2012 rewind! The best books I’ve read this year

I’m very lucky in that I have access to an amazing children’s literature library. It’s one of those places that make you skip along the shelves and want to just stroke the spine of every book on the shelf. Even the ones that have been there a little too long, those ones who have gone pale in the sun, have a peculiar appeal. It’s an addictive place to visit. It’s a place that has sourced my best reads of this year. And it’s a place that I know is going to continue to inspire me next year.

So here’s to the best reads of 2012! You’ll see not all of these books were published in 2012, but they are the best books I read this year.  I spent 2012 surrounded by books I liked, and books I loved. And some of those books bordered on utter perfection.

In no particular order, we have:

My David Almond phase with a look at the incredible My Name is Mina and My Dad’s A Birdman. These two books defined the end of the year for me and have had a massive impact on me.

The other author who appears twice on my best of 2012 is Sita Brahmachari (who, if you get to hear speak, is ridiculously charming and coped very well with my geeking out in front of her – sorry Sita 😉 ) and her books Artichoke Hearts and Jasmine Skies. Magical, evocative books both.

Patrick Ness’ multi-award winning piece of perfection A Monster Calls appears on my list and to be honest, is in a class of its own. The pairing of Patrick Ness’ spare, elegant text with Jim Kay’s illustrations is world-class.

Another award winning book that’s on my best of 2012 is The Unforgotten Coat by my book Yoda Frank Cottrell Boyce. A gorgeous, sharply heart-breaking, and beautifully produced book.

Then there’s the newcomer (to me!) Guy Bass with his reminder that good things come in small packages. The adorable Stitch Head was superb, moving, and a reminder of all that can be good in children’s books.

I came back to my other book Yoda – Michelle Magorian — and rediscovered her beyond perfect A Little Love Song. Magorian is so superbly gifted, and this book is a gift. She’s one of those effortlessly heartbreaking (and rather amazing) writers.

And finally, I read an amazing picture book and a graphic novel. Alex T Smith dazzled me with the epic and hysterical glory of Claude on Holiday. If you’ve not discovered Claude and Sir Bobblysock, hop to it because you won’t be disappointed. Graphic novel wise, I read a lot of good stuff but loved discovering the work of Gareth Hinds and his magisterial version of Beowulf in particular.

And here’s to 2013! 😀

Stitch Head : Guy Bass

Stitch HeadStitch Head by Guy Bass

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A darkly humorous and witty exploration of the adage “Don’t judge people by their appearances”; Stitch Head is a gem of a book.

Perfect for the under tens, and to honest those over it as well, it’s a sharply observed story that flips cliche and stereotype on its head. The eponymous Stitch Head is the first creation of the mad professor of Castle Grotteskew. The professor made Stitch Head (the cutest monster ever!) and continued to make monsters who all woke up full of rage. Think Frankenstein meets Morcambe and Wise meets Mel Brooks and you’re pretty much there. Stitch Head sets himself the task of saving the professor’s new creations from madness and eating of the local villagers. It’s a sad lonely life for the forgotten Stitch Head until two things happen: the professor creates “THE CREATURE” and a local freakshow comes to town – looking for new freaks.

Great things come in small packages and that’s both true for this book and Stitch Head himself. He’s a beautiful character, shy and retiring but brave and courageous when needs be. I loved him and I was really invested in his journey. This is such an empowering book. The forgotten, and the monstrous, and the weird are those who actually have the most heart and noble(st) of souls. I LOVED THIS. I’m just gutted it took me so long to get to it! Make sure it doesn’t take you as long as I did 🙂

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