Sonderbooks     Book Reviews by Sondra Eklund

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2005 Stand-outs
2004 Stand-outs
*2003 Stand-outs*
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2002 Stand-outs
2001 Stand-outs

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I don't review books I don't like!

*****= An all-time favorite
****  = Outstanding
***    = Above average
**      = Enjoyable
*        = Good, with reservations


Sonderbooks Stand-Outs 2003

Here are the very best books I reviewed in 2003, covering Sonderbooks 46 through Sonderbooks 69.

I divided the books into categories, then ranked the books in each category according to how much I enjoyed them.  It didn't seem fair to compare old favorites with books I'd only read once, so I separated books I'd reread into their own divisions.

Rating books with stars is very subjective, and sometimes I feel differently months after first reading a book.  This collection lists the books that stand out in my mind when I look back over the year.  Every book listed is highly recommended.

I hope you enjoy these books as much as I did!

My Favorite Books of the Year

For Young Adults:   The Goose Girl, by Shannon Hale
For Grown-Ups:  Beyond the Limit, by Joan Spicci,
For Children:  Saffy's Angel, by Hilary McKay

Young Adult Fantasy

1.  The Goose Girl, by Shannon Hale
2.  East, by Edith Pattou
3.  The Changeling Sea, by Patricia McKillip
4.  Sword of the Rightful King, by Jane Yolen
5.  Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, by J. K. Rowling
6.  The Perilous Gard, by Elizabeth Marie Pope
7.  Millicent's Gift, by Ann Rinaldi
8.  The Frog Princess, by E. D. Baker
9.  A Wizard Alone, by Diane Duane
10.  The Merlin Conspiracy, by Diana Wynne Jones
11.  Only a Marigold, by Jean Ferris

Children's Fantasy

1.  The Rumpelstiltskin Problem, by Vivian Vande Velde
2.  The Tears of the Salamander, by Peter Dickinson
3.  The Tale of Despereaux, by Kate DiCamillo
4.  Wizard at Work, by Vivian Vande Velde
5.  The Ugly Princess and the Wise Fool, by Margaret Gray
6.  The Wolves in the Walls, by Neil Gaiman, illustrated by Dave McKean

Young Adult and Children's Fantasy Old Favorites

1.  The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, by C. S. Lewis
2.  The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, by C. S. Lewis
3.  Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, by J. K. Rowling
4.  Prince Caspian, by C. S. Lewis
5.  Smith of Wooton Major and Farmer Giles of Ham, by J. R. R. Tolkien

Young Adult  and Children's Science Fiction

1.  Feed, by M. T. Anderson
2.  The City of Ember, by Jeanne DuPrau
3.  Singing the Dogstar Blues, by Alison Goodman

Young Adult and Children's Historical Fiction

1.  A Coalition of Lions, by Elizabeth E. Wein
2.  Girl in a Cage, by Jane Yolen and Robert J. Harris
3.  A Single Shard, by Linda Sue Park
4.  Crossing the Panther's Path, by Elizabeth Alder

Young Adult Historical Rereads

1.  Quest for a Maid, by Frances Mary Hendry
2.  The Queen of Attolia, by Megan Whalen Turner
3.  The Thief, by Megan Whalen Turner

Children's Contemporary Novels

1.  Saffy's Angel, by Hilary McKay
2.  Bloomability, by Sharon Creech
3.  Run from the Nun! by Erin MacLellan
4.  The Exiles at Home, by Hilary McKay

Young Adult Contemporary Novels

1.  The Second Summer of the Sisterhood, by Ann Brashares
2.  I Am Not Esther, by Fleur Beale
3.  The Exiles in Love, by Hilary McKay
4.  The Princess and the Pauper, by Kate Brian
5.  Princess in Waiting:  The Princess Diaries, Volume IV, by Meg Cabot


Young Adult and Children's Classics

1.  Pollyanna Grows Up, by Eleanor H. Porter
2.  Pollyanna, by Eleanor H. Porter
3.  Rainbow Valley, by L. M. Montgomery
4.  Rilla of Ingleside, by L. M. Montgomery

