Favourite Books 2012

These are our favourite books we’ve read this year, not necessarily ones published in this year. There are many, many, many books that we haven’t read so can’t comment on and many more that ought to be on this list too but these were the ones that stood out, with huge apologies to those left out.

Picture Books (children’s recommendations)

Rhino, What Rhino?: Caryl Hart & Sarah Horne (Hodder Children's Books, 2010)Rhino, What Rhino?: Caryl Hart & Sarah Horne (Hodder Children’s Books, 2010)
Caryl Hart was a new-to-is author this year, and a huge hit with MG, DG and myself. I’ve chosen this book because it’s one that has been re-read many, many times; is requested on a regular basis; is so very quotable and is coupled with gorgeous illustrations by Sarah Horne. I chose it as a Friday Pick{ture Book} in August.

Jack Frost: David Melling (Hodder Children's Books, 2003)Jack Frost: David Melling (Hodder Children’s Books, 2003)
This is a favourite book all year round but especially so at this time of year. I chose it as a Fiction Fridays in April. We’ve all been fans of David Melling since getting Just Like My Dad when MG was four months old (first Father’s Day!) and all his books are regularly requested. I’ve chosen this one as the example for the year because it’s been very popular recently, and because I already dedicated a week to Hugless Douglas earlier!

Six Dinner Sid: Inga Moore (Hodder Children's Books, 1990)Six Dinner Sid: Inga Moore (Hodder Children’s Books, 1990)
This book has been extremely popular with MG this year. She first discovered it at school, and was delighted when we found a copy in a charity shop. She copies the text from it as handwriting practice (self motivated) and feels sorry for poor Sid when he goes to the vet. We all love the happy ending. I chose it as a Friday Pick{ture Book} in September. << >> << >> << >> << >> << >> << >> << >> << >> << >>

The Pirates Next Door: Jonny Duddle (Templar Publishing, 2011)The Pirates Next Door: Jonny Duddle (Templar Publishing, 2011)
We haven’t yet reviewed this book on the blog but it’s been a huge favourite with both MG and (especially) DG. DG loves pirates so it’s a great book for her, and having a strong female child character in it (as well as a strong male child character) makes this a great story for everyone. I will review this in the future as it is a lovely book and well deserving its place in the favourites of the year.

The Spider and the Fly: Mary Howittz & Tony DiTerlizzi (Simon & Schuster, 2002)The Spider and the Fly: Mary Howittz & Tony DiTerlizzi (Simon & Schuster, 2002)
This is a book I loved for years but wasn’t sure whether MG and DG would but it’s turned out to be one of DG’s favourite books. I chose it as a Friday Pick{ture Book} in October. << >> << >> << >> << >> << >> << >> << >> << >> << >>

Martha and the Bunny Brothers: I Love School: Clara Vulliamy (HarperCollins Children's Books, 2012) Martha and the Bunny Brothers: I Love School: Clara Vulliamy (HarperCollins Children’s Books, 2012)
Amazingly Clara Vulliamy was a new-to-us author/illustrator this year but she’s become such a big part of our life that she is really our star of the year! On a personal level, Clara is kind and generous hearted, but this is about the books and they have all absolutely caught the imagination of MG and DG this year. DG is Clara’s biggest fan and will request Muffin, Fizz and Flora, Lucky Wish Mouse, Tinies, Pearl, Bear with Sticky Paws, Martha or Bunny Brothers almost every day! She ‘reads’ the books to herself and almost always has one in bed with her! I’ve chosen this book because it was the biggest hit with MG too, I’ve mentioned it throughout the year!

The Jolly Postman: Janet & Allan Ahlberg (Puffin, 1986)The Jolly Postman: Janet & Allan Ahlberg (Puffin, 1986)
Technically I haven’t reviewed this yet as I’ve yet to complete my post but I chose it as a Friday Pick{ture Book} in November. MG has especially taken to this book (again) this year, and it’s one that gets read many, many times – although if I’m feeling lazy I’ll skip reading half of the inserts! The Jolly Christmas Postman has also been a hit and I expect that (sadly) half the inserts will be lost before either book is retired!

Ella: Alex T Smith (Scholastic, 2012)Ella: Alex T Smith (Scholastic, 2012)
This year MG decided she liked the nickname Ella, and I think this book had something to do with it. The Cinderella story is well-loved in all its forms and this bug-based version is an excellent addition to the genre! I chose it as a Fiction Fridays in April. << >> << >> << >> << >> << >> << >> << >> << >> << >>

The Wolves in the Walls: Neil Gaiman & Dave McKean (Bloomsbury Children's Books, 2003)The Wolves in the Walls: Neil Gaiman & Dave McKean (Bloomsbury Children’s Books, 2003)
Another hit with DG, who seems attracted to darker images (like me!) but both girls took to this book more than I expected, as it’s really one of my books. It’s been read many, many times and I chose it as a Fiction Fridays in February.

Picture Books (grown-up recommendations)

The Princess and the Peas: Caryl Hart & Sarah Warburton (Nosy Crow, 2012) The Princess and the Peas: Caryl Hart & Sarah Warburton (Nosy Crow, 2012)
This book belongs on both the children and grown-up recommended lists, but I’ve added it here because of my commentary on gender when I chose this book as a Friday Pick{ture Book} in November. However both MG and DG request this book over and over, and I can hear games being played with Lily-Rose May as a character even when they haven’t read the book for weeks.

