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Librarian in Residence: The unofficial holiday gift list for 2013

By Jessica Green on December 4, 2013

OPL does publish official holiday gift lists, so I thought it would be fun to look at some of the random books I have enjoyed over the past year which probably won’t feature on those lists. Even though my day job is in Children’s Services, I read all kinds of books. I have some picks for kids, teens and adults, and have tried to keep it short, but there were so many good ones…

Best subversive princess picture book – The Worst Princess by Anna Kemp 

I read this to about five groups earlier this year as it’s a funny take on the princesses. Princess Sue has followed all the advice to find her prince, but once he arrives to take her away, she discovers that being a princess is pretty boring. The text rhymes, so it really pulls in the audience, and the pictures are quite nice.

Best silly picture book for kids – Pigeon Poop by Elizabeth Baguley

Another fun book that rhymes about a pigeon who terrorizes a small town with poop. This is a great read for the 6 and under group where poop really is the funniest thing ever.  Another fun one I read to groups was Peck, Peck, Peck by Lucy Cousins which is full of holes and bright colourful pictures.

Best book about middle school angst – Wonder by RJ Palacio

Told from different perspectives, you learn about Auggie Pullman’s journey as he goes from being home-schooled to entering fifth grade at a private middle school in Manhattan. Normally, this isn’t much of a story but Auggie was born with extreme facial abnormalities, so the bullying which happens in the book is just that bit more awful and realistic. I thought this was excellent as it didn’t become too twee or cutesy about his differences or the reactions to them, and it shows off how much of a struggle those middle grades can be.

Best teen book that wasn’t post apocalyptic – Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell 

Cath struggles with her first year of university and writing her fan fic about Simon Snow, a very Harry Potter-esque character. I quite liked this one as I felt like I was right back in my first year of university (where we read Harry Potter) with characters you swear you knew at school. Very much like John Green novels, which are also great picks for any teens on your list.

Best Epic Adult Comic – Saga by Brian K Vaughan

I kept hearing about Saga from various blogs and finally got my hands on it, then read the collected first volume in about 30 minutes and immediately put the second on hold. From the book: “When two soldiers from opposite sides of a never-ending galactic war fall in love, they risk everything to bring a fragile new life into a dangerous old world”. The art by Fiona Staples is fabulous, I am sure more will be revealed about the war as the series continues.

Best book about pollution – Visit Sunny Chernobyl and Other Adventures in the World’s Most Polluted Places by Andrew Blackwell

An equally entertaining and provocative look at some of the world’s most polluted places, which is the preferred type of destination for this author. He visits such places as the titular Chernobyl and Priyapat, as well as Fort McMurray, Linfen (China), the Yamuna River (India) and Fort Arthur (USA), to name a few. It’s told with dark humour but does bring into question our modern lifestyle and how it affects the planet.

Best book about a 100 year old man – The 100-year-old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson  

A fantastical tale about Allan Karlsson, who decides to escape his nursing home on his 100th birthday, and then has run ins with elephants, criminals, and a hot dog stand operator. Of course, this is just par for the course for Karlsson as he has had a hand in major events of the 20th century, which you discover along the way. Very entertaining and still in high demand at OPL!