Cindy’s Favorite Children’s and YA Books of 2015

BookendsCindy: I’ve dragged my feet about finishing this list as it changes daily. I still have too many unread 2015 books and whenever I look at another best-of-the-year list I am reminded of another book I loved and had forgotten about. One thing’s for sure, I was a slacker this year about recording what I read in addition to what I blogged here. My Goodreads account was hit or miss and I didn’t keep my running list in my planner. I need to do better in 2016. Ugh, that sounds like a New Year’s resolution—I try to avoid those. Back to the 2015 books that I enjoyed reading the most this year . . . at least those that I can currently recall.

Picture Books

The Bear Ate Your Sandwich, by Julia Sarcone-Roach

I’m trying not to duplicate titles on Lynn’s list, but this story stole my heart early in the year and never let go. It reminds me of some furry, unreliable characters in my personal life.Sidewalk Flowers by JonArno Lawson

Sidewalk Flowers, by JonArno Lawson and Sydney Smith

A perfect, wordless reminder about the importance of being present and committing random acts of kindness. Everyone should own this gem.

Winnie: the True Story of the Bear Who Inspired Winnie-the-Pooh, by Sally Walker
Finding Winnie: The True Story of the World’s Most Famous Bear, by Lindsay Mattick

These two titles enchanted me with their stories of the history of the real Winnie-the-Pooh. Booklist‘s interview with author Mattick and illustrator Sophie Blackall adds to the story.

Middle Grade

Gone Crazy in Alabama by Rita Williams-GarciaGone Crazy in Alabama, by Rita Williams-Garcia

This final installment in the Gaither Sisters trilogy makes me hope Williams-Garcia isn’t really wrapping it up. I don’t want to say goodbye to these plucky girls or to their Southern storytelling grandmas and great aunt. More, please?

Listen, Slowly, by Thanhhà Lai

Adolescence never looked so familiar, even when Mai is forced to leave summer in California behind to accompany her grandmother on an important visit to her native Vietnam.

The Nest by Kenneth OppelThe Nest, by Kenneth Oppel

I love horror stories, and this book-with-buzz delivered in a big way. In addition to a horrifying wasps’ nest with a creepy queen, the story has much to say about what it means to be broken and how far we will go in order to be fixed.

Sunny Side Up, by Jennifer L. and Matthew Holm

The 1970s setting and the examination of families who ignore the truth put this graphic novel on my favorites list. It could just as easily have been the equally fun look at adolescence, Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson (also a graphic novel), but I went with Sunny Side Up instead. (I wonder if Lynn will catch what I did there!) 😉

The Traveling Circus, by Marie-Louise Gay

Family fun and humor on a trip to Croatia made this the perfect accompaniment for my summer trip to investigate our family’s Croatian roots, but Gay’s humor has always made her books favorites of mine. Even if you are not leaving your couch, share this travel adventure with anyone you can.

The Thing About Jellyfish, by Ali Benjamin

Suzy’s social loss of her friend, is almost as painful to her as the second, permanent loss. Grab your sticky notes to flag all the lines you’ll want to remember later.

Young Adult

Hold Me Closer by David LevithanHold Me Closer: The Tiny Cooper Story, by David Levithan

Tiny Cooper’s big, gay life story is one only a musical could tell. Levithan’s creative storytelling might use a new format, but his trademark style of including heart, acceptance, and the importance of connection makes the story glow as brightly as the sparkly gold cover. (A worthy companion novel to Will Grayson, Will Grayson, by John Green and David Levithan.)

I Am Princess X, by Cherie Priest

I’m not sure who liked this graphic-novel-infused mystery more, me or my middle-school students! It’s been a big mover all year and a fun booktalk to deliver.

Rhythm Ride by Andrea Davis PinkneyRhythm Ride: A Road Trip Through the Motown Sound, by Andrea Davis Pinkney

I listened to Shostakovich symphonies while reading M. T. Anderson’s book Symphony for the City of the Dead, and put on a Motown mix while reading about Berry Gordy and the “little” record company he started in Rhythm Ride. It was a good year for musical reads.

Sophomores and Other Oxymorons, by David Lubar

Going back to school has never been more fun . . . or more full of wordplay and plays on words (with a side of heart).



About the Author:

Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan are Booklist reviewers and middle-school librarians who have chaired both ALA’s Best Books for Young Adults and the Michael L. Printz Award for YA Literature committees. Follow Bookends on Twitter at @BookendsBlog. You can also find Cindy at @cdobrez and Lynn at @482april.

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