IMWAYR – Favorites of 2018

We are well into the new year now, and I usually like to write a whole blog post analyzing my readings in the previous year. I was so excited to sit down and look at all my data only to realize that my 2018 Goodreads Challenge was gone! Apparently, Goodreads only lets you go back through the years that you completed your reading goal (I fell a few short of my 200 book goal). I know I could go back into my “read” category, and manually count all the books and everything, but I opted to make like Elsa and

Let It Go GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

I now have my Goodreads books organized into 42 anal-retentive categories, so this travesty will never happen again. Why, yes, I am a nerd. And proud of it.

Despite not having all my numbers compiled, I was able to look back through and choose my favorite reads from 2018. So here they are, in no particular order.

Board Books

La Catrina: Emociones (A Bilingual Book of Emotions
written by Patty Rodriguez
illustrated by Ariana Stein
(Lil’ Libros, 2018)

My two-year-old son loves this book. We borrowed it from the library and probably read it 100 times (I’m not kidding) over a 3 week period. So we bought it for Christmas. The illustrations are super vibrant and cute. They make you want to pantomime the different emotions, which is perfect for parents and small children.

Picture Books

Monster Mama
written by Liz Rosenberg
illustrated by Stephen Gammell
(Philomel, 1993)

I love Stephen Gammell’s artwork. I grew up reading Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, so I was delighted to find this older gem. I love the relationship of the boy and his mom. Despite her being a monster, he still loves her just the same and she loves and cares for him just like any good mother would. The color palette, as well as Gammell’s signature illustration style are perfect.

Big Cat, Little Cat
by Elisha Cooper
(Roaring Brook Press, 2017)

I. love. this. book. It is remarkably simple, yet wonderfully beautiful. Elisha Cooper’s text and black and white illustrations evoke so much emotion. If you are a pet lover, this is an absolute must read.

You Nest Here with Me
written by Jane Yolen and Heidi E.Y. Stemple
illustrated by Melissa Sweet
(Boyds Mills Press, 2015)

This has become a favorite bedtime story in our house. Jane and Heidi’s sweet lullaby text is beautiful. And Melissa Sweet’s illustrations are absolutely excellent. The book also has some excellent back matter on the different nesting habits of various bird species.

Middle Grade

The Girl Who Drank the Moon
by Kelly Barnhill
(Workman Publishing Company, 2016)

I picked this book up on a whim, knowing nothing about it. It is amazing! Many dystopian novels are both a.) written for YA audiences and b.) set in some distant at least semi-realistic future of earth. Kelly Barnhill takes the genre and turns it on its head by masterfully appealing to middle grade audiences all while couching it in a magical fantasy realm. Absolutely wonderful to read.

Tumble and Blue
by Cassie Beasley
(Dial Books, 2017)

Cassie Beasley has become one of my favorite authors. Her books are beautifully written, and Tumble and Blue is no exception. I love how she weaves just a touch of magic into the story, but it is still firmly grounded in realistic fiction. I feel like this is the way childhood really is. No, we don’t have magical golden gators (or do we? 😉 ), but childhood is all about wonder and hope and potential. And Cassie is perfect at capturing those feelings in her books.

Graphic Novels

Mary’s Monster: Love, Madness, and How Mary Shelley Created Frankenstein
by Lita Judge
(Roaring Book Press, 2018)

I cannot sing the praises of this book enough! I nominated it for a Cybil this year, and am happy to see that it is a finalist! I am really rooting for it to win. The sheer undertaking of writing this book is impressive. Lita Judge poured over Mary Shelley’s journal entries and letter correspondences to weave the tale of Shelley’s inspiration for her most famous novel. The graphic novel is in verse, with every poem linked to a specific line or page from Shelley’s personal writings. Judge’s black and white watercolor images are both beautiful and haunting. It is an incredibly accessible and engaging nonfiction book.


I’m Just No Good at Rhyming: And Other Nonsense for Mischievous Kids and Immature Grown-Ups
written by Chris Harris
illustrated by Lane Smith
(Little Brown Books for Young Readers, 2017)

My whole family enjoyed reading Chris Harris’ collection of poetry. They were perfect read-aloud poems, and just the right length for a few poems at bedtime. Lane Smith’s illustrations also added a lot to the humor. This would be a great addition to anyone’s bookshelf.

6 thoughts on “IMWAYR – Favorites of 2018

Add yours

  1. I loved Big Cat, Little Cat, too!! My neighbor had just lost her cat weeks before I read it and it occurred to me what a wonderful gift it would have made during that rough time since it so sweetly reveals the cycle of life. I have been wanting to red The Girl Who Drank the Moon for months. I purchased it last year and since I didn’t read it in 2018, it’s now on my #MustReadin2019 list. YAY! I’ve also wanted to read Mary’s Monster and share it with hubby, so thanks for the reminder! Have a wonderful reading week, Rebecca!


  2. Except for Monster Mama, I’ve read each one & enjoyed each thoroughly, too, Rebecca. I also loved Big Cat, Little Cat, love Elisha Cooper’s books very much.


  3. La Catrina was a huge hit at our house with the toddlers here. Big Cat, Little Cat was one of my favourites too. I have Mary’s Monster on my list but haven’t gotten around to it. I loved Linda Bailey’s picture book biography, Mary, Who Wrote Frankenstein. Júlia Sardà’s illustratrations are gorgeously gothic. I loved it so much that I blogged about it here.


  4. This is the first time I am hearing of Monster Mama – and I also adore Gammell’s art – so I must find this one soonest. Mary’s Monster was one of my greatest reads last year – so evocative and cleverly written.


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