Monday, March 21, 2016

Best Children's & YA Books of 2015 Written and/or Illustrated by Black Book Creators

The purpose of this list is to spotlight books for children and young adults published in 2015 that were written and/or illustrated by Black book creators. The lack of diversity among children’s and young adult books continues to be a major problem facing the book publishing industry. The number of books written and/or illustrated by Black book creators is still a very small percentage of the total number of books published annually. But adequate marketing and selling, and the accessibility of the exciting books that are being published, are problematic, too.

During 2015, outstanding, award-winning Black authors and illustrators produced a wonderful body of work, continuing the legacy of literary pioneers like Walter Dean Myers, Eloise Greenfield, James Haskins, Virginia Hamilton, Patricia and Fred McKissack, Jerry Pinkney and John Steptoe, among others. 

A significant number of the titles published in 2015 were recognized by the American Library Association’s prestigious Youth Media Awards and Honors, including the Caldecott, Newbery, Coretta Scott King and Robert F. Sibert and the NAACP Image Awards. They are listed here as well as many other outstanding books published during 2015.

So, if you are looking for books that spotlight Black experiences, culture and history, and books that explore our diversity, and just good, well-written stories by Black authors and illustrated by Black artists, this is the list for you. Help spread the word about these wonderful books. 



2016 John Newbery Medal for the most outstanding contribution to children's literature: 

Last Stop on Market Street, written by Matt de la Peña, illustrated by Christian Robinson, published by G. P. Putnam's Sons, an imprint of Penguin Group (USA) LLC. 

Randolph Caldecott Honor 

Trombone Shorty, written by Troy Andrews, illustrated by Brian Collier, published by Abrams Books for Young Readers, an imprint of ABRAMS. 

Voice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer, Spirit of the Civil Rights Movement, illustrated by Ekua Holmes, written by Carole Boston Weatherford, published by Candlewick Press.

Coretta Scott King (Author) Book Awardrecognizing an African American author and illustrator of outstanding books for children and young adults: 

Gone Crazy in Alabama, written by Rita Williams-Garcia, published by Amistad, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers. 

Coretta Scott King Honor Books

All American Boys, written by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely, published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing Division.

The Boy in the Black Suit, written by Jason Reynolds, published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing Division.

X: A Novel, written by Ilyasah Shabazz with Kekla Magoon, published by Candlewick Press. 

Coretta Scott King (Illustrator) Book Award

Trombone Shorty, illustrated by Bryan Collier, written by Troy Andrews and Bill Taylor, published by Abrams Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Abrams. 

Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor

The Book Itch: Freedom, Truth & Harlem's Greatest Bookstore, illustrated by R. Gregory Christie, written by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson, published by Carolrhoda Books, a division of Lerner Publishing Group, Inc. 

Last Stop on Market Street, illustrated by Christian Robinson, written by Matt de la Peña, published by G. P. Putnam's Sons, an imprint of Penguin Group USA. 

Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe New Talent Author Award

Hoodoo, written by Ronald L. Smith, published by Clarion Books, an imprint of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 

Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe New Talent Illustrator Award 

Voice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer, Spirit of the Civil Rights Movement, illustrated by Ekua Holmes, written by Carole Boston Weatherford, published by Candlewick Press.

Coretta Scott King — Virginia Hamilton Award for Lifetime Achievement

Jerry Pinkney's illustrations detail a world that resonates with readers long after the pages of a book have been turned. His five decades of work offer compelling artistic insights into the legacy of African American storytelling and experience. Beyond Pinkney's technical brilliance, his support of differentiated learning through art and of young illustrators sets him apart as both artist and educator. His powerful illustrations have redefined the scope of the sophisticated picture book and its use with multiple levels of learners. 

May Hill Arbuthnot Honor Lecture Award recognizing an author, critic, librarian, historian or teacher of children's literature, who then presents a lecture at a winning host site: 

Jacqueline Woodson will deliver the 2017 May Hill Arbuthnot Honor Lecture. Woodson is the 2014 National Book Award winner for her New York Times bestselling memoir, "Brown Girl Dreaming." The author of more than two dozen books for young readers, she is a four-time Newbery Honor winner, a recipient of the NAACP Image Award, a two-time Coretta Scott King Award winner and was recently named the Young People's Poet Laureate by the Poetry Foundation. 

Schneider Family Book Award for books that embody an artistic expression of the disability experience: 

Emmanuel's Dream: The True Story of Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah, written by Laurie Ann Thompson, illustrated by Sean Qualls, published by Schwartz & Wade Books, an imprint of Random House Children's Books, a division of Random House. 

Laura Ingalls Wilder Award honors an author or illustrator whose books, published in the United States, have made, over a period of years, a substantial and lasting contribution to literature for children. 

