Friday, January 29, 2016

Book to Read if Your Child Liked Diary of a Wimpy Kid

The Tapper Twins are back and better than ever.  If your kids haven't discovered this fun new series that follows Claudia and Reese through a hilarious sibling rivalry and plenty of mayhem then what are they waiting for?  Times a wasting!

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Title: The Tapper Twins Tear Up New York

Author: Geoff Rodkey

Target: Grades 3-6

Series: Yes, this is the second book in the series

What this book is about: 
Well we are reunited with twins Claudia and Reese as they decide to put together a scavenger hunt around New York City as a school project to earn money for charity.  These two are competitive as ever.  Reese brings his sense of humor and love of computer games to the race.  Claudia makes sure to stay organized and bring along her “not really her boyfriend” Jens.  As they hunt down Cronuts, run through central park and search for 99 cent pizza, they are on an adventure they could never imagine.  Let’s just say the scavenger hunt will not be a recurring event if school administrators (and the police) have anything to say about it.

Why I love this book: 
  • I quite enjoyed the first book, The Tapper Twins Go to War, but this one was even better.  Who doesn’t love a treasure hunt?  Seeing how these kids wrangled a series of challenges was laugh out loud funny.
  • One of the best parts was the inclusion of the school mascot, a small stuffed animal that had to be used in every photo during the hunt.  What happens to the poor little guy on Reeses’ team is both sad and hilarious.
  • This book uses pictures, text messages and newspaper clippings to help tell the story and the ones selected for this book were perfect.  
Who this book is for: 
Great for kids who are fans of Wimpy Kid.  It is especially nice for reluctant readers because the format is less conventional and not at all intimidating.  You do not have to have read the first book to enjoy the second.

Final thoughts: 
Love that The Tapper Twins Run for President will be out before the next big election … nice!

To purchase this book:
Click on the following link to connect to Amazon: The Tapper Twins Tear Up New York  A portion of each purchase will go back to support this blog at no cost to you.  Thank you for your support.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

The Seventh Most Important Thing

I was quite skeptical of this book.  A boy with a dead father, out of nowhere throws a brick at a junkman passing by.  It had all the makings of a story that felt cliche and full of angst.  Not the stuff I usually enjoy.  But this one threw me a curve out of left field, and boy was I hooked.  I am a little bit manic about modern art so this book went right to passion.  But you don't have to be an artist or even an art fanatic to enjoy this story, and in the end that is what makes is a great read.

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Title: The Seventh Most Important Thing

Author: Shelley Pearsall

Target: Grade 5 -8

Series: No

What this book is about:  
A junk man is wandering around picking up trash, when thirteen year old Arthur Owens suddenly picks up a brick and throws it at the man’s head.  It misses his head but shatters his arm, and Arthur, a boy who has never been in trouble before, is suddenly sent to juvenile hall.  The junk man believes that Arthur has saved him, and works out a deal where Arthur can work for him as his community service.  Arthur finds out that the junk man is not collecting trash after all, but really the seven most important things.

Why I love this book:

- First off this book is based on a work of art produced by the real “junk man” which is exhibited at the Smithsonian in Washington DC.  I love that while the story is fiction, the actual art is on display for kids to see and this book will give them insight into the mind of an artist.

-I very much enjoyed how this story developed.  The reader is roped in with the crime at the beginning of the book and slowly we understand why Arthur threw the brick and how his work with the junk man will save him.

-While there are religious undertones to the art, the author never takes it too far, so no matter what your beliefs you can enjoy this story.

Who this book is for: 
I have been told that kids who like Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life by Wendy Mass would enjoy this book.  Kids who like realistic fiction will find this story a good fit.  This book does a wonderful job a reeling kids into the story within the first two pages.

If you are going to Washington DC them this would be a wonderful book to share with kids.  How fun would it be to go see the artwork in the museum after having read the book?

Final thoughts: 
This book absolutely surprised me.  I didn’t think I would be interested in the premise, but wow does Shelley Pearsall real you in.  She has two small pictures in the book of the actual artwork, but they are black and white.  I had a lot more fun looking it up on the internet after reading the story!

To purchase this book:
Click on the following link to connect to Amazon: The Seventh Most Important Thing   A portion of each purchase will go back to support this blog at no cost to you.  Thank you for your support.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Science and Technology Book for Kids

Yes, science and technology can be fun ... I promise.  In this new offering, kids will get sucked into a great story that uses some of the crazy new ideas floating around in the world of high tech.  Increasing their scientific knowledge has never been this entertaining!

