Tag Archives: YA

The 50 best children’s books of 2015, says PW

I like lists.

When it comes to books, I’m always interested in reading lists of what other people think are the best or worst, or the most highly acclaimed, and so on. Sometimes I make purchase decisions from those lists, usually after I’ve read reviews. (I’ve created a list for you HERE of the books I’ve reviewed.)

This week I read the lists compiled by Publishers Weekly of their opinion of the best children’s books of 2015. They selected fifty books: 17 Picture Books, 15 Middle Grade, and 18 Young Adult. I received permission from them to share those lists with you here, then if you want to read up on any of them yourself you can go THERE and read the full review of each book. Some even have Q & A with the author, or other interesting information.


  1. The Princess and the Pony – by Kate Beaton (Scholastic/Levine)
  2. The Day the Crayons Came Home – by Drew Daywalt, illus. by Oliver Jeffers (Philomel)
  3. Last Stop on Market Street – by Matt de la Peña, illus. by Christian Robinson (Putnam)
  4. This Bridge Will Not Be Gray – by Dave Eggers, illus. by Tucker Nichols (McSweeney’s)
  5. Home – by Carson Ellis (Candlewick)
  6. The Night World – by Mordicai Gerstein (Little, Brown)
  7. The Only Child – by Guojing (Random/Schwartz & Wade)
  8. Waiting – by Kevin Henkes (Greenwillow)
  9. The King and the Sea – by Heinz Janisch, illus. by Wolf Erlbruch (Gecko Press USA)
  10. Toys Meet Snow – by Emily Jenkins, illus. by Paul O. Zelinsky (Random/Schwartz & Wade)
  11. Sidewalk Flowers – by JonArno Lawson, illus. by Sydney Smith (Groundwood)
  12. Finding Winnie: The True Story of the World’s Most Famous Bear – by Lindsay Mattick, illus. by Sophie Blackall (Little, Brown)
  13. Thank You and Good Night – by Patrick McDonnell (Little, Brown)
  14. Flutter and Hum: Animal Poems/Aleteo y Zumbido: Poemas de Animales – by Julie Paschkis (Holt)
  15. Lenny & Lucy – by Philip C. Stead, illus. by Erin E. Stead (Roaring Brook/Porter)
  16. The Dog That Nino Didn’t Have – by Edward van de Vendel, illus. by Anton Van Hertbruggen (Eerdmans)
  17. Leo: A Ghost Story – by Mac Barnett, illus. by Christian Robinson (Chronicle)


  1. My Diary from the Edge of the World – by Jodi Lynn Anderson (S&S/Aladdin)
  2. The Thing About Jellyfish – by Ali Benjamin (Little, Brown)
  3. The War That Saved My Life – by Kim Brubaker Bradley (Dial)
  4. George – by Alex Gino (Scholastic Press)
  5. Lost in the Sun – by Lisa Graff (Philomel)
  6. Roller Girl – by Victoria Jamieson (Dial)
  7. Listen, Slowly – by Thanhhà Lai (Harper)
  8. Friends for Life – by Andrew Norriss (Scholastic/Fickling)
  9. The Nest – by Kenneth Oppel, illus. by Jon Klassen (Simon & Schuster)
  10. Echo – by Pam Muñoz Ryan (Scholastic Press)
  11. Most Dangerous: Daniel Ellsberg and the Secret History of the Vietnam War – by Steve Sheinkin (Roaring Brook)
  12. Orbiting Jupiter – by Gary D. Schmidt (Clarion)
  13. The Marvels – by Brian Selznick (Scholastic Press)
  14. Goodbye Stranger – by Rebecca Stead (Random/Lamb)
  15. Harriet the Invincible – by Ursula Vernon (Dial)


  1. Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda – by Becky Albertalli (HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray)
  2. Becky Albertalli (HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray)
  3. A Song for Ella Grey- by David Almond (Delacorte)
  4. Symphony for the City of the Dead: Dmitri Shostakovich and the Siege of Leningrad -byM.T. Anderson (Candlewick)
  5. The Game of Love and Death – by Martha Brockenbrough (Scholastic/Levine)
  6. Drowned City: Hurricane Katrina and New Orleans – by Don Brown (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
  7. Saint Anything – by Sarah Dessen (Viking)
  8. Magonia – by Maria Dahvana Headley (Harper)
  9. All the Bright Places – by Jennifer Niven (Knopf)
  10. Shadowshaper – by Daniel José Older (Scholastic/Levine)
  11. The Shepherd’s Crown – by Terry Pratchett (Harper)
  12. All American Boys – by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely (S&S/Atheneum/Dlouhy)
  13. Bone Gap – by Laura Ruby (HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray)
  14. The Hired Girl – by Laura Amy Schlitz (Candlewick)
  15. X: A Novel – by Ilyasah Shabazz, with Kekla Magoon (Candlewick)
  16. Challenger Deep – by Neal Shusterman (HarperTeen)
  17. Nimona – by Noelle Stevenson (HarperTeen)
  18. Trouble Is a Friend of Mine – by Stephanie Tromly (Penguin/Dawson)
  19. MARTians – by Blythe Woolston (Candlewick)

I hope these lists help make your book buying a little easier … or, if you’re anything like me, they’ll just make you aware of even more books you simply must have!