Jerry Pinkney, whose award-winning works include The Lion and the Mouse, recipient of the Caldecott Award in 2010In addition, Pinkney has received five Caldecott Honor Awards, five Coretta Scott King Illustrator Awards, and four Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honors.      

Robert F. Sibert Honor Books

Turning 15 on the Road to Freedom: My Story of the 1965 Selma Voting Rights March, written by Lynda Blackmon Lowery as told to Elspeth Leacock and Susan Buckley, illustrated by PJ Loughran, published by Dial Books, an imprint of Penguin Group (USA). 

Voice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer, Spirit of the Civil Rights Movement, written by Carole Boston Weatherford, illustrated by Ekua Holmes, published by Candlewick Press. 

NAACP Image Awards - presented by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People to honor outstanding people of color in film, television, music and literature.                      
Outstanding Literary Work – Children           

Gordon Parks How the Photographer Captured Black and White America, written by Carole Boston Weatherford, illustrated by Jamey Christoph    
Outstanding Literary Work – Youth/Teens    

X: A Novel, written by Ilyasah Shabazz with Kekla Magoon          

Children’s & Young Adult Books—2015


Last Stop on Market Street, written by Matt de la Peña, illustrated by Christian Robinson, GP Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers, HC, ages 3-7

Every Sunday after church, CJ and his grandma ride the bus across town. But today, CJ wonders why they don't own a car like his friend Colby. Why doesn’t he have an iPod like the boys on the bus? How come they always have to get off in the dirty part of town? Each question is met with an encouraging answer from grandma, who helps him see the beauty—and fun—in their routine and the world around them.

On the Ballwritten and illustrated by Brian Pinkney, published by Disney Hyperion, HC, ages 3-5
Owen loves playing ball. But it doesn't always "love" him back. And after a particularly disastrous day on the field, Owen is benched. He is feeling so low that he doesn't even notice the ball rolling through a hole in the fence until it's gotten away. In his effort to get it back, he discovers that he has more skills than he realizes.

Mixed Me, written by Taye Diggs, Shane Evans, published by Feiwel & Friends, PB, ages 4-8Mike has awesome hair. He has LOTS of energy! His parents love him. And Mike is a PERFECT blend of the two of them. Still, Mike has to answer LOTS of questions about being mixed. And he does, with LOTS of energy and joy in this charming story about a day in the life of a mixed-race child.

Backyard Camp-Out, written by Jerdine Nolen, illustrated by Michelle Henninger, published by Houghton Mifflin, PB, ages 6-9
The backyard campout is tonight. Jada and Jamal Perkins have never slept in a tent before. Neither have their best friends, Carlita Garcia and Josh Cornell. Camping is going to be so much fun. Or is it? It’s really dark in the backyard. And what’s that noise? It’s coming from the bushes.  

Don’t Feed the Geckos, written by Karen English, illustrated by Laura Freeman, published by Clarion Books, HC, ages 6-9, chapter book
Carlos isn’t sure how he feels about the news that his cousin Bernardo will be joining his class at Carver Elementary. But when Bernardo comes to live with him temporarily, taking over Carlos’s top bunk, his spot on the school soccer team, and even his Papi’s attention, Carlos knows he isn’t happy. Worse, Bernardo starts messing with Carlos’s pet geckos! Carlos tries to see past his cousin’s annoying ways, but Bernardo sure doesn’t make it easy. Will Carlos—and his geckos—survive Bernardo's visit? Can he keep the peace for his family’s sake? 
Freedom in Congo Square, written by Carole Boston Weatherford, illustrated by R. Gregory Christie, published by Little Bee, HC, ages 4-8
This poetic, nonfiction story about a little-known piece of African American history captures a human’s capacity to find hope and joy in difficult circumstances and demonstrates how New Orleans' Congo Square was truly freedom’s heart.

I Love My Hair: A Coloring Book of Braids, Coils, and Doodle Dos, written by Andrea Pippins, published by Random House/Schwartz, coloring book
For fans of Johanna Basford’s Secret Garden and Enchanted Forest comes a hip, gorgeous doodle coloring book about all things hair. Unlike other adult coloring books, which depict nature scenes and cityscapes, this title celebrates strong, confident women with a passion for style, design, and fashion. 

Women Who Broke the Rules: Coretta Scott Kingwritten by Virginia Krull, illustrated by Laura Freeman, published by Albert Whitman, PB, ages 7-9 
Coretta Scott King was an American civil rights activist and the wife of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. But she established a distinguished career in activism in her own right, taking part in the Montgomery Bus Boycott and working to pass the Civil Rights Act. After King's death, she founded the Center for Nonviolent Social Change in Atlanta, Georgia, and remained dedicated to fighting for civil rights.

