Sunday, 1 January 2017

My 5 Star Reads from 2016: Children's Fiction and Graphic Novels

Here are my best reads from 2016 (not necessarily all published in 2016).  I have enjoyed going through my Goodreads account and remembering all these wonderful books.

Children's Fiction

Leroy Ninker Saddles Up by Kate DiCamillo
I purchased this book after one of our Year 1 classes got completely and wonderfully hooked on the Mercy Watson series.  I wasn't sure the magic would transfer to a book in which Mercy only makes a cameo at the end.  I needn't have worried, this is a special book that the kids enjoyed as much as I did.  The love Leroy has for his horse is something very sweet.

Booked by Kwame Alexander
I loved Kwame Alexander's last verse novel, The Crossover and was happy to find this one just as enjoyable.  Here, twelve-year-old Nick plays soccer and has to work out how to deal with girls, bullying and his parents' divorce.  The book is beautifully written and it has a rapping librarian called The Mac.  What's not to love?!

The Wolf Wilder by Katherine Rundell
This is one of those special books that takes you to a different place and brings it, and the people in it, completely alive for you.  Add to that the fairy-tale like quality, the setting of the Russian wilderness, plucky children and loyal wolves...a real winner.

Nine, Ten: A September 11 Story by Nora Raleigh Baskin
I had a real lump in my throat at the end of this book, and that doesn't happen to me very often.  The book focuses on the lives of four children in different parts of America, in the 48 hours prior to the 9/11 attacks.  I particularly liked the inclusion of the character Naheed, who is Muslim and wears a hijab.

Save me a Seat by Sarah Weeks and Gita Varadarajan
This book switches between the perspective of Ravi, an Indian boy who has just emigrated to the U.S., and Joe, a boy in his new class.  I love that it provides an insight into the challenges faced by someone adapting to a new culture.  It also deal with bullying and with Joe's auditory processing disorder.  A great book for having discussions about the value of trying to understand how other people are feeling.

The Last Kids on Earth by Max Brallier
Oh yeah, this book was FUN!!!  Combining a monster apocalypse, zombies and loads of humour within a part-text, part-graphic novel format.  I've loosely classified this as horror but it isn't really that scary.  We haven't processed this book yet but I know it's going to be very popular, and I can't wait to read the next one in the series.

Graphic Novels

The boy who crashed to Earth (Hilo #1) by Judd Winick
This is another incredibly fun book, which has been extremely popular with our students.  D.J. lives in a bustling family with siblings who all seem better at everything than he is.  Then he comes across Hilo, a boy who has lost his memory and appears to have fallen from the sky wearing nothing but silver underpants. 

Hilo has such an infectious energy, he makes you smile, want to stay "outstanding!" all the time and greet people by saying "aaaah!!" (read the book to find out why). 

Saving the Whole Wide World (Hilo #2) by Judd Winick
Yippee!  The second book is as good as the first!  D.J., Hilo and Gina are back trying to stop alien creatures from destroying the earth.  The third book is out in February and will be a great way to start spending this year's book budget!

Small Things by Mel Tregonning
I had very high expectations about this book because it had been raved about by several of my fellow librarians (I had to wait impatiently while it was ordered in for me).  I was not disappointed, I was immensely affected by this book. It is powerful in its simplicity, needing no words to connect you with the main character and soak up his feelings.  Desna, a school librarian in Christchurch, has written a more in-depth review of this book here

Mighty Jack by Ben Hatke
Jack lives with his mum and his younger sister, Maddy, who has autism.  One day he trades his mum's car for a box of seeds (because Maddy, who doesn't usually speak, asks him too).  The seeds create a magical garden, which leads to lots of crazy adventures.  

This adaptation of Jack and the Beanstalk ends on a huge cliffhanger - if you haven't already read it you might be better to wait until September when the second one comes out. 

Tomorrow, I will move on to my top picture books for 2016, followed on Tuesday by children's non-fiction, a little bit of YA and some professional reading.

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