Archive for the ‘Best Books 2011’ Category

Books to Give Kids You Don’t Know Very Well

Friday, December 2nd, 2011

So, there I was in the Bank Street College Bookstore, looking for my holiday gifts when I found myself helping other shoppers find the perfect book for their nieces, nephews, grandchildren and young cousins. I must have lost track of time and was startled when I heard my husband shout over from the stairs, “She doesn’t work here! Lisa, get back to your own shopping!”

My gift to readers for this holiday season is the 4th annual Books to Give Kids You Don’t Know Very Well. This is the time of year when we’re asked to recommend titles for that 4-year-old niece who is dying to learn to read (Mo Willems, Elephant and Piggie books, Disney/Hyperion), chapter books for that five-year-old emerging reader who lives in another state (Mercy Watson series by Kate DiCamillo, Candlewick), the young adult cousin who can’t wait for the Hunger Games movie, (Divergent by Veronica Roth, HarperCollins/Katherine Tegan; Legend by Marie Lu, Penguin/Putnam; or Variant by Robinson Wells, HarperTeen).

I’ve organized the selections by age levels and interest; below are suggestions for younger children and for kids who just don’t like books (yet).

Here’s the links to the rest of the lists

Picture Books

Chapter Books

Middle Grade  and YA Sleepers


Best New Holiday Books

Board Books for New Family Members


Baby Animals, a series that includes the titles Pets, In the Jungle  and In the  Forest, various authors, Macmillan/Kingfisher. $5.99 each

Heavy stock board covered with close-up glossy photos of adorable baby gorillas, parrots and deer (there’s a reason is so popular).


The More We Get Together and You Are My Sunshine illus. by Caroline Jayne Church, Scholastic, $6.99 each

Shiny metallic covers envelope two classic songs with quietly sweet illustrations that embody friendship and love.


Little Black Book and Little Pink Book by Renée Khatami, Random House. $8.99 each

From the soft fluffy “touch and feel” fur of the black bunny to the page “seek and find” of licorice shapes, these are delightfully interactive color concept books.

Preschoolers Ages 3 to 5

If You’re Hoppy by April Pulley Sayre, pictures by Jackie Urbanovic, HarperCollins/Greenwillow, 16.99

A joyously buoyant retelling of the song “If your happy and you know it” with hoppy bunnies, growly bears and flappy butterflies.



Ages 3 and Up


I Must Have Bobo! by Eileen Rosenthal, illustrated by Marc Rosenthal, S&S/Atheneum, 14.99

A little boy is missing his stuffed monkey. Willy reminisces about past events that Bobo helped him through like going down a steep slide and walking past a big dog. He has looked everywhere! There isn’t a family who hasn’t experienced the loss of a treasured comfort object.

Mine! by Shutta Crum, pictures by Patrice Barton, RH/Knopf, 16.99

A toddler explains to a baby that the toys – a stuffed giraffe, starfish, airplane and ball are “Mine…mine…mine” until the dog decides that they all need a good washing.


Bears! Bears! Bears! by Bob Barner, Chronicle, 14.95

Cut paper collage and rhyming words depict a variety of bears from “Polar bears dive for an icy seal” to “Sun bears lick up a sticky meal” in this fact-filled information book.

Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star written and illustrated by Jerry Pinkney, Hachette/Little Brown, $16.99

Beginning with the endpapers as the moon smiles benevolently down on the woodland creatures, we sing the familiar tune. As dusk descends, we follow a chipmunk on a fantasy journey into the evening sky and back again. Caldecott winner, Pinkney paints a dreamy bedtime tale.

A Ball for Daisy by Chris Raschka, RH/Schwartz and Wade, 16.99

A wordless tour de force, Raschka paints in loose lines rendering a dog who is enthralled with big red ball. He rolls with it, bounces with it and naps with it on the comfy green and blue striped couch. One day at the dog park, the ball is snatched by another dog and burst. We see that our little dog is bereft as the pictures display the stages of grief over his loss. Don’t worry, although it takes time, things do turn out all right.

Kids Who Just Don’t Like Books

A book?! (the child’s face falls in disappointment as the wrapping is torn off). If that is the anticipated reaction, let’s try to turn it around.

Aesop’s Fables: A Pop-up Book of Classic Tales, illustrated by Chris Beatrice and Bruce Whatley, Little Simon, 27.99, Ages 5 and up

Familiar tales like The Lion and the Mouse and The Goose That Laid the Golden Egg are rendered in 3-D, pop-up glory. The lion leaps off the page struggling in the hunter’s ropes, Tortoise and Rabbit inhabit a lush garden while Crow teases a Fox at the top of a tree that looms twice the book width high.

