Listening in on an "Open Book" program on BBC Radio 4, I jotted down the titles recommended as the "best of the year" by children's book authors Emily Gravett and Philip Ardagh and The Bookseller children's books editor, Caroline Horn.
The segment starts about 8 minutes into the program (linked here), and one can read the book list at the show's web site. If an edition seemed to be available here in the USA or coming soon, I linked it to Powell's, below.
Emily Gravett recommended There Are Cats in This Book, by Viviane Schwarz (her "absolute favorite" of the year), and The Great Paper Caper, by Oliver Jeffers. Caroline Horn praised Stick Man, by Julia Donaldson.
Books for Older Children
Philip Ardagh chose a book by a first-time author, The Chicken Dance, by Jacques Couvillon, saying, "Very American, very funny, very wacky." For girls, Caroline Horn singled out Ingrid Law's Savvy. Mentioning "reluctant readers," for boys, she went with Cressida Cowell's How to Ride a Dragon Storm and other books in the series about Hiccup Horrendous Haddock II.
In terms of adventure books, Ardagh was keen on The Toymaker, by Jeremy De Quidt; Gravett on Cosmic, by Frank Cottrell Boyce; and Horn on Young Samurai: The Way of the Warrior, by Chris Bradford, and the Jimmy Coates books by Joe Craig.
Horn cited Malorie Blackman's Double Cross and Jenny Valentine's Broken Soup, while Ardagh had high praise for Marie-Louise Jensen's Between Two Seas.
Predictions for 2009
Caroline Horn thought Chris Wooding's Malice and Jonathan Stroud's Heroes of the Valley will be big. Philip Ardagh said to expect more humor and referred to Andy Stanton's Mr. Gum books. When asked about the Greenaway, Emily Gravett predicted There Are Cats in This Book. (The Greenaway medal is the UK equivalent of the Caldecott.)
The "Open Book" list from BBC Radio 4 is one of many "best of the year" roundups that I've collected on a page called The Best of the Best: Kids' Books '08. Check it out!