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Monday, December 29, 2014

Books I Read in 2014

Here is a complete list of all books I read this year (not including picture books). 

Ratings are out of 5 stars.

1. The Mysterious Edge of the Heroic World by E.L. Konigsburg- ***  (middle grade)
2. Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie- *****  (fiction)
3. Masters of Sex: The Life and Times of William Masters and Virginia Johnson, the Couple Who Taught America How to Love by Thomas Maier- ***  (non fiction)
4. Speechless by Hannah Harrington- *** (YA)
5. The Outlaws of Sherwood by Robin McKinley- ***  (YA)
6. The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson- ****  (YA)
7. The Vast Fields of Ordinary by Nick Burd- *** (YA)
8. Dad is Fat by Jim Gaffigan- ****  (humor)
9. Picture Me Gone by Meg Rosoff- **** (YA)
10. Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell- *** (YA)
11. Orange is the New Black by Piper Kaufman- **** (memoir)
12. Darius & Twig by Walter Dean Myers- **** (YA)
13. Night Film by Marisha Pessl- ****  (fiction)
14. The Round House by Louise Erdich- ***  (fiction)
15. The Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarty- ***  (fiction)
16. Swamplandia! by Karen Russell- ***  (fiction)
17. Fairy Tales from the Brothers Grimm: A New English Version by Philip Pullman- ****  
18. The Best American Short Stories 2013 edited by Elizabeth Strout- ***  (fiction)
19. Everything Leads to You by Nina LaCour- **** (YA)
20. Landline by Rainbow Rowell- **** (fiction)
21. After Her by Joyce Maynard- *** (fiction)
22. Withering Tights by Louise Rennison- *** (YA)
23. My Name is Not Easy by Debby Dahl Edwardson- *** (YA)
24. Where Did You Sleep Last Night?: A Personal History by Danzy Senna- **** (memoir)
25. Fed Up! by Wendy Oliver-Pyatt- *** (non-fiction)
26. The Nightmare by Lars Kepler- *** (fiction)
27. Claire of the Sea Light by Edwidge Danticat- *** (fiction)
28. Free Within Ourselves: The Development of African-American Children's Literature by Rudine Sims Bishop- **** (non-fiction)
29. Bog Child by Siobhan Dowd- **** (YA)
30. A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett- **** (children's/YA)
31. To All the Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han- **** (YA)
32. Ask the Passengers by A.S. King- *** (YA)
33. Fire with Fire by Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian- **** (YA)
34. Dash and Lily's Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan- *** (YA)
35. My True Love Gave to Me: Twelve Holiday Stories edited by Stephanie Perkins- *** (YA)
36. Wild Things! Acts of Mischief in Children's Literature by Betsy Bird, Julie Danielson, and Peter Sieruta (non-fiction)

As you can see, my favorite book of the year was definitely Americanah. I'd say The Impossible Knife of Being comes in second, and is certainly my favorite YA book of the year that I've read.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

The Night Before Christmas

Merry Christmas Eve!  In honor of the day, I am sharing with you all the picture book versions of The Night Before Christmas by Clement C. Moore that I own.


I am starting off with the book my mom used to read to me every Christmas Eve when I was a kid.  The book was originally hers, illustrated and "animated" by Meg Wohlberg, published in 1944.  As you can see, unfortunately it's not in good shape anymore because it's been well loved for many years. But it's a great interactive pop up book.






Next is Tasha Tudor, published 1975. I love how her St. Nick plays with the pet cat and corgi and the toys that come to life. He also fits the original version from the poem, being short like an elf.








Rachel Isadora's African take (2009) is refreshing and works very well.  I love her illustrations.






Niroot Puttapipat is a cut-paper artist who grew up in Thailand and now lives in England. This book (2007) has such wonderfully intricate pop-ups and designs. I love the silhouettes with the Victorian illustrations.






Another from my childhood, this book by Michael Hague (1981) has nice cozy illustrations with fun pop-ups that make it very accessible for children. 




Jan Brett was one of my favorite illustrators as a kid.  This book came out in 1998 when I was a little older, but I still really appreciated her signature borders and Scandinavian style.  I also like that she included Santa's elves.





While this book was originally published in 1949, it is new to me, just buying it this year. I love Leonard Weigard's mod illustrations.  






 Well, that's it.  For a Pinterest board of all the Christmas books I owned and read as a kid, you can click here.  For other Christmas book suggestions, you can view that board here

Merry Christmas!  Thank you for reading.

Monday, December 22, 2014

The Secret Santa of Olde Stonington

The Secret Santa of Olde Stonington by Mark Kimball Moulton, illustrated by Susan Winget (Lang Graphics, 2003).  This story takes place in Stonington, Connecticut-- a little seaside town I've often visited.  It's about the true spirit of Christmas: kindness and generosity. I love the illustrations feel warm and comforting. You can find the author's blog here.







Friday, December 19, 2014

Multicultural Christmas Books

I'm compiling a list of multicultural Christmas picture books and will continually update.  Please comment with any I've left out.  Also, I haven't read all these books so if I've put any in the wrong category, please let me know.





African


African-American


Asian


Caribbean 


European


Interfaith (Hanukkah/Christmas)

Latin American

Multicultural


Native American 

Nativity Stories

Oceanian

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Happy Hanukkah

Hanukkah Lights by David Martin, illustrated by Melissa Sweet
 I want to wish everyone who celebrates a Happy Hanukkah.  I have a Pinterest board of Hanukkah books here.  

The Story of Hanukkah by David A. Adler, illustrated by Jill Weber
Papa's Latkes by Michelle Edwards, illustrated by Stacey Schuett
One Candle by Eve Bunting, illustrated by K. Wendy Popp

Monday, December 15, 2014

O Christmas Tree

O Christmas Tree by Vashanti Rahaman, illustrated by Frané Lessac (Boyds Mills, 1996).  

This is a lovely story about a boy in the West Indies who wants nothing more for Christmas than a real evergreen tree.  He's sad because the trees that come off the boat have dried up and the needles fallen off. But his neighbor teaches him that the true Christmas trees in the West Indies are the poinsettia that bloom each season.





You can read about Caribbean Christmas traditions hereMy boyfriend is from Grenada and I love the sorrel drink they make there.  You can find a recipe here.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Christmas Around the World

Christmas Around the World by Emily Kelley, illustrated by Priscilla Kiedrowski (Carolrhoda Books, 1986). 

I've always been a big fan of Christmas, as well as learning about other cultures' traditions. So I loved this book as a kid.  It's a nice little non-fiction book that tells about how different countries celebrate the holiday. 

For multicultural Christmas activities for kids, I recommend the website Kid World Citizen.  They have some great resources there.


Mexico

China

Norway

As an added bonus, here I am as Saint Lucia, at age 8 or 9. I'm not Swedish, but along with reading about the custom in this book, Kirsten from American Girl dressed up as Saint Lucia, so I wanted to, too.

Friday, December 5, 2014

The Christmas Story

The Christmas Story by Brian Wildsmith (Knopf, 1989).

I loved this book as a kid.  I wasn't raised religious, but I liked the story of the little donkey and was in awe of the shiny gold in the illustrations.  Rereading it, I realize this isn't told in a religious way, it just tells the story of a donkey and little girl going to pay a visit to an important baby.  I'm even more blown away by the illustrations now, which unfortunately are not well captured in my cell phone photography here. This is a wonderful book that tells a story of love and celebration of children.