Wednesday, December 23, 2015

2015 In Review: Middle Grade Novels

As the year winds down, I am looking back at the books I read that were published in 2015 and sharing a few of my favorites. Check out My Favorite Poetry Books of 2015 here.

This year, I read 20 novels in-and-around the "middle grade" reading and interest level. I had several favorites, a few of which I think could be strong Newbery contenders for this year. Others, I simply enjoyed for my own reasons. I look forward to hearing your thoughts about these books too.

Possible Newbery Contenders

Listen, Slowly (2015) by Thanhhà Lại. This book is incredible, and I love how different it is in style and feeling from her first book. In this story, our main character is a Vietnamese-American girl, raised in California, and she typifies the ongoing conflict between recent immigrants and their Americanized children. Mai/Mia is surprised to find herself in Vietnam for the summer with her grandmother, attempting to help uncover the mysteries about what actually happened to her prisoner of war grandfather back in Vietnam. An incredible story of family, heritage, and belonging. Highly recommended.

Paper Things (2015) by Jennifer Richard Jacobson. This is such a powerful and important story and one that so rarely is told. Orphans may be over-represented in children's literature, but homeless kids are often invisible. This is a tug-at-the-heartstrings story, for sure, but I appreciate that the author also kept in real, especially moving towards the end of the book. Well worth the read.

Echo (2015) by Pam Muñoz Ryan. This lovely, lyrical novel weaves together three individual stories into its powerful conclusion. I have had this one sitting on my TBR stack, eagerly awaiting the end of the school year. I will admit to quickly skimming past the reviews of others recently, as I didn't want anything to spoil my reading of this book! So I will leave my review at this ... it was well worth the wait!

Nightbird by Alice Hoffman. Nightbird is an incredibly bewitching tale of a novel that draws readers in through the intimate and unique voice of the narrator, 12 year-old Teresa, better known as Twig. The story begins as a simple tale, but it does not take long for the deeper secrets and mysteries to begin to surface. Every town and every family has a history, and even events from hundreds of years ago can have impacts and resonate into our present day. Twig must learn to navigate an ever-changing landscape of small-town intrigues and unusual happenings. This middle grade treasure is a must-have for upper elementary and middle school libraries and classrooms and is likely to become a classic.

Other favorites, pitched a bit on the younger side


Other Great Middle Grade books published in 2015

What were YOUR favorite books published this year?


  1. Wasn't a fan of Echo, but liked most of your other choices. Haven't seen much attention for Paper Things, but it's circulated well. Lots of good books here.

  2. Thanks for giving me a sneak peek into what might be Newberry Contenders!

  3. I am going to find Paper Things, it looks good.
    I enjoyed your list.
    Thanks for helping to host KLBH!

    Naila Moon


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