Saturday, January 14, 2012

My Best YA/Kid Reads in 2011

Whales on Stilts by M T Anderson cracked me up. We listened to the audio version on a car trip. It is just silly enough without being annoying. One day, I want to write something similarly bizarre. :) Actually, I think Whales on Stilts has an air of Hitchhiker's Guide meets Nancy Drew.

A favorite line“Lily told her about what had happened so far. (If you're interested, you can go back to the beginning of the book and read all the way through to this point again.)” 

I am cheating a bit on this one, because Warriors is a series of books, not just one. Haydn started reading them in 2011. I was curious about the books that made my son quit grumbling about his 15 minutes of reading per day and start devouring 300 page novels. I figured I would read the first book in the series and then. move on. Instead, I read the first sub-series of 6 books and then read one of the stand alone novels. They are just great books. The ladies who write them go by the name Erin Hunter, and they are both very talented. I cannot tell who wrote which (and that is hard as a writer/editor). Also, I get so into it, I forget they are cats not people. Just, wow.

A favorite line“You cannot live with a paw in each world.” 

Another audio selection that we enjoyed was Scat by Carl Hiaasen. I had never read his work before, so I wasn't sure what to expect. I was pleasantly surprised. He crafted a good story, taught my kids a few lessons about judging others and protecting the environment, and made all of us laugh out loud.

A favorite line“Jimmy Lee Baylis was a wise man, and knew better than to talk back to the man who signed his paycheck.” 

I decided to go through some classic kids' lit with my boys, via audio book, last year. We listened to quite a few Jerry Spinelli books. By far, my favorite was Maniac Magee. It brought up some race issues that I was able to talk about with the boys. I love any excuse to show my boys how people are people, regardless of color, and how we should treat others with respect, recognizing that everyone has problems and fears.

A favorite line“Amanda took the torn page from Maniac. To her, it was the broken wing of a bird, a pet out in the rain.”

Kate DiCamillo is one of my favorite children's authors. She weaves stories with deep emotion and strong imagery. The boys were instantly interested in this book, The Tiger Rising, because of the tiger. My boys love cats of all sizes. The characters were good, as was the ending. Honestly, it was just an all around good book.

A favorite line"He made all his feelings go inside the suitcase; he stuffed them in tight and then sat on the suitcase and locked it shut."

I read the first of the Incorrigible books, The Mysterious Howling, because it was really cheap on Kindle. I loved it. Adored it. I want to finish the series, but the other books are not cheap on Kindle and not available at my local library. *sad face* This story was just plain fun, the epitome of a good children's story, and a good children's story is a good story. Period.

A favorite line“If it were easier to resist, it would not be called Chocolate Cake.” 

Heart of a Shepherd by Rosanne Parry is the first book we listened to that so caught my oldest son's attention that he would ask to sit in the car to keep listening. He has only done that a handful of times (most often during Harry Potter), so it is truly high praise. I did not expect to love the book, but it was outdoorsy so I had hoped the boys would like it. Instead, I found myself profoundly moved by the pure religion of the grandfather and the shepherding imagery that made me think so much of Jesus. Please, read this book.

A favorite line“A person can live a little bit broken...Most of us do, I guess.” 

I blew through The Hunger Games (all three books, actually) in 2011, and I am excited for the movie. I even convinced my Daddy to pick up the first one. Katniss, the girl on fire, is from District 12. District 12 sounds a lot like the world I was born in, Appalachia, a land mined of so much richness and yet still completely beautiful and stronger than most of America can ever hope to be. I love my home, no matter how far away I live. I love it, and I love seeing it conquer all, even in fiction. ;)

A favorite line“Destroying things is much easier than making them.”

I was absolutely enchanted by Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs. I borrowed it from one of the teenagers I know, because I had been told it was better in hardcopy. There are lost of intriguing photos included, which Mr. Riggs collects from all over the world. In one sense, this is a classic tale of a boy with secret powers. But, it is also completely original in so many ways. I loved it. I just loved it. There will be another "peculiar children" book, and I plan to read that one as well.

A favorite line“I used to dream about escaping my ordinary life, but my life was never ordinary. I had simply failed to notice how extraordinary it was.” 

I picked up Big Mouth and Ugly Girl on a trip to the public library. I was on a YA kick, as I was most of 2011. I have been writing a lot of fiction, both children's and YA, and it helps to know what is currently selling and what boundaries are being pushed or held to fast. I have read Oats before, and her writing is truly a force to be reckoned with. This book was no different. Not long after reading it, a similar type of outcasting situation happened at a school nearby, and I thought a lot about this book then. I am glad I read it. Very very glad.

A favorite line"For dress-up I'd put in all my ear studs- nine in each ear. (Not that they matched.) I felt big and clumsy as a horse trapped in a tinsel candy box"


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