Judy Freeman and I Agree – 10 of the Best Books Published in 2015

Recently I attended an excellent workshop by Judy Freeman called What’s New In Children’s Literature and Strategies for Using It in Your Program.  It includes a workbook with an list of the 150 Best Children’s Books published in 2015.  I was excited to see some of the books I featured on the blog on the list.  There were several that I started entries about last year; but wasn’t able to polish and publish the posts.  Truthfully, some of the posts just have a title and author.  Here are 10 books that Judy Freeman loved which I meant to share with you in 2015.

I love what Judy said on how to determine if a book is great.  “Did the book leave you Surprised? Startled? Satisfied?  Each of these books left me that way.


Mesmerized: How Ben Franklin Solved a Mystery that Baffled All of France by Mara Rockliff and illustrated by Iacopo Bruno


Ketzel, the Cat who Composed by Leslea Newman and illustrated by Amy June Bates


Lillian’s Right to Vote: A Celebration of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 by Jonah Winter and illustrated by Shane W. Evans

Mama Seeton

Mama Seeton’s Whistle by Jerry Spinelli and illustrated LeUyen Pham


Mango, Abuela and Me by Meg Medina and illustrated by Angela Dominguez

three best friends

My Three Best Friends and Me, Zulay by Cari Best and illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-Newton

Billys Boogers

Billy’s Booger: A Memoir by William Joyce

Stick and Stone

Stick and Stone by Beth Ferry and illustrated Tom Lichtenheld

Imagiinary Fred

Imaginary Fred by Eoin Colfer and illustrated by Oliver Jeffers

The Nest

The Nest by Kenneth Oppel and illustrated by Jon Klassen

For Bronte: Future Author/Illustrator – Two Middle Grade Books

Under The EggThe Boundless

ML and I perused her yearbook together recently.  Under each picture of the fifth graders, were their names and what they wanted to be when they grew up.  Many made me laugh, especially the one who wants to be a worker’s compensation lawyer.  To know so young the specific area of law you want to practice. . . he must know a worker’s comp lawyer.  I’ve met people halfway through law school who are still unsure.  Some even after graduation.

Several students’ answers warmed my heart and reminded me of great books to recommend to these rising middle schoolers.

Bronte wants to be an author and illustrator.  ML worships her.  We’ve seen her artwork.  I read her poetry for the Poetry Celebration.  Look out Children’s Publishing World.  I’ve seen the future and it’s talented.

The synopsis for the recommendations for Bronte are straight from the publishers’ websites.  Each book involves art.  One a mysterious painting.  The other a young man whose passion is drawing.

Under The Egg by Laura Marx Fitzgerald – When Theodora Tenpenny spills a bottle of rubbing alcohol on her late grandfather’s painting, she discovers what seems to be an old Renaissance masterpiece underneath. That’s great news for Theo, who’s struggling to hang onto her family’s two-hundred-year-old townhouse and support her unstable mother on her grandfather’s legacy of $463. There’s just one problem: Theo’s grandfather was a security guard at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and she worries the painting may be stolen.

With the help of some unusual new friends, Theo’s search for answers takes her all around Manhattan, and introduces her to a side of the city—and her grandfather—that she never knew. To solve the mystery, she’ll have to abandon her hard-won self-reliance and build a community, one serendipitous friendship at a time.

The Boundless by Kenneth Oppel – The Boundless, the greatest train ever built, is on its maiden voyage across the country, and first-class passenger Will Everett is about to embark on the adventure of his life!

When Will ends up in possession of the key to a train car containing priceless treasures, he becomes the target of sinister figures from his past.

In order to survive, Will must join a traveling circus, enlisting the aid of Mr. Dorian, the ringmaster and leader of the troupe, and Maren, a girl his age who is an expert escape artist. With villains fast on their heels, can Will and Maren reach Will’s father and save The Boundless before someone winds up dead?

I’m working on some books for ML’s other favorite almost middle schooler.  She wants to own a restaurant.  A new book arrived at the library last week which looks promising for a future professional chef.

The King’s Taster


The King’s Taster by Kenneth Oppel and illustrated by Steve Johnson and Lou Fancher – The  new king is a picky eater and bratty boy.  His taster who makes sure the food is not poisoned is Max… a dog who knows his master is the “best cook in the kingdom.”  The king does not agree.  He won’t try anything… wild boar, venison, cheese pies, french fries, pizza, or tacos.  The king decides it’s time to get rid of the cook by chopping of his head.  Max saves his masters life when he discovers the  reason the king will not eat anything cooked by the royal chef.  The little brat is spoiling his dinner by sneaking all sorts of treats.  How does the chef handle the situation?  He threatens to tell the king’s mom.

Kenneth Oppel writes picture books and chapter books for children, plus young adult novels.  His book Airborne is a 2005 Michael L. Prinz Honor Book.  (That’s a big deal!)  I look forward to exploring his longer works for book ideas when ML is a teenager.

According to their website, Steve Johnson and Lou Fancher “have worked as a creative team for over 26 years… together they have illustrated over 45 children’s books, including Dr. Seuss’s My Many Colored Days and Jon Scieszka’s The Frog Prince, Continued.”  More of this imaginative teams books will be featured on this blog.  A little heads up… look at my post on Baseball’s Opening Day.