Top Five of 2019

I will be the first to admit this is long overdue. Overdue in that I normally publish this in early January and it is now May, but since this year’s been A Challenge already it kept getting put off by various natural disasters in the area and pandemics, briefly forgotten about, then put off again. Now I am making myself put it up because the completionist in me needs it up, but also it is a great chance to revisit the books I loved last year and hope to share my enthusiasm for them at the same time.

After the success of adding books through the year I felt were contenders, I ended my list with 11:  6 books and 5 picture books. This means my honourable mentions is quite light with only one but after thinking I could scrap it entirely, I changed my mind because I really enjoyed the extra book. It was a toss-up between which one I would switch out but I think I’ve made the right choice.

The Dead Queens Club by Hannah Capin

43709211This was the first book I put on the list at the start of 2019. It wasn’t the most amazing book I had read in terms of emotions or how it moved me, but I loved it so much because it is a story that is so cleverly told it is hard not to be constantly amazed at Capin’s skill. The reflections with historical events and reimaginings of historical people is divine and each time I realised a reference, a moment, or a character portrayal I fell even further in love. This is Tudor England set in a US high school and honestly those two things are perfectly fitting with a class system, drama, and chaos. I love that era and seeing it play out in the modern era was an absolute joy.

 

 

30619981How to Fight A Dragon’s Fury by Cressida Cowell

Honestly this whole series could be on this list so please start at book one if you pick this up. The reason I chose book twelve though, the final in the series, was because this book in particular was incredible. I loved every one of these books and inhaled them one after the other but this book in particular broke my heart. After the journey I had been on with the other eleven books, this was the perfect ending that brings the whole life of Hiccup and his adventure together. It had no right to make me cry through the majority of it and while each of these books will move you and break your heart a little, this one throws everything at you and it’s simply perfect.

 

 

They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera

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This book, oh my gosh. It took me a couple goes to start but then I was in and was not leaving. It is heart wrenching, fascinating, and the world is so incredibly built that the fact not everything about the society and world was explained didn’t matter because it was established and functional and the focus is on the characters and their reactions to it. It is deep and impactful and brilliantly told.

 

 

 

The Vanishing Stair by Maureen Johnson

39893545Book two of the Truly Devious series and it does not disappoint. It is filled with answers, new questions, a deeper descent into the mystery of this school and this kidnapping and as Johnson plays it out you can’t help but be enraptured.

 

 

 

 

 

The Adventure Zone: Murder on the Rockport Limited by Clint McElroy

41812788Pretty sure these graphic novels will be on here every single year if they continue with their publishing schedule. From the A-MA-ZING podcast Clint has once again transferred it brilliantly into written form. The illustrations are fantastic, the humour is fantastic, and the story is wrapped up but there’s an ongoing arc to keep your interest piqued.

 

 

 

Honourable Mention

His Hideous Heart by Dahlia Adler

 

Top Five Picture Books

Giraffe Problems by Jory John

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Llama Destroys the World by Jonathan Stutzman

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Little Puggle’s Song by Vicki Conley

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The Rough Patch by Brian Lies

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I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen

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We Found a Hat by Jon Klassen

Published: 11th October 2016Goodreads badge
Publisher:
 Candlewick
Illustrator: Jon Klassen
Pages: 56
Format: Picture Book
★   ★   ★   ★   ★  – 5 Stars

Two turtles have found a hat. The hat looks good on both of them. But there are two turtles. And there is only one hat. . . . Evoking hilarity and sympathy, the shifting eyes tell the tale in this brilliantly paced story in three parts, highlighting Jon Klassen’s visual comedy and deceptive simplicity. The delicious buildup takes an unexpected turn that is sure to please loyal fans and newcomers alike. 

This is such a sweet book! And nobody dies! Not that that should stop you from opening the book. It is fantastic in all the other ways.

This is the final book in the delightful hat trilogy and Klassen is as strong as ever. From bears and hats, to fish and hats, we’ve come to turtles and hats.

