Lynn: It’s that time again! Time for Cindy and me to announce our favorite books of the year. We are making no attempt to pick the year’s award winners—just to list the books we loved reading in alphabetical order.
Because I don’t have Cindy’s discipline and always have a terrible time narrowing my choices, I have two lists. The first has my favorite middle-grade and YA books. The second, which I compiled in collaboration with the youngest members of my focus group, lists their favorite picture books with some of my own favorites. Get ready for a week of Bookends Favorites!
Lynn’s Favorite Middle Grade and YA for 2016.
I loved this sweet and funny novel, told in verse, about family, grief, and the healing strength of stories. It has something for everyone of every age to treasure. And, really, what did happen to Uncle Arthur’s missing finger?
Bubonic Panic, by Gail Jarrow
A riveting account of the third pandemic, its entry into America, and the effort to stop it. Jarrow provides a a fascinating and wide-ranging examination of far more than the disease itself, touching on racism, barriers to sharing medical research, inter-governmental squabbling, and the evolution of public health. Of course, there are also rats and fleas!
Gertie’s Leap to Greatness, by Kate Beasley
Gertie and her five-part plan won my heart from the first line. What an unforgettable cast of characters, with boisterous, vulnerable Gertie leading the pack.
The Girl From Everywhere, by Heidi Heilig
This debut author created a time travel-device so fascinating, it made my head whirl! The book’s plot, characters, and setting were wonderful too. I can’t wait to get my hands on the next installment.
The Inquisitor’s Tale, by Adam Gidwitz
I usually can’t choose a single favorite book. Not this year! This was, hands down, my favorite book of 2016. Brilliant writing, rich and thoughtful themes, goofy humor, layered characters—I love this book!
Julia Vanishes, by Catherine Egan
I’m not sure what to call this novel. Is it fantasy, mystery, action adventure, or romance? Regardless, some stellar, thought-provoking world-building made this series opener stand out.
The Poet’s Dog, by Patricia MacLachlan
This gem stole my heart. MacLachlan packs each perfectly chosen word with avalanches of meaning, exploring grief, family, writing, and the power of love.
Samurai Rising: the Epic Life of Minamoto Yoshitsune, by Pamela Turner
Our teens are eating this up, but I was lukewarm on the topic of samurais—until I read the first page. Turner’s wonderfully researched, compelling story made me unable to put the book down. I’m a total sucker for the snarky humor, which kept me going through the be beheadings, too.
Snow White, by Matt Phelan
Even in a year with plenty of excellent graphic novels, this was my favorite. Phelan sets the classic fairy tale in the Roaring Twenties and Depression-era New York City, and pencil illustrations with brilliant touches of red add fascinating layers to a familiar story.
Some Writer! by Melissa Sweet.
A Tangle of Gold, by Jaclyn Moriarty
Bringing her Colours of Madeline series to a satisfying conclusion, Moriarty ties up an astonishing number of loose ends, reveals secrets—some not even suspected—and made me sigh, laugh, and fall in love all over again with the Kingdom of Cello.
When Mischief Came to Town, by Katrina Nannestad
Thanks to our book club readers who recommended this wonderful book! Inge Marie is a sort of Danish Anne of Green Gables, whose earnest efforts to help always seem to result in disaster. Laugh-out-loud funny, this sweet charming, book has the feel of a true classic.