Happy New Year & an SLS Best-of!

How on EARTH is it 2014 already?! It seems like only yesterday that we were setting up this little blog but time has whizzed by and it’s nearly five months old- yikes! We’d like to thank everyone who has read and commented in this time- we hope you’ve been enjoying our posts as much as we’ve enjoyed writing them!

Anyway- like everyone across the web, toward the end of last year we started to think about all of the books we’d encountered in 2013 and which of them we liked the most. This was in no way an easy task- as you can imagine, we see SO MANY BOOKS and most of them so brilliant that it was near impossible to select one or two (and as you can see, some of us found it harder than others). So with that in mind…behold, Norfolk SLS’s books of 2013, complete with our team’s thoughts on why they were great!

SLS Best 2013

Kirsten: Both of my fave books of 2013 are fantastically original, quirky, speculative fiction with engaging and richly rounded characters as well as danger and suspense… I found them both so gripping – I just had to know what happened!

Nikki Sheehan’s debut novel – Who Framed Klaris Cliff. Her blog is engaging and gives an insight into the author and what she is working on now…http://nikkisheehan.com/  twitter: @NicoletteShhh

Sally Gardner’s Maggot Moon… I also love the interactive website, which illustrates and shares some of the benefits of dyslexia… this was first published before 2013… but the version with the adult cover was published in Jan 2013 so it’s in my 2013 top 2 fave books! (nb. it also won the Carnegie Medal in 2013, so we’re allowing it for that reason too!)http://www.maggotmoon.com/ twitter: @TheSallyGardner

Gail: Troll Swap by Leigh Hogkinson. Shortlisted for the Roald Dahl funny prize, this is an entertaining read. Visually interesting, with fun characters and a moral message about being happy with who you are.

Moon Bear by Gill Lewis. Don’t be fooled by the cuddly bear on the cover! This is a moving and hard-hitting contemporary story about bears in Laos who are milked for their bile. Very engaging, some parts upsetting but, in the end, uplifting. Best for Y6 +.

Harriet: The Last Wild by Piers Torday An exciting adventure about the survival of the environment and the animals and plants which live in it.  It is down to the special skills of one boy to be the animals’ saviour, and in this first book he survives extraordinary adventures in pursuit of this quest.  Full of warmth and humour as well as action this is a great read for good readers.

In the Forest by Anouck Boisrobert and Louis Rigaud This is a pop-up of deceptively simple brilliance.  On each double page spread the rainforest gradually shrinks until there is nothing left.  A man plants seeds and it all grows again.  There are lots of small details to spot, including a sloth who seems impervious to all the destruction going on around him.  This is a most attractive way of looking at a serious topic. PS. Part of the author’s surname means ‘wood’ – is this a coincidence??

The Goldilocks Variations by Allan and Jessica Ahlberg         The illustrative style and approach of this gorgeous book takes us poignantly back to the Ahlbergs’ origins and the unforgettable detailed illustrations of Jessica’s mother Janet.  From the punning title to the rhyming blurb and everything sandwiched in between this is a gem which will delight children and adults alike.  It is full of typical Ahlberg word fun, plus flaps and a mini-book too.

Predators by Steve Parker An excellent value large hardback with dramatic photos and facts to thrill a young reader.  Each creature is given a top trumps-like score of various features.

Mandy: Weasels by Elys Dolan This picture book is a real hoot! Laugh out loud funny, it has a feel of a spoof James Bond, with (believe it or not!) Weasels set for world domination. This will suit any of your students with leanings towards engineering. It’s not for the youngest children though, too clever for tinies.

All the Truth That’s In Me, by Julie Berry A moving and involving book for Young Adults (13+) Set in an indeterminate time in the past in America, when prejudice and suspicion are commonplace, Judith has returned to her village after disappearing for 2 years- with her tongue cut out. Unable to speak she is shunned by everyone, including her own mother. When the village is attacked she has to choose whether to find her voice again.

 Apryl: 2013 was the year I joined SLS and it was also the year I decided to jump head first into the world of YA fiction- of the many books I devoured this year, I was particularly touched by CJ Flood’s Infinite Sky, and In Bloom by Matthew Crow. These books sensitively handled the themes of teenage romance and untimely death, and while a particular John Green book captured the hearts of everyone else across the world, I found it refreshing to discover the work of two British writers both of whom produced stunning debut novels with incredibly relatable teenage voices in settings much closer to home. In a complete contrast to those three emotive teen reads, I loved Matt Whyman’s The Savages about a family of cannibals who struggle to accept their daughter’s new-found vegetarianism.

Other books I enjoyed this year included the Carnegie shortlisted Wonder by RJ Palacio, Liar & Spy by Rebecca Stead which won the Guardian’s Children’s Fiction Prize and Lexiland by Suzi Moore, a brilliant story of a girl and her family struggling to come to terms with her twin sister’s death. I also spent a Saturday morning train journey totally losing myself in Laura Dockrill’s amazingly hilarious Darcy Burdock. Laura was booktrust’s online writer in residence for a large chunk of last year and her blog posts often filled my afternoons with total joy- I’m looking forward to book two, due this March!

Aaaaaaand, in 2013 I also discovered the work of Jon Klassen whose pairing with Lemony Snickett for The Dark was my favourite illustrated book of last year, though Levi Pinfold’s Greenaway-winning Black Dog also tugged at my heartstrings while Drew Daywalt’s The Day the Crayons Quit, illustrated by Oliver Jeffers, ensured that I’ll never look at a box of crayons in the same way ever again (especially poor overworked red!).

Caroline: I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen -Simple but distinctive illustrations accompany a silly story that can be enjoyed by young and old alike (we also liked This is Not My Hat too!)

Tony: Two from me- “The P.I.G series” by Barbara Catchpole and “The Diary of a” series by Shamini Flint, both series in the mould of the Wimpy Kids and good for reluctant boys.

What were your picks of 2013? Leave us a comment and us know!

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2 thoughts on “Happy New Year & an SLS Best-of!

  1. Some brilliant recommendations here! I also really enjoyed Laura Dockrill’s ‘Darcy Burdock’ and am very excited for the second installment next month.

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