Last week I wrote about my favourite picture books of 2011. This week, I wanted to give you my favourite books for young readers. Although I read many middle grade and early reader books this year, many of them were not published this year. So, in the spirit of focusing on our favourite books published this year, I polled my good friends in the Indigo children’s book department and asked them what they loved this year. Thankfully, Chandra (who you know as our IndigoTeen Blogger) answered the call. This is also a good time to introduce the newest memeber of our IndigoKids and IndigoTeen Blogging team, Kate Newman. Kate is the Assistant Category Manager for Kids books for Indigo. We are so pleased to have her aboard.
Below are our favourite kids’ books of 2011.
Mel’s Favourite Books:
Love is A Four Letter Word by Vikki VanSickle. I read both of VanSickle’s “Clarissa Delaney Books” this year. The first book in the series, Words That Start with B, was published in 2010 and focuses on the misadventures of twelve-year-old Clarissa Delaney. In the second novel, Clarissa’s plan to take part in the community’s musical does not go as planned. In the tradition of greats like Judy Blume and Beverly Cleary, VanSickle totally gets the Middle School/Junior high vibe of friends, relationships and the confusions surrounding love.
That Boy Red by Rachna Gilmore. So, the publisher promoted this as Anne of Green Gables meets Owen Skye and I couldn’t agree more. Having adored both books, it is no surprised that I loved this one as well. Four interconnecting stories about a family in P.E.I. during the Depression. Gilmore’s knack for dialogue gave a real sense of her characters. These heart-warming and funny stories would be perfect for something like a CBC family hour – hear that CBC? Reluctant readers will appreciate the boyhood antics as well as the short story.
Dear Canada: That Fatal Night – The Titanic Diary of Dorothy Walton by Sarah Ellis. I admit that I’m probably a little biased about this one because Sarah Ellis is on the faculty of VCFA where I go to school and she is like a rock star there and we sat together at the Scholastic dinner this past fall and she’s simply wonderful. But, I loved her work before I met her and as one of Canada’s most cherished authors, I always look forward to her work. I was totally engrossed by Dorothy Walton’s struggle to come to terms with being a survivor of one of the most tragic events in history.
Binky Under Pressure by Ashley Spires. I’m a big fan of Ashley Spires’s Binky the Space Cat Series and was so excited when we got to do a Q&A with her earlier this fall. Cat parents will appreciate Binky's catlike ways and kids will love the comic book style and humour. Reluctant readers will like the quick pace and short phrasing. Binky is definitely one of my new favourite characters. He's a bit sarcastic, and a little clueless - with the best of intentions of course. In this latest adventure, Spires has expanded her world, by adding a new cat. At first Binky and Gracie don't get a long, but when their human's home is under attack from the aliens, they have to work together to save them. A laugh out loud read.
Kate’s Favourite Books:
Liesl & Po by Lauren Oliver. Mysterious and magical, endearing and warm, these are the words that come to mind when I think of the wonderful, Liesl & Po. Lauren Oliver has had much success writing young adult books, but this first book for young readers, is certainly her best. A girl and a ghost build a delicate friendship that saves them both from loneliness. With a band of unlikely comrades, they must embark on a journey to right a serious wrong. This book will win over readers with its enchanting characters and their magnificent world.
The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente. Surely the longest title of any book I read this year and certainly one of the most bizarrely wonderful and wacky books, too. Twelve-year-old September follows the wind out her window and winds up on a fantastical adventure through fairyland, where she meets many strange new friends and loses her shoe. Often compared to Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, the imaginative, quirky writing and timeless illustrations in this book will keep young readers spellbound.
Wildwood by Colin Meloy. This enchanting story follows young Prue as she journeys into Wildwood to rescue her baby brother. A cast of fabulously drawn characters leads the way, including a determined and headstrong heroine, an awkward and unwanted sidekick and the best villainess I’ve encountered in years. The excellently moody illustrations by Carson Ellis fit the story perfectly. Author Colin Meloy is the infamous lead singer and songwriter for The Decemberists and his talent with words becomes clear in this North American-style Narnia. I highly recommend this book for anyone who loves a good adventure, fantasy, mystery, or even if you just like books with pretty covers. In short, Wildwood is the perfect cure for post-Harry Potter blues.
Chandra’s Favourite Read:
The Heroes of Olympus, Book Two: The Son of Neptune by Rick Riordan. Short review: It’s brilliant; I laughed so hard; I was really upset that I couldn’t just sit and read it until it was finished, and it’s on my list of the best books I’ve read in 2011. (For the full review, check out Chandra’s post.)