Friday, December 30, 2011

2011 Favorites

This year I believe I read more books than I ever have in one year.  I think I will top out at about 550 books.  I still have one more day though so it's not a final number yet.  It's true that around 300 of them were picture books, but more than 200 of them were novels or narrative non-fiction so it's still a lot of pages.  Whew.

This whole reading frenzy was inspired by Donalyn Miller.  She has this great reading challenge called Bookaday on Goodreads.  I happened to see Bookady and think maybe I could read 365 this year since I know I did it once in Jr. High (seriously - I wrote them all down).  I laughed though because I noticed that there was a guy on there who was aiming for 2011 books this year.  I even called my daughter over and said, "Look at that - he's got to be crazy."  By now I have come to discover that yes, he is crazy.  Crazy about books.  And, I have come to appreciate all that Mr. Schu does to promote reading and books.

During this reading challenge, I have read some simply amazing books and as most Nerdybookclub members seem to do, I must share some of my favorites.

Picture Books

Me...Jane - the text and illustrations fit together so well. I loved the mix of created illustrations with actual photos from Jane's childhood and it had a quiet feel. Beautiful.

Blackout - pictures are great, but I also enjoyed the message of taking a time out to reconnect with each other.


Press Here - just absolutely fantastic for many ages. The interactivity of it is so fun for little ones.

I Want My Hat Back - hilarious and a great way to get people interacting since some things are left to the imagination and readers don't always agree about what happened. Plus, the eyes of the animals are just a hoot as one of my students demonstrates above.

Queen of the Falls - the pictures are fabulous and the story (based on a real person) is a jaw dropper.

Pete the Cat: Rocking in my School Shoes - My kids adore this - the song adds so much, but Pete is just too cool.  I wrote about him earlier in the year here.

Middle Grade Novels

Wonderstruck - Selznick has done it again with a weaving of stories that pulls the reader along. The excellent illustrations really move the story.

Bigger Than a Breadbox - a bit of magical realism that touches the heart of any reader, but particularly a reader that has experienced the separation or divorce of parents. Beautifully done.

When Life Gives You OJ - unique storyline and I fell in love with the Grandpa even though he is seriously cranky.

Ghetto Cowboy - a part of urban life that I did not know was possible and characters that touched my heart.

Friendship Doll - great historical fiction following a Japanese dolls' interactions with people on a tour of the states prior to and through WWII.  Great for the history, but the doll was convincingly learning and growing while also affecting the people around her.

A Monster Calls - powerful message for anyone dealing with grief. Gives me shivers when I think about it.


Over and Under the Snow - loved learning about this fantastic other world full of creatures under the snow.  Also especially loved being able to talk to Kate Messner about writing this book. See post here.

Amelia Lost - I appreciated learning that Amelia was not perfect.  This was a more well rounded biography than those I have read in the past.

Heart and Soul - just beautiful and it is wonderful to see US history from the African American perspective.


Hidden - fantastic novel in verse that has strong characters, a mystery and hidden messages.

Every Thing on It - unbelievable luck that there were still more Shel Silverstein poems out there for us to enjoy.

Graphic Novels

Zita the Spacegirl - feisty and fabulous main character.

Amulet: The Last Council - enough action for anyone and gorgeous illustrations.

Anya's Ghost - reminds me of something Neil Gaiman would do. Fantastic and seriously creepy. (YA)


Divergent - LOVED IT! Action, adventure, and strong characters all together in a dystopian world. Excellent!

Under the Mesquite - another great book dealing with grief - this time through verse. I appreciated that it was based on the author's own struggles. Beautiful.

It's a long list, but I was wowed by a lot of books this year and there are even some I am leaving out to keep the list shorter like Balloons Over Broadway, Grandpa Green, Perfect Square, Breadcrumbs and Inside Out and Back Again.  I just have to stop at some point though.

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