Best of 2013: Children’s/Middle Grades/Young Adult Books

December 27, 2013 § Leave a comment

2013 Children’s/Middle Grades/Young Adult Books Read

Kate DiCamillo, Flora & Ulysses
Alaya Dawn Johnson, The Summer Prince
Gene Yuen Yang, Boxers/Saints
Meg Rosoff, Picture Me Gone
Cynthia Kadohata, The Thing About Luck
Kathi Appelt, The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp
Tom McNeal, Far Far Away

I have not read much in the way of children’s, middle grades, or young adult literature this year (I do, however, believe it is better to divide the “YA” category into more specific categories, as a book intended for a 9 year-old will differ significantly in some aspects from one oriented more to teen readers).  In fact, all of my reading comes from the National Book Award longlist for Young People’s Literature (or 7/10 of the books on that longlist), but that does not mean that I shouldn’t at least acknowledge some of the excellent works released in the past year.  Almost all of these seven works I would recommend readily to young readers (the only exception is The Summer Prince, toward which I had slightly mixed reactions) and if I had the time, I would use many of them in my classroom.  While it was difficult to pare it down to three favorites that I thought were among the year’s best in the field (or at least the tiny sliver of 2013 YA/MG/Ju. lit that I’ve read; feel free to suggest alternatives in the comments), here are the ones that moved me the most:

3.  Kate DiCamillo, Flora & Ulysses

OK, it does star a superheroic squirrel, but I could see me enjoying this work immensely if I were about 9 or 10 today.  See linked review for more on the book and why I loved it.

2.  Cynthia Kadohata, The Thing About Luck

This book about a Japanese-American farming family and their trials and tribulations was a deserving winner of the 2013 National Book Award for Young People’s Literature.  The characters and setting are fully realized and the story contains a subtle yet powerful twist toward the end that made it a joy to read.

1.  Gene Luen Yang, Boxers/Saints

Yes, Yang’s graphic novel duology makes its second appearance on one of my year-end lists (and it will appear again before the 31st).  It is that good.  See linked review for more details.


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