Friday, December 30, 2016

Once again it's that time of the year where we chew over our 2016 blogging efforts. Our 2016 Book of the Year / Publisher of the Year Awards!


It's almost time to say "So Long 2016, We Hardly Knew Ye!" and though in some respects it's been a bit of a sucky year (particularly for how many awesome celebrities we lost during the year) it's been one heck of a bumper year for books. Again. Honestly, we just do not know how you authors, artists, publishers and PRs do it.

So this is our chance to pay it forward a bit, summarising all of the Book of the Week winners, naming our Publisher of the Year and then (drum roll) our own personal choices for Book of the Year.

So without further ado, let's get this show under way with a few interesting numbers and stats for the year.

Our 'Most Read' Blog Post of the Year was a post about Deborah Patterson's awesome "Write your Own" series of books with 503 unique hits.

Blog total hits per month average at around 17,503 - varying greatly during hot weather (which we TOTALLY get - I mean who wants to be stuck indoors reading blog posts when you can be outside sunning yourself!)

October was again our busiest month with 58 reviews and articles. (October seems to be the busiest month every year, probably because of the big publishing "Back to School" push and prep for the Christmas run-up.

In total we've read and reviewed at least 600 books this year (that's obviously just the stuff we've covered on the blog - amazingly we do find time to read other books too!)

This year we put 90 Books in our hallowed 'Book of the Week' slots. Sometimes we had to double or triple each week's winners purely because there were just too many good books to miss any out.

A stunning 42 publishers / imprints published the books that made the 'Book of the Week' slot. (Many for the first time or with their first published titles so a huge well done to all the newcomers).

Fiction Titles blitzed it this year though a significant number of 'Book of the Week' winners were excellent non-fiction titles (though to be fair, on balance, we do receive more fiction than non-fiction titles).

A number of Recipe Books made the list for the first time - in fact this has been the first year we've seen significant growth in the number of child-friendly cook books being published by major publishers (a trend we hope continues in 2017)

We had our first YA Book of the Week Winner. We will be increasing our coverage of chapter books for middle grade and Young Adults in 2017.

Overall, many of the 'Book of the Week' winners were comics and graphic novels for kids - with the quality getting better and better every year thanks to publishers like Drawn and Quarterly, David Fickling Books, Titan Publishing and First Second. Again this is a trend we hope to see continuing in 2017.

Pirates and Princesses seem to be about done - but never say never! Space books were also (sadly) less in evidence this year though there were still one or two corkers in our overall list.

We predict that Natural History titles and Science / STEM titles will be big again in 2017. The quality of NH and Science books has been getting better and better with lots of new imprints and publishers scoring success with their fantastic books this year.

Books for Girls / Books for Boys look to be pretty much dead in the water. Let's see if we can make it through the whole of 2017 without seeing any more!

OK, on with the winners!

All our Book of the Week winners for 2016: 

January

"How to Find Gold" by Viviane Schwarz (Walker Books)

"Ralf" by Jean Jullien and Gwendal Le Bec (Frances Lincoln Children's Books)

"The Art of Star Wars: The Force Awakens" by Phil Szostak (Abrams)

"Rabbit and Bear Book 1" by Julian Gough and Jim Field (Hodder Children's Books)

"Tamsin and the Deep" by Neill Cameron and Kate Brown (David Fickling Books)

February

"Don't Call me Choochie Poo!" by Sean Taylor and Kate Hindley (Walker Books)

"Study Halls of Justice" by Derek Fridolfs and Dustin Nguyen (Scholastic)

"Little People Big Dreams Coco Chanel / Frida Kahlo" by Isabel Sanchez Vegara, Ana Albero and Gee Fan Eng (Frances Lincoln Children's Books)

"The Chief Cellist" by Wenhua Wang, Amann Wang and Yu Yan Chen (Balestier Press)

"Mr Horton's Violin" by Wenhua Wang, Amann Wang and Yu Yan Chen (Balestier Press)

"Bod and Breakfast" and "Bod and the Cake" by Michael and Joanne Cole (Egmont Publishing)

"Little Home Bird" by Jo Empson (Child's Play)

March

"Miro's Magic Animals" by Antony Penrose (Thames and Hudson)

"Knight and Dragon" by Matt Gibbs and Bevis Musson (Improper Books)

"Lionheart" by Richard Collingridge (David Fickling Books)

"Claude: Going for Gold" by Alex T. Smith (Hodder Children's Books)

"Lois Lane: Fallout" by Gwenda Bond (Curious Fox)

"Polly and the Puffin" by Jenny Colgan and Thomas Docherty (Little, Brown)