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Title: The Flinkwater Factor

Author: Pete Hautman

Target: Grade 3-6

Series: No

What this book is about: 
Flinkwater, Iowa is the home to ACPOD, a silicon valley type company that produces robots.  When everyone in town starts getting “bonked” unconscious by a screen saver, it is up to Ginger to figure out why and how to save them.  She along with a boy genius and an animal activist start investigating the mystery which leads to more than they could have imagined.

Why I love this book:
  • Great use of technology and science fiction with real world applications explained in the back of the book.  Between talking pets and positronium gamma ray lasers, science is nothing but fun in this story.  Of course, what kid won’t get reeled in by the “poopnet”?
  • Loved that a girl was the main character in this science based book.  She is quirky, funny, sarcastic and seems quite at home with technology.  Male sidekicks keep it well balanced for both genders.
  • Thought I would hate the fact that Ginger is looking for her first kiss.  Romance in books for younger kids is always a bust, but this was so well done that kids will be laughing at the preposterousness of it all and Ginger’s matter of fact attitude.

Who this book is for: 
Great for kids who liked Tesla’s Attic or Masterminds, although this book skews a bit younger.  Nice science fiction for both girls and boys.

Final thoughts: 
The cover will definitely get girls to pick up the book which is a win, but boys may shy away from the cover despite the fact that the book is well written for them as well. 

To purchase this book:
Click on the following link to connect to Amazon: The Flinkwater Factor (The Flinkwater Chronicles)  A portion of each purchase will to support this blog at no cost to you.  Thank you for your support.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Behold Max the Brave

I have a wonderful picture book today that any fan of John Klassen's I Want My Hat Back will adore. Kids will see that you can fool some folks some of the time, but in the end, the cat will just come back to haunt you!

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Title: Max the Brave

Author: Ed Vere

Target: Preschool - Grade 2

What this book is about: 
Max is such a cute cat that he often gets dressed up by others in bows. But he is not Max the Sweet, he is Max the Brave!  As he goes to search for a mouse to chase he first has to figure out what a mouse looks like.  After asking several animals, he comes across a mammal that looks suspiciously close to a mouse, but the animal informs him that he is indeed a monster and that the mouse is sound asleep … that way.  After being eaten and subsequently sneezed out by the “mouse” Max decides that chasing “monsters” who look strangely like mice is a better deal.

Why I love this book:
Kids will love the ruse played upon cat as he tries to find his mouse to chase.  Of course the fact that our actual mouse never gets away with his trickery means that his treacherous deeds did not allow him to win in the end.

The visuals in this book are incredibly striking.  The animals as simple black shapes against the backdrop of bold colors make the visuals just pop off the page.

Who this book is for: 
This book is reminiscent of I Want My Hat Back, but with none of the actual implied eating of the perpetrator.  Kids who enjoy Klassen’s stories will love this book.  Of course kids who enjoy laughing will be enthralled because this story is chalk full of giggles.

Final thoughts: 
Max the Delightful!

To purchase this book:
Click on the following link to connect to Amazon: Max the Brave  A portion of each purchase will go to support this blog at no cost to you.  Thank you for your support.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Transgender Book for Kids

I must admit that I was a little hesitant about reading George, simply because I was worried about how the author would handle the issue of a transgender child to an elementary school audience.  I should not have worried.  Alex Gino has written a lovely book that is respectful to the reader and the main character.

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Title: George

Author: Alex Gino

Target: Grade 4-6

Series: No

What this book is about: 
George was born as a boy, but she sees herself as a girl.  While the world interacts with her as male, George desperately wants to play Charlotte in the fourth grade Charlotte’s Web play, in hopes that others will finally be able to see her for what she really is.  As she slowly tells others her secret, it isn’t always easy, but with the help of her best friend Kelly, she is able to start to become her authentic self.

Why I love this book: 
This book does a beautiful job of entering the world of a transgender child.  There are a lot of books out there that deal with this subject in Young Adult literature, but so few that touch on it at the elementary school level.  This book is honest, respectful and simply shows how one child thinks about the world and her gender.

The fact that the author uses the pronoun she when referring to George strengthens the reader’s identity with George as a girl. We also get a sense from the book that being gay is something that parents and friends find much more palatable, but being transgender is something that family members still struggle with.  At one point George’s mother seems very ready to accept George as gay, but not  “that kind of gay.”  And George doesn’t see herself as gay at all, she simply sees herself as female.