Frederick’s Journey: The Life of Frederick Douglass, written by Doreen Rappaport, illustrated by London Ladd, published by Disney-Hyperion, HC, ages 6-8
In this installment of the critically acclaimed Big Words series, Doreen Rappaport captures Frederick's journey from boy to man, from slavery to freedom, by weaving Frederick's powerful words with her own. London Ladd's strong and evocative illustrations combine with the text to create a moving portrait of an extraordinary life.

Mousetropolis, written and illustrated by R. Gregory Christie, published by Holiday House, HA, HC, ages 4-8
With an exquisite palette and stunning compositions, award-winning illustrator R. Gregory Christie reimagines one of Aesop's most popular fables. City Mouse leaves his noisy apartment for a vacation in the country only to find drab meals, unseen predators, unbearable heat and too much quiet! So City Mouse takes his country cousin to Mousetropolis, where a rodent can indulge in rich food and rub elbows with the elite.

Oscar Lives Next Door, written by Bonnie Farmer, illustrated by Marie Lafrance, published by Owlkids, HC, ages 4-8
Long before Oscar Peterson became a virtuoso jazz pianist, he was a boy who loved to play the trumpet. When a bout of childhood tuberculosis weakened his lungs, Oscar could no longer play his beloved instrument. He took up piano and the rest is history: Oscar went on to become an international jazz piano sensation. Oscar Lives Next Door is a fictional story inspired by these facts.

CJ’s New Basketballwritten by Ivy Valentine Pate, illustrated by Chris Padovano, published by Wild Ivy, PB, ages 3-8
CJ gets his very first basketball from Dad on Sunday, but can’t go to a real basketball court until the following Saturday. He decides to practice inside the house every day until he can get to the court. Can CJ stay out of trouble at home for a whole week until the big day?

Sail Away, written by Langston Hughes, Ashley Bryan, published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers, HC, ages 4-8
A celebration of mermaids, wildernesses of waves, and the creatures of the deep through poems by Langston Hughes and cut-paper collage illustrations by multiple Coretta Scott King Award–winner Ashley Bryan.

Little Shaq, written by Shaquille O’Neal, illustrated by Theodore Taylor III, chapter book, ages 5-7
The start of a brand new series by Shaquille O'Neal and illustrated by 2014 Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe New Talent award winner Theodore Taylor III, Little Shaq is sure to be a hit with young readers.

Last Stop on Market Street, written by Matt de la Peña, illustrated by Christian Robinson, GP Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers, HC, ages 3-7
Every Sunday after church, CJ and his grandma ride the bus across town. But today, CJ wonders why they don't own a car like his friend Colby. Why doesn’t he have an iPod like the boys on the bus? How come they always have to get off in the dirty part of town? Each question is met with an encouraging answer from grandma, who helps him see the beauty—and fun—in their routine and the world around them.

Lillian’s Right to Vote: A Celebration of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, written by Jonah Winter, illustrated by Shane W. Evans, HC, ages 5-9
Author Jonah Winter and Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award winner Shane W. Evans vividly recall America’s battle for civil rights in this lyrical, poignant account of one woman’s fierce determination to make it up the hill and make her voice heard.

Frederick’s Journey: The Life of Frederick Douglass, written by Doreen Rappaport, illustrated by London Ladd, Jump at the Sun, HC, ages 6-9
Frederick Douglass's journey from slavery to international renown as writer and lecturer is broadly sketched here by Doreen Rappaport, whose nonfiction and historical fiction books have been acclaimed for their meticulous research and varied literary styles.

Emmanuel’s Dream: The True Story of Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah, written by Laurie Ann Thompson, illustrated by Sean Qualls, Schwartz & Wade, HC, ages 4-8
Born in Ghana, West Africa, with one deformed leg, Emmanuel was dismissed by most people—but not by his mother, who taught him to reach for his dreams. As a boy, he hopped to school more than two miles each way and earned to play soccer. Later, he became a cyclist and rode an astonishing four hundred miles across Ghana in 2001, spreading his powerful message: disability is not inability.

Poet: The Remarkable Story of George Moses Horton, written and illustrated by Don Tate, Peachtree Publishers, HC, ages 4-8
In the nineteenth century, George Moses Horton, an enslaved man in North Carolina, taught himself to read and earned money to purchase his time though not his freedom. Horton became the first African American to be published in the South, protesting slavery in the form of verse.

My Three Best Friends and Me, Zulay, written by Cari Best, illustrated by Vanessa Brantley Newton, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, HC, ages 4-8
Zulay and her three best friends are all in the same first grade class and study the same things, even though Zulay is blind. When their teacher asks her students what activity they want to do on Field Day, Zulay surprises everyone when she says she wants to run a race. With the help of a special aide and the support of her friends, Zulay does just that.

