One Writer’s Journey

August 10, 2017

Top 100 YA Titles according to a SLJ poll

Filed under: Uncategorized — suebe @ 1:26 am
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In November of 2015, School Library Journal (SLJ) sent out a poll asking professionals in the field what books would make it onto their Top 100 Must-Have YA books.  The poll was answered by 274 people responses.  29% said that they work in a public library. 43 percent identified as school librarians. SLJ noted that the list contained both contemporary titles as well as genre fiction.

She did note one disturbing absence.  Only 2 books in the top 10 have diverse characters.  Looking at the top 50 books only expands that list to 7 titles.  SLJTeen and YA reviews editor Shelley Diaz noted this lack of diversity and wrote a blog post, “42 Diverse Must-Have YA Titles for Every Library.”

I have to admit that as I glanced at the top 10, I was feeling pretty good about myself.  After all, I’ve read six of them. Not surprising really since these are all popular titles.

1.The “Harry Potter” series by J.K. Rowling.  I actually read the whole series in something like 7 weeks.  In truth, that’s not something I would advise. 
2.The “Hunger Games” trilogy by Suzanne Collins. I liked these better than Harry Potter but that’s just me.
3. Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson. Loved this one too.
4. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green.  I have to admit that this is the one John Green I’ve skipped.  It sounds like a bummer book, unlike The Hunger Games which is all flowers and happiness.
5. Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell. I’ve heard good things about this but . . . romance.
6. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. This one I’ve somehow just missed.
7. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie. One of my all time favorites.
8. The “Divergent” series by Veronica Roth. I’ve read the first book and need to read the rest.
9. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky. This is one I want to read again.  I’ve listened to the audiobook and want to read the hard copy.
10. Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher. Amazing.  Difficult.  Not fun. Yes, a bummer book, but amazing.

This part makes me look really well read.  But the rest?  Not so much.  I have to admit that without covers and descriptions, I know that I’ve read that author.  But that book?  I’m just not sure so I didn’t count it.

The Top 100 list includes both new titles and classics.  I’ve read all the classics.  I’ve read a lot less of contemporary books and that includes the 42 diverse books.  A bit part of the problem is that I don’t read a whole lot of YA unless it is a genre book.  The SF/F titles?  Those I’ve read.

So I’ll be heading to the library with my list.  You can request the full list and read the SLJ article about the list here. This includes both the Top 100 and the 42 Diverse Titles.



September 29, 2016

Top Nonfiction Picture Books

Filed under: Uncategorized — suebe @ 1:14 am
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cup-1010916_1920Earlier this week, writing buddy Stephanie Bearce asked me for a list of the Top Nonfiction Picture Books in the last 5 years.  Where to start?  There are so many book lists out there — bestsellers, various ALA awards and more.  I decided to start with the top nonfiction as selected by School Library Journal.  Here’s the list I compiled based on their recommendations.  Note: These are not all of the picture books on their lists.  For example, I eliminated poetry because I’m a nonfiction author, not a poet. I also eliminated some of the ones I haven’t read or didn’t like. Yes.  I’m a fickle pickle.:

Don Brown’s Henry and the Cannons: An Extraordinary True Story of the American Revoluion. (Roaring Brook 2013)  Study this one if you want to write about a well-covered topic.

Jen Bryant’s The Right Word: Roget and his Thesaurus (Eerdman’s 2014).  The text, illustration and book design worked together really well on this one.

Jason Chin’s Island: A Story of the Galapagos (Roaring Brook 2012).

Lois Ehlert’s The Scraps Book: Notes from a Colorful Life (Beach Lane 2014).  An author/illustrator I adore but somehow missed this book.  I’ll have to pop by the library site.

David Elliot’s On the Wing (Candlewick 2014). Fantastic collection of “bird” poetry.

Bryan Floca’s Locomotive (Richard Jackson Book, 2013).

Gary Golio’s Bird and Diz (Candlewick 2015).  I love Golio’s books.  How did I miss this one? Popping over to the library to send in a request.

Steve Jenkin’s Eye to Eye: How Animals See the World (Houghton Harcout, 2014).  Love Jenkins books both for the illustrations and the fun animals I get to meet.

Angela Johnson’s All Different Now: Juneteenth, the First Day of Freedom (S&S 2014).  This is illustrated by E.B. White.  After hearing him speak at a conference, I’m eager to see this book and how his illustrations demonstrate the points he made.

