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

BookendsLynn: It’s the season of the “best” lists again! We’re joining in with our personal favorites of 2015. Some of these are surely award-worthy, while others are simply delightful books we loved reading. Some we blogged and some we didn’t but we at least want to include them here. We are each creating a single list of mixed formats, genres, and age levels this year so we’ve had to limit our choices severely. I managed to keep it to 12 but it wasn’t easy!

Picture Books

The Bear Ate Your Sandwich by Julia Sarcone-RoachThe Bear Ate Your Sandwich, by Julie Sarcone-Roach

There is a very unreliable narrator at work in this hilarious picture book. The focus group and I giggled until we could hardly turn the pages! Gorgeous illustrations, too.

Hoot Owl: Master of Disguise, by Sean Taylor

An over-the-top story and adorable illustrations make this an absolute hoot of a picture book!

Chapter Books and Middle Grade

Crenshaw by Katherine ApplegateCrenshaw, by Katherine Applegate

Applegate is a master of saying a lot with a few simple words and this story of young boy with big worries is so moving. Jackson’s snarky, imaginary friend Crenshaw is welcome at my house anytime.

Diva and Flea, by Mo Willems

A magical pairing of text and illustrations—and the setting didn’t hurt, either. I fell in love with the characters and am sorely tempted to run away to Paris to join Flea and Diva as an aspiring flâneur.

Goodbye Stranger, by Rebecca Stead

Stead is pitch-perfect on the terrors, challenges, and joys of the tentative first steps of adolescence.

Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer, by Kelly Jones

This sweet, quirky book went right to my heart with all the elements I love most: epistolary format, appealing characters, humor, and a touch of magic. And who can resist chickens with super powers?

Young Adult

Boys Don’t Knit (in Public), by T. S. Easton

First class worrier Ben MEANS well but somehow his life has become a complete tangle. Hilarity reigns especially in a knitting-competition scene that Laurel and Hardy would envy.

Hunter, by Mercedes Lackey

The veteran Lackey’s YA debut shows us all how a master does it. If there is now a fantasy Hunger Games subgenre, Lackey bounds right to the top with this terrifically entertaining series starter.

Most Dangerous: Daniel Ellsberg and the Secret History of the Vietnam War, by Steve Sheinkin

Amazing! Sheinkin makes the convoluted history of the Vietnam War as clear as humanly possible and connects teen readers to issues of the Vietnam War era that are still relevant today. I believe Sheinkin could make a grocery list compelling!

The Scorpion Rules by Erin BowThe Scorpion Rules, by Erin Bow

Talis, the AI controlling our future Earth has a simple rule about keeping the peace: make it personal. Its sarcastic voice nearly stole the book but Bow also offers also first-rate world building, compelling characters, and one heck of a page-turner plot.

Symphony for the City of the Dead: Dmitri Shostakovich and the Siege of Leningrad, by M. T. Anderson

I didn’t think it was possible to respect Anderson’s writing more, but I was wrong. Reading this book was like taking a deep dive into Russian history, music theory, the impact of war and fear on the creative process, and the profound effect of music on traumatized souls. I couldn’t put it down and, months later, I can’t forget this reading experience.

A Thousand Nights, by E. K. Johnston

E. K. Johnston continues to impress me with her original interpretations of standard tropes. Her lyrical writing in this Arabian Nights twist is as gorgeous as it is compelling.



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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