Notable Children’s Books of 2013

 

YOUNG ADULT

Stephen Savage

 

BOXERS and SAINTSWritten and illustrated by Gene Luen Yang. (First Second, $18.99 and $15.99.) In these companion graphic novels, Yang, a Michael L. Printz Award winner, tackles the complicated history of China’s Boxer Rebellion, using characters with opposing perspectives to explore the era’s politics and religion.

ELEANOR & PARKBy Rainbow Rowell. (St. Martin’s Griffin, $18.99.) A misfit girl from an abusive home and a Korean-American boy from a happy one bond over music and comics on the school bus in this novel, which our reviewer, John Green, said “reminded me not just what it’s like to be young and in love with a girl, but also what it’s like to be young and in love with a book.”

FANGIRLBy Rainbow Rowell. (St. Martin’s Griffin, $18.99.) In her second Y.A. novel published in 2013, Rowell cleverly interweaves the story of an introverted girl’s freshman year in college — and first romance — with the “Harry Potter”-like fan fiction she writes in her spare time.

THE 5TH WAVEBy Rick Yancey. (Putnam, $18.99.) Yancey’s wildly entertaining novel, in which aliens come to Earth, manages the elusive trick of appealing to young readers and adults alike.

PICTURE ME GONEBy Meg Rosoff. (Putnam, $17.99.) Mila, a young Londoner with an uncanny gift for empathy, accompanies her father to upstate New York to search for his best friend. Questions of honesty and trust are central to this novel, a ­National Book Award finalist.

THE RITHMATISTBy Brandon Sanderson. Illustrated by Ben McSweeney. (Tor/Tom Doherty, $17.99.) A boy longs to join a magical cadre defending humanity against merciless “chalklings” in this fantasy, set in an alternate version of ­America.

ROSE UNDER FIREBy Elizabeth Wein. (Hyperion, $17.99.) In Wein’s second World War II adventure novel — the first, “Code Name Verity,” was highly praised last year — Rose, 18, an American transport pilot and aspiring poet, struggles to survive in a women’s concentration camp after her plane is grounded in Germany.

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MIDDLE GRADE

BETTER NATE THAN EVERBy Tim Federle. (Simon & Schuster, $16.99.) A 13-year-old escapes to New York for a Broadway audition in this debut novel, described by Patrick Healy in The New York Times as “a twinkling adventure tale for the musical theater set.”

THE CATS OF TANGLEWOOD FORESTBy Charles de Lint. Illustrated by Charles Vess. (Little, Brown, $17.99.) A young girl whose life is saved when magical cats ­transform her into a kitten learns there are consequences to playing with time and fate.

FLORA AND ULYSSES: The Illuminated AdventuresBy Kate DiCamillo. Illustrated by K. G. Campbell. (Candlewick, $17.99.) A freak accident with a vacuum cleaner turns an ordinary squirrel into a super­hero in this madcap chapter book by the author of “Because of Winn-Dixie” and “The Miraculous Journey of Edward ­Tulane.”

HERO ON A BICYCLEBy Shirley Hughes. (Candlewick, $15.99.) In this first novel by the award-winning picture-book author and illustrator, a family in Nazi-occupied Florence aids the partisans.

MY HAPPY LIFEBy Rose Lagercrantz. ­Illustrated by Eva Eriksson. (Gecko, $16.95.)In her review on NYTimes.com, Pamela Paul described this chapter book, about a kindergartner’s experience of starting school, as “one of those joyous rarities: a book about girls who are neither infallible nor pratfall-prone, but who are instead very real.”

THE TRUE BLUE SCOUTS OF SUGAR MAN SWAMPBy Kathi Appelt. (Atheneum, $16.99.) In a swamp near the Gulf of Mexico, raccoon brothers search for the yeti-like Sugar Man, who, if awakened, can help save their home from becoming a theme park. Our reviewer, Lisa Von Drasek, said Appelt’s “mastery of pacing and tone makes for wonderful reading aloud.”

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PICTURE BOOKS

AFRICA IS MY HOME: A Child of the AmistadBy Monica Edinger. Illustrated by Robert Byrd. (Candlewick, $17.99.) A West African girl, on board the Amistad when older slaves take over the ship, has a long journey back to her homeland.

THE BEAR’S SONG. Written and illustrated by Benjamin Chaud. (Chronicle, $17.99.)A bear cub chases a bee into the Paris opera house while his father struggles to find him amid the amusing distractions of Chaud’s busy scenes.

BLUEBIRDWritten and illustrated by Bob Staake. (Schwartz & Wade, $17.99.) In this wordless tale of a bullied boy and the bird who helps him, Staake, creator of “The Red Lemon,” has drawn a book of true beauty with a bittersweet ending.

THE BOY WHO LOVED MATH: The Improbable Life of Paul ErdosBy Deborah Heiligman. Illustrated by LeUyen Pham. (Roaring Brook, $17.99.) A picture-book ­biography of Erdos, the eccentric Hungarian-born mathematician.

BUILDING OUR HOUSEWritten and illustrated by Jonathan Bean. (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $17.99.) A true tale of homesteader parents in the 1970s.

THE DARKBy Lemony Snicket. Illustrated by Jon Klassen. (Little, Brown, $16.99.) A little boy and the darkness he fears reach a detente in this just-spooky-enough story, a New York Times Best Illustrated award winner.

FOG ISLANDWritten and illustrated by Tomi Ungerer. (Phaidon, $16.95.) In this Times Best Illustrated award winner, storm-tossed siblings wash ashore on a forbidden island off the coast of Ireland.

HILDA AND THE BIRD PARADEWritten and illustrated by Luke Pearson. (Flying Eye/NoBrow, $24.) In this graphic novel, a blue-haired girl named Hilda feels out of place in urban Tolberg, until an amnesiac raven helps her settle in.

JOURNEYWritten and illustrated by ­Aaron Becker. (Candlewick, $15.99.) A lonely girl draws a red door on her bedroom wall and enters a lushly detailed imaginary world.

MR. WUFFLES! Written and illustrated by David Wiesner. (Clarion, $17.99.) A house cat does battle with space aliens in this wordless picture book by Wiesner, a winner of three Caldecott Medals.

SOMETHING BIGBy Sylvie Neeman. ­Illustrated by Ingrid Godon. (Enchanted Lion, $16.95.) A little boy, frustrated by his desire to do something significant, and his father, who wants to help him, find a new perspective at the seashore.

THIS IS THE ROPE: A Story From the Great MigrationBy Jacqueline Woodson. Illustrated by James Ransome. (Nancy Paulsen/Penguin, $16.99.) The multiple Newbery Honor winner Woodson uses a common household item to reflect one family’s experience of the Great Migration.

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