Top Best Books 2015,
Middle Grade and Picture Books

Three new childrens best books list have been released since our last roundup, the New York Times Book Review‘s Notable Childrens Books (25 titles), Horn Book Fanfare 2015 (25 titles), and Kirkus Middle Grade (50 titles). Below is the updated downloadable spreadsheet:

2015 Best Books Childrns and YA V2

With selections from six review sources, we can now assess the leading titles by number of picks in the Middle Grade and Picture Books categories (we’ll be able to assess YA when Kirkus releases their Teen picks on Dec. 14).

There’s very little agreement among the critics. Of the 217 titles, none were picked by all of the sources and over 86% were picked by two or fewer.

In Middle Grade titles, two of the finalists for the National Book Award were also hits with review editors, picked by 5 of the 6 sources (the Award winner, Brendan Shusterman’s Challenger Deep, a YA title, was picked by 3 sources).

In Picture Books, there is total disagreement between the New York Time Book Review’s Best Illustrated judges and the editors, as demonstarted by thier choices of the Most Notable Picture Books. None of the titles appear on both lists.

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Middle Grade Leaders

Ali Benjamin, The Thing About Jellyfish (Hachette/Little, Brown) — The Amazon’s editors rated this National Book Award Finalist as not only a Top Childrens Book, but one of the Top 100 overall. It was also picked by Kirkus, Publishers Weekly, School Library Journal and the New York Times Book Review, which calls it, “A shattering debut novel about a grieving, lonely girl, stung by the treachery of middle-school social alliances, who tries to use the scientific method to explain her former best friend’s death by drowning.”

Steve Sheinkin, Most Dangerous, (Macmillan/Roaring Brook) — In addition to being a National Book Award Finalist, this title also received 5 more picks. The NYT  BR calls it, “A riveting and remarkably effective account of Ellsberg’s life, his release of the Pentagon Papers and America’s tragic history in Vietnam.”

Rebecca Stead, Goodbye Stranger (RH/Wendy Lamb) — Five picks, including the NYT BR, “A seventh grader recovering from a near-fatal accident navigates changes in herself and her tight group of friends in this moving novel, which our reviewer, Meg Wolitzer, called ‘masterly.”

Victoria Jamieson, Roller Girl (Penguin/Dial) — Five picks. Says the NYT BR, “In this spiky, winning graphic novel, a summer at roller-derby day camp helps a 12-year-old girl learn to rechannel her anger and let go of her former, more uncertain self.”

Leading Picture Books


Kevin Henkes  Waiting (HarperCollins/Greenwillow) — Six picks, including the NYT BR Notable, (but not the NYT BR Best Illustrated);  “Five toys wait on a window ledge, each for something different, in this profound and beautiful take on patience and perspective from the matchless Henkes.”

JonArno Lawson and Sydney Smith,  Sidewalk Flowers (Groundwood) — Five picks, including the NYT BR Best Illustrated (but not the NYT BR Notable).

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