Bob Staake’s Look! A Book!: A Zany Seek-And-Find Adventure, Hachette/Little Brown 16.99, Ages 3 and up

For the fans of the Walter Wick, I Spy Books, this is a volume jam-packed with graphic silly, absurd and teeny tiny images to engage readers. This is the book for the holiday trip on trains, planes and automobiles.


How to Speak Wookie: A Manual for Intergalactic Communication by Wu Kee Smith, Illustrations by JAKe, Chronicle, 16.95

No really. Want give a Wookie directions in a starship? “AHH ARGH, ARRGHH!” That phrase translates to “Turn Right. Right!” or “Jump to hyperspace”? AARRR WWGGH WAANH” If we are still unsure of the correct pronunciation, the author has provided digital audio for ten commonly used Wookie phrases. I can’t stop playing with it.

The Worst-Case Scenario: Survive-0-pedia Junior Edition, Chronicle, 16.99

This one is an accidental pick. Faced with two boys that needed to be entertained for a couple of hours while waiting for the Thanksgiving turkey, I grabbed this from a stack of book. It worked. Want to know how to survive an avalanche? A shipwreck? Living on a deserted island? An active volcano? No problem. Start reading.

SLJ’s Best Books

Thursday, December 1st, 2011

School Library Journal has just posted the editors’ picks of the best books of 2011 — 65 selections in all.

UPDATE, 12/23:

We’re happy to announce that our annual spreadsheets, rounding up all the titles in the national best books lists, with ISBN’s and information on additional formats — audio, large print, and eformats from OverDrive — are now available for downloading and checking against your collections.

NYT Notable Cookbooks

Thursday, December 1st, 2011

The world’s priciest cook book, Modernist Cuisine by Nathan Myhrvold (The Cooking Lab, $625) is one of 19 titles on the New York Times list of the year’s most notable cookbooks. The annotation states, “The recipes are likely to drive home cooks mad, but the photography is both revolutionary and museum-worthy.”

Not everything is out of reach, however; it explains how to create cappuccino art.

It’s in six volumes, so it’s more like an encyclopedia than a single cook book. As we noted earlier, some libraries have decided to buy it precisely because it’s so expensive, and thus out of reach for many of their customers.

The first printing sold out, but it is now back in stock at wholesalers.

Dystopia Reigns

Tuesday, November 29th, 2011

The celebrity Web site FabLife kicks off Dystopian Week, a look at upcoming book adaptations, with Lauren Oliver’s Delirium(HarperCollins).

It was recently picked as a best teen book by both Kirkus and the Amazon editors.

Oliver tells FabLife that she expects to be very involved in the filmmaking process, saying, “One of the reasons I really wanted to work with [producers Paula Mazur and Mitch Kaplan] specifically was that they got on the phone with me from the start, explained their vision, and it really felt like a collaboration from the start.”

Not surprising, since Kaplan has been very involved with books and authors. He’s the owner of Books & Books, Miami, Fla. and was recently honored at the National Book Awards. This is the second title that he and Mazur have optioned, after The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society (Kenneth Branagh, who was signed to direct it back in August, but has turned his attention to another project).

What’s a dystopian novel without a sequel? Coming at the end of February is a follow-up, Pandemonium. Oliver talks about it on MTV’s Hollywood Crush blog.

Lauren Oliver
Retail Price: $13.99
Hardcover: 384 pages
Publisher: HarperCollins – (2012-03-06)
ISBN / EAN: 006197806X/9780061978067

Oliver’s first book, Before I Fall, is also being adapted. Oliver says she has seen the script and “loves it.” Both movies await a director and cast.

More Children’s Best Books

Monday, November 28th, 2011

UPDATE: 12/23:

We’re happy to announce that our annual spreadsheets, rounding up all the titles in the national best books lists, with ISBN’s and information on additional formats — audio, large print, and eformats from OverDrive — are now available for downloading and checking against your collections.


Below is the text of the original post:

Two new childrens best books list appeared over the holiday; the New York Times Book Review’s Notable Childrens and Kirkus Review‘s Childrens and Teen lists.

Consensus is a rare thing, particularly in best books picks. Of the 172 titles, only 14 were picked by three or more sources; 82% of the titles were picked by just one.

Below are the top titles, by number of picks.

