Bookends Favorites 2018: Cindy’s Selections

Cindy: Once again, Lynn and I are going to share our favorite books of 2018. I hope some of them end up winning awards, but that is not in our criteria for selecting them—these are the books we most enjoyed reading. I suggested limiting ourselves to 10 but then ended up listing 16. We both have trouble sticking to limits. Watch for Lynn’s list later this week and see how many she picks!


Young Readers

My granddog Scrappy, a rescue lab mix and the best dog ever, was diagnosed with late-stage cancer last April and we lost him six weeks later. I had many favorite picture books last year, but these two helped me through a really rough patch. Thank you to Seeger and Lies for your affirming stories and incredible art!

Blue, by Laura Vaccaro Seeger

The Rough Patch, by Brian Lies


Middle Grade

The Assassination of Brangwain Spurge, by M. T. Anderson and Eugene Yelchin

Anderson and Yelchin are a dream team. Their book should be required reading for all members of Congress; it will give them ideas how to reach across the aisle.

The Girl Who Drew Butterflies: How Maria Merian’s Art Changed Science, by Joyce Sidman

Why has it taken centuries for women to be acknowledged as serious scientists? Why?

Secret Sisters of the Salty Sea, by Lynne Rae Perkins

I love the beach and I love Perkins’ ode to the special joys of summers spent outdoors.

Small Spaces, by Katherine Arden

Damn the budget—I need dozens of copies of this scary story for my sixth graders when I booktalk it! Scarecrows have always creeped me out; now they give me nightmares.

Spooked! How a Radio Broadcast and The War of the Worlds Sparked the 1938 Invasion of America, by Gail Jarrow

Fake News? Gullibility? We fixed that back in 1939, right? Um . . . .Sweep

Sweep: The Story of a Girl and Her Monster, by Jonathan Auxier

Nan and Char won my heart—I laughed, I wept. Auxier is a master storyteller.

The Truth as Told by Mason Buttle, by Leslie Conner

Mason won my heart, too. XOXO


Young Adult

1968: Today’s Authors Explore a Year of Rebellion, Revolution & Change, edited by Marc Aronson and Susan Campbell Bartoletti

I was only six years old during 1968. Thank you to the authors of this nonfiction collection who brought the history to life.

Blood Water Paint, by Joy McCullough

Artist Artemisia Gentileschi is one of my heroes. I loved this verse-novel addition to her #metoo story.

Boots on the Ground: America’s War in Vietnam, by Elizabeth Partridge

If your students are going to read one book about the Vietnam War, make it this one.

The Cruel Prince, by Holly Black

Holly Black is the fairy queen. The Wicked King will surely be on my list of 2019 favorites.

Fatal Throne: The Wives of Henry VIII Tell All, edited by Candace Fleming

M. T. Anderson as Henry VIII and a host of my favorite female authors telling the stories of his fated wives . . . loved it.

Thunderhead, by Neal Shusterman

I remember swearing that I wouldn’t read brilliant trilogies until all three books are published. I forgot my rule and now I am doomed to wait very impatiently for book three. Sigh.

Voices in the Air: Poems for Listeners, by Naomi Shihab Nye

When one of America’s best poets offers a plea for being present and setting aside your devices, you have a winning collection of poems.



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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