Who this book is for: 
This is a wonderful book for kids who are curious about the issue.  It’s straightforward but also kind and respectful to all the characters.  This issues and language are wholly appropriate for kids in grades 4-6.

Final thoughts:
A welcome addition that fills a void in kid’s literature.

To purchase this book:
Click on the following link to connect to Amazon: George  A portion of each purchase will go back to support this blog at no cost to you.  Thank you for your support.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Books for Children About the Black Experience

In the past for Martin Luther King Junior Day I have shared my favorite picture books about this incredible man.  This year I thought I would highlight some books for older kids that help them understand the black experience.  I have loved these stories and they bring a comprehension and empathy to the subject that is always appreciated.  These stories are wonderful so share them with your children and help them understand our American history.

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Brown Girl Dreaming (Newbery Honor Book) by Jacqueline Woodson

Written in verse and detailing the author's life as a young black girl in the 70s, this book is a gem.  I found it beautifully written and poignant.   This book is a perfect example of how a story written about a girl of color can deeply touch us to the core.

The Lions of Little Rock by Kristin Levine 

This book was a finalist for the Cybils the year I was a judge for middle grade fiction.  It highlights the long road to integration in Little Rock, Arkansas by profiling the friendship of two girls, one who is white and the other whose skin color is so light that it can pass for white.  A beautifully written book about finding your voice when you see racism.

The Mighty Miss Malone by Christopher Paul Curtis

Deza Malone is a girl full of spunk and grit that is growing up during the Depression.  It is her character and the strong glue that holds this family together that will draw readers into this story.  Christopher Curtis is a masterful story teller and if you want a book that features a male character please check out his book Bud, Not Buddy.

All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely 

I don't usually include books I have not personally read, but this one is garnering such good talk and it felt like this post was an ideal opportunity to let you know about it.  This books takes on the alternating viewpoints of a black and white teenage boy when the black boy is the subject of police brutality, and it is witnessed by the white boy.  While not historical, it is a timely topic and speaks to the race relations we are facing today.  This book is targeted to a teen a audience.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Great Graphic Novel for Girls

Fun graphic novel alert!  This is one I couldn't put down.  It deftly handles the tricky aspects of middle school and shows kids they are not alone.

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Title: Awkward

Author: Svetlana Chmakova

Target: Grades 4 and up

Series: No

What this book is about: 
Peppi is starting a new middle school and she just wants to fit in.  When she literally pushes away the first person to help her, the awkwardness begins.  Throw in a feud between her art club and the science club and general middle grade worries and school is anything but an easy road.  Can Peppi feel good about herself and grow in the process? 

Why I love this book:
-This book felt realistic.  Great messages about friendship and courage but they never felt forced and were well integrated into the story.  This is a story that doesn’t talk down to kids but taps into their feelings of well, awkwardness.

-Graphic novel is well laid out.  Text bubbles are big and the illustrations are extremely appealing.

-I like that the characters were diverse throughout the book, representing what a school student body really looks like.

Who this book is for: 
This is a wonderful book for kids who enjoyed Smile or Roller Girl.  

Final thoughts: 
Another fabulous entrant into the graphic novel category.  This genre just keeps getting better and better.

To purchase this book:
Click on the following link to connect to Amazon: Awkward  A portion of each purchase will go to support this blog at no cost to you.  Thank you for your support.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Newbery Winners 2016

Well, the Newbery winner and honor books have been announced this morning.  I am still quite disappointed that the winner was a picture book.  The Newbery is a wonderful chance to highlight middle grade fiction, and while the pendulum can swing between upper and lower grades, it generally represents chapter books with merit.  There is nothing in the award that states it must be a chapter book, but history and precedent play a part in defining the role of the award and by changing the parameters you lessen to opportunity for chapter books to shine.

Let me say that the Newbery winner Last Stop on Market Street is a beautiful book.  The illustrations absolutely blew me away, and the story is both simple and complex, bringing in many topics.   But it in no way can be defined as anything but a picture book.

The Caldecott is there to recognize picture books, and while it may only bestow it's honor on the illustrator, this does not mean that we should now consider the author in the Newbery category.  If you want to give the author more credit, why not look at the confines of the Caldecott award and make changes?

The skills it takes to write a chapter book of distinction are quite different than a picture book.  To somehow lump them in to the same category of comparison takes so much away from both.  What it took to create The War that Saved My Life or Echo cannot be compared to Last Stop on Market Street.  I am not taking anything away from the skills required to craft a compelling picture book, but to put them in the same category is ludicrous.