Bottle Cap Boys Dancing on Royal Street, written by Rita Williams-Garcia, illustrated by Damian Ward, Marimba Books, HC, ages 4-9
Tap dancing on sidewalks, especially in the city's French Quarter, is a New Orleans tradition as familiar to some as Jazz, Creole and Cajun food and Mardi Gras. In Bottle Cap Boys Dancing on Royal Street, award-winning author Rita Williams-Garcia introduces two bottle cap dancers, brothers Randy and Rudy. Through rich and upbeat rhyme, Williams-Garcia gives voice to the dancing and the youngsters who keep this unique New Orleans tradition alive.

Trombone Shorty, written by Troy Andrews, illustrated by Bryan Collier, Harry N. Abrams, HC, ages 4-8
Hailing from the Tremé neighborhood in New Orleans, Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews got his nickname by wielding a trombone twice as long as he was high. A prodigy, he was leading his own band by age six, and today this Grammy-nominated artist headlines the legendary New Orleans Jazz Fest. Along with esteemed illustrator Bryan Collier, Andrews has created a lively picture book autobiography about how he followed his dream of becoming a musician.

Sunday Shopping, written by Sally Derby, illustrated by Shadra Strickland, Lee & Low Books, HC, ages 5-8
Sunday nights are special for Evie and Grandma. That's when they go on their weekly shopping spree. Overflowing with whimsy and a sweet grandmother-granddaughter relationship, this picture book is a joyous celebration of imagination, family love, and making a lot out of what you've got.

The Book Itch: Freedom, Truth & Harlem’s Greatest Bookstore, written by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson, illustrated by R. Gregory Christie, Carolrhoda Picture Books, HC, ages 5-9
In the 1930s, Lewis Michaux Sr., had an itch he needed to scratch a book itch. How to scratch it? He started a bookstore in Harlem and named it the National Memorial African Bookstore. This is the story of how Lewis Michaux Sr. and his bookstore fostered new ideas and helped people stand up for what they believed in.

Gordon Parks: How the Photographer Captured Black and White America, written by Carole Boston Weatherford, illustrated by Jamey Christoph, Albert Whitman & Company, HC, ages 5-8
This picture book biography of Gordon Parks highlights the growth of his career as a photographer. Despite receiving little encouragement at school.  This effective overview is a solid addition for those looking to beef up their biography collections. Fans of Weatherford's Leontyne Price: Voice of a Century (Knopf, 2014), Becoming Billie Holiday (Wordsong, 2009), and I, Matthew Henson: Polar Explorer (Walker, 2007) will appreciate this attractive offering.

Songs I Love to Sing, (I Love To series), written by Cheryl Willis Hudson, illustrated by Laura Freeman, Marimba Books, PB, ages 4-8
Music makes us happy and there are plenty of familiar tunes in this book that will make children want to sing along. Join the fun while you hum, clap or simply carry a tune in Songs I Love to Sing.

My Pen, written and illustrated by Christopher Myers, Disney-Hyperion, HC, ages 3-7
My pen rides dinosaurs and hides an elephant in a teacupWhat can your pen do? Acclaimed author and illustrator Christopher Myers uses rich black-and-white illustrations to bring a sketchbook to life, showing that with a simple pen, a kid can do anything!

Mama’s Nightingale: A Story of Immigration and Separation, written by Edwidge Danticat, illustrated by Leslie Staub, Dial Books, HC, ages 5-8

After Saya's mother is sent to an immigration detention center, Saya finds comfort in listening to her mother's warm greeting on their answering machine. To ease the distance between them while she’s in jail, Mama begins sending Saya bedtime stories inspired by Haitian folklore on cassette tape. With stirring illustrations, this tender tale shows the human side of immigration and imprisonment—and shows how every child has the power to make a difference.

Feelings I Love to Share, (I Love To series) written by Wade Hudson, illustrated by Laura Freeman, PB, ages 4-8 
Feelings I Love to Share explores the many feelings youngsters experience: among them happiness, sadness, disappointment, boredom and sheer joy - all feelings that help them learn and grow. This delightful title will resonate with children everywhere.

Let the Faithful Come, written by Zetta Elliott, illustrated by Charity Russell, CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, PB, ages 5-8
This lyrical retelling of the traditional Christmas story serves as a plea for greater compassion and unity in our contemporary world. Peace and goodwill are values celebrated during the holidays, but they should also be applied to the daily struggle of those traveling over land and sea in search of hope and sanctuary. 

Love from Anna Hibiscus, written by Atinuke, illustrated by Lauren Tobia, Walker Books, HC, ages 7-10
When Anna Hibiscus goes to market one day and a boy steals a banana from her, she runs after him. It turns out that the boy is poor and lives alone. Anna befriends the boy and when he becomes ill, Anna makes sure he gets the medical help he needs.

Granddaddy's Turn: A Journey to the Ballot Box, written by Michael S. Bandy & Eric Stein, illustrated by James Ransome, published by Candlewick, HC, ages 6-9
Based on the true story of one family’s struggle for voting rights in the civil rights–era south, this moving tale shines an emotional spotlight on a dark facet of U.S. history.

