Ellen’s Top 5 Reads of 2013

ellen-phonesEllen works in BookKids, though you may occasionally spot her wandering the grown-up areas of the store. Her favorite word is “Yummy” and she was hired for her incredible ability to talk on two telephones at the same time and not once miss a beat. These are the skills of a seasoned bookseller, y’all. 

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God got a dog
By Cynthia Rylant
Illustrated by Marla Frazee

This is a book for everyone. I don’t usually gravitate towards or read poetry but I loved this short collection of poems depicting God – he or she – in situations that we can all relate to. I liked the humor, sensitivity, and spiritual – but not at all religious – aspect of the collection. I also really love Frazee’s artwork that accompanies each poem. Her colors, details, and emotions are spot-on. You’ll laugh, cry a little bit, and think about who God is while you read this book. Favorite poem: “God went to India.”

 

The Knife of Never Letting Go
By Patrick Ness

This should be called THE BOOK OF NEVER LETTING (YOU) GO because once I started this book, I couldn’t put it down. On the most basic level, this is a coming-of-age story set in a dystopian world, which are two common elements of YA fiction, but this is not your typical teen novel. I loved elements Ness came up with to set this apart such as the Noise – males can hear each others’ thoughts – and chapters from a dog’s point of view. Manchee is the best dog in the world, and his chapters are beautiful, heart-wrenching, and funny. The story is compelling, dangerous, violent, emotionally draining, and thought-provoking. The first book in the Chaos Walking trilogy.

 

Moonbird: A Year on the Wind with the Great Survivor B95
By Philip M. Hoose

I love books that teach me something or inspire me and this book did both. I was inspired not only by B95 and his extraordinary survival and migration, but by the people who work all over the globe to study his species, conserve migratory rest stops and sites, protect food sources, and follow him on his annual great migration. He’s old – at least 20 years – and it will be sad when he is no longer seen along the migration route, but he’s still out there for now, and I like knowing that. How can you pass up a book about such an amazing creature?

 

Out of the Easy
By Ruta Sepetys 

I love New Orleans and will read almost anything having to do with the city. This book takes place in 1950s New Orleans and the city is so vibrantly depicted that I could imagine it with all my senses. Josie, the main character, is also the kind of girl I would like to have as my friend. She’s funny, smart, driven, independent, and an all-around likeable girl. I liked the story, too, for its elements of mystery (there has been a murder!), historical references, and supporting cast of colorful characters.

 

On a Beam of Light: A Story of Albert Einstein
By Jennifer Berne 
Illustrated by Vladimir Radunsky

This is a great book for any child – or adult, ahem – about Albert Einstein. I really like how the biographical information about him is presented in short, concise, sentences and those are printed in the book using a large, well-spaced font, which makes it easy for reading aloud or independently. While the text is a good example of narrative nonfiction (meaning it reads like a story, not just a bunch of facts) for younger kids, the artwork is something that I think a person of any age can admire. I love this book as much as I loved Me . . . Jane (by Patrick McDonnell, 2011)—both are picture book biographies about inspirational people.

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