Top 20 Books of 2014: 15-11
#20-16 | #15-11 | #10-6 | #5-1
15. Shh! We Have a Plan by Chris Haughton [Candlewick Press | Grades PreK-1]
With its combination of suspense and broad humor, Shh! We Have a Plan plays like the best Chuck Jones Merrie Melodies cartoon that never happened. You can practically hear the symphony setting the sonic scene as a bumbling crew of thieves (save one) take to the woods to capture a colorful bird. They’re good at the sneaking part, but the catching eludes them until the smallest and smartest member of the band tries an easier, and all too effective, approach. Perfectly paced and incredibly efficient, it’s a book where everything feels essential.
14. Number One Sam by Greg Pizzoli [Disney-Hyperion | Grades PreK-1]
Being number one is often overrated. Sure if you work hard at something and succeed, it’s an earned pleasure – the definition of rewarding. But trying and failing is just as important. Sam is used to being number one on the racetrack. What happens when he isn’t anymore? It’s a simple question, but one that cuts to the core of what it means to be part of a human race where comparison is a fact of life. Through delightfully bold and bright illustrations, Greg Pizzoli shows that sometimes last place can mean more than first..
13. Louise Loves Art by Kelly Light [Balzer & Bray (HarperCollins) | Grades K-2]
Ask a group of school librarians how much energy goes into selecting the first read-aloud of a new school year and they will likely tell you HOURS AND HOURS. Thoughts about selecting the first read-aloud seep into dreams and chatter away while driving to the local teacher supply store for the third time within a week. Sometimes we get lucky and a picture book screams out, “Read me on the first day of school. I’m the perfect choice for kindergarten through fifth grade. Every grade level will have plenty to discuss, think about, and appreciate. You and your students will talk about me for the entire school year.” Louise Loves Art was one of those books that spoke to me. Louise looked up at me and said, “Mr. Schu, you’re going to read my story to all your classes, right? I think I will inspire them to look at things differently. Plus, I think they will dig my red glasses.” I looked down at Louise and said, “Yes, Louise! You had me at ‘I love art. It is my imagination on the outside.’ Your passion and positive energy are perfect for kicking off a new school year.”
12. The Fourteenth Goldfish by Jennifer L. Holm [Random House | Grades 3-6]
With The Fourteenth Goldfish, Holm steps out of historical fiction and bring us a quirky, heartfelt novel that is thoroughly modern. It’s told from the perspective of Ellie, an 11-year-old girl confronted with the confounding news that her grandfather is now her classmate. How did this happen? Can this age reversal be reversed? A fountain of youth story for the 21st century.
11. A Snicker of Magic by Natalie Lloyd [Scholastic Press | Grades 3-6]
A Snicker of Magic should come with six colorful warning stickers.
Warning: You’re about to enter Midnight Gulch. You will consume copious amounts of blackberry ice cream.
Warning: Fantabulous words like spindiddly, zippity, luminous, factofabulous, and splendiferous will pour out of your mouth multiple times per day.
Warning: “I want to become a word-collector like Felicity Pickle,” will run through your head.
Warning: Stock up on highlighters.
Warning: The Beedle’s passion and kind heart will motivate you to pay it forward.
Warning: Felicity’s story will stay with you long after you read the last page.
A Snicker of Magic belongs in every elementary and middle school collection. Buy it. Gift it. Share it.
#20-16 | #15-11 | #10-6 | #5-1
About Travis Jonker
Travis Jonker is an elementary school librarian in Michigan. He writes reviews (and the occasional article or two) for School Library Journal and is a member of the 2014 Caldecott committee. You can email Travis at firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow him on Twitter: @100scopenotes.
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