Yesterday, I started my top 10 list of 2011, and tonight I aim to finish the list. So, with no further ado, let’s get right to it:
6. Romeo & Juliet
Image Courtesy Stone Arch Books
Written by William Shakespeare; Retold by Martin Powell; Illustrated by Eva Cabrera
Stone Arch Books, 2011 $6.95
Originally reviewed 21 December 2011, Shakespeare’s immortal tale of star crossed lovers comes to life with updated language for today’s readers, but maintains the passion of the original. Full review can be located here.
7. Tricky Coyote Tales
Image Courtesy of Graphic Universe
Written by Chris Schweizer; Illustrated by Chad Thomas
Graphics Universe, 2011 $6.95
Reminiscent of the old Choose Your Own Adventure books of my youth, Tricky Coyote Tales puts you in the role of the title character (the different books in the series all focus on trickster animals) and your attempts at getting food and shelter. In addition to being a graphic novel, it also allows the reader some sense of control over the story. Full review can be seen here.
8. Nina in That Makes Me Mad!
Image Courtesy Toon Books
Written by Steven Kroll; Adapted and Illustrated by Hilary Knight
Toon Books, 2011 $12.95
Showing young readers that they’re not alone when it comes to different things that make them mad, Nina presents different things that make her mad. Knight’s beautiful artwork really bring this book to life, and the end offers up some sage advice for dealing with things that make anyone mad. Original review can be seen here.
9. How Do We Stay on Earth?
Image Courtesy Capstone Publishing
Written by Amy S. Hansen; Illustrated by Korey Scott
Capstone Press; 2011 $5.95
Science has always been a fascinating thing for kids. Long before they get into school and science, they naturally want to know how things are the way they are. This series tackles those hard to explain concepts in such a way that even the youngest readers will easily grasp, while avoiding the tendency of some books to ‘dumb down’ the concept. Full review of this specific book can be found here.
10. Nursery Rhyme Comics
Image courtesy :01 Second
Written and Illustrated by Various; Edited by Chris Duffy.
:01 Second; 2011 $18.99
On my list of absolute, all-time favorite books, this ranks up in the top three. Marrying two things that kids quickly identify with – nursery rhymes and comics, the contributors to this collection all take a different nursery rhyme, some standards others obscure, and lovingly render their own spin on the tale. This one needs to be on every parent’s wish list for their kids. Yes, it’s that good. Here’s the full review.
Well, that’s the list of my top 10 for 2011. But wait! You cry out, you said there was to be a plus one! Nodding my head, I smile.
11. Amulet Book 4: The Last Council.
Image Courtesy Scholastic
Written and Illustrated by Kazu Kibuishi
Scholastic, 2011 $10.99
In the fourth book of Kibiushi’s Amulet Series, Emily, her family and friends are on the move to the city of the Council, Cielis. Once they arrive, they quickly discover that not all is well in the town. The streets are deserted, townsfolk cower in fear, and seemingly normal people have been acting very strange. In addition to this, Emily is spirited away in an effort to compete for a spot on the Guardian Council – the most powerful group of stonekeepers in the world. However, as competitors are eliminated one by one, Emily makes a terrifying and horrific discovery – one that could completely destroy everything that Emily is fighting for.
Kibiushi is an amazing artist, and his pacing is mind blowing. I have read thousands of graphic novels and books over the years, and I can honestly say that Amulet is so engrossing that I tend to forget where I am when I read it. The characters are engaging, honest, and likeable, and they evoke real emotion when you read their stories. If you only buy one book for your school, library, kid, etc. make sure it’s one of the books in this phenomenal series. Seriously.
Finally, I want to also give a nod to one book that falls at the far end of the spectrum of books I review.
12. Manga Man
Image Courtesy Houghton Mifflin
Written by Barry Lyga; Illustrated by Colleen Doran
Houghton Mifflin, 2011 $18.99
Meet Ryoko – smart, athletic, attractive, able to survive alien invasions, giant robot attacks and monsters. He’s your typical manga protagonist.
Meet Marissa Montaigne – popular, beautiful, romantic. The typical female character in any western love story.
After the Rip tears a hole in his world, Ryoko is sucked through to Marissa’s world, where he becomes the ultimate outsider in a seemingly normal high-school themed story. Unfortunately for the bullies and jocks of this high school, Ryoko still retains all of his abilities (not to mention the standard conventions of traditional action manga – speed lines! Super deformed body modification to emphasize certain actions! Article 175!) It’s obvious that Lygia and Doran had a blast making this story – the sheer excitement they pour into this book is evident from the outset, and they do not disappoint at all. This is a delight to read (especially if you’re familiar with Eastern and Western comic book conventions), but this one is reserved for those kids who are ages 12 and up (mostly for the Article 175 bit).
So, that’s the full list of my top 10 for 2011 (plus a bonus or two). If you have any disputes, questions why a title didn’t make it on the list, or want to yell at me for my choices, please contact me via the links to the right.