I also frankly feel that graphic novels should also have an award of their own.  Roller Girl was genius, but the tools required to tell an award winning graphic novel are not the same as a traditional chapter book, and should be judged separately.  I felt the same way last year when This One Summer won a Caldecott honor.  It is almost like saying that a painter, a sculpture and a photographer should all be judged together in the same art competition, despite the fact that their crafts are so entirely different and the training and skills required are subject to the medium in which they work.  Should we simply say they are all art and compare them none the less?

It is a sad day when the awards that are so recognized and heralded skip over chapter books.  Let's be frank about these awards, the general public really only cares about the Caldecot and Newbery winners and even their knowledge is limited when it comes to these.  This was a chance to give a  compelling chapter book it's day in the sun and instead we now have two picture books to contend with.  Again, I love picture books, but what a lost opportunity to both get kids excited about a chapter book and to honor an author who has constructed a vivid and complex narrative with only vocabulary at his or her disposal.

It feels like the judges want to be progressive and inclusive, and I applaud that.  But the judges change every year, and instead of getting a consistent and fair representation of the books which should be recognized, we are getting a hodge podge of changes that reflect how one set of judges feel in one particular year about their particular category.  We loose the overarching inclusiveness of the awards and in this case, to the detriment of the chapter book.  Yes, I am still quite disappointed.

Here is the Newbery winner and the Newbery Honor Books with my reviews:

Newbery Winner

Last Stop on Market Street by Matt De La Peña (Author), Christian Robinson (Illustrator)

Newbery Honor Books

Title: The War that Saved my Life

Author: Kimberly Bradley

Target: Grade 5-8

Series: No

What this book is about: 
Ada is a prisoner in her one room apartment in London.  She was born with a club foot and her mother uses her disability to keep her hidden away from the world.  Her abuse at the hands of her mother is deplorable as she cowers in fear of punishment from the smallest misstep.  When Ada’s brother is sent away to the countryside to escape the bombing of London in WWII, Ada sneaks out to join him and is sent to live with Susan, a woman who would rather not be caring for two young children.  However, behind Susan’s indifference, is a caring woman who grows to love these children, even if they have never learned how to accept unconditional love.  

Why I love this book: 
This book was achingly fabulous.  I say this because at times it is heartbreaking to read about Ada.  She is unable to accept Susan’s generosity, despite needing and wanting acceptance more than anything.  

I could not put this book down.  The whole time the reader is rooting and hoping for Ada, but she continues to sabotage herself and her chances for a better life.  

This book was also an insightful look the children of London during WWII.  I remember reading a book about this period when I was young and I was fascinated about this migration because it involved kids my age.  History as it relates to the kids reading it is far more interesting.

Who this book is for: 
Great for kids who enjoy historical fiction.  While this book deals with some serious issues, it does so in a way that is appropriate for it’s audience, however, kids will have to have a certain maturity to appreciate the bulk of the story.

Final thoughts:
 I think this book will certainly resurface when we start talking Newbery contenders. 

To purchase this book:
Click on the following link to connect to Amazon: The War that Saved My Life  A portion of each purchase will go to support this blog at no cost to you.  Thank you for your support.

Title: Roller Girl

Author: Victoria Jamieson

Target: Grade 5-7

Series: No

What this book is about: 
Twelve year old Astrid and her friend Nicole are trying to decide what to do over the summer before they start middle school.  Nicole loves ballet, but Astrid is dreaming of becoming a roller derby champion.  When Nicole choses ballet camp with Astrid’s arch enemy over roller derby camp, their friendship is seriously threatened.  Perhaps it is time for these two friends to move on and follow their own passions.

Why I love this book: 
I am always looking for strong graphic novels to recommend after kids have read Smile and Sisters.  This book perfectly fits the bill.  The graphics are clean and realistic, reminiscent of Raina Telgemeier.  The story is an honest look at friendship, hurt feelings and following the path that is right for you.

I enjoyed Astrid.  I liked that Roller Derby camp was hard and that she wanted to quit - welcome to the real world.  I liked that she didn’t always get the positions she wanted, despite working hard and that she had to deal with jealousy when her friend got a spot she was coveting.  These show kids that even in stories, characters can have happy endings by adjusting their expectations instead of expecting everything to go their way.  A lovely message that rings true.

Who this book is for: 
Great book for kids who enjoyed Smile and Sisters.

