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The Emus’ Favorite Reads of 2015

We’re drawing to the close of 2015, and it’s been another great year of writing and reading for the Emus! Here are some of the titles we adored most this year:

PICTURE BOOKS

archieDebbi Michiko Florence: BUNNIES by Kevan Atteberry. Laugh out loud funny and cute!bunnies

Jason Gallaher: For an Antarctic, Literally Laughing Out Loud PB moment, everyone should read ARCHIE THE DAREDEVIL PENGUIN by Andy Rash. These are the most hysterical penguins you’ll ever see!

Elaine Vickers: My kids and I fell absolutely in love with two Pat Zietlow Miller titles this year: WHEREVER YOU GO and SHARING THE BREAD. Gorgeous and touching for grownups, and tons of kid appeal too.

MIDDLE GRADE AND CHAPTER BOOKS

Debbi Michikechoo Florence: For middle grade, GOODBYE STRANGER by Rebecca Stead, A HANDFUL OF STARS by Cynthia Lord – both are touching and sweet with characters you ache for. For chapter books, CLEO EDISON OLIVER, PLAYGROUND MILLIONAIRE by Sundee Frazier (but it’s not out till January).

Elly Schwartz: THE CROSSOVER by Kwame Alexander and RAIN REIGN by Ann M. Martin. Loved both. PAPER THINGS by Jennifer Jacobson. EACH LITTLE BIRD THAT SINGS by Deborah Wiles (not new in 2015, but new to me), and THE CHARMED CHILDREN OF ROOKSKILL CASTLE by our own Janet Fox (coming in March!)moonpenny

Hayley Barrett: K.A. Holt’s HOUSE ARREST is dazzling, and I loved Natalie Llyod’s A SNICKER OF MAGIC.

Tamara Ellis SmithECHO by Pam Muñoz Ryan and CRENSHAW by Katharine Applegate.

Sarvinder NaberhausFISH IN A TREE by Lynda Mullaly Hunt

Jennifer Chambliss BertmanI bought Steve Sheinken’s MOST DANGEROUS as a Christmas gift, but couldn’t resist reading it first myself. It’s so good , I’m now gifting it to two people instead of just the one, and I’m keeping the original copy I bought for myself. Another favorite was MOONPENNY ISLAND by Tricia Springstubb. Beautiful writing.

YOUNG ADULT

Janet FoxdeathMartha Brockenbrough’s THE GAME OF LOVE AND DEATH was a favorite, and Laura Ruby’s BONE GAP!

Elaine Vickers: CHALLENGER DEEP by Neal Shusterman and CALVIN by Martine Leavitt were both thoughtful and powerful novels about mental
illness that were so beautifully written.

Tamara Ellis Smith: THE GAME OF LOVE AND DEATH by Martha Brockenbrough, and DIRT BIKES, DRONES, AND OTHER WAYS TO FLY by Conrad Wesselhoeftsimon

Elly Schwartz: FAT ANGIE by E.E. Charlton-Trujillo

Jason Gallaher: The book that blew me away this year was Becky Albertalli’s SIMON VS. THE HOMO SAPIENS AGENDA. This is the kind of book that scared-to-come-out 15-year-old me would have felt so comforted and reassured and Holy-Moly-I’m-Not-Alone to have read. Plus, it’s got one of the cutest YA couples ever!

Thanks for participating, Emus! And readers, what were your favorite books of 2015?

 

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EMU’s Best Under-the-Radar Kids’ Books of 2012!

Well, friends, it’s February now…which I think means that 2012 is truly, officially over. Best-of lists have been made, many literary awards covering the last year have been handed out, and we EMUs heartily congratulate our fellow authors who’ve been honored (including an impressive slew of EMU Emeriti!).

And yet, we can’t help thinking back on our favorite reads of the year—the ones that we couldn’t put down, the ones that made us swoon. The ones that, months later, we keep recommending to the kids (OK, and grown-ups) in our lives, even if they weren’t mega-best sellers or fancy award winners.

I asked a few fellow EMUs to share their favorite books that were published in 2012, focusing on titles that may have flown under the radar a little bit—and of course, they came through with enthusiasm. Looks like everyone’s TBR pile is about to get a little taller…

Carol Brendler

fitzosbornesI loved The FitzOsbornes at War, the third in a trilogy by Michelle Cooper (Knopf). A sort of alternative history of England in the second world war, the book is refreshingly sophisticated, well written, and meticulously and thoroughly researched. While not exactly ignored in the world of children’s literature, it’s one I felt deserved more attention than some of the top sellers.


Adi Rule

SledMy favorite read of 2012 was a picture book—The Iciest, Diciest, Scariest Sled Ride Ever! by Rebecca Rule (my mum) & Jennifer Thermes (Islandport Press). What happens when Lizzie, Patty P, Patty H, the Lapierre brothers, and even Chipper the dog decide to haul the long travois sled all the way up the big hill and ride it down?


Pat Zietlow Miller

little dogI will go with Little Dog, Lost by Marion Dane Bauer (Atheneum). It’s so sad. But it’s so sweet. On so many different levels. It’s such a moving look at loneliness and longing and love. And the writing? Exemplary.


Laurie Ann Thompson

BIGI loved BIG, written by Coleen Paratore and illustrated by Clare Fennell (Little Pickle Press).

Kids always want to be “bigger,” and adults tell children “you can do that when you’re bigger,” but there are plenty of ways little ones can be “big” in a different and much more important sense of the word. This empowering and inspiring book shows how even little children can accomplish some pretty big ideas—like being responsible for themselves and caring for others—and it serves as a gentle reminder to adult readers as well. The illustrations are bright and fun, and they enhance the text beautifully. This is definitely one of my favorite picture books of the year.

CrowAnd if I can add one more, I’d say As The Crow Flies by Sheila Keenan, illustrated by Kevin Duggan (Feiwel & Friends). This nonfiction picture book about crows is the book I was planning to write next, so I was angry and disappointed when I first saw that someone had beaten me to it. Once I saw it, though, I couldn’t be angry or disappointed anymore. It’s true to my idea and exactly what I wanted to accomplish, and it’s executed so, so well. I’m just happy to see it out in the world. Beautiful art, beautiful text, beautiful subject.


Tara Dairman

imgresIn middle grade, I adored Remarkable by Lizzie K. Foley (Dial). Clever, quirky, and often just downright hilarious, I think that any shelf containing Roald Dahl or Lemony Snicket books can’t be considered complete without it. Really, I defy any reader not to be charmed by this book—it has a pirate character named Captain Rojo Herring, for heaven’s sake.

FairCoin_250x387And in YA, I loved Fair Coin by E.C. Myers (Pyr). Featuring wonderfully believable teen characters and a just-freaky-enough sci-fi concept involving parallel universes, I couldn’t put this book down. It stands alone, but now a sequel, Quantum Coin, is out, too!


So, blog readers, have you read any of our picks? Or do you have any under-the-radar recommendations of your own? We’d love to hear about them in the comments!

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