Bookends Favorites 2018: Lynn’s Selections

Lynn: Choosing our list of annual favorites is SO hard! Cindy is right that I seldom can keep to the limit, but please remember she chose 16! This was an exceptional year and there are so many I wish I could include. Please stay tuned as we will soon post our Bookends Pre-Midwinter Awards which is a slightly comedic look at 2018, an amazing publishing year.


Young Readers

All-of-a-Kind Family Hanukkah, by Emily Jenkins

Many of my favorites this year are books that touched me personally. Jenkins and Zelinsky took me right back to a favorite childhood series with this heartwarming picture book.

Dreamers, by Yuri Moralesdreamers by Yuri Morales

This is a country built by immigrants and Morales’ picture book is as gorgeous as it is inspiring. And who can resist a story with lists of favorite books woven throughout?

Night Jobs, by Karen Hesse

The quiet magic of a school after hours and the endearing story of a sweet father-son relationship—along with G. Brian Karas’ lovely illustrations—make this book so special.

The Patchwork Bike, by Maxine Beneba Clarke

Vibrant, energetic, and wildly original! Who wouldn’t love those imaginative kids . . . and their weary mom?


Middle Grade

The Book of Boy, by Catherine Gilbert MurdockThe Book of Boy by Catherine Gilbert Murdock

Joyous, heartbreaking, and totally immersive. Has a contest between good and evil ever been so much fun?

The Girl Who Drew Butterflies, by Joyce Sidman

The most exquisitely written, illustrated, and documented scientific biography EVER for young readers.

Harbor Me, by Jacqueline Woodson

Woodson gets me every time! I laughed, I cried, I fell in love with these kids. I want to hand it to every reader I meet.

Marcus Vega Doesn’t Speak Spanish, by Pablo Cartaya

Cartaya’s richly written depictions of family and the Puerto Rican community shone in this story, as did the deeply endearing voice of Marcus—a wonderful character I won’t forget.

Merci Suarez Changes Gears, by Meg Medina

Here’s another beautifully written exploration of a close-knit family dealing with some tough issues and a young girl on the edge of adolescence. Medina nails sixth-graders!

Small Spaces by Katherine Arden

Small Spaces, by Katherine Arden

Deliciously shivery . . . and with scarecrows!

Snow Lane, by Josie Angelini

I only recently read this and—it must be my theme this year—the family dynamics are brilliantly drawn, as is the artlessly innocent voice of Annie and her hopeful view of all around her.

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

Storytelling at its best!


Young Adult

The Apocalypse of Elena Mendoza, by Shaun David Hutchinson

I think this is the most unusual, crazy, thought-provoking book I ever read! Did anyone hear me shouting “What?” and “Huh!” at the end of every chapter? I loved it!

The Assassination of Brangwain Spurge by M.T. Anderson

Apollo 8: the Mission that Changed Everything, by Martin W. Sandler

Oh, how I remember this mission and the inspiring photograph taken during the flight. Sandler’s account is riveting. The stark connections to where we are today are deeply disturbing.

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

Yes, I know this could also fit in middle-grade but I love it as a YA. Snarky, clever, and brilliantly executed, this is my number-one favorite book of the year.

Attucks!: Oscar Robertson and the Basketball Team that Awakened a City, by Phillip Hoose

I started high school in Indiana just seven short years after this team made history and I knew almost nothing about this searing story of prejudice, systemic discrimination, and the steadfast determination to change it. I was shocked and ashamed that I didn’t know these details but inspired by the people who would not stop until they set things right. And besides, I adore basketball and this underdog story is the best.

Attucks!: Oscar Robertson and the Basketball Team that Awakened a City by Phillip Hoose

Heart in a Body in a World, by Deb Caletti

This has a wonderfully crafted structure with a deeply believable exploration of grief and healing. I’ve never been a runner but Caletti almost convinced me to start! The cast of characters in this cleverly plotted story is terrific, with Annabelle’s support team and especially Grandpa Ed almost stealing the show.




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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