Top Five Must-Reads Children’s Books of 2014

Written by on January 5th, 2015 // Filed under Erika Viktor, Uncategorized

Getting all gushy this snowy Monday morning because this post is about my top five favorite children’s book of 2014.

“What?” you cry in the dark. “Wasn’t 2014 soooo five days ago?”

Ahem, stop being a trender, okay?

Truth is, I read far more non-fiction boring-titled novels in 2014. Things with titles like: Structuralism and its impact on Western Germany and How to Bore Blog Readers in Just One Sentence.

Zzzzzzzzz….

Without further ado (what is, ado anyway? Sounds contagious), here are just five of my favorite children’s books of 2014!

 

MIDDLE GRADE CHAPTER BOOKS

howlesmovingcastleHowl’s Moving Castle

Sophie Hatter reads a great deal and soon realizes that as the eldest of three daughters she is doomed to an uninteresting future. She resigns herself to making a living as a hatter and helping her younger sisters prepare to make their fortunes. But adventure seeks her out in the shop where she sits alone, dreaming over her hats. The wicked Witch of the Waste, angered by “competition” in the area, turns her into a old woman, so she seeks refuge inside the strange moving castle of the wizard Howl. Howl, advertised by his apprentice as an eater of souls, lives a mad, frantic life trying to escape the curse the witch has placed on him, find the perfect girl of his dreams and end the contract he and his fire demon have entered. Sophie, against her best instincts and at first unaware of her own powers, falls in love. So goes this intricate, humorous and puzzling tale of fantasy and adventure which should both challenge and involve readers.

This classic by Diana Wynne Jones is just wacky, which is why I love it! Without leaning on the tropes of your usual Disney-fied fairy tails, Howel’s moving castle plays out in a more “Return to Oz” sort of way. Remember Return to Oz?

There was a surprising amount of humor in this book, something I always appreciate. But what I love even more is the lean toward darker themes—especially the character of Howl, who has been known to suck out the souls of girls and eat their hearts (anyone else had a boyfriend like that?)

Diana Wynne Jones has a truly unique imagination, and I am going to look for more of her books!

 

trueconfessionsofcharlottedoyleThe True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle

Thirteen-year-old Charlotte Doyle is excited to return home from her school in England to her family in Rhode Island in the summer of 1832.

But when the two families she was supposed to travel with mysteriously cancel their trips, Charlotte finds herself the lone passenger on a long sea voyage with a cruel captain and a mutinous crew. Worse yet, soon after stepping aboard the ship, she becomes enmeshed in a conflict between them! What begins as an eagerly anticipated ocean crossing turns into a harrowing journey, where Charlotte gains a villainous enemy . . . and is put on trial for murder!

What a fun surprise this book was! An adventure story of the highest caliber! There is mutiny, an evil captain, murder and a 13-year-old girl sentenced to walk the plank!

I loved so much about this book. I loved how Charlotte had to grow as a character—from a slightly spoiled rule-follower, to a free-thinking woman of the open sea. I love the terrible situation she gets in—stuck on a ship where everyone hates her and no one trusts her. Talk about rock and a hard place! Most especially, I think it has one of the finest endings in children’s literature since The Giver.

I have been a big fan of Avi forever. I think he’s a workhorse, who really puts a ton of heart into his writing. I comment regularly on his blog entitled wordcraft.

 

PICTURE BOOKS

duckdeathtulipDuck, Death and the Tulip

In this beautifully illustrated story, a duck strikes up an unlikely friendship with Death.

This is such a weird little book. When I first read it through I was all “Whaaa?” But then I read it again. Okay, I cried on it again. Then I was really like “Whaaa!” Anyway,  the message is wonderful and dark. There is an inevitability to death that we all must face and the duck decides to be kind to death. In a way it’s a humbling book but will also make you think. Is this appropriate for children? Yes! Children wonder about death. They are generally not afraid of it, like we are, but they are confronted with it.

 

 

CaptureddBlue Chameleon

Chameleon can turn himself into anything and appear to fit in anywhere, but it seems that neither the swirly snail, the green grasshopper nor the striped sock want to be friends. Will he ever find someone to talk to? Someone just like him?

With a subtle and witty interplay between words and illustrations this introduction to colors and shapes (and chameleons!) is sure to delight kids of all ages.

Such a simple book, but what a lovely concept! Emily Gravett uses shapes and colors to tell the story of a lonely little Chameleon who just wants to find someone like himself. The artwork is wonderful.

 

inthewildIn the Wild

From the lion standing alone on the African Savannah to the panda in a bamboo forest, from the rhinoceros with its boot-like face to the Arctic polar bear disappearing in the snow, the earth is full of curious and wonderful animals, each more extraordinary than the next. David Elliott’s pithy, lyrical verse and Holly Meade’s stunning woodcut and watercolor illustrations reveal a world of remarkable beauty and wonder — and offer an enticing introduction to both favorite animals and poetic forms.

Not only is the rhyming prose just fantastic, but I had a crush on this book the moment I found out it was printed with original woodcuts!

Woodcuts, people!

That means Holly Meade carved each illustration out herself. I was devastated when I head she died, but her work lives on in this gorgeous, well-written book! Here are some page examples which are exquisite works of art:

in-the-wild-orang-520x292 in-the-wild-wolf-520x292

That’s it!  If you would like to see the character-revealing truth of what I read this year, please visit me on Goodreads.

Please share your favorite books of 2014!

3 Responses to “Top Five Must-Reads Children’s Books of 2014”

  1. The Charlotte Doyle one sounds like it’s for big kids as well. Gonna check it out!

    Posted by Alex CespedesReply
    • I yeah. I couldn’t put it down. I had to see how she solved her issue. Its a very quick read too! :)

      Posted by erikaviktorReply

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