The upcoming issue of The New Yorker features a cover image of Nelson Mandela by Kadir Nelson, whose picture book biography of the leader, Nelson Mandela, (HarperCollins/Katherine Tegan) was recently selected as one of the Best Illustrated Books of 2013 by the New York Times Book Review.
Nelson tells the The New Yorker that, for this cover, he chose to portray Mandela as a younger man, “during the time that he was on trial with over a hundred of his comrades … I wanted to make a simple and bold statement about Mandela and his life as a freedom fighter. The raised fist and the simple, stark palette reminded me of posters and anti-apartheid imagery of the nineteen-eighties.”
If you don’t recall how we play this game, let me give you a refresher.
Every year librarians and booksellers are challenged with requests such as:
“I need a book for my five-year-old niece who I only see once a year.”
“I always like to give books but now that the kids are voracious readers, I can’t keep up with what they have already read.”
“I want to give a book but this kid isn’t really a reader.”
We accept this challenge, nay we welcome the opportunity to show off our expertise and vast reading insight. Let the games begin.
Please join in. Tell us your favorite recommendations in the comments section below. Remember, titles should meet the criteria of being sure-fire for reluctant as well as voracious readers. To avoid books that are already owned by kids in the latter category, they should be published this year and be less well-known or sleepers (it kills us, but that requirement means we did not include Jerry Pinkney’s gorgeous new picture book, The Tortoise & the Hare).
This post contains titles for the youngest; see the next post for more picture books.
A board book reissue of the perfect bedtime story told in gentle rhythm and rhyme. “Hush little polar bear, sleep in the snow, dream of the places where sleeping bears go” will remind readers of the lullaby “Hush Little Baby.” It is irrisistably singable too.
For Twos, Threes, and Fours
Know any hipsters with preschoolers? Ammo Press has produced the lovely Charley Harper’s ABCs by Gloria Fowler with striking graphic mid-century modern images of birds, insects and mammals created by one of the fathers of modern design. (NOTE: Harper’s work was the inspiration for our EarlyWord bird. We wanted to ask him to design our bird, but he passed away a few months before EarlyWord began. In tribute, we named our bird Charley).
Below is a video of Charley Harper talking about his silk screen technique.
Animal Opposites, Petr Horacek, (Candlewick, ages 3 and up)
This pop-up concept book by award winning illustrator Horacek contrasts big/ little, slow/fast, heavy/light as well as more complicated opposites like smooth/prickly with lift-the-flap surprises and pop-up wonders.
Turn the pages, lift the flaps and see animals of all shapes and sizes bring to life the world of opposites. From slow snail to fast cheetah, heavy hippo to light butterfly, smooth frog to prickly porcupine, Petr Horacek’s pop-up animals encourage early literacy, language and communication. With its amusing illustrations and interactive pages – learning has never been so much fun!
Taking advantage of the rule that rules are made to be broken, I’m including this title, even though Sandra Boynton hardly fits the “sleeper” criteria. There will never be enough awards for this rockstar of rhythm, rhyme and repetition. This joyous, toe-tapping collection of original songs includes a CD sung by Mark Lanegan (yes, of Queens of the Stone Age) Josh Turner, Fountains of Wayne, Ryan Adams, Linda Eder, and quickly rising country star Kacey Musgraves — all accompanied by Nashville’s finest instrumentalists.
This wordless interactive lift-the-flap book evokes an unlikely friendship between a little girl in a bathing cap swimsuit and flippers who dances a tentative then joyous pas de deux with a pink flamingo.
If there ever was a book that has been read to pieces by a generations of children, its Ed Emberly’s Go Away Big Green Monster! It is with great pleasure that I introduce the new superstar of the family, Night Night, Little Green Monster, (Little Brown). Half the scary and twice as much fun, these die-cut pages build the visage of a little green smiling face with one little curly hair. As the first star is sighted the little green monster slowly disappears with each page turn until holographic stars shine out from the pitch-black end papers.