Final thoughts: 
I love that Astrid is a fierce strong girl to be reckoned with.

To purchase this book:
Click on the following link to connect to Amazon: Roller Girl  A portion of each purchase will go to support this blog at no cost to you.  Thank you for your support.

Title: Echo

Author: Pam Munoz Ryan

Target: Grades 5-8

Series: No

What this book is about:  
Three sisters are trapped in the woods by a witch’s spell.  Their only hope of escape is a harmonica which must save a life in order for them to be released,  The reader follows the path of the harmonica from Otto, a boy lost in the woods, to Friedrich, a German boy during World War II.  Just as we find Friedrich about to be taken by the Nazis, the harmonica moves to an orphanage in Philidelphia two years later where Mike and his brother are searching for a family.  Just when it seems that they will never find a new home and peril will befall them, the harmonica moves seven years in time to California with a Hispanic girl whose family is looking for a better life.  As the fate of her brother who is fighting in the war is about to be revealed, we learn how this harmonica has changed the lives of all the people it has touched.

Why I love this book: 
This book requires us to be invested in the lives of four characters whose stories are heartbreaking and hopeful all at the same time.  Each story leaves you on the edge of your seat as a new one begins, only providing resolution in the final few chapters.

I love historical fiction and this one deftly delved into Germany during the war, the US before they were involved in WW II as well as the Japanese internment and the early plight of the Hispanic community in California.  I was wholeheartedly caught up in each story and their beautiful resolution made the journey a satisfying one.

Who this book is for: 
This is a hard one for me.  This book is 587 pages and it looks scary.  However the print inside is large so it reads much faster than it’s girth implies, but I can see kids getting intimidated.  This is one of those books that will require a little intervention to get kids to pick it up but they will be happy they did.  My son is reading it for school literature circles and was quite caught up in the story, so with some encouragement I think kids will take to the story.

Final thoughts:
This one will be talked about come awards season.

To purchase this book:
Click on the following link to connect to Amazon: Echo  A portion of each purchase will go back to support this blog at no cost to you.  Thank you for your support.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Finding a Wonderful Picture Book

I had the chance to review a wonderful picture book over the break.  It was one I wanted to get my hands on sooner, but so many other books were in the way.  Thankfully it rose to the top, but I do wish it had gotten there a lot sooner because it is absolutely charming.  I hope it charms its way into your family.

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Title: Finding Winnie

Author: Lindsay Mattick

Target: Preschool - Grade 2

What this book is about: 
If you ever wondered about the inspiration behind Winnie the Pooh, wonder no longer.  This book shares how the real life Winnie came to live at the London Zoo and how he inspired the beloved children’s classic.

Why I love this book:
  • Winnie has an extraordinary journey from lost bear cub in Canada who is purchased at a train station by an army veterinarian. He sails to England during WW I as his infantry’s mascot and then Winnie becomes the treasured bear at the London Zoo.  This is quite an exceptional trek that kids will be amazed is real.
  • It is delightful that the story is told by the original veterinarian’s great-granddaughter!  Actual memorabilia are on the last few pages of the book to make the story feel real for kids.
  • The illustrations by Sophie Blackall are exceptional and bring this story to life. 
Who this book is for: 
Great for all kids.

Final thoughts: 
I love the family tree at the end that shows the author’s connection to the story.  Kids love these graphics and it ties the book together nicely.

To purchase this book:
Click on the following link to connect to Amazon: Finding Winnie: The True Story of the World's Most Famous Bear   A portion of each purchase will go to support this blog at no cost to you.  Thank you for your support.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Post Apocalyptic Books for Kids

I don't know what it says that my first review of the year is about a monster/zombie apocalypse.  Now I'm not making any predictions about where things are headed, but ....

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Title: The Last Kids on Earth

Author: Max Brallier

Target: Grades 3-6

Series:This is the first book in a planned series

What this book is about: 
Ok, here goes.  A monster/zombie apocalypse seems to have hit the United States.  Jack, who was living in foster care, did not leave town like most other inhabitants, but managed to stay out of the hands of the zombies.  He is now living in a tree house with a makeshift defense system, looking for his best friend, searching for a girl  he has a giant crush on and trying to stay alive.  Can he become the biggest, baddest post-apocalyptic hero to save the day?  Well, not without a lot of help.

Why I love this book: 
While the premise sounds completely crazy, this book actually works.  Jack has enough humor and bravado to carry the story and create some laugh out loud moments.  From all the crazy inventions to get rid of these monsters and the slightly gross out moments it was a real page turner.

