My choices this year revolve around the idea of a character (not always the protagonist) having a breakthrough… Whether it’s accepting yourself and learning to connect with others like Auggie in “We’re All Wonders,” or Humpty Dumpty in “After the Fall” realizing his potential after a literal breakdown…
Some have it forced upon them, like Yertle when his throne collapses from little Mack finally letting go, to Meshka who contracts the “Kvetch’s Itch” and is at the mercy of the words from her own mouth.
Other characters rise to the occasion, like the grandfather and his grandson in “Drawn Together” who battle boredom and the cultural divide, to Gerald (also a pick last year) who finds his own music and inspires the rest of the jungle animals with his groovy moves.
Still there are others, like Jabari who finally jumps in with both feet (literally), to Mr. Knox who ends up schooling the “Fox in Socks” in pulling off a tantric tongue twisting feat.
Finally there are those who learn from circumstance, like the feuding families on “Rivington Street” who learn there’s more than one way to make and sell a knish, to the Junior Scientist who realizes “normal” might not be what it’s cracked up to be.
Below is a list of my picks:
- We’re All Wonders — R.J.Palacio
- After the Fall — by Dan Santat
- Yertle the Turtle — by Dr. Seuss
- Drawn Together — by Minh Le, illustrated by Dan Santat
- Giraffes Can’t Dance — by Giles Andreae, illustrated by Guy Parker-Rees
- Jabari Jumps — by Gaia Cornwall
- The Knish War on Rivington Street— by Joanne Oppenheim, illustrated by Jon Davis
- Normal Norman — by Tara Lazar, illustrated by Stephan Britt
- Meshka the Kvetch — by Carol Chapman, illustrated by Arnold Lobel
- Fox in Socks — by Dr. Seuss