Friday, December 28, 2012

The Year in Review, Part Two

Welcome to part two of my year in review (oh, that unintentionally rhymed...anybody want a peanut?)! Anyway, hopefully you've seen the first part of my review posts, where I tackled my favorite picture books. Next up, my favorite middle-grade and tween titles!

Librarian of Snark's Best Middle-Grade Books of 2012

Giants Beware! by Jorge Aguirre - I completely love this graphic novel, which seems to be part of a number of tween graphic novels with spunky and outspoken heroines. This made me laugh out loud and stirred my sense of adventure. I'm excited to see this on our 2013/2014 Bluebonnet list - I think kids are going to love it.

Legends of Zita the Spacegirl by Ben Hatke - actually, I think I read both Zita books in 2012 and I love them both equally, so I will cheat and claim this spot as a two for one. Zita is a fantastic character and her adventures are exciting and suspenseful. I love all the characters in this series and hope that Hatke continues to send Zita travelling through space.

Keeping Safe the Stars by Sheila O'Connor - while I have some qualms with this one, the charming Stars family and the love they share for each other is enough to recommend this book into my top titles. I think this has a lot of kid appeal and they may be more forgiving of its flaws than I am.

The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate - yes, I am extremely late to the party on this one and that is just a shame because this is, hands down, one of my favorite books of the year. I was completely sucked in to Ivan's story and this book broke my heart. Total love.

Summer and Bird by Katherine Catmull - despite its intense focus on our avian brethren, this book won me over with its beautiful prose and realistic take on the sibling relationship. A lovely debut.

Icefall by Matthew J. Kirby - this is a fall 2011 title, but it kind of snuck under the radar, so I'm including it here. This is a wonderfully evocative and thrilling mystery, as much about the power of story as it is about the journey of Solveig.

The Drowned Vault by N.D. Wilson - even more high-octane and compelling than the first, this sequel to The Dragon's Tooth definitely delivers. Wilson knows how to keep you turning the pages, bringing so much energy to the story that you may be left breathless. This is a great series for Harry Potter and Percy Jackson fans.

Splendors and Glooms by Laura Amy Schlitz - I had a lot of thoughts on this book - and I'm still having many of them, a few months after the fact. But this is definitely one of the outstanding books I read this year. It's getting a lot of Newbery buzz and I'm not surprised. I would definitely be interested to hear what kids think of this one. Oh, and, creepy puppets. READ IT.

Deadweather and Sunrise by Geoff Rodkey - I love this book and I want everyone else to love it, too. This book is full of Good Things: Heart, Adventure, Daring, Characters, Love, Adversity, and Pirates. When I finished this book, I wanted to shout its praises at every tween who walked into the library (thankfully, I thought better of this plan). Now, months later, I still want to shout its praises. Please read this book!

Jake and Lily by Jerry Spinelli - a new book from Spinelli is always cause to celebrate and this was no exception. This is a great coming-of-age story told from the alternating viewpoints of a set of special twins.

The Extraordinary Education of Nicholas Benedict by Trenton Lee Stewart - I've thoroughly enjoyed all the Benedict Society books, being a big fan of puzzles. I think mysteries for the tween set are a hot commodity right now and this title, as well as the rest of the series, should not be overlooked.

13 Hangmen by Art Corriveau - though in my mind I think this book is a hard sell, I was pleased to see it chosen by the winner of my Cupcake Wars program. This book has a little bit of everything - historical fiction, sports, mystery, science fiction, and growing up. I think it all works together well and kids who find this book are sure to be rewarded.

Wonder by R.J. Palacio - I'm almost positive you've read this book and, even if you haven't, you've heard of it. This was one of the first books I read this year and I still think about it frequently. A fantastic story about growing up, fitting in, and choosing kindness, I'm not surprised to see this book adopted by so many schools as community reads. If you haven't read it yet, please do.

Bliss by Kathryn Littlewood - a delightfully fun fantasy full of magical concoctions. I picked this one up by chance and thoroughly enjoyed it. I'm thrilled to know there is a sequel coming as well - I think Rose is a wonderfully complex heroine and this book is a treat.

The Serpent's Shadow by Rick Riordan - the "final" volume in Riordan's Kane Chronicles (I mean, do we really think he won't revisit this?) did not disappoint. In fact, I thought this series got better with each title. I hope Riordan continues to produce these fun, fast-paced, and smart reads.

The Lions of Little Rock by Kristin Levine and Starry River of the Sky by Grace Lin - I've yet to review either of these books, but I thought they were both exceptional. Look for my effusive praise for both in the coming months.

These are my top tween reads of the year, not including some older titles I just discovered (including Gregor the Overlander and The Emerald Atlas). As I've mentioned before, I'm now officially the Tween Queen at my library, and I really need to keep pushing myself to read more middle-grade novels. That's one of my big goals for the next year: read more tween! Stop being tempted by the pretty YA books - there are just as many awesome tween ones for you to read. Since I didn't read as widely in middle-grade as I would have liked, I can't make any Newbery predictions. Well, I could, but they'd probably be horribly inaccurate. Suffice to say that I can't wait to keep discovering the wonderful tween novels there are out there and share them with my kids.

What were your favorite tween reads this year?

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