Lindsey’s Top 10* of 2011

2011 has been a great year for Children’s and Young Adult Literature!!  It was painful to narrow down all the wonderful books I read down to my top ten for the year.  But after hours of internal debate, here are my top ten of 2011. (You’ll notice that I’ve already blogged about most of the books, but hey, we only review the best!)

Picture Books

Little White Rabbit by Kevin Henkes.  This has got to be one the the most darling picture books I’ve ever read.  I loved how little white rabbit’s imagination ran away with him.  Also the illustrations were soft yet engaging.  I can’t imagine a child not liking this book…or an adult for that matter!  To see this book and more picture books about imagination, check out my review.

Franklin and Winston:  A Christmas that Changed the World by Douglas Wood.  Illustrations by Barry Moser.  In 1941, two world leaders came together to share a holiday and change the world.  Winston Churchill visited Roosevelt in the White House over Christmas.  Together the two leaders worked on a war strategy as they celebrated the holidays.  Wood and Moser depict serious moments such as Churchill addressing the nation while mixing in some humor, such as when Roosevelt barged into Churchill’s room as he was getting out of the bath!  The stunning illustrations and wonderful narrative make this title one of my favorites!

Elementary/Lower Middle School Fiction

The Cheshire Cheese Cat: A Dickens of a Tale by Carmen Agra Deedy & Randall Wright.  Drawings by Barry Moser.  “He was the best of toms.  He was the worst of toms.”  This clever Dickensian novel has it all.  A cat who can’t stand the taste of mice and prefers cheese, a mouse who befriends the cat and knows how to read and write, a Queen’s raven, and another cat bent on revenge.  Even though I’m not much of a cat person, I couldn’t resist the cover and decided to read it.  I loved everything about it, especially the parts with Charles Dickens.  And when the Queen comes to visit the Ye Old Cheshire Cheese Inn, you won’t be able to hold in your laughter!  This title will please children and adults alike, and the wonderful language begs to be read aloud.

Sparrow Road by Sheila O’Connor.  A young ambitious writer, a artist’s retreat filled with eccentric characters, and several secrets make this title one of the best of the year.  Raine is an endearing character, and I loved reading her coming of age story.  For more about this title, check out my full review.

Upper Middle/High School Fiction

Beyonders: A World Without Heroes by Brandon Mull.  I didn’t think Mull could top his Fablehaven series, but he surpasses it with this new series.  What’s not to like about a boy sliding through a hippopotamus’ mouth into a new world where danger and adventure lay at every turn?  As I said in my full review, Mull creates wonderful characters, vivid landscapes, and unique creatures that will have readers rushing through to the end.  And don’t miss the second book in the series, Seeds of Rebellion, coming out in March!

Entwined by Heather Dixon.  The twelve dancing princesses is one of my favorite fairy-tales, and Entwined is my favorite adaptation.  Dixon weaves dancing, magic, and danger into a enchanting tale.  This is one title I know I will read again and again.  To see my full review, click here.

Legend by Marie Lu.  I thought I was tired of dystopias, but Legend has me craving for more!  This book is so good that it went through four of my teens from church in one week!  And they all asked me the same question…when’s the next one coming out?!  June and Day create wonderful tension as they meet and discover secrets of the Republic.  To read more about this fantastic title, click here.

Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys.  This book gets my vote for the most emotionally packed novel of the year.  You can’t read this without tissues…lots and lots of tissues.  Even though I read this last winter, the horrors Lina faced in the books are still vivid in my memory.  And the fact that Sepetys based the events on her own family’s history makes the story all the more powerful and heart wrenching.  To find out more about this title, check out my full review.

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern.  If I was forced to pick my most favorite title of 2011, this would be it!  Morgenstern’s story is magic itself as the reader is carried away into a magical circus with an ice garden, cloud maze, and wishing tree.  This book was so good, it made me forget my seasickness when I went whale watching in Washington!!  Check out my review if you want more info about this incredible book.

Nonfiction

Digging for Troy: From Homer to Hisarlik by Jill Rubalcaba & Eric H. Cline.  Everything about mythology fascinates me and this book was no exception.  Blending myth with archaeologist’s research, Rubalcaba and Cline created the perfect book about the Trojan War.  If you love Greek mythology or know someone who does, this book is a must!  Check out my full review here.

In the Garden of Beasts:  Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin by Erik Larson.  Whenever I find out Erik Larson is coming out with a new book, I squirm with excitement (because that’s what we bookworms do).  His latest entry deserves high praise.  Larson focuses on William E. Dodd, American Ambassador to Germany, in the 1930s, and Dodd’s observations of the conditions in Germany and their impact on America.  I don’t read nonfiction a lot, but Larson’s engaging narrative practically reads like fiction, except it’s a true story!  Check out my review to find out more info about this wonderful title.

*Okay okay…it’s actually 11 titles, but I couldn’t possibly narrow it down any further!!

What were your favorite books from 2011?

Lindsey L.