Marta’s Top 10 of 2019
by Ame Dyckeman
This book came out relatively early in the year and became a go-to for me with my Pre-K friends. It has that perfect blend of sweet and silly. The humor is also layered in a way that even gets the adults in the room to chuckle. Sweetie has become completely enamored with the lone dandelion on Daddy’s otherwise perfect lawn. She has even given it a name! Daddy and his friends keep looking for opportunities to get rid of Charlotte the dandelion, but each time Daddy is thwarted. This book has plenty of laughs to share but a sweet ending that will make anyone smile.
by Mac Barnett
A good picture book biography will win me over every time, but this one stood out above the rest. Through Barnett’s word choice and delivery, it feels like reading a book by the famous author herself. Of course, he adds his own subtle humor but the heartfelt narrative and deep respect for the struggles the children’s author went through come through beautifully. Coupled with the beautiful illustrations by Sarah Jacoby, this book gave me a whole new appreciation for Margaret Wise Brown.
by Jen Wang
Christine and Moon are unlikely best friends. Christine is very studious and somewhat reserved. Moon is an artistic free-spirit… who sometimes beats people up. Despite their differences, these two neighbors soon become best friends and serve as the Yin to the others Yang. So when jealousy, pressure from parents and friends, celestial beings, and illness try to come between them, can their friendship stand strong?
by Yamile Saied Méndez
The sweet pictures in this story drew me in but Méndez’ words captured me. This story is about a little girl who is asked by classmates and peers where she is from. She says from here but that isn’t enough for them and they continue to push asking where she is really from. The child turns to her abuelo who answers her question with an answer that is unexpected but absolutely perfect. A sweet story that is great for one on one reads or a group read aloud.
by John Hutton
Board books are sometimes an overlooked category on the Top 10 but this one was a stand out this year! Not only are the illustrations charming, they are also wonderfully inclusive and diverse. The simple story speaks to the grown-ups of the very young who struggle to share books with their babies the “right” way. This book reinforces the fact that there is NO right way. The important thing is to sit down together and spend time not just with each other but with the book. Whether it is looking at the pictures and pointing out things you see, reading a page here and there as your little one will sit for it, or graduating to reading the whole book (and then reading it again!) this book encourages kids and parents to keep opening the books together and making those memories.
by Padma Venkatraman
Dealing with heavy hitting subjects like abuse, neglect and homelessness, this book is heartbreaking but also incredibly uplifting. Through tragic circumstances Viji, Rukku, Muthi and Arul find themselves homeless on the streets on Chennai in India. The sisters Viji and Rukku are new to life on the streets, but quickly find a home with Muthi and Arul, who are able to show them how to survive. With a stray dog in the mix too, these four quickly form a familial bond. Though there is tension and heartbreak in this story there is also humor and so much hope. The author has created a vivid world for these characters and doesn’t shy away from tough topics while also not being too graphic for the age it is intended. The chapters are short but pack a punch so this book would be an awesome read aloud.
by Isabel Quintero
Daisy loves getting to zoom through her neighborhood on the back of her father’s motorcycle. As they ride, she is excited to see people and places that make this her home. She can’t help but noticing that some things in her neighborhood are changing though. Despite these changes, he knows she can count on the love of her dad and family and the memories of her neighborhood as she knew it. The illustrations in this book
by Renée Watson
Amara is excited for the opportunity to travel to New York to meet her father’s family and see where he grew up. Sadly, New York isn’t quite what she imagined. Her father and grandfather don’t speak to each other. Amara is trying to figure out this new found family and how she fits in and why things are the way they are. Filled with heart, this story is about a young girl trying to connect to her roots and find out who she really is.
by Celia C. Pérez
I knew the second I saw this book’s epigraph was from the novella The Body, which the movie Stand By Me was based on, that it was going to be amazing, and it didn’t disappoint! The four protagonists all come together after a mysterious invitiation to join a new secret group, bringing their own secrets with them. Though they seem almost too different, they soon form friendships and find a cause: fighting an out-dated and unethical tradition held by another group in their town. This book combines mystery, humor, adventure, and the ups and downs that come with new friendships. It reads pretty fast with short chapters that often rotate through the perspectives of the different characters.
And tied for first…
by Julie Murphy
If you have read any of Murphy’s previous YA titles (Dumplin’, Puddin‘), you know her writing is warm, with a lot of heart and the right dose of humor. Dear Sweet Pea is her middle grade debut that offers all of those same qualities I’ve come to love about this author’s voice. Sweet Pea is dealing with a lot. On the home front, her parents are divorcing. At school, there are social issues with her ex best friend and the fact that, well, Sweet Pea isn’t exactly the smallest person in her class. Things take an interesting turn for Sweet Pea when the reclusive advise columnist who lives next door asks Sweet Pea to forward her mail to her, but instead she starts responding to the letters herself! This sweet, spunky, warm protagonist had me rooting for her from the get go.
by Elizabeth Acevedo
Talk about outside my comfort zone! When I dive into YA fiction I usually gravitate towards fantasy. This book created such a buzz in the book world though, I had to read it even though it is realistic fiction. Emoni is not your typical Senior. Emoni has a a two-year old daughter at home to think about and an abuela who needs her. She works, gets good grades, is an excellent mom and granddaughter, and is also an AMAZING cook. It’s almost like magic. She knows just what to add to make a recipe pop, creating a one-of-a-kind experience for whoever is eating it. When she is given the opportunity to take a culinary arts class that includes a chance to study abroad, she is eager but also weary. Money on a trip means less money at home and time away from her baby girl, but it also means the chance to be a “normal” teenager, even if only for two weeks. Emoni is always having to make decisions and take on responsibilities well beyond her years based on the needs of the ones she loves. She takes her responsibilities seriously and this trip breaks all the rules she has set for herself, but breaking free could be exactly what she needs to find herself where she is meant to be. This book is beautifully written, authentic, and includes recipes.