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Battle of the Books

The 2015 Contenders!










BROWN GIRL DREAMING by Jacqueline Woodson

CHILDREN OF THE KING by Sonya Hartnett

THE CROSSOVER by Kwame Alexander

EGG & SPOON by Gregory Maguire

EL DEAFO by Cece Bell

THE FAMILY ROMANOV by Candace Fleming



THE MADMAN OF PINEY WOODS by Christopher Paul Curtis

POISONED APPLES by Christine Heppermann

THE PORT CHICAGO 50 by Steve Sheinkin

THE STORY OF OWEN by E. K. Johnston

THIS ONE SUMMER by Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki


WE WERE LIARS by E. Lockhart

WEST OF THE MOON by Margi Preus

Read more about the year’s battle in this SLJ article.



  1. DaNae says:

    Gave a little yelp at THE CHILDREN OF THE KING. Australian author combined with early in the year release have dropped it from everyone’s radar. My good gracious, what a wonderful voice and delicious little girls.

    I’ve had POISONED APPLES banging about my office asking for a reason to read it. And since a discussion with Roxanne have kept OWEN on my to-read list. Guess I’ll need to go back and put the John Brown book back on the list. Thought I’d dodged that bullet.

    My only disappointment is WE WERE LIARS, doesn’t everyone know the big reveal by now and without that . . . who really cares.

  2. DaNae says:

    Oh, and go EL DEAFO! That is definitely where my heart is. Not since the year of OKAY FOR NOW have I had a clear and definitive favorite.

    • DaNae says:

      Sorry, one more and it is a big %#@&*. Will EL DEAFO and THE FAMILY ROMANOV go up against each other in the first round? NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! May I please have two zombie votes?

  3. Brandy says:

    LOVE: Brown Girl Dreaming, The Crossover, Poisoned Apples, Port Chicago 50, The Story of Owen

    El Deafo is a great book, but not a love for me. I think it may be the animal factor. Animals that act like humans ALWAYS creep me out. No exceptions.

    Disappointed We Were Liars is on the list. I think this book was over-hyped enough already and not deserving of it at all.

    West of the Moon and Children of the King were both books that annoyed me. West of the Moon because of a spoiler so I won’t say yet. In The Children of the King I couldn’t buy that none of those kids knew the story of Richard III. What kind of schools were they all attending anyway?

    That leaves seven books I haven’t read including Family Romanov. (If I counted right.) I put that on hold as soon as Cybils were over and it still hasn’t come in. Grrrr. But for the first time in a few years I probably won’t read all the books on the list because I have no desire to read Grasshopper Jungle. There are other 2014 YA books I didn’t get to that are much higher priorities for me.

    Right now I’m kind of feeling apathetic about the list and whole process. Don’t know if that’s burn-out, contrariness, the record cold this morning, the fact that I missed my workout last night, or some combination of all of these. I will read the books I haven’t read and try to work up more enthusiasm before we start.

    • DaNae says:

      Brandy, go for a jog. Ignore the rabbit ears, and find love for colossal sexually rapacious, blood-thirsty, insects and get back to us. We need you here.

    • Jeff says:

      Brandy, I can relate. I literally had this day marked on my calendar. The most accurate word I can muster up at this point is, “Meh.” I’ve read 10, so I don’t feel my apathy at this point is out of ignorance. Hoping to feel a spark of interest after a few days.

  4. Sam says:

    *Five* nonfiction titles-nice! =)

  5. Cecilia says:

    Well, 3 of my 5 guesses were right! Glad to see multiple graphic novels here–I’m another huge EL DEAFO fan. Interested to see the reactions to THE STORY OF OWEN–I can’t remember, have we ever had another Morris contender on the list?

  6. Meredith says:

    Every year I think, This is the year I will have read most of the titles! HAHAHA. But I have read 4 of them, which is a record for me. I suck at reading new books.

  7. Sara says:

    That’s what I loooove about this list, reading new books! Thanks for the list, I’ve read 7 which is a record for me, time to get moving. I agree El Deafo and Romanov matching up in the first round is tragic. I’ll make sure and vote for my undead this year! I love that West of the Moon and We Were Liars are up against each other. I enjoyed both of these books more than others did it seems, although I did almost throw Liars across the room at the end BUT I can’t wait to see a. who judges and b. what they say about that match up.

  8. Joan Raphael says:

    Danae, I join you in love for El Deafo!!!! GO GO GO! (PLEASE don’t match Romanov vs El Deafo. PLEASE?)

  9. Joan Raphael says:

    Sorry for the misspelling DaNae!

  10. I’ve read two, Brown Girl Dreaming and Grasshopper Jungle and adored them both. I’m not sure what I think of this list yet but I’m ready to dive into it!

  11. Leslie Ann says:

    I’ve only read three(!) of the books on this list: BROWN GIRL DREAMING, THIS ONE SUMMER, and POISONED APPLES.

    I loved BROWN GIRL DREAMING and THIS ONE SUMMER, but I do not understand how POISONED APPLES made this list. I was so ready for this book, and it was such a letdown. I only grude read it because it was the only other book I had with me and I was stuck in a long line and I finished everything else.

    Can someone explain it to me? I feel like I missed something, here.

  12. :paula says:

    I’ve got 5 read of these, and at least 4 of those (wait…actually all 5) are in the running for my favorite books of this year! Dare I read any more? How many favorites can one lady have?!
    And Brandy, I am usually with you on the animal thing, but it didn’t bug me in El Deafo. I think I just considered them kids with oversized ears. I barely saw the bunny aspect at all.

  13. Kristine A says:

    I’ve got 3 read, 3 on my shelf TBR, and scouring the library catalog and amazon for the rest when — lo and behold: I see the Crossover is for sale for 1.99 on kIndle! Jump on that, my friends!

  14. Barrie Summy says:

    Yikes! I have some catch-up reading to do! Looks like a great list.

  15. Sondy says:

    Wow, this is my lowest number yet! I’ve only read 2 of the books. (And finished one last night.) I was resolving to let 2014 go and try to do better in 2015, but I’m not sure I can resist getting more of these titles read. Perhaps if I compromise and only read the ones most interesting to me (some of which I was planning to read anyway), that will keep me plenty busy. Then the judges can convince me to include the ones I’ve missed.

  16. Chelle says:

    Yay! I felt quite well-read this year, but I’ve only read four of these (Brown Girl Dreaming – liked a lot; Egg and Spoon – slogged my way through it; We Were Liars – wish I hadn’t read it; and The Family Romanov – great). So many more to look forward to! I’m now in the middle of Children of the King. Interesting, but annoying; I’m a big Richard III partisan due to too much Josephine Tey. Maybe I’ll read El Deafo next. I need something that I’ll enjoy.
    This list may not include everyone’s favorites, but it will certainly generate a LOT of discussion. Thank you for the work to put it together!


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