Here is a link to my Top Ten Books of 2008 for children and teens. The list was due in mid-October, and of course two months later, I’ve read many other fine books. It really makes me wonder how valid anyone’s Top Ten truly is. For me, it’s a snapshot of what I had read so far that I loved, but also wanting the list to have some balance between the different ages, styles, authors, and even publishers. Without taking anything away from any of the books on my list, which I stand by as wonderful choices, here are some others that could just as easily made it onto this year’s list:
1. Bog Child by Siobhan Dowd. I didn’t hurry to try to read this because I knew I really wanted to include Dowd’s London Eye Mystery, but this one is at least as good, it turns out. What an astonishingly well-woven story.
2. The Underneath by Kathi Appelt. This is a strong contender for the Newbery, with its gorgeous use of language and amazing reworking of the selkie tradition in folklore. I listened to it instead of reading it, an especially nice way to appreciate the lyrical passages.
3. Wave by Suzy Lee. What a satisfying depiction of the way a child interacts with the ocean! Since my fellow Top Ten-er Dave already included it on his list I didn’t put it on mine, but it’s a huge favorite.
4. The Little Bit Scary People by Emily Jenkins. Children are so often frightened by people and their eccentricities, and this playful reminder of how even scary-looking people might kiss their cats and dance with their children is likely to help kids not to judge quite so quickly.
5. Impossible by Nancy Werlin. This lush, romantic, and very smart novel about generations of women who give birth at age 18 and then go crazy is a great choice to offer the Twilight crowd, and a great introduction to a very fine young adult author.
That’s just a few more favorites that happen to strike me tonight! I have a feeling by the time I’ve finished Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book, that would make the alternate list as well. You may notice that the second Octavian Nothing isn’t on my list, but that’s no reflection on the book. Instead it means that the first one was so heart-wrenching that I keep chickening out and picking other books to start instead! It has been an incredible year for young adult novels. The other significant omission are any of the books that might be eligible for the Geisel Award for the best book for beginning readers. I’ll have more to say about those in late January.