The Bear Ate Your Sandwich
If You Plant a Seed
My Three Best Friends and Me, Zulay
Top choice: This was very hard to choose, since all five are fantastic. But The Bear Ate Your Sandwich is so funny and has such a fabulously delightful ending that rivaled no other picture book I read last year.
The Empire Strikes Back: So You Want to be a Jedi?
A Handful of Stars
Top choice: It was a tough decision between Echo and A Handful of Stars, but minor quibbles with thematic details with Echo make me choose Cynthia Lord's latest impeccable novel. It's a deeply moving and beautifully rendered book about two unlikely friends against the backdrop of rural migratory life.
The Boys Who Challenged Hitler: Knud Petersen and the Churchill Club
Earmuffs for Everyone: How Chester Greenwood Became Known as the Inventor of Earmuffs
Gingerbread for Liberty! How a German Baker Helped Win the American Revolution
Mahalia Jackson: Walking With Kings and Queens
One Plastic Bag: Isatou Ceesay and the Recycling Women of the Gambia
Top choice: All five are brilliant portrayals of inspiring people, but The Boys Who Challenged Hitler absolutely blew me away with its depiction of a group of very brave teenage boys who protested against the evil regime of Nazi Germany.
I Am Princess X
Red Girl, Blue Boy
These Shallow Graves
Top choice: Very close between I Am Princess X and These Shallow Graves, but Jennifer Donnelly's latest is pretty pitch-perfect in every way: the murder mystery investigation, the atmospheric setting of 19th century aristocratic New York and the seedy underworld that co-existed, the dramatic romance ...this is why Jennifer Donnelly doesn't churn out YA novels year after year. Her books exist in a high stratosphere.
Graphic Novels (children's, young adult, and adult):
Lost in NYC
March: Book Two
Sunny Side Up
Top choice: It's not fair to have adult, YA, and children's graphic novels lumped together, but I didn't read enough adult graphic novels to justify separating them. Sunny Side Up is my choice; it is a sensitive and honest account of how a family struggles when an older child gets into serious trouble, but told in an age-appropriate manner. Although it's quite serious at times, the friendship between the two main young characters (who bond over their love of comics) is charming and heartwarming.
Ashley's War: The Untold Story of a Team of Women Soldiers on the Special Ops Battlefield
In the Unlikely Event
Something Must be Done About Prince Edward County: A Family, A Virginia Town, A Civil Rights Battle
The Wright Brothers
Top choice: Very difficult, because I am very choosy about the adult fiction/nonfiction that I read. If I am not enthralled right away, I won't finish it. Therefore, every one of these books is an extraordinary read, in my opinion. However, Ashley's War was quite incredible from beginning to end (and absolutely heartbreaking, but definitely worthwhile). You'll hear more about Ashley's War in the near future; Reese Witherspoon's production company bought the film rights.
We're not quite done with 2015 books! The ALA Youth Media Awards (including the Caldecott and Newbery medals) will be announced on January 11 at 8 AM EST.
In the meantime, get an early start on your 2016 reads by checking out this week's Wowbrary. Some last-minute 2015 additions to our children's and young adult collections, in addition to some spectacular early 2016 titles will be included in this edition. Subscribe to Wowbrary to be among the first to know about new additions to our collection.
Jennifer Schultz, Youth Services Librarian, Fauquier County Public Library