2013 Favorites

Doll BonesCindy and Lynn: Top Ten lists are so limiting. We never seem to manage to hold to ten anyway. We are trying to put some limits on ourselves, though, so we are combining our fiction, nonfiction and picture book best lists into a much more manageable “2013 Favorites” list for each of us. Some of these are surely award contenders, others are just personal favorites that we think are worthy of highlighting at year’s end. Some we blogged and some we haven’t and at least want to include here. As always we are still reading some we didn’t get to but the 2014 titles are calling to us…

We’d love to hear what you liked best last year…and/or what title you most look forward to in 2014. Leave us a comment!

Cindy’s 2013 Favorites

Appelt, Kathi. The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp. (Atheneum) The only thing that would have improved the reading of this funny and heartwarming novel would have been a slice of fried sugar pie to eat with it. My middle schoolers have been eating it up too.

Black, Holly. Doll Bones. (McElderry) This was my favorite book of 2013 for all of the reasons listed in our previous post.

Brown, Peter. Mr. Tiger Goes Wild. (Little Brown) I live in a conservative area. And I could probably use an occasional reminder that moderation is best. So this book was a perfect fit for me.

Forman, Gayle. Just One Day and Just One Year. (Dutton) Perfect stories to curl up with during our New Year’s blizzard. Travel, romance, and self-exploration. I’m ready for book three, Gayle!

Two Boys KissingLevithan, David. Two Boys Kissing. (Random/Knopf) It makes me happy to live in a world where this book gets published. I liked the kissing contest, I loved the cast of boys, and I admired the hell out of the Greek chorus of gay men from the AIDS generation. If I laughed and cried while reading this, imagine the reaction from the target audience?

Miller, Pat Zietlow. Sophie’s Squash. (Random/Schwartz & Wade) I want to clutch this favorite picture book to my chest and never let go…just like Sophie with her dear squash friend.

Phelan, Matt. Bluffton. (Candlewick) The connection to my “back yard” of Bluffton, Muskegon got me exploring and learning more about my local area…and the art and storytelling in this graphic novel were fabulous.

Rowell, Rainbow. Eleanor & Park. (St. Martin/Griffin) Outsiders, music, friendship, risk, love, and honor. Loved it all.

lincoln's grave robbersSheinkin, Steve. Lincoln’s Grave Robbers. (Scholastic) I’m not sure who likes this more, me or my middle school students. What a crazy, crazy piece of our U.S. History. I’m still shaking my head, but this has been my favorite booktalk of the year.

Sloan, Holly Goldberg. Counting by 7s. (Dial) Willow Chance won my heart as she looked for a place to call home.

Vanderpool, Clare. Navigating Early. (Random/Delacorte) Word on the street is that this is one of the best books of the year that no kid will ever read. It was two boys in our book club (7th & 9th grade) raving about it, though, that moved it to the top of my reading/listening pile. The audio (Listening Library) is fabulous and so is the novel.

Lynn’s 2013 Favorites:

It is nearly impossible for me to narrow my list every year but I’m trying hard!  I’ll cheat a bit by saying that Cindy has several of my favorites in her list so I won’t have to put The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp and Lincoln’s Grave Robbers on my list ;-).  And the focus group put another group of favorites on their list so I’m happily down to almost making the limit.  Thank you!

Bascomb, Neal.  The Nazi Hunters:  How a Team of Spies and Survivors Captured the World’s Most Notorious Spy.  (Scholastic)  Fabulous nonfiction account of a pivotal event that reads like the most breathless thriller.

DirkCliff, Tony.  Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant.  (First Second)  Loved this!  Indiana Jones meets The Arabian Nights and the Indie character is a woman!

DiCamillo, Kate.  Flora & Ulysses.  (Candlewick)  Who could resist the natural born cynic and the squirrel with super-powers?  Not me!

Jinks, Catherine.  How to Catch a Bogle.  (Harcourt) Shivery and Dickensian with lots of sly humor.  Can’t wait for book 2!

Knox, Elizabeth.  Mortal Fire.  (Farrar) Extraordinary world-building and magical system and I love how all the plot elements fit together at the end.

LaFevers, Robin.  Dark Triumph (Houghton) Book 2 of this series is even more brilliant and compelling than the first and that is saying a lot!

Moriarty, Chris.  The Watcher in the Shadows.  (Harcourt)  Another Book 2 that blew me away.  I love everything about this series from its steampunk alternate world setting to the unfolding dark mystery.  And I love the way Moriarty surprised me with an unexpected new direction in this book.

Rudnick, Paul.  Gorgeous.  (Scholastic)  One of the BEST fairy tale spoofs I’ve read in a long time with funny endearing characters, a really surprising plot twist and a sharp eye for the ridiculous.  Rudnick never takes himself too seriously and the book is a total romp.

Screaming StaircaseSanderson, Brandon.  Steelheart.  (Tor)  Hang onto your capes!  This is a roller-coaster from beginning to end.

Stiefvater, Maggie.  Dream Thieves.  (Scholastic)  Stiefvater just gets better and better!

Stroud, Jonathan.  The Screaming Staircase.  (Disney/Hyperion)  Everything crafted with a masterful touch here:  world-building, fabulous characters, compelling plot and a terrific mystery that unspools just right.  I can’t get enough of the interplay between these characters.  Best new series of the year!

Yang, Gene Luen.  Boxers and Saints.  (First Second)  Brilliant.  Genius.  Unmatched.  I don’t have enough words to say how extraordinary this book is.

Zarr, Sara.  The Lucy Variations.  (Little, Brown)  I adored this subtle nuanced exploration of a young girl’s coming of age and finding her path.  The characters shine.

The focus group had to weigh in too of course.  The twins consider themselves much too old to be reading picture books but they seem to have strong opinions about them just the same.  They do read a lot of them for me although they insist they are just helping me choose books for Henry, the 3-year-old member of our focus group.  Henry has no trouble at all in choosing his own favorites however.

Focus Group Favorites of 2013

Twins’ Choices

Animal BookBecker, Aaron.  Journey.  (Candlewick)

Floca, Brian.  Locomotive.  (S&S)

Jenkins, Steve.  The Animal Book.   (Houghton)

Murawski, Darlyne.  The Ultimate Bug-Opedia. (National Geographic)

Wiesner, David.  Mr. Wuffles (Clarion)

Henry’s Choices

Barnett, Mac.  Count the Monkeys.  (Disney/Hyperion)  We’ve read this book at least a million times and Henry still loves it.

Murawski, Darlyne.  The Ultimate Bug-Opedia.  (National Geographic)  This book is guaranteed to keep Henry in my lap for at least 30 minutes straight.  EVERY picture has to be examined and discussed.  No page skipping allowed.

Dinosaur KissesStein, David Ezra.  Dinosaur Kisses.  (Candlewick)  David Stein must be a 3-year-old in disguise.  This book makes Henry laugh so much he falls off the couch.

Sturges, Judy Sue Goodwin.  Construction Kitties.  (Henry Holt)

Lynn again:

I’d like to add one more that the twins and I loved and spent a huge amount of time pouring over.  It isn’t in my tower of picture books that they looked through or I think they would have had this one in their list too.  We all have a fondness for books set in France and this one is amazing fun!

Olshan, Matthew.  The Mighty LaLouche.  (Schwartz & Wade)







About the Author:

Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan are Booklist reviewers and middle-school librarians who have chaired both ALA’s Best Books for Young Adults and the Michael L. Printz Award for YA Literature committees. Follow Bookends on Twitter at @BookendsBlog. You can also find Cindy at @cdobrez and Lynn at @482april.

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