Monday, December 31, 2012

Best Novels of 2012

Goblin Secrets, by William Alexander, Margaret K. McElderry Books, $16.99, ages 8 and up, 240 pages. Orphan Rownie escapes a witch's home for stray children to look for his missing brother and falls in with a theatrical troupe of goblins that teaches him the craft of masking.

The Peculiar, by Stefan Bachmann, Greenwillow, $16.99, ages 9 and up, 384 pages. Bartholmew Kettle joins forces with a bumbling member of Parliament to recover his kidnapped sister and stop a creepy lord from kidnapping changelings from the slums of Bath.

The Mighty Miss Malone, by Christopher Paul Curtis, Wendy Lamb Books, $15.99, ages 9 and up, 320 pages. A spunky, courageous 12-year-old named Deza refuses to give up on her family's motto -- "We are a family on a journey to a place called Wonderful" -- in Depression-era Hooverville.

The Great Unexpected, by Sharon Creech, HarperCollins, $16.99, ages 8 and up, 240 pages. Two orphan girls, Naomi and best friend Lizzie, think they know all the peculiar people in Blackbird Tree until one day a boy drops out of a tree and the Dingle Dangle man appears.

Starry River of the Sky, by Grace Lin, Little Brown, $17.99, ages 8-12, 304 pages. In this magical companion to Where the Mountain Meets the Moon, runaway Rendi is left stranded in a remote Village of Clear Sky where the sky moans in pain and a mysterious storyteller helps Rendi work through his past.

Endangered, by Eliot Schrefer, Scholastic, $17.99, ages 12 and up, 272 pages. When violent rebels attack her mother's wildlife sanctuary in the Congo, 14-year-old Sophie flees with orphan bonobo Otto and sacrifices everything to protect her endangered apes.

The Last Dragonslayer, by Jasper Fforde, Harcourt, $16.99, ages 10 and up,  256 pages. Sixteen-year-old foundling Jennifer is left in charge of Kazam, a temp agency for wizards, and tries to save the last dragon from being killed in an alternate United Kingdom.

Wonder, by R.J. Palacio, Knopf, $15.99, ages 8 and up, 320 pages. Born with a facial deformity, 10-year-old August longs to be treated as an ordinary kid, but as he enters mainstream school for the first time, his classmates can't look beyond his extraordinary face.

Shadows on the Moon, by Zoe Marriott, Candlewick, $17.99, ages 14 and up, 464 pages. When soldiers massacre her father and cousin, 16-year-old Suzume survives by making herself invisible through the magic of shadow weaving, then sets off to seek revenge.

Three Times Lucky, by Sheila Turnage, Dial, $16.99, ages 10 and up, 256 pages. Orphan Mo Lo Beau tries to solve the biggest crime to come to Tupelo Landing while she searches to solve her own mystery: how she came to be washed ashore in a hurricane when she was a baby.

Code Name Verity, by Elizabeth Wein, Hyperion, $16.99, ages 14 and up, 352 pages. When her plane crashes in Nazi-occupied France, young British spy Verity is arrested by the Gestapo and faces a harrowing decision: to reveal her mission or face execution.

The One and  Only Ivan, by Katherine Applegate, illustrated by Patricia Castelao, HarperCollins, $16.99, ages 8 and up, 320 pages. A gorilla living at the Exit 8 Big Top Mall and Video Arcade meets a baby elephant who transforms his sad and solitary world.

Liar & Spy, by Rebecca Stead, Wendy Lamb, $15.99, ages 9 and up, 192 pages. Seventh-grader Georges is recruited by his 12-year-old neighbor Safer to track a mysterious man in an upstairs apartment, but as Safer becomes more demanding Georges wonders what is a lie and what is a game.

Splendors and Glooms, by Laura Amy Schlitz, Candlewick, $17.99, ages 9 and up, 400 pages. Three children fall prey to a ruthless magician and must break free of a witch's paralyzing hold in order to find the happiness that's eluded in them.

Every Day, by David Levithan, Alfred A. Knopf, $17.99. Body jumping is a way of life for 16-year-old A -- every day he wakes up in a different body, in a different person's life. But then one day he assumes the body of Justin and forms an attachment he can't shake.

Rootless, by Chris Howard, Scholastic, $17.99, ages 14 and up, 336 pages. In a brutal post-Apocalypic world, 17-year-old tree builder Banyan meets a woman with a strange tattoo and sets off across a wasteland in search of his missing father and the last living trees.

The Secret Tree, by Natalie Standiford, Scholastic, $16.99, ages 8 and up, 256 pages. When Minty sees a flash in the woods, she chases after it and discovers a tree with a hollow trunk that contains the secrets of everyone in her neighborhood.

Iron Hearted Violet, by Kelly Barnhill, illustrated by Iacopo Bruno, Little Brown, $16.99, 432 pages. When a cheeky princess named Violet and her kind-hearted friend Demetrius stumble upon a hidden room, they discover a forbidden book that threatens their mirrored world.

The Spindlers, by Lauren Oliver, illustrated by Iacopo Bruno, HarperCollins, $16.99, ages 8 and up, 256 pages. When spiderlike creatures steal her brother's soul, Liza ventures into an underground world of talking rats, greedy trologods and an evil queen to rescue him.

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