"Veronica" by Roger Duvoisin (Bodleian Library Press)

April

"Albert's Tree" by Jenni Desmond (Walker Books)

"Red's Planet" by Eddie Pittman (Amulet / Abrams)

"Von Doogan and the Great Air Race" by the Etherington Brothers (David Fickling Books)

"Asterix and the Missing Scroll" by Ferri and Conrad (Orion Children's Books)

"Swap" by Steve Light (Walker Books)

"The Forest Feast for Kids" by Erin Gleeson (Abrams Books)

"Dear Greenpeace" by Simon James (Walker Books)

May

"The Bear and the Piano" by David Litchfield (Frances Lincoln Children's Books)

"Alison Hubble" by Allan Ahlberg and Bruce Ingman (Picture Puffin)

"Sir Charlie Stinky Socks and the Mummy's Gold" by Kristina Stephenson (Egmont Publishing)

"Chineasy Everyday" by Shaolan Hsueh and Noma Bar (Thames and Hudson)

"Harold's Hungry Eyes" by Kevin Waldron (Phaidon)

"Nara and the Island" by Dan Ungureneau (Andersen Children's Books)

"The Sky Guys" by Madeleine Rogers (Mibo)


June

"Mega Robo Bros Book 1" by Neill Cameron (David Fickling Books)

"How to Look After your Human" by Maggie Mayhem, Kim Sears and Helen Hancocks (Frances Lincoln Children's Books)

"Claude All At Sea" by Alex T. Smith (Hodder Children's Books)

"Maisy Goes to Bed" by Lucy Cousins (Walker Books)

"The Cantankerous Crow" by Lennart Hellsing and Poul Stroyer (Thames and Hudson)

"Can I build another me?" by Shinsuke Yoshitake (Thames and Hudson)

"Under Earth, Under Water" By Aleksandra Mizielinski and Daniel Mizielinski (Templar Publishing)


July

"Bunny vs Monkey Book 3" by Jamie Smart (David Fickling Books)

"Club Life in Moomin Valley" by Tove Jansson (Drawn and Quarterly)

"Anna and Froga Out and About" by Anouk Ricard (Drawn and Quarterly)

"Natural World: A Visual Compendium" by Amanda Wood, Mike Jolley and Owen Davey (Wide Eyed Editions)

"They All Saw a Cat" by Brendan Wenzell (Chronicle Books)

"The Kew Gardens Children's Cookbook" by Caroline Craig and Joe Archer (Wayland)

"The Truth About my Unbelievable Summer" by Davide Cali and Benjamin Chaud (Chronicle Books)

"The Art of Loish" by Lois Van Baarle (3DTotal Publishing)

"Modern Cartooning" by Chris Hart (Watson Guptil)

"Fox and Goldfish" by Nils Pieters (Book Island)


August

"Lost Tales" By Adam and Lisa Murphy (David Fickling Books)

"Vincent's Starry Night and Other Stories" by Michael Bird and Kate Evans (Laurence King)

"Sleeping Beauty" by Lynn Roberts-Maloney and David Roberts (Pavilion)

"Cool Mythology"  by Malcolm Croft and Damien Weighhill (Portico)

"I Can Make my Own Accessories" by Georgia Vaux and Louise Scott-Smith (Thames and Hudson)

"The Deluxe Collection Volume 1 and 2" by Lorenzo Etherington (Lulu)

"The Dragons Hoard and Other Stories" by Lari Don and Cate James (Frances Lincoln Children's Books)

"Home Lab: Exciting Experiments for Budding Scientists" by Dr Robert Winston (Dorling Kindersley)


September

"Ada Twist, Scientist" by Andrea Beaty and David Roberts (Abrams Books)

"Fantastically Great Women Who Changed the World" by Kate Pankhurst (Bloomsbury Children's Books)

"Pinball Science" by Ian Graham, Nick Arnold and Owen Davey (Templar)

"Hilda and the Stone Forest" by Luke Pearson (Flying Eye Books)

"The Storm Whale in Winter" by Benji Davies (Simon and Schuster Children's Books)

"The Raven: Popup Edition" by Edgar Allan Poe, David Pelham and Christopher Wormell (Abrams)

"Botanicum: Welcome to the Museum" by Professor Kathy Willis and Katie Scott (Big Picture Press)

"The Pressed Fairy Journal of Madeline Cottington" by Brian and Wendy Froud (Abrams Books)

"Pablo and his Chair" by Delphine Perret (Princeton Architectural Press)

"The Velveteen Rabbit" by Margery Williams and Sarah Massini (Nosy Crow)

