Thursday, December 16, 2010

2010 Holiday Guide: Best books of the year

This is the seventh installment of this series that provides numerous entertainment options for holiday gift giving for children and teens, and today we turn our attention to the best books released this year.

The products, which appear, below have been researched for quality as well as value, and are geared to provide hours of positive and fun-filled entertainment.

Best pricing options, at the time of this posting are provided below, but it is suggested that you cross-compare, when available book prices and editions with your favorite online as well as stick and brick retailers, as pricing may fluctuate on a daily basis.

If you happened to have missed earlier posts, links are provided at the end of this article.

Also, you may wish to bookmark this page, as the links include reviews or author videos that enable further in-depth exploration at your leisure.

As always, you are the best judge of what is appropriate for your child’s entertainment.

When You Reach Me is written by Rebecca Stead and published by Wendy Lamb Books (an imprint of Random House Children's Books.)

Designated this year’s winner of the John Newbery Medal, for the “most outstanding contribution to children's literature,”  When You Reach Me will not disappoint, it is beautifully written and suspenseful.

“ From School Library Journal Starred Review. Grade 5-8–Sixth-grader Miranda lives in 1978 New York City with her mother, and her life compass is Madeleine L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time. When she receives a series of enigmatic notes that claim to want to save her life, she comes to believe that they are from someone who knows the future.”

Explore a video interview with Rebecca Stead at, which includes additional storyline and background information.

Best pricing for the hardcover edition is through Amazon Marketplace for $5.15.  Best pricing for soon-to-be-released (12/28/10) paperback edition is available for pre-order through Barnes and Noble for $6.29.

The Lion & the Mouse illustrated and written by Jerry Pinkney, publisher Little, Brown and Company Books for Young Readers is the 2010 winner of the Randolph Caldecott Medal for the “most distinguished American picture book for children.” 

The book is a retelling of the classic Aesop’s Fable and is an incredible visual feast that will enthrall youngsters.

“From School Library Journal Starred Review. Preschool-Grade 3—This story starts on the cover with the glorious, golden countenance of a lion. No text is necessary to communicate the title: the direction of the beast's gaze and the conflicted expression on his tightly cropped face compel readers to turn the book over, where a mouse, almost filling the vertical space, glances back. The endpapers and artist's note place these creatures among the animal families of the African Serengeti. Each spread contributes something new in this nearly wordless narrative, including the title opening. “

Connect to a video with author/illustrator Jerry Pinkney, and more visuals of this amazing picture book by following this link.

More detailed customer reviews for The Lion & the Mouse are available through

Best price for this hardbound edition is through Amazon Marketplace for $8.95.

Going Bovine is written by Libba Bray, publisher Delacorte Press (an imprint of Random House Children's Books, a division of Random House.)

Going Bovine was honored with the 2010 Michael L. Printz Award for “excellence in literature written for young adults.”

This may be viewed as a controversial book choice, but it is a touching, witty, gritty and a very sobering read.

Going Bovine is recommended for older teens, as it leaves its marks about life’s priorities. Some parents may wish to extensively check reviews as to the appropriateness of their child’s ability to comprehend the book’s message. It is long but well written, and includes some profanity and mature content.  However, it definitely provides room for parent-teen conversations.

“From School Library Journal Grade 8 Up—In this ambitious novel, Cameron, a 16-year-old slacker whose somewhat dysfunctional family has just about given up on him, as perhaps he himself has, when his diagnosis of Creutzfeldt-Jacob, "mad cow" disease, reunites them, if too late. The heart of the story, though, is a hallucinatory—or is it?—quest with many parallels to the hopeless but inspirational efforts of Don Quixote, about whom Cameron had been reading before his illness.”

Read reviews, both pro and con at, and best price is the paperback edition at $5.70 through Amazon Marketplace.

My People illustrated by Charles R. Smith Jr., written by Langston Hughes and published by Ginee Seo Books, Atheneum Books for Young Readers.

This Coretta Scott King (Illustrator) Book Award-winner is an exquisite marriage of poetry and photography.

“From Publishers Weekly Starred Review. At just thirty-three words total, [this] poem is a study in its visual simplicity. This picture-book presentation is a tour de force. Introducing the poem two or three words at a time, Smith pairs each phrase with a portrait of one or more African-Americans; printed in sepia, the faces of his subjects materialize on black pages. The night, reads the opening spread, across from an image of a mans face, his eyes shut; is beautiful, continues the next spread, showing the same face, now with eyes open and a wide smile. The text, sized big to balance the portraits, shows up in hues that range from white to tan to brown-black, reflecting Smiths reading that the words celebrate black people of differing shades and ages.”

To find out more about My People, visit, and where best pricing is available through the Amazon Marketplace at $6.48 for the hardcover edition.

Bad News for Outlaws: The Remarkable Life of Bass Reeves, Deputy U.S. Marshal written by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson, illustrated by R. Gregory Christie, and published by Carolrhoda Books (a division of Lerner Publishing Group, Inc.)

This year, the Coretta Scott King (Author) Book Award, which recognizes “an African American author and illustrator of outstanding books for children and young adults”, was awarded to Bad News for Outlaws: The Remarkable Life of Bass Reeves, Deputy U.S. Marshal.

A superb read geared for middle school children, which features a true-life hero, Bass Reeves, the first African-American deputy U.S. marshal who brought law and order to the old west.

Bad News for Outlaws was also designated with the honor of being an “Amazon Best Books of the Month” selection.

This edition of Bad News comes in a Library Binding and is available with best pricing through Amazon Marketplace for $10.98.

A Faraway Island is the 2010 winner of the Mildred L. Batchelder Award for “an outstanding children's book translated from a foreign language and subsequently published in the United States.”

Originally published in Swedish in 1996 as "En o i havet," the book was written by Annika Thor, translated by Linda Schenck, and published by Delacorte Press (an imprint of Random House Children's Books.)

A poignant and riveting novel that takes a different look at the Holocaust, as two Austrian sisters are separated from their family, and evacuated to an island off the coast of Sweden. Each girl placed with a different foster family.

"From School Library Journal Grade 5–8— In this gripping story, Stephie and Nellie, two Austrian Jewish sisters, are evacuated in 1938 from Vienna to a Swedish island and placed in separate foster homes. Twelve-year-old Stephie has promised her parents that she will try to ease her younger sister's way, a burdensome promise to keep. Auntie Alma, Nellie's Swedish mother, is warmer and more welcoming than Auntie Märta, Stephie's more austere foster parent. “

Reviews for A Faraway Island are available at, and best pricing for this hardbound edition is through Amazon Marketplace at $3.58.

To view other installments of the Holiday Gift Guide 2010, please click on the following:

1 comment:

  1. Nice picks! Thanks for your post!

    Pragmatic Mom of CoffeeShopBloggers