The Best Children’s Books of 2015 – Part Three

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Today’s list – middle grade novels – was especially challenging. I had some magical and memorable reading experiences in 2015, thanks especially to Brian Selznick, author of The Marvels and Kimberly Brubaker Bradely, the author of The War That Saved My Life. There are others….here is the complete list:

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The Thing About Jellyfish by Ali Benjamin (A painful, but moving and thoughtful story of Zu, a young girl whose best friend dies unexpectedly. Searching for answers, Zu sees a poisonous jellyfish exhibit during a school trip to the aquarium, she begins to use the scientific method to prove that it was a jellyfish that caused her friend’s death.) 

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The War That Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley (This might be my very favorite book of 2015. It’s perfect – a moving story set against the backdrop of WWII London and a cast of memorable and strong characters.)

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The Doldrums by Nicholas Gannon (For fans of The Mysterious Benedict Society, The Doldrums is about eleven-year-old Archer and his best friend, Oliver, who go in search of Archer’s grandparents who disappeared while exploring an iceberg in Antarctica.)

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Lost in the Sun by Lisa Graff (Another tough – but rewarding story – about Trent, a boy who accidentally hits a hockey puck that kills another boy. It was not his fault; the boy had an undiagnosed heart condition. But Trent is understandably consumed by guilt and anger.  Ultimately, it’s his friendship with a girl facing her own challenges that helps him move forward.)

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Sunny Side Up by Jennifer Holm (A powerful graphic novel that takes place in 1976 – which was part of the fun for me, references to Dorothy Hamill and Tab!  Sunny Lewin reluctantly agrees to spend the summer with her grandfather, who lives in a senior community in Florida. She thinks it might be fun, especially if they visit Disney World – but it’s also an escape from home where her brother is experiencing substance abuse problems. Suggest this one to fans of Raina Telgemeier!)

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Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson (Who would have thought that a graphic novel about roller derby would make me curious to see an actual roller derby event. Jamieson successfully juxtaposes the challenges of roller derby to the unexpected twists and turns of adolescence.) 

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Echo by Pam Munoz Ryan (Three interconnected stories with a harmonica at the center of each one. A rich novel about the power of music to change our lives.)

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The Marvels by Brian Selznick (At 670 pages, Selznick’s magical new book looks like a doorstop. But  open it up – the first 400 pages are a series of wordless pictures that are incredibly beautiful and tell a story. That story about five generations of a London acting family is continued in prose and all of it – the story, the book, the pictures – feels like a magical theater experience.)

Like millions of kids around the world, Inly students are participating in an Hour of Code this week. Hour of Code is an introduction to the world of computer programming – and judging from the enthusiastic kids in the library, it’s a big success. I was especially happy to see that one of the kids thought to include Curious George, but if he’s planning to participate, I need to get him some big books to sit on!

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