The Pirate Cruncher: Johnny Duddle (Templar Publishing, 2009)The Pirate Cruncher: Johnny Duddle (Templar Publishing, 2009)
MG and DG prefer The Pirates Next Door (which is fabulous, and we all love both books) but being surprised by this book made it an instant hit with me. I chose it as a  Fiction Fridays in June. << >> << >> << >> << >> << >> << >> << >> << >> << >>

Good Little Wolf: Nadia Shireen (Jonathan Cape, 2011)Good Little Wolf: Nadia Shireen (Jonathan Cape, 2011)
When I first read this book and got to the end, I laughed out loud. It’s definitely a ‘me’ book. MG and DG enjoy it, but I love it more and absolutely recommend it to older children who will get the subtle jokes. I’ve not reviewed this yet, but will be in the future. << >> << >> << >> << >> << >> << >> << >> << >> << >> << >> << >> <<

I Want My Hat Back: Jon Klassen (Walker Books, 2011)I Want My Hat Back: Jon Klassen (Walker Books, 2011)
I knew the ‘twist’ for this book before I first read it but if not, I would have been hit as much (more) as I was with Good Little Wolf. The not-a-sequel This is Not My Hat is also fabulous. Again maybe the humour was too subtle for DG so it’s more one of my favourites but we’ve all enjoyed the story. I chose this as a Friday Pick{ture Book} in October.  << >> << >> << >> << >> << >> << >> << >> << >> << >> << >> << >> <<

Novels (grown-up recommendations)

A Monster Calls: Patrick Ness & Jim Kay (Walker, 2011)A Monster Calls: Patrick Ness & Jim Kay (Walker, 2011)
This book has high accolades, and it rightly deserves every award. It has a huge emotional impact, and I read the end through tears before sobbing to myself. I wholeheartedly recommend this book to anyone (over a reasonable maturity), it will have a different impact at different ages. Patrick Ness is an amazing writer, I’ve only read one other of his books but I do mean to catch up. The illustrated version of A Monster Calls is beautiful and adds to the experience. I’m sure it will have a similar impact unillustrated but this book really is a treasure in format and story.

Ante's Inferno: Griselda Heppell (Matador, 2012)Ante’s Inferno: Griselda Heppel (Matador, 2012)
This is a story I would have loved when I was younger so it was a joy to read and I raced through it. I have actually reviewed this, my first attempt at reviewing a longer book, and am also fortunate enough to have a lovely signed copy. A highlight in the books I read (for me) this year, I’m looking forward to Griselda Heppel’s second novel which is based on Faust.

Skellig: David Almond (Hodder Children's Books, 1998)Skellig: David Almond (Hodder Children’s Books, 1998)
I read Skellig because I wanted to read My Name Is Mina. I still have My Name Is Mina on my to-read pile (near the very top) but I did eventually get around to Skellig and wondered what took me so long. Another book with an emotional impact. I loved the character of Mina, the mystery of Skellig and David Almond’s wonderful writing. I also read The Boy Who Swam With Piranhas this year which didn’t appeal to me as much so I’m not sure where I stand with his writing yet, but I think this is an essential read for anyone.

There are far too many authors and illustrators that aren’t represented in this list, but I was trying to choose a very few highlights from a year filled with many exceptional picture books. That seems like an oxymoron but to steal a quote from Read It Daddy, children’s picture books are on FIRE at the moment.

I am already very much looking forward to several books due out next year, and plan to spend a lot more time with books we already own. MG is blossoming as a reader, so it’s been wonderful taking turns in reading books together. DG adores books and will make up her own stories to go with a book as well as repeatedly request her favourites. They are both somewhat blasé about books at present, but I hope as they grow they will understand what a gift books are.

11 responses to “Favourite Books 2012

  1. I really enjoyed reading this post. What a lot of marvellous picture books have appeared since my children were small! The Jolly Postman is of course a perennial favourite; nothing beats the Ahlbergs for charm, wit, humour and wonderful drawing. My thrill came to see ‘Ante’s Inferno’ sandwiched between ‘A Monster Calls’ and ‘Skellig’ as one of your grown-up recommendations of 2012. Wow, what an honour! Am delighted to be in such terrific company.
    griselda heppel recently posted..Ante at the Dragon School Sale, Sat 15 DecemberMy Profile

  2. What a great roundup. I always find it so difficult to select just a few – mostly because my memory isn’t great though, even with the blog. I read someone else’s list of best books and then I think oh yes, that should have been on my list too!
    Zoe recently posted..The December 2012 Carnival of Children&#8217;s LiteratureMy Profile

  3. I am beyond thrilled to see Martha here in such illustrious company – and to think that MG and DG have enjoyed my books is just fantastic.
    You have worked so hard to celebrate children’s books and champion our profession this year, and your posts are always a joy to read.
    Thank you, and here’s to another great year on it’s way!

  4. Thanks for such a fascinating and exhaustive round-up. We’ve got a lot of reading to catch up on! I downloaded A Monster Calls to read as I have been wanting to look at that for ages. Just wondering when I will have the emotional strength to do so! Glad to see Six Dinner Sid is a favourite with your girls too!
    Sam recently posted..2012 in review – exciting summary about the blog this year!My Profile

    • A Monster Calls is well worth the read. It hit me especially as my dad died from cancer 2 years ago. I plan to re-read this year because I want to get it fresh in my mind to review.

  5. Pingback: The last thing to be said about 2012 « Syllable in the City

  6. A yummy selection there. We really wanted to do a ‘books of the year’ thing over at ReaditDaddy but it became too tough to whittle the list down to less than 50 and I ran out of time to type up the 50 we did choose. Wholeheartedly agree with virtually all of those though and it’s given us even more to add to our ‘wishlist’ for 2013 🙂 Good stuff!

    • Oh, I have left out so much! But there were some that stuck in my head, and some that I read so many times, and others where I chose one example for an author (but still needed two for some!) I blame my memory for any I missed out…

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