Each year we put together a list of the top 60 best children’s books (according to our children’s librarians). As we have been whittling down our lists some titles are harder to take off—almost painful because they are great books. These five books are fantastic! Truly amazing! Yet they just didn’t make the list. If it was the 65 best children’s books, these titles would have been on there.
As we keep you in suspense as to our top 60 books (which we will reveal at our Best Books program next Tuesday), take a look at these books that almost made the cut.
This is a great picture book—and I liked it so much that I even bought it! Really, it is a good book. It tells the story of Rock (who lives in the Kingdom of the Backyard) and is the strongest in the land. No one could beat Rock in any challenge. Then (in the Empire of Mom’s Home Office) there lived another warrior named Paper. Once again in this empire there was none who could best Paper. In a third place (the Kitchen Realm) there lived a warrior named Scissors who could not be beaten in all of her challenges. Daywalt and Rex put together a hilarious tale as to why these three warriors battle together (and thus explains the rock, paper, scissors game that children all over the world play). Seriously, this is a pretty funny book.
It is not often that you find a Juvenile Fiction title as divisive as this one, or one that can get as many people talking. Orphan Island tells the story of Jinny, a girl who has grown up on a secluded island populated only by nine orphans. Each year, a boat arrives to deliver a new child and the oldest is expected to leave without knowing what awaits them on the boat. But when Jinny’s boat comes, she doesn’t leave and the island – once a perfect, nurturing home – begins to change. This book is in many ways a classic “coming of age” story, but also it isn’t. This book, its setting and its plot are wildly imaginative and are bolstered by truly skillful writing – providing lots of opportunities for discussion. It’s hard to discount the buzz surrounding this book – it’s a National Book Award Longlist Title and it’s on the Mock Newbery list of anyone who has such a list – but it’s also incredible divisive with vocal people arguing about it either way. While this wasn’t one of our favorite books of the year, it’s been discussed too much to leave off our list completely.
By Shannon Hale
Illustrated by LeUyen Pham
Shannon Hale joins up with LeUyen Pham (who also illustrates Shannon’s PRINCESS IN BLACK series) in this graphic novel memoir about making and keeping friends. Shannon and her best friend Adrienne have been best friends since they were little, but when Adrienne becomes friends with the most popular girl in school, things begin to change between them and Shannon questions whether or not she and Adrienne will be able to stay friends. This story is one that most readers will be able to identify with – whether they’ve been bullied by the popular kids or not. Also, since Shannon Hale is a local author, it’s set in Salt Lake City which is sort of extra fun for kids from Utah. This story is honest and a little heartwarming, and though it didn’t make our final list is a great choice for Raina Telgemeir or Cece Bell fans.
This is a great nonfiction title (which follows up the brilliant book Buried Sunlight: How Fossil Fuels Have Changed the Earth). Bang and Chisholm explain how water moves around the world thanks to the heat of the sun—both through the sun’s part of the water cycle and due to the sun heating various currents in the oceans. This is a book full of information and facts presented in a picture book format so even the younger scientists can understand how water works and how the sun plays a major part to what happens to the water.
HARRY MILLER'S RUN
By David Almond
Illustrated by Salvatore Rubbin
Most juvenile intermediate books are formula books—ones where they are part of a series and you can predict that the book will (re)introduce the characters in chapter one, throw in a bit of conflict (usually of the same variety as previous books in the series) in chapter two, etc. Not Harry Miller’s Run. This book is a stand-alone story that is beautifully written AND happens to be a juvenile intermediate book. Liam needs to train for an upcoming race and so he talks to his older neighbor (Harry Miller) who happens to have run the same race when he was younger. This is a great story about something seemingly insignificant (like talking to an elderly neighbor) can actually be interesting, fun, and helpful. Plus, the way Harry Miller tells his tale, readers will almost feel like going out for a jog themselves. Almond has written yet another great story—and lucky for us this one is an intermediate book!