A list and a deadline -- what a great excuse to abandon all useful activity and build towers of books on my coffee table! The Best of the Best Challenge gives me enough options that I don't feel constrained, but good lists from which to pick my choices. It runs from April to June, and I started a bit late, so I've alrady given myself permission to fail -- if I don't get to 25 books, I'm still happy.
Zahra's Paradise, Amir & Khalil. Based on an anonymous blog chronicling the upheaval in Iran after the corrupt 2009 elections, this graphic novel follows a family trying to trace their missing younger brother, who disappeared the day of the big protests. It's definitely a book for adults, although older teens would appreciate it; the grimness of the prison and graveyards might be too graphic for younger readers.
Scarlet, Brian Bendis & Alex Maleev. Gory pictures, drug paraphernalia, and the dark subject matter make this also a book for older teens, as young Scarlet starts her path of revenge and murder after the police cover up paints her boyfriend as a drug dealer after a corrupt cop guns him down. Definitely a powerful story, but not a good choice for middle school kids. Oops.
Wandering Son, Shimura Takako. Gentle story of several fifth graders who view each other's clothes with envy, which is problematic when the kids are different sexes. Although I sometimes had trouble telling the characters apart (I'm not a very visual person), I felt for the awkwardness and friendship the children felt as they struggled with their unpopular enthusiasm in a confusing world -- boys can't wear dresses, but the school is putting on a cross-dressing play?
Thor: The Mighty Avenger 1 & 2. It was a bit relaxing to read a straight-forward comic book, with manly heroes and admiring and occasionally clever female sidekicks. Oh wait, that's the normal stuff? Anyway, bright colors and big bad guys made these two books popular with me and my 7th grader.
Ghetto Cowboy, G. Neri (audio). The 5th grader really got into this story of a trouble making boy who learns responsibility by stealing a horse back from the mean Philidelphia police. Although the start was hard for him to hear, as Cole piled problem after problem onto his life (Neri, did the mom really have to kill that horse?), he relaxed and enjoyed the fixes Cole made after he found the stables. Of course, now I've assigned him an essay on the book, so he hates it again.
Bride's Story 1, Kaoru Mori. I do love it when the two main characters are such different heights; I can tell them apart! Kaoru's story of nomads on the Silk Road has lovely pictures and a slow but engrossing story line that had the 5th grader climbing into my lap to read scenes. I'll leave this out for the kids to read, now that they can get past the title (which did not grab my bachelor boys).