Last night’s Royal performance in London of the film adaptation of Nelson Mandela’s autobiography, Long Walk to Freedom, (Hachette/Little, Brown; 1994), starring Idris Elba, was overshadowed by the news that Mandela had died. Moments before receiving the dreaded phone call, Mandela’s daughter Zindzi, interviewed on the red carpet, said that her father, although frail, was doing well. She and her sister Zenani asked that the showing continue.
The movie debuted in limited release in the U.S. on Nov. 29.
Philbrick won the National Book Award in Nonfiction in 2000 forIn the Heart of the Sea, about the Essex, a Nantucket ship hunting whale in the South Pacific in 1819, was stalked and eventually sunk by a sperm whale setting the crew adrift for 90 days.
The movie, starring Chris Hemsworth, Cillian Murphy and Ben Whishaw, is set to release on March 13, 2015.
Librarians are answering the call to tweet their favorite books of 2013. Day three wrapped up yesterday with 98 librarians joining the effort (thanks, Linda Johns, for keeping the stats).
You can join, too. The rules: Tweet your top ten favorites of the books you read this year (not necessarily those that were published this year), countdown style, one per day, Dec. 1 through Dec. 10 (don’t worry if you haven’t started yet, just jump in). Please include authors (last name is fine to save space), so the compilers can identify the correct titles. Writing titles in all caps also helps the compilers. And, don’t forget the hashtag — #libfaves13
An additional EarlyWord request: We love to know why you picked a book, so please include your passionate recommendations.
“Befriend, befuddle, betray. Playing the game with my #8 #libfaves13 pick – spymaster Charles McCarry’s THE SHANGHAI FACTOR.”
(Mysterious Press; HighBridge Audio)
David Wright @guybrarian
Best Unexpected Crossover Analogy:
“My #8 pick for #libfaves13 is ME BEFORE YOU [Penguin/Pamela Dorman; Thorndike] which I recently described to someone as a grown-up version of ELEANOR AND PARK
Danielle Dreger @DanielleDregerB
In addition, the library marketers began their own countdown this year, #libMKTGfaves13 (thanks Talia Sherer, from Macmillan!). It’s amazing to see that they manage to find time to read books from other publishers in addition to their own, as proved by PenguinLibrary’s pick, INDISCRETION, Charles Dubow (HarperCollins/Morrow) and ChrisTheBookie from Sterling’s A LAND MORE KIND THAN HOME, Wiley Cash, (HarperCollins/Morrow).
Click through to see our Storified version of all the picks.
Called one of the best war movies ever by two people you wouldn’t expect to see eye-to-eye, Tina Brown and Glenn Beck, Lone Survivor is based on the long-running 2007 bestseller by Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell (Hachette/Little, Brown). The promo for the movie is bringing new attention to the book, sending it back on to the 12/8/13 NYT Paperback Nonfiction list at #5.
Mark Wahlberg, who plays Luttrell, along with costars Emile Hirsch and Taylor Kitsch, appeared on the Today Show this morning. Directed by Peter Berg (Battleship and Friday Night Lights), the movie opens on Christmas Day in NY and LA only, followed by a nationwide release on Jan. 10.
Let the world know which books were your favorites this year via #libfaves13, organized by Stephanie Chase (BiblioCommons) and Robin Beerbower (Salem P.L).
The countdown began on Sunday, Dec. 1, but don’t worry if you haven’t joined in yet, you’re welcome to jump in at any time. Just tweet your top ten, one per tweet. If you can, encapsulate why you love your choice; it’s great stuff for readers advisors to crib. Our favorite from today:
TILTED WORLD by Tom Franklin & Beth Ann Fennelly. Love this gritty tale of revenuers, bootleggers, crazy weather. Day 8
The top titles yesterday, according to #libfaves13 list keeper Linda Johns are The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion (S&S), The Human Division by John Scalzi (Macmillan/Tor), Relish: My Life in the Kitchen by Lucy Knisley (Macmillan/First Second). The title with the most nominations is Fangirlby Rainbow Rowell (Macmillan/St. Martin’s Griffin; Listening Library; Thorndike).