Jaden Toussaint, the Greatest Episode 1: The Quest for Screen Time (Volume 1), written by Marti Dumas, illustrated by Marie Muravski, published by Plum Street Press, PB, ages 5-7
Jaden Toussaint, an inquisitive budding scientist with a spectacular Afro, feels like an outsider in his family. While his parents and sister are all bibliophiles, he hates to read: he'd rather get his hands on a tablet. After circulating a petition among his fellow kindergarteners campaigning for more computer time, Jaden's ingenuity is rewarded. This charming first installment in the Jaden Toussaint, the Greatest chapter-book series features succinct but vivid characterizations and abundant humor (the family's pets include a guinea pig that "never has the same name two weeks in a row," and Jaden's father "prefers to be called 'baba,' which means 'father' in Swahili. Does not speak Swahili").  --Publishers Weekly

Jaden Toussaint, the Greatest Episode 2: The Ladek Invasion (Volume 2), written by Marti Dumas, illustrated by marie Muravski, published by Plum Tree Press, PB, ages 5-7 
In this second installment of Jaden Toussaint, the Greatest, there is an alien invasion at school. (They may look like caterpillars, but you can never be too safe.) Our hero, Jaden Toussaint, must use all his super-powered brain power to save the people and (possible) aliens from each other! 

Seeds of Freedom, written by Hester Bass, illustrated by E.B. Lewis, published by Candlewick, HC, ages 5-8
Mention the civil rights era in Alabama, and most people recall images of terrible violence. But something different was happening in Huntsville. For the citizens of that city, creativity, courage, and cooperation were the keys to working together to integrate their city and schools in peace. In an engaging celebration of this lesser-known chapter in American and African-American history, author Hester Bass and illustrator E. B. Lewis show children how racial discrimination, bullying, and unfairness can be faced successfully with perseverance and ingenuity.

Middle Grades 

March: Book Twowritten by John Lewis, illustrated by Nate Powell, IDW Top Shelf, PB, ages 12 and up 
In this second volume, Representative Lewis continues describing his experiences with the civil rights movement. As in the first book, Lewis attends Barack Obama's inauguration, flashing back to his life as a young man taking part in the fight that would make it possible for America to eventually elect its first black president. Visually stunning, the black-and-white illustrations convey the emotions of this turbulent time, from Lewis's fear and pain while in prison to Governor George Wallace's sneering indifference during his "Segregation forever" speech. This is a unique insider’s view of the insider's view of the civil rights movement.

Willimena Rules: 9 Steps to the Best, Worst, Greatest Holiday Ever! written by Valerie Wilson Wesley, Just Us Books, Inc., PB, ages 7-11
Christmas and Kwanzaa are right around the corner and Willimena is usually excited about her favorite time of the year. But this year, no one feels much like celebrating. Aunt Laura lost her job and Dad and Mom say that big changes are coming for the family -- changes that mean Willie may not get that bike she wanted. Christmas and Kwanzaa are supposed to be joyful, but this year is turning out to be the worst. Can Willie find a way to bring "happy" back to the holidays?

Rhythm Ride: A Road Trip through the Motown Sound, written by Andrea Davis Pinkney, Roaring Brook Press, HC, ages 10-14
From Berry Gordy and his remarkable vision to the Civil Rights movement, from the behind-the-scenes musicians, choreographers, and song writers to the most famous recording artists of the century, Andrea Davis Pinkney takes readers on a Rhythm Ride through the story of Motown.

Ira’s Shakespeare Dreamwritten by Glenda Armand, illustrated by Floyd Cooper, published by Lee & Low, HC, ages 9-12
Ira Aldridge dreamed of being on stage one day performing the great works of William Shakespeare. He spent every chance he got at the local theaters, memorizing each actor s lines for all of Shakespeare s plays. Ira just knew he could be a great Shakespearean actor if only given the chance. But in the early 1800s, only white actors were allowed to perform Shakespeare. But through perseverance and determination, Ira became one of the most celebrated Shakespearean actors throughout Europe. Illustrated by award-winning artist Floyd Cooper, Ira s Shakespeare Dream is a captivating tribute to the inspiring life of Ira Aldridge, and to the renowned works of William Shakespeare.

My Seneca Village, written by Marilyn Nelson, published by Namelos, HC & PB, grades 5 and up

This beautifully crafted and powerful collection of poems deals with a brief period (1825–57) in New York City's storied past. Seneca Village, on Manhattan's Upper West Side, was a thriving multiethnic community of African Americans, Irish and German immigrants, and, possibly, some Native Americans, until it was decimated by the creation of Central Park. This collection touches on historical truths (footnoted throughout) but introduces a fleeting time and place through the everyday hopes and dreams of its residents.

