine? Maybe you check out this fanciful children’s book about two girls who dream up a bad witch and a host of adventures for her.
15. Book that didn’t get enough press?
Paka Mdogo trilogy by H.S. Toshack
An animal adventure from South Africa, which has been compared to Watership Down by Richard Adams. This trilogy should be a classic!
16. Best book I didn’t review?
Anything by Sara Zarr! In looking for novels about characters who don’t fit the norm, I came across Sara Zarr’s books. You can find my one reference to her books in my round-up of adoption books. How to Save a Life is about how the path of two girls intertwine, while one is grieving the loss of her dad and the other is searching for an adoptive mom for her unborn child.
- Which of the categories should I keep? Which should I delete?
- Which choices do you agree with? What would you have picked in 2012?