Sunday, September 09, 2007

Best of 2007 (so far)

I come into this assignment with mixed feelings. Some categories I feel relatively at ease in picking my favorites. Others, I've barely even begun to start reading this year's offerings. So I'll warn you which is which.

Becky's Favorite Picture Books

Dadblamed Union Army Cow by Susan Fletcher. Illustrated by Kimberly Bulcken Root.
The Chicken Chasing Queen of Lamar County by Janice N. Harrington. Illustrated by Shelley Jackson.
My Cat Copies Me written and illustrated by Yoon D. Kwan.
Go To Bed, Monster! by Natasha Wing. Illustrated by Sylvie Kantorovitz.
Jazz Baby by Lisa Wheeler. Illustrated by R. Gregory Christie.

Becky's Explanation:

Dadblamed is just fun. It is historical fiction. Which isn't that common in picture books. But the thing I love most about this one is that it is based on a true story of a cow who followed her owner to war and earned a medal. How fun is that?! I also love that this one invites reader participation. Who doesn't love going "Moo!" along with the cow???? Chicken Chasing is also fun. I really really love the illustrations. Again it is just a 'darn good' book. The little girl is just so cute. And the chickens have spunk. My Cat Copies Me is just so cute, so clever. I absolutely LOVE the illustrations. I've always been a cat person--though I love dogs too--and I can't resist this one. It is one I've read over and over again and shared with many others along the way. Go to Bed, Monster! is one of those that I just love, love, love. It had me at hello. Okay, picture books can be very personal. What one person *loves* another will just shrug off as being "okay." But for me, this one has what it takes. It is funny. The pictures are charming. And it just cries out to be read again and again and again. Jazz Baby. There is part of me that just loves this book. Perhaps its the part of me who still thinks Hand, Hand, Fingers, Thumb to be one of the best picture books of all time. Who knows. I just know I love READING this one aloud. It is just fun. It's snazzy. I love the language. Love the rhythm. Love the way everything flows. It's another "again, again" title in my opinion. I've read probably twenty or thirty picture books for the year. Not nearly as many as I've read for novels. But of the ones I've read the above five are my favorites. Again, I could be missing some incredible titles.

Becky's Favorite Fiction (Middle & YA)

Cupid by Julius Lester (YA)
Leepike Ridge by N.D. Wilson (middle)
The Off Season by Catherine Gilbert Murdock (YA)
The Wednesday Wars by Gary Schmidt (middle)
Twisted by Laurie Halse Anderson (YA)
Miss Spitfire by Sarah Miller (middle)
In Search of Mockingbird by Loretta Ellsworth (YA)
Book of A Thousand Days by Shannon Hale (middle)
What My Girlfriend Doesn't Know by Sonya Sones (YA)
Princess and the Hound by Mette Ivie Harrison (middle)

Without a category....

Moxy Maxwell Does Not Love Stuart Little by Peggy Gifford (elementary chapter book)
Middle School Is Worse Than Meatloaf by Jennifer L. Holm (somewhat "graphic" novel--it's told through 'stuff' after all)
Here's A Little Poem: A Very First Book of Poetry compiled by Jane Yolen, illustrated by Polly Dunbar (poetry)
Little Scholastic: Petting Farm book and dvd (board book set) by Beth Bryan and Ken Karp

Becky's Explanations

I'll keep this brief. I have reviewed all of these for the site. You'll find the reasons for why I loved each of these in that review. I'll just add that most of these have staying power. I read some of these back in March, yet they're still this high on MY list of the best of the year. Granted, two of these Princess and Thousand Days are my newest reads. I've only had them in my head about three or four days. But I just loved them so. Anyway, this is the hardest list for me to make. I could easily make a top 50 in this category.


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Review Policy

I am interested in reviewing books and audio books. This blog focuses on books written for middle grade on up (essentially 10 to a 110). I review middle grade fiction and young adult fiction (aka tween and teen).

I also review adult books.

I read in a variety of genres including realistic fiction, historical fiction, mystery, romance, science fiction, fantasy, literary fiction, and chick lit. (I've read one western to date.)

I read a few poetry books, a few short story collections, a few graphic novels, a few nonfiction books.

I am especially fond of:

  • Regency romances (including Austen prequels/sequels)
  • Historical fiction set in the Tudor dynasty
  • Historical fiction and nonfiction set during World War II
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  • fantasy
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I am not a fan of:

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  • westerns (if it's a pioneer story with women and children, then maybe)
  • extremely violent books with blood, blood, and more blood

I am more interested in strong characters, well-written, fleshed-out, human characters. Plot is secondary to me in a way. I have to care about the characters in order to care about the plot. That being said, compelling storytelling is something that I love. I love to become absorbed in what I'm reading.

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4) In all of my reviews I strive for honesty. My reviews are my opinions--so yes, they are subjective--you should know my blog will feature both negative and positive reviews.
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