Thanks to Publishers Weekly for permission to share their lists for you to see.

I almost am embarrassed to admit I’ve not read any of the above books yet. How about you? Which ones have you read? Which ones do you now want to read, or gift to someone?

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂



How does a NaNoWriMo novel come to be? (and PiBoIdMo update)

If someone were to judge by my word count, one could conclude that all is lost for me.

My NaNoWriMo total does not look good in light of a remainder of four days in which to write 38155 words.  Even so, I can’t say that I agree with that doubt one hundred per cent, because there is still a chance, albeit a slim one. (Does that sound convoluted and writerly enough?)

Have I given up yet? No! Not yet, and I probably won’t until that last stroke of time on November 30. I will keep writing to see how far I can get in those four days.

It isn’t as if I have not been writing, it’s just not down on paper yet. You writers know what I mean. 🙂

This year I have a sketchy outline .. if it can be called an outline – more a list of ideas – a rough plan of where my story is going. I didn’t even have that until 7000 words in – page 24 of my notes – written in long hand, not on computer. My characters have become more complicated, my plot has thickened, and the loose ends are starting to have some meaning to them. Starting, you ask? Well, yes. How do I explain? …

When I began writing this novel for NaNo 2010, I started with nothing. Truly nothing. I prayed. The first line of my story is: I’m not even sure what I’m doing, but here I go anyway. So began my novel, with the main character adopting that line as her beginnings in my evolving story. (I use the word ‘novel’ rather loosely as I have never written one before and that is the goal of NaNo .. to write a 50000 word novel, or the beginnings of a longer one.)

With that first line the character took over, fleshed out as we went along, became a real person in my creative mind. She has a mother, a best friend, a boyfriend, a mystery person to learn about, a ‘treasure’ to research and find, and a whole set of emotions, fears, desires, irritations, and challenges to keep her going. Plus, there is a little humour woven in which makes it more real. (What is life without humour?)  And did I mention? .. there is an undercurrent of the paranormal in the mix.

When I stopped writing at just before midnight on November 30, 2010, my characters (the list had grown by three more essential ones) had complicated the plot considerably. It had become exciting to write this story. In fact, whenever one particular character appeared in a scene I would get chills right down my spine every time!  What’s with that? And the personalities were developing so that I had quite an assortment interacting with one another. It was amazing to me!

When I stopped writing … I set them all aside. I had three different conflicts to resolve. I had a vague idea of where the story was going, but no clear direction of how to get there.

I left the story untouched, read it through months later and was amazed – not because I thought it was genius (which I didn’t), but because it came out of my imagination. With a pen and a large binder full of paper this whole adventure appeared. That is amazing to me.

I put it away.

Then entered NaNoWriMo 2011. Another large binder full of paper, the desire to finish what I had started last year, but …

I found it was so difficult to pick up and keep going with this story. I chose to do that, though, because I really want to see how this story will turn out before I start creating a new one. Only this time it is not flowing the way it did last year. This time it is a struggle. But .. more has come to light, my main character has a summer job now, the intensity is growing, the twists and turns add depth and drama. I seem to be going deeper into conflict, which means it will be more challenging to find my way out .. to help my characters find satisfactory resolutions.

But, you know .. I love it! Is this what it means to be a writer?

Learning as I go, I know that I have to work out my time line so that things connect and not remain disjointed. Therein lies the biggest challenge for me, equal to sorting out the small details to make it all work. Hopefully, that will all come together in the editing.

I know this novel may never go anywhere, but I can dream, can’t I? Maybe it will be of interest to someone. Maybe it has to wait its time before being picked up. But .. I digress ..

I have a story to complete in four days! I have mysteries to solve, people’s lives to sort out, justice to be served.  Yes, and a treasure to find. Even I don’t yet know for sure where it is. I have to write!

This is a fitting place to end this post, but I want to add that I am also participating in PiBoIdMo this year, as I did last year. I have been trying to come up with an idea a day for picture books. That is another challenge, and a fun one. I haven’t found one every day, but almost, and on some days I came up with more than one. By the end of this month my total should be 30 ideas, one for each of the 30 days of November. Right now I stand at 37 ideas .. so really, I have already won! 🙂 I am learning even more this year about writing for children, and I love it. Thanks to Tara Lazar, a creative spirit and author of children’s books. ( http://taralazar.wordpress.com/ )

I have much do to, but .. first I must write!

Any comments?  If you are a writer, what do you most love about the process?

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings! 🙂