The author of The Good Lord Bird, (Penguin/Riverhead; Dreamscape Audio; Thorndike), James McBride, winner of the National Book Award in fiction, appeared on PBS News Hour last night. He talks about why he wanted to write a funny book about John Brown, a man who had “no sense of humor at all,” but a man he grew to love.
It was a love fest on the Today Show yesterday as Hoda and Kathie Lee hosted one of their “favorite people in the world,” author Adriana Trigiani, whose latest book, The Supreme Macaroni Company (Harper; HarperAudio; HarperLuxe), the final in her series featuring Valentine Roncalli, came out last week.
In addition to her new book, she also talked about directing her first feature film,Big Stone Gap, starring Ashley Judd, based on the first novel in her other series, featuring her home town in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. Currently in the editing process, it is expected to be released a year from now. For more on the shoot, read the account in the local newspaper, The Richmond Times Dispatch.
The movie stars Jason Bateman, Tina Fey, Adam Driver, Jane Fonda, Rose Byrne and Kathryn Hahn and is directed by Shawn Levy (Night at the Museum; Date Night). Tropper is the screenwriter.
The novel, Tropper’s fifth, topped many 2009 best books lists and was a NYT best seller. About a family coming together reluctantly to sit shiva for their father, Carolyn See praised it in the Washington Post, “This is a beautiful novel about men — their lust and rage and sweetness. Read it — or take it as a gift — when you next go on a dreaded family holiday.”
Below is the first full-length trailer for the adaptation of Vampire Academy: Blood Sisters, the first in the series by Richelle Mead (Penguin/Razorbill). It comes with a terrific tagline, “They Suck at School.”
Given the tone, it’s no surprise that it’s directed by Mark Waters, who also directed Mean Girls. Adding to the darkly comic sensibility, the screenplay is by Daniel Waters, who also wrote Heathers).
Best Books lists offer an opportunity to argue with the critics and to remind ourselves of the books we’d still like to read. To make this easier, and to aid in your end-of-year ordering and readers advisory, we’ve collated the major lists into download spreadsheets.
Several new lists are now available and we’ve update our adult fiction and nonfiction lists, resulting in a total of over 250 fiction titles and 150 nonfiction (we will update the children’s spreadsheet, after Kirkus releases their teen list next week). This year, we’re also including titles selected by the LibraryReads program, which began in September.
As we’ve learned to expect, there is not much consensus. In fiction, just 17 titles are picked by 4 or more of the 9 sources. Tied with six each are Anthony Marra’s debut novel, A Constellation of Vital Phenomena, (RH/Hogarth) and James McBride’s The Good Lord Bird, (Penguin/Riverhead; Dreamscape Audio; Thorndike), which, because one of those picks is a major one, the National Book Award in Fiction, can be declared #1.
Paperback originals make a stronger, but still limited showing. A total of 54 were picked in fiction. The top two, with two picks each, are also best sellers, the Silent Wife by A. S. A. Harrison, (Penguin; Blackstone Audio; Large Print Press) and Stephen King’s Joyland, (Hardcase Crime). The format makes its strongest showing on LibraryReads, which, in just four months, has picked 8 paperback originals out of 40 titles, one of which, the mass market original, No Good Duke Goes Unpunished by Sarah MacLean (HarperCollins/Avon; Brilliance Audio) is the #1 pick for December.
Tell us what you think. Which books got overlooked? Which “best books” are you adding to your TBR piles?
Unfortunately, Mr. Affleck, who stars in the movie, is not particularly forthcoming, saying he doesn’t want to give away too much, “But I will say that Gillian [Flynn] adapted it and I think it’s very, very faithful to her book. If you read the book and liked it, you will definitely like the movie.”
The article adds that filming, which is currently under way, will wrap in February (the movie is scheduled for release on Oct. 3 next year).
A film based on an earlier title by Flynn, Dark Places, starring Charlize Theron, wrapped earlier this month and may make it into theaters first. IMDB lists its release date as Sept. 1 next year.