"How to Hide a Lion at School" by Helen Stephens (Scholastic)


October

"Ludwig the Space Dog" by Henning Lohlein (Templar Publishing)

"Illuminature" by Rachel Williams and Carnovsky (Wide Eyed Editions)

"Highest Mountain, Deepest Ocean" by Kate Baker and Page Tsou (Big Picture Press)

"Lesser Spotted Animals" by Martin Brown (David Fickling Books)

"The Pharaoh's Fate" by Camille Gautier, Stephane Vernet and Margaux Carpenter (B Small Publishing)

"The Dragon Keeper's Handbook" by Katie Haworth and Monica Armino (Templar Publishing)

"That's Not How You Do It" by Ariane Hofmann-Maniyar (Child's Play Publishing)

"Home and Dry" by Sarah Smith (Child's Play Publishing)


November

"Pandora" by Victoria Turnbull (Frances Lincoln Children's Books)

"Migloo's Weekend" by William Bee (Walker Books)

"Ada's Ideas" by Fiona Robinson (Abrams Books)

"The Liszts" by Kyo Maclear and Julia Sarda (Andersen Children's Books)

"Good Dog, Bad Dog: Double Identity" by Dave Shelton (David Fickling Books)

"The Ultimate Book of Space" by Anne-Sophie Baumann and Olivier Latyk (Twirl Publishing)

"Warren the 13th and the Whispering Woods" by Tania Del Rio and Will Staehle (Quirk Books)

"Great Grammar Book" and "Terrific Times Tables Book" by Kate Petty and Jennie Maizels (Walker Books)

"The Land of Nod" by Robert Louis Stevenson and Robert Hunter (Flying Eye Books)


December 

"Raven Child and the Snow Witch" by Linda Sunderland and Daniel Egneus (Templar Publishing)

"The Queen's Present" by Steve Antony (Hodder Children's Books)

"King Baby" by Kate Beaton (Walker Books)

"Klutz Crazy Lego Contraptions" by Doug Stillinger (Klutz Publishing)


PHEW! Hopefully I didn't miss any!

So on to our Publisher / Imprint of the Year award. This traditionally goes to the Publisher or Imprint that has snagged the most Book of the Week winners in a given year and this year was very hotly contested and extremely closely fought.

There can be only one winner in this category though. This year we'll run the top three in reverse order so in JOINT THIRD PLACE: 

Congratulations to Abrams Publishing and Frances Lincoln Childrens Books each with 6 Book of the Week Winners in 2016.

In SECOND PLACE: 

Huge congratulations to David Fickling Children's Books with 8 Book of the Week winners in 2016

But our Publisher of the Year with a whopping 9 Book of the Week winners in 2016. Huge huge congratulations to WALKER BOOKS!

Now to our Book of the Year choices. Each year both Charlotte and I choose a particular book from our Book of the Week list to crown overall winner.

This has been SO TOUGH TO DECIDE and it never seems to get easier each year we sit down with our colossal list.

So first my choice. A book that actually could have easily been the Book of the Year for both of us - it's that good. Striking a gothic pose with a very peculiar but utterly awesome family and their mysterious visitor...

Ladies and Gentlemen, Daddy's Book of the Year is "The Liszts" by Kyo Maclear and Julia Sarda (Andersen Children's Books)


Well done Kyo and Julia and congratulations to Andersen Children's Books!

Now the most important choice - Charlotte's Book of the Year. She ummed and ahhed, cogitated, mused and muttered over which book to choose but this was an early favourite and she stuck to her guns for pretty much the whole year despite some very stiff competition from other gorgeous books.

The strips in The Phoenix Comic have consistently got better and better, raising the sort of issues that comics are so brilliant at dealing with in a way that makes kids (and adults) take notice. Best of all, as Charlotte points out, this is a comic that feels like it was written for her, hitting spot on the sort of issues that are prevalent in school and at home (though we're thankfully blessed in not owning a Sartre-quoting depressive robot penguin!)

Charlotte's Book of the Year Choice for 2016 is...



Congratulations to Neill Cameron and The Phoenix / David Fickling Books who have put comics firmly at the top our agenda during 2016. It was a very very tough choice this year with so many books from our Book of the Week schedules easily being stunning enough to be BOTY winners. But we could only choose one each so here we are!

So another year down - and we're looking forward to 2017 with renewed gusto! A huge thanks to all the hard working PRs, the publishers, and of course the authors and artists, designers, photographers and all the other wonderful booky folk who make children's publishing what it is - and make blogging about children's books such a huge joy every single year.

Congratulations to all and we'll see you next year!

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