Happy New Year to all our readers! I hope you’ve had a lovely break and are feeling refreshed and ready for 2016? Well, as ready as you can feel after over-indulging on the excesses of Christmas.
Now that 2015 is over, I’m going to have a look back and let you know which books I really enjoyed reading last year and would like to recommend. I could have put even more but the list was getting quite lengthy so if you think I have missed off an essential book, let me know by commenting on the post. I would love to hear your favourites too and I often pick up on some titles that slipped past me by talking to our students and staff. A recent example of this was a book recommended by a student (thanks Katie!) called The Tiger Rising by Kate DiCamillo (Walker) which I love but completely missed in 2014. But it’s 2015 books we’re talking about here so here are my favourites from last year:
Novels for older readers (Ages 13+)
One by Sarah Crossan (Bloomsbury). The story of conjoined twins told in free verse.
The Door That Led to Where by Sally Gardner (Hot Key). Modern and Victorian London time travel mystery featuring contemporary urban teenagers and family secrets.
Half Wild by Sally Green (Penguin). The second book in the fantasy thriller series about good and bad witches and one boy who falls in-between.
The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge (Macmillan Children’s). Highly original gothic Victorian thriller woven around Darwinian science and magic.
Seed by Lisa Heathfield (Egmont). The arrival of a boy from the outside leads a naive teenage girl to start questioning her life in a male-dominated cult.
Only Ever Yours by Louise O’Neill (Quercus). Thought-provoking story described as Mean Girls vs. The Handmaid’s Tale; a very apt parallel.
Fiction for younger readers (Ages 7-12)
Harry Miller’s Run by David Almond and Salvatore Rubbino (ill.) (Walker). Short story set around the memories of an old man and a young boy training for the Great North Run in Newcastle.
An Island of Their Own by Sally Nicholls (Scholastic). A classic adventure quest story where children use modern technology to solve clues to a treasure hunt.
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (illustrated edition) by JK Rowling and Jim Kay (ill.) (Bloomsbury). This lavishly illustrated version takes you away from the films and back to the books. Almost like reading the story again for the first time.
The Wolf Wilder by Katherine Rundell (Bloomsbury). A thrilling story set in Russia about wolf wilders, people who train domesticated wolves to be wild again.
My Name’s Not Friday by Jon Walter (David Fickling). The compelling story of Samuel, a boy sold into slavery during the American Civil War.
Bronze and Sunflower by Cao Wenxuan (Walker). The story of a young Chinese girl from the city who moves to a rural village where she befriends a young boy who is unable to speak.
Katy by Jacqueline Wilson (Puffin). A modern re-telling of Susan Coolidge’s What Katy Did, featuring an outgoing girl who has a life-changing accident.
Where’s the Elephant? by Barroux (Egmont). A deceptively simple book which introduces deforestation to a young audience.
The Little Black Fish by Samad Benrangi (Tiny Owl). A allegorical tale of a curious fish who ventures from his safe home to the wild sea. This has been a classic tale in Iran for many years.
The Girl With the Parrot on her Head by Daisy Hirst (Walker). An original look at the worries and coping strategies of a young girl.
Here I Am by Patti Kim (Curious Fox). A wordless picture book depicting how a young boy adapts to his family’s move to a foreign country.
Footpath Flowers by JonArno Lawson (Walker). A wordless book depicting a young girl’s walk home and the small wonders she experiences.
Greenling by Levi Pinfold (Templar). A modern ecological fable featuring Pinfold’s usual stunning artwork
One Thing by Lauren Child (Orchard). A story about maths featuring Charlie and Lola. A winning combination.
Take Away the A by Michaël Escoffier (Andersen). A playful alphabet book which shows how words can be transformed by the removal of a single letter.
Eddie’s Tent and How to Go Camping by Sarah Garland (Frances Lincoln). This story of a family camping trip is paired with information on basic survival skills such as cooking outside, how to build shelters, read maps and tie knots.
The Story of Britain by Mick Manning and Brita Granstrom (ill.) (Franklin Watts). A wonderfully laid-out and interesting introduction to the history of Britain by an excellent team.
Finding Winnie by Lindsay Mattick and Sophie Blackall (Orchard). The story of the real bear who inspired Winnie-the-Pooh told through a mix of storytelling and primary sources.
Over and Under the Snow by Kate Messner (Chronicle). A beautifully illustrated book contrasting animal habitats under the snow with a child exploring above the snow.
Human Body Theater by Maris Wicks (First Second). A complex subject is broken down in this fantastic graphic novel style non-fiction book about the body. And it’s funny!
What were your favourites books of 2015?