Jessica Green is a book addict and library card holder since the age of 3. She’s a librarian at the Ottawa Public Library and currently the Apartment613 Librarian-in-Residence, sharing a compendium of literary thoughts and tips.
As promised, here is part two of my Christmas list picks. This list features children’s books, with ten picture books, three graphic novels, and five chapter books all linked up for your reading pleasure. Most of the picture books were selected as they were fun to read out loud and have great illustrations. The graphic novels have both fabulous art and solid stories. And the chapter books are the best of what I read this year with characters and stories that really stood out.
Picture Book Picks
Rosie Revere, Engineer by Andrea Beaty – Rosie likes to build things, but decides to stop her hobby when she is embarrassed after one of her inventions fails. She perseveres thanks to her great aunt. This one was greatly enjoyed by many classes during our Summer Reading Club.
Gaston by Kelly DiPucchio – Gaston is a French Bulldog who ends up in a family of poodles. When the “mistake” is discovered, the families swap puppies, but then it doesn’t quite feel right… The pictures suit the accompanying text perfectly and the story is just the right length for younger readers.
Hooray for Hat By Brian Won – Elephant wakes up grumpy but when he finds a hat on his doorstep, he is cheered up, and not a moment too soon, as all his friends need some cheering up of their own. You’ll be saying “Hooray for hat!” after reading this one.
One Big Pair of Underwear by Laura Gehl – Fair warning: if you plan to read this out loud, the text gets a little tongue twisty as I discovered recently. This story is entertaining for older kids as they will love the silly text about the bears, yaks, seals and others who have such trouble sharing.
Puddle Pug by Kim Norman – Percy loves puddles, and keeps a map of his puddle discoveries, but when he discovers the best puddle ever, it already has some occupants who don’t want to share. When problems arise, Percy saves the day thanks to his puddle map. This is a really fun book with an adorable pug as the main character.
Buddy and the Bunnies in Don’t Play with your Food by Bob Shea – Buddy is a monster who only wants to eat bunnies, but his efforts are thwarted as the bunnies are very clever at distracting him with cupcakes, games and adventures. I am a huge fan of Bob Shea who also writes the fantastic Dinosaur series. Follow the bunnies as you read the story for another joke.
Bear Sees Colours by Karma Wilson – Bear is in many of Karma Wilson’s books, but this is a fantastic story for the very young. It reads out loud wonderfully in the usual rhyming text and the pictures are vibrant and detailed. I got two thumbs up from many classes and groups where I shared this book.
The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt – Each colour writes a letter to Duncan explaining why they are not pleased with his colouring. This is a clever conceit which is definitely more for reading one on one with an older child. The drawings by Oliver Jeffers suit the letters.
How to Lose a Lemur by Frann Preston-Gannon – I liked this simple story where a boy tries his hardest to get away from the lemurs that have been following him, only to have them help him when he is lost. Nice, colourful pictures accompany the story, which can be enjoyed by younger readers.
Going Places by Peter and Paul Reynolds – You may recognize Maya and Rafael from other books by the Reynolds Brothers, but in this story, they receive a kit to build a go cart for the “Going Places” contest. Rafael is really excited about the contest, and follows his instructions precisely, but then joins with his neighbour, Maya, in her creative interpretation to the contest. Lovely pictures accompany this ode to creativity.
Graphic Novels Picks
Hilda and the Black Hound by Luke Pearson – Hilda lives in Trolberg, a town that is surrounded by magical beings. This time around, her town is plagued by a giant black hound, and Hilda is trying to figure out what to do with her displaced nisse, a helpful house spirit. The drawings illustrate the adventures wonderfully. Any child or child at heart will enjoy the Hilda tales.
The Return of Zita the Spacegirl by Ben Hatke – This finishes the Zita trilogy that began with Zita the Spacegirl and continues in Legends of Zita the Spacegirl. Zita is wrongfully imprisoned on a planet due to a robot imposter and has to orchestrate a giant jailbreak in order to save the galaxy from danger. Many of the characters from the other volumes appear in this third installment. Zita is a great heroine for all ages!
The Dumbest idea ever! By Jimmy Gownley – In this autobiographical memoir, Gownley retells how chicken pox and pneumonia caused him to fall behind in school and really impacted his year. It also turns out that his love of drawing is what got him through this tough time, eventually leading to his comic career. It’s a neat look at small town life before cell phones, and is very endearing.
Itch Rocks by Simon Mayo – This story continues the series started in Itch:The Adventures of an Element Hunter, where the title character Itch has further adventures in dealing with the fallout of discovering element 126. Both are really great action tales with solid characters and a dash of science. These books would be great for tweens or young teens who know what it is like to be a little different at school.
We Meet Again by Stephan Pastis – The Timmy Failure series is written by Stephan Pastis of Pearls before Swine fame and if you follow that comic, you know he is a fan of elaborate puns. For example, Timmy Failure sets up the greatest detective agency with the help of his best friend, Total the polar bear. The name of the agency: Total Failure. The series includes Mistakes Were Made, Now Look What You’ve Done, and the most recent, We Meet Again.They’re all funny books where the text is accompanied by silly drawings, much like the Wimpy Kid or Big Nate series.
Loot: How to Steal a Fortune by Jude Watson – After his cat-burglar father dies mysteriously on a job, March goes on a quest to discover who killed his father and discovers his long lost twin sister in the process. Hopefully, it is the start of an action packed series as I enjoyed all the characters in this story.
The Boundless by Kenneth Oppel – CPR’s newest train, the Boundless is on its inaugural voyage across Canada, and Will Everett is on the train along with his father. Will has the adventure of a lifetime and saves the day. It’s a neat story that works in some Canadian history, but in an alternate universe that has yeti!