After reading dozens of books in the past year, we have decided to highlight the most memorable titles we encountered in 2014. Some are newly released, others old favorites, but all of them worthwhile. Links to our original reviews are provided when possible. We hope you and your children enjoy them as much as we did. For a complete list of our recommendations, please see the links in the right-hand column under “our picks”.
Inspirational Story of the Year
Jane’s choice: The Boy on the Wooden Box by Leon Leysen- A true story about a boy who acted on instinct to be with his mother while in the Nazi camps.
Jennifer’s choice: The Hen Who Dreamed She Could Fly by Sun-mi Hwang – A simple yet profound tale of parental love and acceptance.
Ideal Read-Aloud Picture Book
Jane’s choice: The Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle- A simple and effective story about a caterpillar that likes to eat and its transformation into a butterfly.
Jennifer’s choice: Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star by Jerry Pinkney – Dreamy drawings make this a wonderful bedtime story.
Illustrations are Worth 1,000 Words Award
Jane’s choice: Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site by Sherri Duskey Rinker, illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld – A New York Times Bestseller many times over with wonderful emotive illustrations for little ones.
Jennifer’s choice: Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe, illustrated by N.C. Wyeth – Isn’t any book illustrated by N.C. Wyeth a winner?
Most Endearing Hero(ine)
Jane’s choice: Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery – Anne is wonderfully subversive and intelligent whilst not losing her romantic and soulful imagination.
Jennifer’s choice: The Mister Max Series by Cynthia Voigt – Max Starling demonstrates compassion and ingenuity as he solves other people’s problems.
Favorite Re-discovered Classic
Jane’s choice: The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame – Reminds readers old and young of the joy of being a child, of ‘simply messing about in boats.’
Jennifer’s choice: Little Women by Louisa May Alcott – Is there a finer example of human nature and virtue in children’s literature?
Aesop Award for Valuable Lessons
Jane’s choice: Today We Have No Plans by Jane Godwin – A valuable lesson about relaxation and building family bonds by occasionally staying at home together with no schedules, no plans!
Jennifer’s choice: The Castle Corona by Sharon Creech – Every character learns something about himself and the world in this well-developed fable.
Jane’s choice: Horrid Henry Shows Who’s Boss by Francesca Simon – Can anyone get more horrid than the amusing character of Horrid Henry?!!
Jennifer’s choice: The Kingdom of Patria Series by Daniel McInerny – Filled with wit and spunk, these hilarious adventures beg for a sequel.
Blood is Thicker Than Water Award
Jane’s choice: My Cousin’s Keeper by Simon French- Cousins at loggerheads eventually learn to get on together and look out for each other.
Jennifer’s choice: The Lost Kingdom by Matthew J. Kirby – A young teenage boy learns that his father is not perfect but still worthy of respect and admiration.
Book I’m Most Likely to Read Again
Jane’s choice: The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett – In our rushing world of concrete and block, this book can be dipped into again and again for peace and wonder.
Jennifer’s choice: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak – A book this deep requires more than one reading.