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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Giraffe Problems by Jory John

Published: 25th September 2018Goodreads badge
Publisher:
Random House Books
Illustrator: Lane Smith
Pages: 42
Format: Picture Book
★   ★   ★   ★   ★  – 5 Stars

Can you guess what’s making this giraffe self-conscious? Could it be…HIS ENORMOUS NECK Yes, it’s exactly that–how on earth did you figure it out?

Edward the giraffe can’t understand why his neck is as long and bendy and, well, ridiculous as it is. No other animal has a neck this absurd. He’s tried disguising it, dressing it up, strategically hiding it behind bushes–honestly, anything you can think of, he’s tried.

Jory John is back with another fabulous book. Giraffe Problems is a brilliant book that much like Penguin Problems, has a giraffe who is unhappy with his absurdly long neck. This seems to be his only problem, but John explores this singular issue with humour and style.

The narrative is hilarious. The short sentences and the quick words sound just like the complaints of the key character, all beautifully presented in and around Smith’s illustrations. There are no rhymes, but you don’t need them as John writes a great story that reads like a funny list of complaints and grievances by Edward and the annoyance as he interacts with those around him.

There are more words to the story as it goes on and you see how this poor giraffe has tried to cope with his long, long, super necky neck. There are beautiful moments too and I loved the interactions with all the various animals he comes across.

Smith’s illustrations deserve attention on their own. The dark earthy colours on the page bring out the feeling of nature and the expressions and actions on the animals are realistic but have a comical tone as well. The design of each page enhances the story because it makes you move your eyes around to follow the words, or rotate the book or open a flap. It adds another level of interaction beyond only reading the words on the page.

I loved the surprises at the end, sweet but still having that humour seen throughout. It is a wonderful example of understanding the benefits to being different and what may be a problem for you, may be a solution to someone else. I love Penguin Problems and I am a huge fan of Giraffe Problems as well. I am looking forward to seeing what other ideas John comes up with because I’m sure it will just as delightful.

You can purchase Giraffe Problems via the following

QBD | Booktopia | Book Depository

Dymocks | WorderyAngus and Robinson

 Fishpond | Amazon | Amazon Aust

Penguin Problems by Jory John

Published: 27th September 2016Goodreads badge
Publisher:
 Random House Books for Young Readers
Illustrator: Lane Smith
Pages: 32
Format: Hardcover Picture Book
★   ★   ★   ★   ★  – 5 Stars

What?!

Oh, you’re going to read this book? Somehow I seriously doubt that. I bet you won’t even finish reading this flap. 

Don’t worry about it. Why would you want to learn about some penguin’s problems when you have plenty of problems of your own? Just look around. The world’s a mess!

Besides, you probably don’t even like penguins. Heck, I barely like penguins and I am a penguin.

Seriously, I’ll understand if you put the book back on the shelf. Go ahead. It’s for the best. 

I’m sure you’d just get a bunch of paper cuts, anyway. And you’d probably bend the pages. And you’d get your little fingerprints everywhere.

When was the last time you washed those grubby hands of yours? No offense.

Sigh.

Listen: I’m going back to bed. Read, don’t read. Buy, don’t buy. Whatever. 

Just try not to wake me up. 

I’m a light sleeper. 

And I have a lot on my mind.

The first cute thing about this book is the front cover. The second cute thing is the little blurb on the inside of the cover. I was in love with this book before I’d even gotten to the title page to find out what it was even called. The book is in fact called Penguin Problems and it is fantastic! I fell deeper in love with Smith’s beautiful little illustrations, they are simple and yet convey so much at the same time. I felt the hardships of this little penguin and I loved him for that.

The little penguin complains about the cold, about how his beak is cold and it gets dark. He has problems like orca and leopard seals and he doesn’t know who his mum and dad are. I adored this little penguin who complained so much. It is a funny book that make me laugh multiple times. The words are simple but they tell a story and the illustrations make the experience even more fulfilling,

The illustrations are a combination of single images and large full page ones. Smith balances these out wonderfully to match the needs of the story. The single image of a penguin lying on his back on a small mound of snow is the perfect representation for the start of the book.

Another thing I loved about this book is that it doesn’t go where you expect it to. I wasn’t expecting to read about a penguin who hated the cold, and as I read on there were more surprises and by the end even when you think you know where it’s going, you don’t. I loved that in this picture book that has so few words and so few pages that this great little journey could be gone on so successfully and with such wonderful humour and cuteness.

You can purchase Penguin Problems via the following

Booktopia | Book Depository

Amazon | Amazon Aust | Wordery

Angus & Robertson | Dymocks

Fishpond | QBD