Tag Archives: Best of 2015

My Top 10 Picture Books of 2015

This year has been another great year for picture books.  There has been a good mix of laugh-out-loud picture books to read aloud to groups and picture books with lots of details to share one-on-one.  Below is my list of favourite picture books from 2015 (some with links to my reviews).  I’ve been doing lots of school visits in my library role this year and most of the books below have been real winners with the kids I’ve read them to.  Some of them I didn’t get a chance to review (these I’ve elaborated on) but they have proved to be very popular.

  1. Piranhas Don’t Eat Bananas by Aaron Blabey
  2. Little Red Riding Hood (Not Quite) by Yvonne Morrison and Donovan Bixley
  3. The Day the Crayons Came Home by Drew Daywalt and Oliver Jeffers
  4. I Want Spaghetti by Stephanie Blake
  5. My Dead Bunny by Sigi Cohen and James Foley
  6. The Mystery of the Haunted Farm by Elys Dolan
  7. Thelma the Unicorn by Aaron Blabey – another winner from Aaron Blabey.  This was the book that got me hooked on his stories.  It’s about a pony called Thelma, who really wants to be a unicorn.  She discovers that fame isn’t all that its cracked up to be and that being yourself is more important.  Boys have groaned when they have first seen it but they laugh along with the story too.
  8. The Princess and the Pony by Kate Beaton – for a debut picture book this is absolutely brilliant!  Princess Pinecone wants to be a warrior and she needs a big, strong, fast horse to help her.  Her parents don’t get her wishes quite right and she ends up with a short, fat little pony that farts a lot.  This little pony might not be what she asked for but together they become a great team, and help the meanest warriors show their cuddly sides.  Kids from Year 1-8 have all loved this book and I never get sick of reading it aloud.
  9. Imaginary Fred by Eoin Colfer and Oliver Jeffers – Two huge names come together to bring imaginary friends to life.  It’s a quirky, funny and absolutely stunning book.  Fred is the best imaginary friend you could ask for, but he always finds that he isn’t needed anymore and he fades away.  Then one day, a boy called Sam wishes for a friend and everything changes.  It’s a book that I want to share and tell everyone about.  The only downside is that it is too long to read to a group of children.  I love it though and it will be one that I’ll read again and again.  Check out the book trailer here.
  10. The Cow Tripped Over the Moon by Tony Wilson – I always enjoy retellings of fairy tales and nursery rhymes and this book is a hilarious take on Hey Diddle Diddle.  The cow tries again and again to jump over the moon but she keeps messing up.  She trips over the moon, crashes into the moon, and sails straight over the moon, but she is determined to do it.  It’s a perfect book to share with pre-schoolers and it will have them laughing out loud.  It had me in stitches!
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My Top 5 YA of 2015

I haven’t read much YA this year I’m sad to say.  There have been many great YA books released this year but I just haven’t had the time to read them.  In my role in the library I’ve been mainly promoting great reads to primary school kids so I’ve been reading lots of children’s fiction.  Here are my top 5 YA books of 2015 that have really stood out for me (you can click through to read my reviews):

  1. y648Because You’ll Never Meet Me by Leah Thomas
  2. The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness
  3. The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly by Stephanie Oakes
  4. Stray by Rachael Craw
  5. Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

YA from 2015 that are still on my TBR pile (I know they’ll be great!)

  • Unbecoming by Jenny Downham
  • Inbetween Days by Vikki Wakefield
  • Silence is Goldfish by Annabel Pitcher
  • Another Day by David Levithan
  • Zeroes by Scott Westerfeld, Margo Lanagan and Deborah Biancotti

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The Marvels by Brian Selznick

I fell in love with Brian Selznick’s stories when I first opened The Invention of Hugo Cabret.  Brian’s style of storytelling, alternating between text and illustration, really appeals to me.  His black and white illustrations are stunning and ‘reading’ them is like watching a movie.  I have been eagerly awaiting Brian’s new book, The Marvels, and I was completely captivated by it.

marvels_standingshot

The journey begins on a ship at sea in 1766, with a boy named Billy Marvel. After surviving a shipwreck, he finds work in a London theatre. There, his family flourishes for generations as brilliant actors until 1900, when young Leontes Marvel is banished from the stage. Nearly a century later, Joseph Jervis runs away from school and seeks refuge with an uncle in London. Albert Nightingale’s strange, beautiful house, with its mysterious portraits and ghostly presences, captivates Joseph and leads him on a search for clues about the house, his family, and the past.

The Marvels really is marvellous!  Brian Selznick has given us another incredible, unforgettable story and a beautiful work of art.  It’s difficult to know where to start when talking about The Marvels as there is just so much that I love about this book! I want to carry it around with me wherever I go.

The story is in two parts.  The first part is completely told through illustration and takes up the first 390 pages.  This tells the story of the Marvel family, starting with Billy and Marcus in 1766, who became a famous acting family.  Through Brian’s amazing illustrations we follow the many generations of the Marvel family until the story ends abruptly.  The story then jumps forward to 1990 and follows Joseph, a boy who loves stories, and his quest to find his uncle.  Joseph has run away from his school to find his uncle, Albert Nightingale. However, Uncle Albert isn’t quite who Joseph pictured.  Why is Albert’s house in such disarray, where are those mysterious sounds coming from, and why won’t Albert give Joseph any answers? Joseph knows that Albert is hiding a huge secret and it’s up to him to discover what it is.

Brian had me gripped from the very first page.  The way that Brian tells the story of the Marvel family, through illustration alone, makes the reader piece the story together themselves, rather than telling you with words.  It is almost like watching a silent movie.  Brian gives you different views of the action, from huge, sweeping shots of the Kraken being tossed on the waves, to close-up shots of character’s faces (like the one of Marcus below).  These close-up shots show so much detail and emotion.  It amazes me what Brian can do with a few strokes of a pencil!

marvels-mini-book_rev15

Image from The Marvels by Brian Selznick.

There are lots of twists and turns in the story that keep you guessing.  I certainly didn’t expect the secrets that were revealed, and to me that is a sign of a really good story.  The ending of the story is perfect too and left me smiling.

The Marvels is one of my top reads of the year.  It’s the perfect gift for any book-lover (just look at that lovely hard cover and gold edging!).  This is a must-read book and I guarantee you will fall in love with it.

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