Top 10 Middle Grade and Young Adult Books of 2011

I’ve had such a difficult time picking favorites this year. There are so many books that can make these lists–like I mentioned over at The Book Connection–when I posted my Top 10 for that blog earlier today. I didn’t read as many books in the middle grade and young adult categories as I would have liked to this year, but I’m hoping to focus a bit more on those in 2012. It all depends upon my schedule and the requests I receive.

Sometimes reviewers are lucky when compiling their Top 10, and one book stands out amongst the rest. That is certainly the case for this list. Once We Were Kings by Ian Alexander is my favorite in the MG/YA categories for 2011. It tells the story of an orphan boy and a peasant girl from opposing villages who must work to unite their kingdoms against a powerful enemy that  threatens to destroy them.  With wonderful, well-drawn characters and a superb plot, Once We Were Kings  takes top honors this year.

While not a huge lover of this genre, I feel fortunate to have stumbled upon excellent fantasy titles for young readers over the past couple of years. I look forward to finding more.

Here are other favorites from 2011:

2. Vorak the Incomprehensible: Rule the School by Vordak T. Incomprehensible

3.  Horrid Henry Rocks by Francesca Simon

4.  Horrid Henry Wakes the Dead by Francesca Simon

5.  Bad Spelling by Marv Dasef

6. Peter Rock Star from Galilee: A Guided Bible Study for Teens by Sherree Funk

7. The Crypto-Capers in The Chest of Mystery by Renee Hand

8. Nana Takes the Reins by Kathleen Lane

9. Nate Rocks the World by Karen Pokras Toz

10. True Grime by Natasha Deen

Look for  my list for favorite picture books coming soon!

Nana Takes the Reins by Kathleen Lane with Cabell Harris

A rollicking adventure your 7- to 10-year-old won’t soon forget is what you’ll find in Nana Takes the Reins by Kathleen Lane with Cabell Harris.

Nana decides she wants to go to the rodeo to become a bull rider. Her grandchildren, Eufala and Bog soon join in Nana’s adventure, and it isn’t long before they have a run in with Tuff and the Ruffies.

I honestly wasn’t sure what to make of this book in the beginning. An old lady for the main character in a kid’s book? It seemed to go against everything I thought a kid’s book should be. Yes, Eufala and Bog play a big role in this book–like I assume they did in the first book of this series, Nana Cracks the Case–but still, how could a kid relate to Nana?

What I soon discovered as I read this book with my girls (ages 7 and 9) is that they aren’t supposed to relate to Nana. She’s just darn hilarious. She’s not your normal grandmother and she does wacky things. Eufala and Bog get to tag along on her adventures, which leads to some funny stuff, and as expected, these siblings fight just like other siblings do. The only average character in the book is the children’s mother, Elaine; though even she’s not totally average because she has this fixation with sour cream.

My daughters and I spent the majority of the time laughing through this book. It’s a great wacky adventure that is enhanced by the zany artwork of Sarah Horne. I can’t imagine reading this story without the illustrations. They’re perfect.

Even the most reluctant reader will get hooked on Nana Takes the Reins.

Rating:  🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

  • Publisher: Chronicle Books
  • ISBN-10:9780811862608
  • ISBN-13: 978-0811862608
  • SRP: $14.99

I received this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review. I received no monetary compensation of any kind to provide my opinion.