Best children’s books of 2015

KidsPost and Book World reviewers share their picks. Read Newbery-Medal-winning author Kwame Alexander’s recommended books for the holidays.

Middle-grade novels


(Harper Collins)

The Marvels

By Brian Selznick

640 pages. Age 10 and older. $32.99.

Pictures and words tell the mysterious tale of a shipwreck, a family of actors and a house full of marvels. Like the 13-year-old main character, you’ll wonder what you may be missing as you examine the illustrations for clues.

Gone Crazy in Alabama

By Rita Williams-Garcia

304 pages. Ages 8 to 12. $16.99.

On a visit to the South, the three Gaither sisters discover secrets that can help and hurt their family. This is the final novel in a fascinating series about growing up in the 1960s and early ’70s.


( Wendy Lamb Books )


By Pam Muñoz Ryan

592 pages. Ages 10 to 14. $19.99.

In this fast-paced, fantastical tale, a magical harmonica appears to three kids in danger during World War II.

Goodbye Stranger

By Rebecca Stead

304 pages, ages 10 and older, $16.99.

Three characters deal with middle-school friends and frenemies in separate stories that weave together in surprising ways. Like the author’s Newbery-winning book “When You Reach Me,” this extraordinary novel moves back and forth in time.

(Roaring Brook)

Return to Augie Hobble

By Lane Smith

288 pages, ages 8 to 12, $16.99.

Augie works at a shabby amusement park that becomes a lot more interesting — and weird — when a supernatural creature shows up. Is it trying to communicate with him? Suspense builds through words, pictures and zany comics.

Mary Quattlebaum


( Roaring Brook Press )

( Harry N. Abrams )

Most Dangerous: Daniel Ellsberg and the Secret History of the Vietnam War

By Steve Sheinkin

384 pages. Age 11 and older. $19.99.

Daniel Ellsberg has been called everything from a patriot to a traitor, and this book shows how he became such a controversial figure. Fast-paced and full of twists, “Most Dangerous” tells a dramatic story about government lies, the Vietnam War and presidential power.

Funny Bones: Posada and His Day of the Dead Calaveras

By Duncan Tonatiuh

40 pages. Ages 6 to 10. $18.95.

This out-of-the-ordinary picture-book biography of a Mexican artist shows not only the sort of work he produced (including skeletons inspired by the Day of the Dead holiday in Mexico), but how he made it.


( Farrar, Straus and Giroux )

Terrible Typhoid Mary: A True Story of the Deadliest Cook in America

By Susan Campbell Bartoletti

240 pages. Age 12 and older. $17.99.

Explaining the science and scandal behind a famous 1906 case, “Terrible Typhoid Mary” offers a great look at the evolving nature of medicine and the way deadly diseases scare us.

The Boys Who Challenged Hitler: Knud Pedersen and the Churchill Club

By Phillip Hoose

208 pages, Age 12 and older, $19.99.

This compelling book tells the little-known story of a group of young Nazi resisters in Denmark during World War II. The book contains plenty of tense moments along with a few funny ones as it describes the Churchill Club’s brave acts of resistance.

( Enchanted Lion Books )

Enormous Smallness: A Story of E. E. Cummings

By Matthew Burgess. Illustrations by Kris Di Giacomo.

64 pages, Ages 5 to 8, $17.95.

This picture-book biography conveys poet Cummings’ lifelong ambition to capture the world in words. It also shows how his boyhood adventures made their way into his poetry and how he was able to deal with people who didn’t believe in his talent.

— Abby McGanney Nolan

Picture books

( Roaring Brook Press )

( Holiday House )

Special Delivery

By Philip C. Stead. Illustrated by Matthew Cordell.

40 pages. Ages 4 to 7. $17.99.

It’s not practical to mail an elephant, so Sadie plans to deliver it to Aunt Josephine herself. But when their plane runs out of gas, Sadie and the elephant need help from an alligator, a gang of monkey bandits eating beans and a man with an ice-cream delivery truck. Look for dozens of silly postage stamps on the endpapers.


By R. Gregory Christie

32 pages. Ages 3 to 7. $16.95.

Going to the lively dance in a country barn means walking past the watchful owl. Music and bright lights fill the city train station, but then there’s a cat. Mouse cousins discover that being away from home can be both exciting and scary — and that it’s good to come home again.

( Knopf )

( Dial Books )

The Bear Ate Your Sandwich

By Julia Sarcone-Roach

40 pages. Ages 3 to 7. $16.99.

The sandwich has been eaten, that’s certain, and not by the person who wanted it. All that’s left is a bit of lettuce. The story of just how it got eaten is pretty amazing (and possibly unbelievable)!

“It’s Only Stanley”

By Jon Agee

32 pages. Ages 5 to 8. $17.99.

Busy Stanley, the family dog, keeps the household up all night long with his noisy tinkering. Is he really fixing the drain and the old TV — or does he have plans of his own? Though the family thinks they know what’s going on, Agee’s hilarious illustrations tell a different story

( Clarion Books )

Two Mice

By Sergio Ruzzier

32 pages. Ages 3 to 6. $12.99.

How can two mice share three cookies? Or row a boat with oars enough for only one? Two good friends can share one great ad­ven­ture. There are just a few words in this book, which is just right for new readers. The funny, lively pictures tell a cheerful story of friendship.

Kathie Meizner