Four Picks

Children’s fiction


Schmidt, Gary D Okay for NowHMH/Clarion (RH/Listening Library; OverDrive). Picked by: Amazon, National Book Award Finalist, Kirkus, NYT BR Notable Children’s Books

Selznick, Brian,  WonderstruckScholastic. Picked by; AmazonPublishers WeeklyKirkusNYT BR Notable Children’s Book

Young Adult

Sepetys, Ruta, Between Shades of GrayPenguin/Philomel (Penguin Audio; OverDrive); Picked by AmazonPublishers WeeklyKirkusNYT BR Notable Children’s Books

Stiefvater, Maggie, The Scorpio Races, Scholastic, (Scholastic Audio; OverDrive); Picked by AmazonPublishers WeeklyKirkusNYT BR Notable Children’s Books

Taylor, Laini Daughter of Smoke and Bone, Hachette, (Hachette Audio); Picked by Amazon (one of the Top Twenty), Publishers WeeklyKirkusNYT BR Notable Children’s Books

Three Picks

Picture Books

Klassen, Jon, I Want My Hat Back, Candlewick; Picked by NYT Book Review Best IllustratedPublishers WeeklyNYT BR Notable Children’s Books

Rocco, John Blackout, Disney/Hyperion; Picked by Publishers WeeklyKirkusNYT BR Notable Children’s Books

Young Adult


Billingsley, Franny Chime YA Penguin/Dial (RH/Listening Library; OverDrive); Picked by National Book Award FinalistPublishers WeeklyKirkus

Ness, Patrick, A Monster Calls, Candlewick, (Brilliance Audio; OverDrive); Picked by Publishers WeeklyKirkus, NYT BR Notable Children’s Books

Children’s Fiction


Lai, Thanhha, Inside Out & Back Again, HarperCollins/Harper (OverDrive, 26 circs), National Book Award Winner, Publishers WeeklyKirkus

Valente, Catherynne M., illustrated by Ana Juan, The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making, Macmillan/Feiwel & Friends, (Brilliance Audio); Picked by AmazonPublishers WeeklyKirkus

Picture Books

Tullet, Herve,  Press Here, Chronicle; Picked by AmazonPublishers WeeklyKirkus

Children’s Nonfiction


Nelson, Kadir Nelson, Kadir Heart and Soul: The Story of America and African AmericansHarperCollins/Balzer + Bray; Picked by Publishers WeeklyKirkusNYT BR Notable Children’s Books

McDonnell, Patrick McDonnell, Patrick Me … Jane , Hachette/LBYR; Picked by NYT BR Best Illustrated BooksKirkusNYT BR Notable Children’s Books

Checking The Lists

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2011

The NYT BR Notable Books section is now up on the Web, offering a trip down memory lane of the year’s publishing (and an opportunity for consumers to create buying lists).

Kirkus is rolling their best books lists slowly. Yesterday, they released the Best Childrens list — Teen, Nonfiction, Indie and Apps still to come.

UPDATE , 12/21– We have now collated all the titles from the national lists into spreadsheets, with information on audio, large type formats as well as which titles are available from OverDrive:

2011 Adult Fiction

2011 Adult Nonfiction

2011 Childrens and Young Adult

After the jump,  a roundup of all the lists to date:


PEOPLE Best Cookbooks

Thursday, November 17th, 2011

There’s several reasons to pick up the 12/28 special double issue of People magazine. In addition to 2011’s Sexiest Man Alive (Bradley Cooper), dozens of other hunks are featured (click here for “100 Sexy Men in 1 Minute“). Even more mouth-watering are the “Best of the Fall Cookbooks” in the Books section, which confines itself to just six titles:

The Family Meal, Ferran Adrià, Phaidon —  the chef  known for bravura cooking (like the “liquid olive,” which he created and many have copied) here address the more mundane, but not necessarily easy, like how to poach an egg.

The Food52 Cookbook: 140 Winning Recipes from Exceptional Home Cooks, Amanda Hesser & Merrill Stubbs, Morrow/HarperCollins — Hesser started after she realized from her work on the  NYT Cookbook, that some of the best recipes come from home cooks. The cookbook rounds up the winners from the site’s contests.

Lidia’s Italy in AmericaLidia Matticchio Bastianich, Knopf/RH — the celebrity chef moves from Italian to Italian American cooking.

Martha’s Entertaining, Martha Stewart, Clarkson Potter/RH– her first book, pubbed in 1982 was simply titled Entertaining. It launched an empire.

Momofuku Milk Bar, Christina Tosi with intro by David Chang, Clarkson Potter/RH– desserts from David Chang’s pastry chef.

Make the Bread, Buy the Butter: What You Should and Shouldn’t Cook from Scratch — Over 120 Recipes for the Best Homemade Foods, Jennifer Reese, Free Press/S&S — what a concept. After losing her job, Reese decided it was time to figure out how to save money by doing more herself. She discovered that some things are better to buy than to make and vice versa. Surprisingly, she says that bagels can be easily made at home (and, given the quality of many store bought bagels, that idea is appealing).

Kirkus Best

Tuesday, November 15th, 2011

Kirkus  “The World’s Toughest Book Critics” have released their Best Fiction lists for 2011. Coming soon are their with selections of Best Children, Teen, Nonfiction and Indie Books as well as Best Book Apps.

Around the corner are both LJ‘s and SLJ’s picks.

We’ll be rounding them all up into our monster spreadsheet.

