- Rebecca Purdy
Since March, Capitol Choices, a group of public and school librarians, booksellers and children’s literature specialists have been attending meetings monthly to find the one hundred best books of 2010 for young people. Members take their charge seriously, committing to read everything nominated in a specific age group.
We met last Friday to finalize the list. Several library staff members worked very hard on this year’s list. I asked one, Bridget Harvey from the Snow Branch, who served on the reading group for 7-10 year olds, to recommend her favorites of the year; even if they didn’t make the final list.
If your young person is a fan of The Diary of a Wimpy Kid books, then they will love The Strange Case of Origami Yoda by Virginia author Tom Angelberger. This humorous take on life in middle school is written as a case study. Dwight, the nerdiest kid in school, shows up with an origami Yoda finger puppet that seems to predict the future. But does it? Or could Dwight be smarter than anyone has ever realized? Hysterically funny, Bridget thought Angleberger expertly captured “a lot of the angst of middle school relationships.”
Mirror/Mirror: A Book of Reversible Verse by Marilyn Singer is a collection of fairy tales like you’ve never seen them. This remarkable book of poetry tells two sides of the same story, using the exact same words in both viewpoints, just in a different order. Bridget “loves the illustrations and the beautiful perspective that the poems show of fairy tales from the various characters.” Children and adults alike will enjoy figuring out the subtle differences in text, rearranged to mean two entirely different things.
A book of poetry is another of Bridget’s favorites, Guyku: A Year of Haiku for Boys by Bob Raczka, illustrated by Peter Reynolds. This delightful book is a series of humorously illustrated poems taking the reader, and the boys, through the seasons. She points out that while boys are the focus, “in truth they’re poems that speak to every child. Particularly in the way the author sees nature calling out to kids.”
As Simple as it Seems by Sarah Weeks is for the older end of this age group. In the midst of her struggles with learning disabilities and immaturity, Verbena learns that she is adopted. A new boy in town becomes her chance to make a friend and become someone new. Bridget loved this portrayal of someone “going through a very difficult time and figuring out how to deal with it.” She found the friendship sweet, but “misguided because it’s based on falsehoods which ends up putting both of their lives in peril.”
Finally, Bridget recommends A Nest for Celeste: A Story about Art, Inspiration and the Meaning of Home written and illustrated by Henry Cole. Many of you may be familiar with Cole from his picture books and will not be disappointed. Celeste is a mouse, forced from her comfortable home by a pair of bullying rats. Upstairs she meets Joseph, apprentice to the famed John James Audobon and through a series of adventures, finds new friends and a new home. Bridget found it sensitive and compelling for young readers and loved learning more about Audobon and how he studied his birds.
Readers may view the complete list for all age groups by the end of the week at visiting capitolchoices.org