Highlights of my 2021 Reading List
Here are the best books I read in 2021 based purely on my enjoyment:
1) Look Big; and other tips for surviving animal encounters of all kinds, by Rachel Levin. An entertaining look at various wild animals and household pests and how to deal with them.
2) The Girl with the Louding Voice, by Abi Daré. A dark but beautiful novel about a girl growing up and growing into her own voice in Nigeria.
3) With the Fire on High, by Elizabeth Acevedo. A slice-of-life young adult novel with themes of cultural identity, prejudice, and...cooking!
4) The Vanishing Half, by Brit Bennett. An utterly engaging novel about twin sisters who take very different paths.
5) The Screaming Hairy Armadillo and 76 Other Animals with Weird, Wild Names, by Matthew Murrie and Steve Murrie. A colorful book aimed at kids--and not particularly in depth--but utterly entertaining for this adult.
6) Class Act, by Jerry Craft. A middle-grade graphic novel with funny bits, awkward bits that make you think, and well-framed looks into different perspectives.
7) The Canyon's Edge, by Dusti Bowling. An absolutely absorbing novel in verse about survival in the desert--and survival after trauma.
8) 365 Days to Alaska, by Cathy Carr. A middle-grade novel about a girl trying to survive a year in suburbia before she can return to her beloved life in the Alaskan bush.
9) Pájaro Blanco (White Bird), by R.J. Palacio. A middle-grade graphic novel about a boy hiding a Jewish girl during the Holocaust.
10) A Place at the Table, by Saadia Faruqi and Laura Shovan. A middle-grade novel with themes of cultural identity, prejudice, and...cooking! (See #3).
11) ¿Cuál es la gran idea? Invenciones que cambiaron la vida de las personas (What's the Big Idea? Inventions that Changed Life on Earth Forever), by Helaine Becker. A quick but fascinating look at everything from needles to canned food, aimed at kids but enjoyable for adults.
12) Love that Dog, by Sharon Creech. A fantastic middle-grade novel in verse about a boy who at first thinks poetry is stupid.
13) Soul Lanterns, by Shaw Kuzki. A middle-grade novel about Hiroshima, with some clunky writing in the more modern-day sections, but with devastating, haunting, tear-spilling stories of the actual bombing.
14) Exhalation, by Ted Chiang. A collection of unique and Asimovesque science fiction short stories.
15) 96 Miles, by J.L. Esplin. A gripping middle-grade novel of survival in the desert and the love of brothers.
16) Wicked Bugs: The Meanest, Deadliest, Grossest Bugs on Earth, by Amy Stewart. A fascinating and heebie-jeebies-inducing exploration of bugs--and the diseases they cause.
17) Mind-Bending Images…Incredible Optical lIllusions…and How they Work, by Anna Claybourne. A beautifully illustrated exploration of how our mind and eyes work--or don't work--together.
18) How to Steal a Dog, by Barbara O'Connor. A sad, touching, happy middle-grade novel about a family experiencing homelessness and the main character's not-so-brilliant plan to get enough money for rent.
19) The Seventh Wish, by Kate Messner. A well-written middle-grade novel more about [SPOILER ALERT!] substance abuse than the magical wish-granting fish in the description.
So...another year where most of my favorite books were written for kids. This is the danger of being a children's librarian. But don't let the "middle-grade" tag fool you. These are some sophisticated, well-written, powerful books. Yay for children's literature!