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December 31, 2009 / schulerbooks

Kids Top Reads 2009

As a children’s bookseller I am often asked what I am reading lately that has been appealing to me. Since I always enjoy reviewing what were my favourite reads at the close of the year I thought I would compile a list of the choices I found to be the most stellar. Enjoy!


10. “The Pender wicks” by Jeanne Birdsall. This was one of those books I took forever to pick up and when I did I ended up reading half the book in one sitting. It’s a fabulous read, and I’m not surprised it has won so much praise and accolades (National Book Award Winner – 2005). It’s a very light fun read. It reminds me very much of Little Women, but perhaps Little Women if Hayao Miyazaki had made a movie and set it in a contemporary time period. I was very charmed by it.

9. “Leviathan” by Scott Westerfeld. To start…what a fabulous premise! I’m not the biggest fan of alt-history kind of storylines but this one blew me out of the water. Giant living fabricated ships squaring off against robots of war? The catch: World War 1. Brilliant… plus a hidden Austrian Prince and a cross dressing soldier girl… too much fun. The story alternates between the two narrators who are on opposite sides of the impending war so we get to follow what happens before the two characters finally meet up. I applaud Westerfeld’s addition to the Steampunk genre, as well as breaking my “no alt-History” rule.

8. “Graceling/Fire” by Kristin Cashore. There are several great new series out in the Young Adult market right now. This is one of them. Cashore’s writing reminds one of Tamora Pierce in tone and content. Nevertheless, she manages to write court intrigue with a deft hand and an imaginative attention to details. Fans will be happy to note that a third book releases in 2011.

7. “Shiver/Linger” by Maggie Stiefvater. This series grew on me. I found that after an initial dislike of “Shiver” I couldn’t stop thinking about the protagonists Sam and Grace. “Linger” really drove home just how amazing these books are. Beautifully written with stunning details these werewolf themed books soar above other supernaturally themed romances. I cried more than once reading them. Note – Linger does not actually release until July, 2010.

6. “Beautiful Creatures” by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl. This is a gorgeously written book, full of depth, mood, and heart. Combine the atmosphere of a Tennessee Williams play with the racial issues of “To Kill a Mockingbird”… and then add the beautiful and tragic angst of a young adult romance. It’s good…it’s oh so good. Expect a series from these two debut authors.

5. “The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate” by Jacqueline Kelly. The only reason that this is smack in the middle of the list is because the top four books were simply amazing. Still, Kelly’s book must not be overlooked. The story follows the intrepid and precocious Calpurnia Tate as she feeds a burgeoning interest in the natural sciences, as well as a blossoming relationship with her Grandfather. It is 1899 and women just don’t do that sort of thing. Calpurnia reminds readers of a more progressive Anne Shirley and the writing is flawless. If it doesn’t receive a Newbery nod then I don’t know what to say about the ALA.

4. “Eyes Like Stars” by Lisa Mantchev. This is one of the most inventive stories I have come across in a long time. Bertie lives in a theater where the casts of plays are real, bound by a magic book. Bertie awaits the return of her mother who left her at the theater when she was just a child. This sweet and brilliant debut will have readers yearning for more.

3. “The Hunger Games/Catching Fire” by Suzanne Collins. It’s virtually impossible for me to talk about the first two books in Suzanne Collins Hunger Games series separately… so I won’t. Rest assured that everything you hear about this series is true. It’s Dystopian, it’s affecting, it’s really well written. What I love about the second book is that Collins manages to break the dreaded “middle book” scenario. The sequel is just as phenomenal as the first book and that always says something. The third in the series has a tentative release date in Fall, 2010.

2. “The Forest of Hands and Teeth” by Carrie Ryan. This was a real interesting read. Absorbing and compelling… I’m usually not one for zombie books but a good story will get me every time… And this was a great story. Chilling and disturbing, though truth be told I found the religious aspect of the novel much more gripping and terrifying than the zombie attack moments. I couldn’t wait to get to the end, to get answers… But I didn’t want the book to conclude either.

1. “The Hunchback Assignments” by Arthur Slade. This was an absolutely amazing book. I think in one fell stroke this easily became my favourite book of the year. Victorian/ Gothic/ Mystery/ Steampunk/ Spy-Thriller meets Hunchback of Notre Dame/ Phantom of the Opera/ and Frankenstein…but still manages to keep its own unique edge. I wish I would have written this, it’s that good.

And as always, there are other notables that don’t quite make the cut, but are still worth mentioning.

Best Reread – “The Inferior” by Peadar O’Guilin. Just as good, if not better, a second time.

Most Surprising – “Rampant” by Diana Peterfreund. I hated the ARC cover. I read the book enthralled.

Most disappointing – Alyson Noel’s “The Immortals” series. I wish I didn’t waste the time to read the first two.

To all those out in the Schulerverse… have a safe and joyous New Year. And happy reading!

-Krys Tourtois, Schuler Books & Music Eastwood.



Leave a Comment
  1. Jim C. Hines / Dec 31 2009 5:40 pm

    ::Grin:: I’ll need to tell Lisa you made her list. I haven’t read Eyes Like Stars yet, but it’s high on my wish list!

  2. Jim C. Hines / Dec 31 2009 5:40 pm

    Er … that *she* made *your* list, rather.

    Bad writer. No cookie!

  3. Attoboy / Dec 31 2009 8:23 pm

    Slade most definitely kicks it with HA. A stellar start to a great series.

  4. J. Edward Tremlett / Jan 1 2010 12:13 pm

    “I applaud Westerfeld’s addition to the Steampunk genre, as well as breaking my “no alt-History” rule.”

    I regret to inform you that, more often than not, steampunk IS alt-history 😉

    But yeah, I know what you mean. alt-history is often total tosh, especially when decaying ex-politicians use it as a means to push their ideology.

    Not mentioning any names!

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