Short Story Collections

1.  Firebirds, edited by Sharyn November
2.  Out of Bounds, by Beverley Naidoo
3.  Period Pieces:  Stories for Girls, selected by Erzsi Deak and Kristin Embry Litchman
4.  Changing Planes, by Ursula K. LeGuin

Literary Fiction

1.  Beyond the Limit, by Joan Spicci
2.  The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, by Mark Haddon
3.  The Time Traveler's Wife, by Audrey Niffenegger
4.  Life of Pi, by Yann Martel
5.  Angry Housewives Eating Bon Bons, by Lorna Landvik
6.  The Probable Future, by Alice Hoffman

Science Fiction and Fantasy

1.  The Children of the Star Trilogy, by Sylvia Engdahl
2.  The Far Side of Evil, by Sylvia Engdahl
3.  Sunshine, by Robin McKinley
4.  Stealing the Elf-King's Roses, by Diane Duane

Mystery and Adventure

1.  The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency and its sequels, by Alexander McCall Smith
2.  The Prisoner of Zenda and Rupert of Hentzau, by Anthony Hope
3.  The Four Feathers, by A. E. W. Mason
4.  Jane and the Ghost of Netley, by Stephanie Barron
5.  Balance of Power, by Richard North Patterson
6.  Lion in the Valley,  by Elizabeth Peters
7.  Snobbery with Violence, by Marion Chesney

Fiction Old Favorites

1.  The Great Divorce, by C. S. Lewis
2.  Northanger Abbey, by Jane Austen

Cross-Cultural Nonfiction

1.  Ripe for the Picking, by Annie Hawes
2.  River Town, by Peter Hessler
3.  The Road from the Past, by Ina and Robert Caro
4.  A House Somewhere, edited by Don George and Anthony Sattin
5.  My Love Affair with England, by Susan Allen Toth

Biographical Nonfiction

1.  The Waiting Child, by Cindy Champnella
2.  Feynman's Rainbow, by Leonard Mlodinow
3.  What Should I Do With My Life? by Po Bronson
4.  The God I Love, by Joni Eareckson Tada
5.  I Choose to Stay, by Salome Thomas-EL with Cecil Murphey

Political Nonfiction

1.  Rogue Nation, by Clyde Prestowitz
2.  Of Paradise and Power, by Robert Kagan
3.  The Soul of Capitalism, by William Greider

Other Nonfiction

1.  Take Joy! by Jane Yolen
2.  The Myth of Laziness, by Mel Levine
3.  Snoopy's Guide to the Writing Life, edited by Barnaby Conrad and Monte Schulz

Nonfiction Rereads

1.  Discovering the Character of God, by George MacDonald, edited by Michael Phillips
2.  Glimpses of Grace, by Madeleine L'Engle, with Carole F. Chase
3.  The Hope of the Gospel, by George MacDonald
4.  The Weekend Novelist, by Robert J. Ray
5.  Biblioholism:  The Literary Addiction, by Tom Raabe
6.  I'm a Stranger Here Myself, by Bill Bryson

New Picture Books

1.  Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! by Mo Willems
2.  Serious Farm, by Tim Egan
3.  Yellow and Pink, by William Steig
4.  In English, of Course, by Josephine Nobisso
5.  The Dot, by Peter H. Reynolds
6.  Officer Buckle and Gloria, by Peggy Rathman
7.  Henrietta and the Golden Eggs, by Hanna Johansen
8.  Rumpelstiltskin's Daughter, by Diane Stanley
9.  Gossie and Gertie, by Oliver Dunrea

Old Favorite Picture Books:

1.  Chicka, Chicka, Boom, Boom, by Bill Martin, Jr., and John Archambault.  Illustrated by Lois Ehlert.
2.  Sleeping Ugly, by Jane Yolen
3.  The Wolf's Chicken Stew, by Keiko Kasza
4.  Harriet, You'll Drive Me Wild, by Mem Fox
Sonder is a German prefix meaning "special."

Copyright © 2003 Sondra Eklund.  All rights reserved. 

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