- Picture book I most liked? Finding Winnie by Lindsay Mattick
Years ago, I heard the tale of how Winnie-the-Pooh was based on a true bear. Now Lindsay Mattick has written a picture book that details an amazing story of the world’s most famous bear and even includes a photo album. A #1 New York Times Bestseller and winner of the 2016 Caldecott Medal, Finding Winnie is on my list of books to buy.
- Intermediate book I most liked? Captain of the City Streets by Esther Averill
Captains of the Streets is about how three rough-and-tumble street cats became part of The Cat Club. Born and raised in New York, Sinbad and The Duke took off for the south side of then city but soon found themselves hungry and desperate … This tale from 1972 feels real to how street cats might live, while also providing readers with the satisfaction of a happy end. The story has a lot of heart and is one of my favorite Cat Club books.
- Middle School book I most liked? Canned and Crushed by Bibi Belford
By the time you finish Canned and Crushed, a middle-grade novel, the main character and the manic style will have won you over. Because finding a novel with a Hispanic protagonist had proved difficult during her teaching days, Belford drew on her experiences with children of migrant workers and with bilingual students to create a story about Sandro, whose father is an undocumented engineer working odd jobs while waiting for paperwork and whose mother is absent because she has taken his little sister to Mexico for medical treatment. Belford’s book covers a lot of issues, including unemployment, bullying, and prejudice, but contain so much charm and laughs that I enjoyed the ride.
- Young adult book I most liked? We Should Hang Out Sometime by Josh Sundquist
We Should Hang Out Sometime by Josh Sundquist reads like a hilarious teen novel about the confusing world of dating and falling in love. In addition, this over three-hundred page has positive diverse elements. Best of all, We Should Hang Out Sometime is actually a memoir and so the events in it are true, making it a highly sympathetic portrayal of one of life’s most important experiences.
- Adult book I most liked? Atonement by Ian McEwan
A national best seller. Winner of many awards. A major motion picture. Atonement is a literary novel by Ian McEwan, set in the 1930’s in England. It is about a young adolescent girl’s imagination and her older sister’s moment of flirtation with the son of a servant. My husband and I both read this book. The features which stood out the most to us were McEwan’s style and his portrayal of characters.
- Advanced Reader Copy I most liked? Chronicles of Zee & Zoey by Deborah Barnes
In the prologue, Barnes explains the subtitle of A Journey Into the Extraordinarily Ordinary. Most of us like to imagine our lives better than they are. For one lovable male Maine Coon cat named Zee and one wild female leopard inspired Bengal named Zoey, however, Barnes believes that the ordinary is itself a gateway to unlimited adventure. This is true partly because of how cats are, but also because of the way Barnes choose to view her life with them….
- Nonfiction book I most liked? The Trainable Cat by Sarah Ellis
In the book The Trainable Cat, authors John Bradshaw and Sarah Ellis discuss not only how cats should be trained but why cats need to be trained. The Trainable Cat was the first selection of the online Companion Animal Psychology Book Club, newly-formed this fall by Zazie Todd. Besides discussing the book, members had the privilege of asking questions of author Sarah Ellis. I’m taking a different approach to my usual reviews, by sharing highlights of the discussion by some of the three-hundred members.
- Educational book I most liked? Nobody’s Cats by Valerie Ingram
If you are creative and care about the welfare of animals, what can you do? If you’re Valerie Ingram and Alistair Schroff, you write children’s picture books. Both Nobody’s Cats and Out of the Cold are based on true stories from northwest British Columbia and profits from the sale of the book go towards the care of animals in that region.
- Animal book I most liked? Purr Prints of the Heart by Deborah Barnes
In Purr Prints of the Heart, Jazz takes center stage as the narrator of his own tale from start to finish. Jazz shares his dismay of being labeled sick by his original owner. After all, his mom had raised him to believe that he was the most handsome kitten alive and somebody would want him one day because he was special. And when Deb Barnes walked into Jazz’s life, this turned out to be true….
- Special interest book I most liked? A Fragile Stone by Michael Card
Who is your favorite Biblical character? One of mine has long been Peter because, despite of how close he was to Jesus, he made many mistakes and committed many sins. From Michael Card comes The Fragile Stone, subtitled The Emotional Life of Simon Peter. It covers every encounter that Peter had with Jesus, as well as Peter’s life as a preacher, healer, prisoner, reconciler, and writer. I continue to enjoy each new book I read by Card.
- Book I can’t believe I waited to read? Absolutely True Story of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
I can’t believe I’ve waited so long to read The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie! The character of Junior is endearing and real. Alexie perfectly illuminates the elements that shape the lives of Native Americans living on reservations. To top all the novel’s other merits, the theme of acceptance is perfect for all audiences.
- Best book I reread? World of Farley Mowat
Published in 1980, there are nine sections to The World of Farley Mowat, each of which contains excerpts from one of more of Mowat’s published writings. Selections are grouped in chronological order. As such, given how much of Mowat’s writings were based on his own life, The World of Farley Mowat not only provides readers exposure to a variety of his writings but also a glimpse into his personal life.
This past year has been a year of transition in many ways, including that of my reading endeavors. In the fall of 2014 I switched from working on a young adult novel to writing animal articles, and this led to a natural change in type of books which interested me. You’ll notice half of my favorite books feature an animal. In 2015 I surpassed my reading challenge of 104 books, but then this year missed my reading challenge of 78 books. There was just too much else going on in my life for me to enjoy books. How did your year go? What books were your favorite reads from 2015?
Tomorrow I’ll return a tribute to young adult authors whom we lost in 2015. Then it’ll be back to my routine of memes and reviews. Hopefully, 2017 will see me far exceed my more modest goal of 52 books. Join me for another year of reading fun!