Sandra Markel’s The Long, Long Journey (Millbrook 2013).  This is about the godwit. The what?  Yep, study this one for how to write about a bird that isn’t a household name.

Andrea Davis Pinkney’s Rhthym Ride: A Road Trip through Motown Sound (Roaring Brook 2015).  Another request.  I’m something like job security for the librarians.

Mara Rockliff’s  Mesmerized: How Ben Franklin Solved a Mystery that Baffled All of France (Candlewick, 2015).  Loved this book!  Loved it.  History and intrigue made a great combination.

Katherine Roy’s Neighborhood Sharks: Hunting with the Great Whites of California’s Farallon Islands (Roaring Brook 2014).

Duncan Tonatiuh’s Funny Bones: Posada and His Day of the Dead Calaveras (Abrams 2015).  Another great one.  Love the theme and the coverage is really thorough.

Duncan Tonatiuh’s Seperate is Never Equal: Syvlia Mendez and her Family’s Fight for Desegregation (Abrams 2014).  Powerful story but I especially loved his Maya-inspired illustrations.

I did notice that most of the books that made the list were from big name publishers.  That said there were a few that weren’t so that’s hopeful.  Remember that these are chosen by SLJ. These are books that are top notch for a the school market.  That means that there are doubtlessly a lot of books that are excellent but don’t meet that criteria.  Still, that’s the criteria I went with since I want to teach.  Yes, I want to do so in a fun way but I want my books in the schools.

Anyway, this is the list.  Ta-da!  Hope it is helpful and  Happy Reading!


December 7, 2010

What Kids are Reading for Fun

Ok, it probably would have been more accurate to subtitle the post “Confessions of a List Junky.” To do lists, lists of Christmas presents to be bought and already bought, grocery lists and more can be found scattered around my desk, on top of the microwave and on both bulletin board and frig.

But here’s one I didn’t have to compile.

And aren’t lists of books that kids are reading the best?  Sure, award winning books chosen by librarians are good, adults after all buy the books more often than not, but I love to hear what kids are gravitating towards.  Lucky for me that School Library Journal asked several middle school librarians what their students are reading and pulled it all together into one tidy article (see here).

It didn’t surprise me to see Rick Riordan or J.K. Rowling on the list but I got a pleasant surprise when I saw this book cover heading up the article.  It is the cover for none other than Tales of the Cryptids: Mysterious Creatures That May or May Not Exist by Kelly Milner Halls, Rick Spears, and Roxyanne Young (Darby Creek, 2006).

This has long been one of my son’s favorites.  He has the tween boys’ fascination with cryptids, ghosties and things that go bump in the night.  Kelly is also one of my favorite nonfiction authors and an all around generous soul so I was super happy to see her book on the list.  Given that the title has been in print for five years, that is quite a coup for her and her co-authors.

Congrats to all of the authors whose books made it onto the list.  My son and I have read some of Jeff Smith’s Bone comics and I’ve seen but not yet read The Strange Case of Origami Yoda. Admittedly, I wasn’t familiar with some of them so I’ll be printing this up for my son and I to use on our library jaunts over Christmas Break.  After all, what’s two weeks off school without Christmas cookies and several trips to the library?


November 24, 2010

I’m Thankful for Great Books

Filed under: Uncategorized — suebe @ 4:35 am
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With Thanksgiving coming up tomorrow, this will be my last post for the week.  Among the many things that I’m thankful for are great books and the people who put book lists together.  Check out the 2010 Best Books lists from School Library Journal. I’m just going to give you authors and titles.  For descriptions, follow the links.

Picture Books:

BARTON, Chris. Shark vs. Train. illus. by Tom Lichtenheld.

BLEXBOLEXSeasons. tr. from French by Claudia Bedrick. illus. by author.

BROWNE, Anthony. Me and You. illus. by author.

FLEMING, Candace. Clever Jack Takes the Cake. illus. by G. Brian Karas.

FRAZEE, Marla. The Boss Baby. illus. by author.

Don't want to go(Original Import)

HUGHES, Shirley. Don’t Want to Go! illus. by author.

Dust Devil(Original Import)

ISAACS, Anne. Dust Devil. illus. by Paul O. Zelinsky.

KAPLAN, Bruce Eric. Monsters Eat Whiny Children. illus. by author.