Bayou Magic, written by Jewell Parker Rhodes, published by Little Brown Books for Young Readers, HC, ages 8-12
A coming-of-age tale rich with folk magic. Set in the wake of the Gulf oil spill, this coming-of-age tale, rich with folk magic, celebrates hope, friendship, and family, and captures the wonder of life in the Deep South.

Poems in the Attic
, written by Nikki Grimes, illustrated by Elizabeth Zunon, HC, published by Lee & Low Books, ages 6-11
Sweet and accessible but never simplistic, this collection captures the experience of a military childhood with graceful sophistication. Grimes uses different styles of poem for each voice (free verse for the daughter and tanka poems for the mother), a choice that she discusses in an explanatory note on poetry forms that will serve budding poets and teachers alike. Rendered in acrylic, oil, and collage, Zunon's warm, vibrant illustrations complement the text perfectly. Readers with an especially keen interest in the locations highlighted can look to a complete list of Air Force Bases appended.

Dayshaun’s Gift
, written by Zetta Elliott, illustrated by Alex Portal, published by CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, PB

Summer vacation has just begun and Dayshaun wants to spend Saturday morning playing his new video game. But Dayshaun's mother has other plans: she volunteers at a nearby community garden and that means Dayshaun has to volunteer, too. When Dayshaun puts on his grandfather's grubby old gardening hat, something unexpected happens—the hands of time turn backward and Dayshaun finds himself in the free Black community of Weeksville during the summer of 1863!  Dayshaun’s Gift is Book #2 in the City Kids series.

Voice of Freedom:
 Fannie Lou Hamer: The Spirit of the Civil Rights Movement
, written by Carole Boston Weatherford, illustrated by Ekua Holmes, published by Candlewick Press, HC, ages 9-12
Despite fierce prejudice and abuse, even being beaten to within an inch of her life, Fannie Lou Hamer was a champion of civil rights from the 1950s until her death in 1977. Featuring vibrant mixed-media art full of intricate detail, Voice of Freedom celebrates Fannie Lou Hamer’s life and legacy with a message of hope, determination, and strength.

Stella by Starlight
, written by Sharon Draper, published by Atheneum, HC, ages 9-13
When the Ku Klux Klan’s unwelcome reappearance rattles Stella’s segregated southern town, bravery battles prejudice in this Depression-era tour de force from Sharon Draper, the New York Times bestselling author of Out of My Mind.

Chasing Freedom: The Life Journey of Harriet Tubman and Susan B. Anthony
, written by Nikki Grimes and Michele Woods, published by Orchard Books, HC, Grades 3-6
What if Harriet Tubman and Susan B. Anthony sat down over tea to reminisce about their extraordinary lives? What would they recall of their triumphs and struggles as they fought to achieve civil rights for African Americans and equal rights for women? And what other historical figures played parts in their stories? These questions led Coretta Scott King Award winner Nikki Grimes to create Chasing Freedom, an engaging work of historical fiction about two of the nineteenth century's most powerful and inspiring women.

The Streetball Crew: Book Two, Stealing the Game, written by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Raymond Obstfeld, published by Disney Hyperion, HC, ages 8-12
Chris Richards has always looked up to Jax, his older brother and his parents' "golden child." Lately, though, Jax has been full of surprises. It turns out that Jax bet on the game, hoping to earn enough money to repay a debt to someone who doesn't forgive easily.

The Sweetest Heist in History (Randi Rhodes Ninja Detective)
 written by Octavia Spenser, published by Simon and Schuster, ages 8-12
Chris Richards has always looked up to Jax, his older brother and his parents' "golden child." While Chris tries to walk a thin tightrope between helping his brother and staying out of trouble, his friend Theo does some behind-the-scenes detective work to learn what Jax has been up to. The day Chris is roped into a police investigation is the day he realizes he made the wrong play.

Dork Diaries 9: Tales From a Not So Dorky Drama Queen
, written by Rachel Renée Russell, Aladdin, HC, ages 9-13
Nikki Maxwell’s worst nightmare comes true in book nine of the #1 New York Times bestselling Dork Diaries series! A certain member of the CCP girls Dork fans know all about has gotten her hands on Nikki’s diary and has decided to share some thoughts of her own…Find out what happens when Nikki’s worst nightmare becomes a reality. Welcome to Mackenzie’s world!!

Finding Someplace
, written by Denise Lewis Patrick, published by Henry Holt and Co., HC, ages 8-12
Reesie Boone just knows that thirteen is going to be her best year yet-this will be the year she makes her very first fashion design on her Ma Maw's sewing machine. She'll skip down the streets of New Orleans with her best friends, Ayanna and Orlando, and everyone will look at her in admiration. But on Reesie's birthday, everything changes. Hurricane Katrina hits her city. Stranded at home alone, Reesie takes refuge with her elderly neighbor, Miss Martine. The waters rise. They escape in a boat. And soon Reesie is reunited with her family. But her journey back home has only begun.

