Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Best of the Year from SLJ

I read lots of book reviews for children and teens. As I approached the children's desk this evening, I noticed the latest School Library Journal sitting there. It's the December issue sporting the "Best of 2011" lists. I am not going reprint the lists here, rather, I will make note of books on the lists that I have read and what I thought. It's SLJ through the Marissa filter.

1. A Ball for Daisy by Chris Raschka
This is a sweet wordless picture book about a dog named Daisy and her beloved red ball. But what happens when the ball is no longer? I liked this book because I'm a dog lover, so it turned me into mush. Also, the artwork is very dynamic and Daisy is an expressive pup. Such a simple concept beautifully rendered.

2. Paper Covers Rock by Jenny Hubbard
This is Hubbard's debut novel, but you wouldn't know that by reading it. Set at a boys' boarding school, 16-year-old Alex must make tough decisions about friendship, loyalty, and the truth in the wake of a friend's death. I felt it was very A Separate Peace meets Dead Poets' Society. Nice job.

3. A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
This is a poignant tale of a boy, Conor, dealing with grief and feeling invisible. At night, he is visited by a monster in the form of a tree who will tell him three tales, and then Conor must tell one of his own-- the truth. This book got a lot of buzz, and I enjoyed it. The illustrations are haunting.

4. Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick
This book left ME wonderstruck, so much so that I bought two copies to give as gifts this Christmas. Parallel stories intertwine about museums, deafness, and family. Selznick is a master, and his drawings are amazing. LOVED this one.

5. The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater
I feel like Stiefvater really hit her stride with this one. I liked her Wolves of Mercy Falls series and her faerie books, but this is her best so far, for me. Featuring deadly, carnivorous water horses, a tiny windswept island, two teenagers fighting to win what they want the most, plenty of action, and a dab of romance, this grabbed me and didn't let go.

6. Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor
Holy smokes (and bones). I finished this book a couple days ago and it was so so so good. A new twist in the paranormal genre: angels and demons. Angels, you scoff? BADASS angels. Demons, you whine? Surprisingly TENDER demons. Karou is a 17-year-old art student in Prague (note to self: GO TO PRAGUE) who, in her spare time, runs errands for a demon named Brimstone. On one of these errands, she meets Akiva, an angel who tries to kill her. However, she finds herself strangely drawn to him, and when the truth about Karou's heritage is revealed, you will be amazed. This book unfolds slowly, but oh so satisfyingly.

7. Swirl by Swirl: Spirals in Nature by Joyce Sidman
Who knew that nature is full of spirals? When I saw this title, the only spiral I could think of was a snail's shell. But there are so many more, and they each have a specific purpose. The illustrations in this are gorgeous and the back matter explains in detail the animals and plants featured in the book. Lovely.


Ex libris,


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