Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Publishers Weekly Best of 2011: Children's Fiction

Publishers Weekly has published their top picks for 2011 and there are several titles to share. My favorite category is usually Children's Fiction and this list provides some books quite fitting for the blog but I will throw in some that come close, too.

First, a fairy tale retelling made the list, Breadcrumbs by Anne Ursu. This one has been one of the biggest fairy tale hits of the year.

Fairy tales are an evergreen source of inspiration for authors, and Ursu works some serious magic with “The Snow Queen” in this frequently somber but entirely beautiful story of an adopted fifth-grader from India pursuing her lost friend into a mysterious Minnesota forest. Sly references to other fairy tales and classics of children’s literature only sweeten the deal.

Another title is The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente and illustrated
Valente’s glittering fantasy playground began as an offhand mention in one of her other novels, turned into a crowd-funded e-book, and finally became a print book with artwork that matches the wonderfully surreal story of a girl’s journey from Omaha into Fairyland. With literary allusions scattered throughout, the book holds delights for readers of any age.

Chime by Franny Billingsley is also sublime and was long awaited by her fans. (We won't discuss how it and others were lost in the National Book Awards controversy, will we?)

Billingsley’s sharp-tongued, self-hating Briony is easily one of the year’s most memorable narrators, as she struggles to come to terms with guilt over family tragedies, while living in a town in which new 20th-century technologies threaten supernatural beings of old. It’s a rich and layered fantasy that grabs readers tight—not unlike the bogs of Briony’s Swampsea.

Small Persons With Wings by Ellen Booraem snuck onto my radar just recently, but it's about faeries, not cute ones either, and is going onto my TBR list.

Call them Parvi Pennati, call them Small Persons with Wings, just don’t call them fairies. Booraem’s middle-grade novel, in which an outcast girl comes into her own, is frequently sad, but those moments are perfectly balanced with humor and hope. The result is a deeply believable and human story—one that also has room for vainglorious fairies, talking mannequins, and other wonders.

Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick is getting more attention because it's Selznick and because the Hugo movie based on The Invention of Hugo Cabret is in theatres for the holidays. Lovely stuff and another on my TBR list. Well, all of them are, but some take priority.

In a story that’s both cinematic and personal, Selznick builds and improves upon the graphic/prose hybrid narrative style he first used in The Invention of Hugo Cabret with a story about human connections that span miles and decades. The book shines a spotlight on Deaf culture, the theme of silence a brilliant fit with the illustrated sections of the narrative

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