Shadows of Sherwood
 (Robyn Hoodlum series) written by Kekla Magoon, published by Bloomsbury USA, HC, ages 8-12
The night her parents disappear, twelve-year-old Robyn Loxley must learn to fend for herself. Her home, Nott City, has been taken over by a harsh governor, Ignomus Crown. After fleeing for her life, Robyn has no choice but to join a band of strangers-misfit kids, each with their own special talent for mischief. Setting out to right the wrongs of Crown's merciless government, they take their outlaw status in stride. Kicking off a new series with an unforgettable heroine, readers will be treated to feats of courage and daring deeds as Robyn and her band find their way in this cruel, new world.

, written by Ronald L. Smith, published by Clarion Books, HC, ages 10-12
Twelve-year-old Hoodoo Hatcher was born into a family with a rich tradition of practicing folk magic: hoodoo, as most people call it. But even though his name is Hoodoo, he can't seem to cast a simple spell. When a mysterious man called the Stranger comes to town, Hoodoo starts dreaming of the dead rising from their graves. Even worse, he soon learns the Stranger is looking for a boy. Not just any boy. A boy named Hoodoo. Set amid the swamps, red soil, and sweltering heat of small town Alabama in the 1930s, Hoodoo is infused with a big dose of creepiness leavened with gentle humor.   

President of the Whole Sixth Grade
, written by Sherri Winston, published by Little, Brown, HC, ages 8-12
Brianna Justice is determined to raise enough money for the big class trip to Washington, D.C., but she's up against a lot: classmates who all pretend to be something they're not, a new nemesis determined to run her out of office, and the sinking feeling she's about to lose her two best friends. But just when she begins to lose hope, she comes to realize that sometimes surprises can turn out even better than the best-laid plans.

The Toymaker’s Apprentice
, written by Sherri L. Smith, published by G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Children, HC, ages 10 and up
Stefan Drosselmeyer is a reluctant apprentice to his toymaker father until the day his world is turned upside down. His father is kidnapped and Stefan is enlisted by his mysterious cousin, Christian Drosselmeyer, to find a mythical nut to save a princess who has been turned into a wooden doll. Embarking on a wild adventure through Germany, Stefan must save Boldavia’s princess and his own father from the fanatical Mouse Queen and her seven-headed Mouse Prince, both of whom have sworn to destroy the Drosselmeyer family.

The Jumbies
, written by Tracey Baptiste, HC, published by Algonquin Young Readers, ages 9-12
Corinne La Mer isn’t afraid of anything. Not scorpions, not the boys who tease her, and certainly not jumbies. She knows that jumbies aren’t real; they’re just creatures parents make up to frighten their children. But on All Hallows’ Eve, Corinne chases an agouti all the way into the forbidden woods. Those shining yellow eyes that follow her to the edge of the trees, they couldn’t belong to a jumbie. Or could they?

Amphibians’ End: a Kulipari Novel
 written by Trevor Pryce and Joel Naftali, illustrated by Stanford Greene, published by Harry N. Abrams, HC, ages 8-12
In this third book of the Kulipari series, the future of the Amphibilands has never looked so bleak. With Lord Marmoo stronger than ever and still maniacally bent on taking over the outback, Darel can’t fathom why the Rainbow Serpent wants him to lower the Veil, the Amphibilands’ only source of protection. But the Serpent’s message is clear, and in preparation for the inevitable battle, Darel and the Kulipari go out in search of someone—anyone—to fight on their side. The Kulipari trilogy comes to its thrilling conclusion in this action-packed adventure by NFL veteran Trevor Pryce and acclaimed comics artist Sanford Greene.

Hit & Miss
, written by Derek Jeter and Paul Mantell, published by Jeter Publishing, HC, ages 8-12
The second book in the New York Times bestselling Jeter Publishing imprint, Hit & Miss is a middle grade baseball novel inspired by the youth of legendary sports icon and role model Derek Jeter.

The Emancipation of Grandpa Sandy Wills,
 written by Cheryl Wills, published by Lightswitch, HC, ages 9-12
In a one-of-a-kind brilliantly illustrated children's book that's based on a true story, veteran television journalist Cheryl Wills tells a powerful tale about her enslaved ancestor who fought for his freedom as a soldier during The Civil War. Overflowing with lessons of perseverance and the power of one's imagination.

Jump Back, Paul: The Life and Times of Paul Lawrence Dunba
r, written by Sally Derby, illustrated by Sean Qualls, published by Candlewick, HC, ages 9-12
Narrating in a voice full of admiration and respect, Sally Derby introduces Paul Laurence Dunbar’s life and poetry to readers young and old, aided by Sean Qualls’s striking black-and-white illustrations.

