School holidays and a very busy Seven Stories have kept me away from blogging for a little while, something I’d like to rectify, so I thought I’d break my writing fast with my first Top Ten Tuesday post.
Top Ten Tuesday was started by the lovely folks at The Broke and the Bookish and as I’m a fan of both books and lists, this works out quite well!
This week: Top Ten Books I Recommend The Most
Working where I do, talking about and recommending books is one of the essential and most enjoyable parts of the job. While it’s mainly YA fiction that I read in my own time, I end up recommending books across a variety of age ranges, so thought I’d reflect that in the list.
In no particular order:
1. Viviane Schwarz – There are Cats in This Book. One of my all time ‘go-to’ books for story time at work, this is just genius. While the art of page turning is an integral part of any picture book, this one takes it to another level. The titular cats encourage the reader through their adventures both forwards and backwards through the book, prompting interaction throughout. It’s packed with quirky humour and bright colours, and is a great reminder that READING IS FUN!
2. Mo Willems – Elephant and Piggie (series). From the man who won Emmy awards for his writing on Sesame Street during my pre-school era, a brilliant series for ‘developing readers’ (our term of choice in the workplace for those first read-on-your-own books). Made up entirely of the dialogue between the two complementary lead characters, these books are bright, perfect in their simplicity, and just so funny. Gerald (the elephant) is one of my favourite characters in fiction.
3. Mark Walden – HIVE (series). Documenting the adventures of Otto Malpense at The Higher Institute of Villainous Education, this series is my classic recommendation for boys/tomboys/non-reader of classics who are looking for a series to fill that Harry Potter/Artemis Fowl/Stormbreaker void. There’s aweseome technology and battles a-plenty, plus some strongly-written friendships that aren’t quite as villainous as you’d expect. Book 8 is due out this year sometime, I can’t wait to read it.
4. Patrick Ness – Chaos Walking trilogy. My favourite set of books, I’ll recommend this to anyone I can – I’ve even acquired ‘reading/lending’ copies over the years as I share this with people. The most breathtaking, compelling, captivating story, that I felt genuinely bereft once I’d finished the last book and the series came to an end. Years on, I still can’t quite do the books justice in words, but I think the body language and enthusiasm in my voice does the trick every time. If I was putting together a Louise ‘starter pack’, these would most certainly be in there. For actual sensical (beautifully written) words that summarise my views on the trilogy (and make me feel a little jealous), check out the reviews at Books Time and Silence
5. Alex T. Smith – Claude. A step on from the likes of Elephant and Piggie, this series is aimed at more confident readers, but those who still enjoy a helping of illustrations with their stories. Claude is a dog, a dog who wears a beret, a dog whose best friend goes by the name of Sir Bobblysock (and is indeed, a bobbly sock). The series is filled with unlikely adventures, hilarious gags, and the kind of utter ridiculousness that has me laughing out loud when I read the books with my godchild. For more laughs, try Alex T. Smith’s twitter feed.
6. Rebecca Stead – When You Reach Me. Sometimes, you just need a good, well written story that isn’t fantasy, historical fiction, dystopia, or any other of the main genres doing the rounds at the moment. While it’s set in 1970s New York, the time period of this book is happily irrelevant, as the characters and their interactions are allowed to come to the fore. I’m a sucker for a coming of age story and books with great friendships, so this made for a great read.
7. Gemma Malley – The Declaration. Having said that, the dystopian books from the YA section at work tend to make their way home to my bookshelf more than any other, and this is the forgotten gem of the section that I like to share with customers. The two sequels let this first book down quite badly, but taken on it’s own, its future of over-population and drug-aided immortality is a scarily realistic probability.
8. Elizabeth Wein – Code Name: Verity. Another brilliant story that serves as a great framework on which to hang that rarest of things, a well-written female best-friendship that develops as the story progresses, and isn’t based on reactions to school, clothing or boys. It’s something of a slow burner, but had me utterly engrossed, and then inconsolable as it ended. If you like your historical fiction with kick-ass female leads, this is the book.
9. Peter Harris and Deborah Allwright – The Night Pirates. Little girl pirates, rough tough grown-up pirates, and a treasure-stealing adventure that uses the front of a little boy’s house as a disguise for a ship. With text that inspires expression in the reading, this is another of those ‘go-to’ books that works equally as well for boys and girls, and often gets a laugh from the parents. Perfect!
10. Oliver Jeffers – The Heart and the Bottle. More of an out of the workplace recommendation, this is one of my favourite picturebooks, ever, and really shows that the format isn’t strictly for kids. There’s some gorgeous spreads that really showcase Jeffers’ eye, and the mixed media works well with the story, without feeling unnecessary. The text is beautifully spare, and reading it never fails to bring a tear to my eye. His best work, in my view.