NELSON, Marilyn. Snook Alone. illus. by Timothy Basil Ering.

KERLEY, Barbara. The Extraordinary Mark Twain (According to Susy). illus. by Edwin Fotheringham.

NELSON, Marilyn. Snook Alone. illus. by Timothy Basil Ering.

O’MALLEY, Kevin. Animal Crackers Fly the Coop. illus. by author.

chicken thief(Original Import)

RODRIGUEZ, Béatrice. The Chicken Thief. illus. by author.

SEEGER, Laura Vaccaro. What If? illus. by author.

UNDERWOOD, Deborah. The Quiet Book.

art and max(Original Import)

WIESNER, David. Art & Max. illus. by author.

WILLEMS, Mo. We Are in a Book! illus. by author.

, Meg. Benno and the Night of Broken Glass. illus. by Josée Bisaillon.
, Jonah. Here Comes the Garbage Barge! illus. by Red Nose Studio.


APPELT, Kathi. Keeper. illus. by August Hall.

BARRETT, Tracy. King of Ithaka.

BLACK, Holly & Justine Larbalestier, eds. Zombies vs. Unicorns. (anthology)

BOYCE, Frank Cottrell. Cosmic.

CUSHMAN, Karen. Alchemy and Meggy Swann.

DOGAR, Sharon.

DONNELLY, Jennifer. Revolution.

EPSTEIN, Adam Jay & Andrew Jacobson. The Familiars.

FISHER, Catherine. Incarceron.

GIDWITZ, Adam. A Tale Dark & Grimm.

GILL, David Macinnis. Black Hole Sun.

GRAY, Keith. Ostrich Boys.

HARRISON, Michelle. 13 Treasures.

HEMPHILL, Stephanie. Wicked Girls: A Novel of the Salem Witch Trials.

MARCHETTA, Melina. Finnikin of the Rock.

MULLIGAN, Andy. Trash.

NAYLOR, Phyllis Reynolds. Emily’s Fortune.

O’CONNOR, Barbara. The Fantastic Secret of Owen Jester.

O’CONNOR, George. Athena: Grey-Eyed Goddess.

REEVE, Philip. Fever Crumb.

REINHARDT, Dana. The Things a Brother Knows.

RHODES, Jewell Parker. Ninth Ward.

RICHARDS, Jame. Three Rivers Rising: A Novel of the Johnstown Flood.

RIORDAN, Rick. The Red Pyramid.

SHULMAN, Polly. The Grimm Legacy.

sullivan.1(Original Import)

STANDIFORD, Natalie. Confessions of the Sullivan Sisters.

STROUD, Jonathan. The Ring of Solomon: A Bartimaeus Novel.

TOMLINSON, Heather. Toads and Diamonds.

TURNER, Megan Whalen. A Conspiracy of Kings.

WARD, Rachel. Numbers.

WILLIAMS-GARCIA, Rita. One Crazy Summer.


ADLER, David A. Frederick Douglass: A Noble Life.

ARONSON, Marc & Marina Budhos. Sugar Changed the World: A Story of Magic, Spice, Slavery, Freedom, and Science.

BARTOLETTI, Susan Campbell. They Called Themselves the K.K.K.: The Birth of an American Terrorist Group.

WWI(Original Import)

FREEDMAN, Russell. The War to End All Wars: World War I.

GREENBERG, Jan & Sandra Jordan. Ballet for Martha: Making Appalachian Spring.

KRULL, Kathleen. Kubla Khan: The Emperor of Everything. illus. by Robert Byrd.

Pop!(Original Import)

MCCARTHY, Meghan. Pop!: The Invention of Bubble Gum.

SHEINKIN, Steve. The Notorious Benedict Arnold: A True Story of Adventure, Heroism, & Treachery.

NYE, Naomi Shihab, sel. Time You Let Me In: 25 Poets Under 25.

SIDMAN, Joyce. Ubiquitous: Celebrating Nature’s Survivors. illus. by Beckie Prange. Houghton Harcourt.

SMITH, Charles R., Jr. Black Jack: The Ballad of Jack Johnson. illus. by Shane W. Evans.

barbie(Original Import)

STONE, Tanya Lee. The Good, the Bad, and the Barbie: A Doll’s History and Her Impact on Us.

VOAKE, Steve. Insect Detective. illus. by Charlotte Voake.

Happy Reading!


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