In a different approach there are multiple parts to this story. I was curious about this change in formula but it works so well. There is a wonderful message about friendship, but also the same cheeky, slyness that Klassen works so well into his story. There is drama and suspense, but there is also heart. I loved the message and I loved that it remains a hat story even though it differed slightly.

At its core it is a book about sharing, greed, and friendship and with a lot less murder than before.

Once again, Klassen puts all the expression in the eyes. So much is said in a pair of unblinking eyes, a shift to the left, a shift to the right. It’s brilliant. I have come to love his illustration style and I am so glad there are three books in this series because one was never going to be enough.

You can purchase We Found A Hat via the following

QBD | Booktopia | Book Depository

Dymocks | WorderyAngus and Robinson

 Fishpond | Amazon | Amazon Aust

This is Not My Hat by Jon Klassen

Published: October 9th 2012Goodreads badge
Publisher:
 Candlewick
Illustrator: Jon Klassen
Pages: 40
Format: Picture Book
★   ★   ★   ★   ★  – 5 Stars

When a tiny fish shoots into view wearing a round blue topper (which happens to fit him perfectly), trouble could be following close behind. So it’s a good thing that enormous fish won’t wake up. And even if he does, it’s not like he’ll ever know what happened…

I have so much love for this book. Klassen tells a brilliant story, there are two layers and it’s hilarious how they contradict one another. This is the second book in the Hat Trilogy and it’s clear from page one it is as wonderful as the first hat fiasco.

The narrator is a small fish who has stolen a hat, and reading about how he is going to get away with it is wonderful because the illustrations show you the exact opposite. I love the illustrations of both fish. Klassen puts so much expression into an expressionless fish and the attitude of both parties is amusing.

The text is simple and on top of the page and the illustrations are dark like the ocean and it works well because it focuses your eyes on the two fish without much distraction. The story is simple, straightforward, and yet Klassen has told a thrilling underwater tale all the same.

You can purchase This is Not My Hat via the following

QBD | Booktopia | Book Depository

Dymocks | WorderyAngus and Robinson

 Fishpond | Amazon | Amazon Aust

 

I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen

Published: 27th September 2011Goodreads badge
Publisher:
 Candlewick Press
Illustrator: Jon Klassen
Pages: 32
Format: Picture Book
★   ★   ★   ★   ★  – 5 Stars

The bear’s hat is gone, and he wants it back. Patiently and politely, he asks the animals he comes across, one by one, whether they have seen it. Each animal says no, some more elaborately than others. But just as the bear begins to despond, a deer comes by and asks a simple question that sparks the bear’s memory and renews his search with a vengeance.

This is the first book in Klassen’s Hat trilogy and it is a brilliant story that both children and adults can enjoy. Ideal to be read alone or out loud the story is told entirely through dialogue with Klassen’s wit and straightforward sentences as Bear asks everyone he meets if they have seen his hat.

I loved the call back to the earlier dialogue and I liked that the bear politely went through all the animals he found, each having a different response. It never gets repetitive and Klassen includes enough animals that it is long enough but also has a few surprises.

The illustrations are part of the charm because the expression Klassen gives the animals are fantastic, and a lot is said through staring. The colours are dulled but still stand out on the page, the focus is on the animal interactions with only a little background but it isn’t missed. A lot of the time too the narrative is a companion to the dialogue, one not quite working without the other. There is something magical about Klassen’s work that makes the entire experience delightful.

The dialogue is the real gem and Bear is a great character. As the story progresses you see that Bear is not a bad bear, he just wants his hat back. He is polite and helpful and no one surely can blame him for anything that happens. If anything even happened at all. Which is doesn’t.

A fantastic beginning to a trilogy. It’s simple, yet clever, and it is certainly unexpected.

You can purchase I Want My Hat Back via the following

QBD | Booktopia | Book Depository

Dymocks | WorderyAngus and Robinson

 Fishpond | Amazon | Amazon Aust