UPDATE, 12/21:

We’re happy to announce that our annual spreadsheets, rounding up all the titles in the national best books lists, with ISBN’s and information on additional formats — audio, large print, and eformats from OverDrive — are now available for downloading and checking against your collections.

THE ART OF FIELDING is Amazon Editor’s Best Book of 2011

Tuesday, November 8th, 2011

In the Best Books sweepstakes, Amazon is next up after Publishers Weekly, with their list of editors selection of the Top 100 for 2011.

At number one is one of the most celebrated of the fall debuts, The Art of Fielding, by Chad Harbach, (Little, Brown, 9/7, Hachette Large Print, 9780316204729).

Amazon presents separate lists this year, for print and one for Kindle titles. The differences in the Top 100 are slight, however and a result of a few heavily illustrated print titles, like Alexander McQueen: A Savage Beauty (Metropolitan Museum of Art) not being available for the Kindle.

Amazon has an active publishing program. Did their books receive special attention? Only one of the Top 100 titles is published by an Amazon imprint. Carry Yourself Back to Me, by Deborah Reed was released in September from AmazonEncore (which was founded in May, 2009) and is at #56 on both the print and Kindle lists.

Amazon publishing does get special attention in a separate list for the Best Kindle Singles, shorter works published by Amazon and only available in Kindle editions.

Collating the Best Childrens Book Lists

Monday, November 7th, 2011

Publishers Weekly released its Best Books selections today (100 adult titles in various categories and 40 in childrens). The new “interactive” format features each book’s cover, an annotation and link to the original PW review.

Once again this year, we are collating the titles from various lists into a spreadsheet, with ISBNs, so you can check the titles against your collection and place orders for those you may be missing. UPDATE as of 12/21, all the lists to date have been collated:

As we’ve come to expect, there is little overlap between the lists (last year, of the 228 titles that appeared on 12 childrens and YA lists, two-thirds of them were picked by just one publication).

We will update the spreadsheet as new lists appear. Look for the spreadsheet for adult titles later this week.

Best Books Teasers

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2011

Library Journal‘s Top Ten Books of 2011 will be unveiled on Nov. 17. Counting down to the big day, daily guest posts by librarians of their own top picks are being featured on LJ‘s refreshingly readable new Reviews site. In the first post, Lauren Gilbert, head of community services at the Sachem Public Library, NY, gives a passionate recommendation for National Book Award Finalist, The Swerve: How the World Became Modern by Stephen Greenblatt, (WW Norton, 9/26).

Will the librarians’ picks differ from the editors’? We suspect they will skew more towards titles that are fun to read and recommend.

The official LJ Best Books list will debut in two installments on the 11/17 and 12/1 LJBookSmack newsletter, followed by Best Media (audiobooks, DVDs, games, and music) in the 12/15 issue.

On the Publishers Weekly‘s site, the editors are blogging about their favorites, leading up to the release of their list on Monday.

UPDATE, 12/21:

We’re happy to announce that our annual spreadsheets, rounding up all the titles in the national best books lists, with ISBN’s and information on additional formats — audio, large print, and eformats from OverDrive — are now available for downloading and checking against your collections.

Best Books of 2011

Tuesday, October 25th, 2011

We’re heading into the season of best books lists (Amazon already jumped the gun, with their mid-year “Best Books of 2011 .. so far“).

Publishers Weekly‘s list will arrive in two weeks. Leading up to it, the editors are blogging daily about their favorites. The first title is a debut, The Devil All the Time by Donald Ray Pollock, which received strong critical attention from the NY Times , the L.A. Times and Robert Goolrick (author of A Reliable Wife) in the Washington Post, who said it’s “grotesque, violent, haunting, perverse and harrowing — and very good. You may be repelled, you may be shocked, you will almost certainly be horrified, but you will read every last word.”

The Devil All the Time
Donald Ray Pollock
Retail Price: $26.95
Hardcover 261 pages
Publisher: Doubleday – (2011-07-12)
ISBN 9780385535045

Ten Best Books of 2011 (So Far)

Tuesday, June 28th, 2011

Midway into the year, Amazon gets a jump on best books lists, by issuing their  Top Ten Editors Picks, plus top tens in a dozen specific categories.

The main list is already affecting sales. The number one pick, Lost in Shangri-La, Mitchell Zuckoff (Harper, 4/26) rose to #20 (from #40 the day before; following a boost from the author’s appearance on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart last week). We held a special GalleyChat about the book back in February.

The second selection, and the first fiction title on the list, Tea Obreht’s award-winning Tiger’s Wife, (Random, 3/8) received just a slight boost — it’s currently at #163 in sales rankings (back in March, it was in the top ten).

The most recent title on the list is the debut psychological thriller, Before I Go to Sleep by S.J. Watson (Harper, 6/14), at #8 (and #34 in sales).