What made this book better than some other heavily illustrated novels, was the character development.  These kids are scared and alone and the author does let us see their vulnerability on occasion.  But make no mistake, this is a high action, high stakes monster/zombie hunting game and Jack is in it to win it. 

Who this book is for: 
Great for kids who like Diary of a Wimpy Kid.  The large type and plethora of illustrations make this good for reluctant readers.  Of course zombie lovers will be quite entertained.

Final thoughts: 
I almost didn’t pick this one up because I hated the author’s last book, but I must say I did a full 180 on this one.  Funny, creative and not like anything else out there, this one is an original.

To purchase this book:
Click on the following link to connect to Amazon: The Last Kids on Earth  A portion of each purchase will go to support this blog at no cost to you.  Thank you for your support.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Favorite Kids Book of 2015

With the new year upon us, I thought it was time to take one last look back at 2015 and give you my favorite books of the year.  It was hard for me to narrow things down, especially in nonfiction, but that is the benefit of writing my own blog, I don't have to!  I hope these books bring you joy in the new year and here's to 2016!

If you wish to purchase any of these stories, simply click on the picture and it will take you to Amazon.  A portion of each purchase will go to this blog at no cost to you.  Thank you for your continued support!

Favorite Picture Book

First Grade Dropout by Audrey Vernick (Author), Matthew Cordell (Illustrator)

This is the book I kept going back to time and time again.  It is funny, smart and even the older kids can't seem to get enough of the story.  I guess everyone can remember being embarrassed in first grade by something, and it is wonderful to realize that you can laugh at yourself and survive the humiliation.  

Favorite Early Chapter Book/ Early Reader

Nothing to see here!  I am a Cybils judge this year for this category so I am unable to post any reviews of these book until February 14th.  In case you are unfamiliar with the Cybils, they are the children's internet book awards that recognize authors and illustrators whose books combine the highest literary merit and popular appeal.  To see this years finalists, click here!

Favorite Middle Grade Fiction

Circus Mirandus by Cassie Beasley (Author)

This one is my pick for a Newbery win.  There is a magical circus, a hopeful child, a faithful friend and a wonderful villain to round out this outstanding story.  Beautifully written, but still with plenty of kid appeal, it works on all levels.  Without a doubt my favorite of the year.

Favorite Graphic Novel

Secret Coders by Gene Luen Yang  (Author), Mike Holmes (Illustrator)

Books of fiction that are written to teach a skill are often times the worst kind.  Kids quickly see through the story to the "learning opportunity" embedded in the book and it's all downhill from there. However, in this case, the author has been able to tell a great story while teaching coding.  It is a winning combination that I don't see very often and gives this book my best of the year distinction!

Favorite Non Fiction

Ok, here is where my system broke down.  I had to give the distinction of "favorite" to three, yes three books.  But once you read them, you really won't be able to blame me!

Tricky Vic: The Impossibly True Story of the Man Who Sold the Eiffel Tower by Greg Pizzoli  (Author)

This picture book tells the story of the man who sold the Eiffel Tower - twice!  Kids will delight in hearing about a real life con man who outsmarts the system time and time again, of course until he doesn't.  Yes, he gets his just deserts, but it is quite a fun ride along the way.

Most Dangerous: Daniel Ellsberg and the Secret History of the Vietnam War by Steve Sheinkin (Author)

This book was one of the most thought provoking books I read this year.  Sheinkin manages to make the Vietnam War and the Pentagon Papers read like a thrilling can't put down spy novel.  The amount of information I learned was astounding while being completely caught up in a real life drama.  This one will take home several well deserved awards this year.

The Boys in the Boat (Young Readers Adaptation): The True Story of an American Team's Epic Journey to Win Gold at the 1936 Olympics by Daniel James Brown  (Author)

This wonderful adaptation of the adult book, teaches kids about hard work and perseverance.   They will be amazed at what it took to get this team to the Olympics, and the dedication and teamwork required absolutely astounded me.  Pictures were used very effectively in this book to reflect the actual heroes in this story.

Favorite Young Adult Book

Goodbye Stranger by Rebecca Stead  (Author)

This book absolutely blew me away with it's multiple stories that all combined so beautifully to give us an intricate look at love and friendship.  For kids who are on completely different levels of the spectrum when it comes to relationships, every one will find themselves and their friends uniquely portrayed in the story.  My favorite book yet by Rebecca Stead.