Capital Days: Michael Shiner’s Journal and the Growth of Our Nation’s Capital, written by Tonya Bolden, published by Harry N. Abrams, ages 9-12
Capital Days introduces young readers to Washington, D.C., during the early to mid-19th century. Spanning more than 60 years, the story of Michael Shiner (c. 1804–1880) highlights a period of immense change in our country and its capital. Covering the burning of the city during the War of 1812, the rebuilding of the Capitol and White House, the raising of the Washington Monument, and on through the Civil War, the end of slavery, and numerous other “capital days,” this book offers readers fresh insights and background on how our nation’s capital came to be. The book includes excerpts from Shiner’s diary, other primary sources, archival images, and a timeline. Much as she did in Maritcha and Searching for Sarah Rector, award-winning author Tonya Bolden expertly examines the intricacies of American history through the lens of one relatable person’s life.

The Lost Tribes, written by Christine Taylor Butler, illustrated by Patrick Arrasmith, published by More Books, HC, middle grade
Five friends are in a race against time in this action-adventure story involving ancient tribal artifacts that hold the fate of the universe in the balance. None of these trailblazers imagined their ordinary parents as scientists on a secret mission. But when their parents go missing, they are forced into unfathomable circumstances and learn of a history that is best left unknown, for they are catalysts in an ancient score that must be settled. As the chaos unfolds, opportunities arise that involve cracking codes and anticipating their next moves. This book unfolds sturdy, accurate scientific facts and history knowledge where readers will surely become participants.

The Offenders: Saving the World While Serving Detention! Written by Jerry Craft, Jaylen Craft & Aren Craft, published by Mama’s Boyz, Inc., HC, ages 9-12
A freak accident gives five middle school kids (from very diverse backgrounds) super powers. But instead of being able to transform into cool super-beings, they are forced to take on the characteristics of the kids they pick on. Now they're the ones who are being teased, and by the same kids who they are trying to help! Sure their abilities may be at an all-time high, but do they really have what it takes to save their school when their self-esteem is at an all-time low? The only thing they know for sure is they're about to learn one "powerful" lesson in compassion!


This Side of Home, written by Renée Watson, published by Bloomsbury USA Children’s, HC, ages 12 and up
Identical twins Nikki and Maya have been on the same page for everything-friends, school, boys and starting off their adult lives at a historically African-American college. But as their neighborhood goes from rough-and-tumble to up-and-coming, suddenly filled with pretty coffee shops and boutiques, Nikki is thrilled while Maya feels like their home is slipping away. Suddenly, the sisters who had always shared everything must confront their dissenting feelings on the importance of their ethnic and cultural identities and, in the process, learn to separate themselves from the long shadow of their identity as twins.

The Boy in the Black Suit
, written by Jason Reynolds, published by Atheneum, HC, ages 12 and up
Just when seventeen-year-old Matt thinks he can’t handle one more piece of terrible news, he meets a girl who’s dealt with a lot more—and who just might be able to clue him in on how to rise up when life keeps knocking him down—in this “vivid, satisfying, and ultimately upbeat tale of grief, redemption, and grace” (Kirkus Reviews) from the Coretta Scott King – John Steptoe Award–winning author of When I Was the Greatest.

X: A Novel
, written by Ilyasah and Kekla Magoon, published by Candlewick, HC, ages 12 and up
Co-written by Malcolm X’s daughter, this riveting and revealing novel follows the formative years of the man whose words and actions shook the world.

Gone Crazy in Alabama
, written by Rita Williams-Garcia, published by Harper Collins/Amistad, HC, ages 12 and up
Newbery Honor winner and New York Times bestselling author Rita Williams-Garcia tells the story of the Gaither sisters, who are about to learn what it's like to be fish out of water as they travel from the streets of Brooklyn to the rural South for the summer of a lifetime. Powerful and humorous, this companion to the award-winning One Crazy Summer and P.S. Be Eleven will be enjoyed by fans of the first two books as well as by readers meeting these memorable sisters for the first time. 

, written by Lamar Giles, published by HarperTeen, HC, age 12 and up
The one secret she cares about keeping—her identity—is about to be exposed. Unless Lauren "Panda" Daniels—an anonymous photoblogger who specializes in busting classmates and teachers in compromising positions—plays along with her blackmailer's little game of dare. But when the game turns deadly, Panda doesn't know what to do. And she may need to step out of the shadows to save herself . . . and everyone else on the Admirer's hit list.

Tiny Pretty Things
, written by Sona Charaipotra and Dhonielle Clayton, published by HarperTeen, HC, age 12 and up
Gigi, Bette, and June, three top students at an exclusive Manhattan ballet school, have seen their fair share of drama. Free-spirited new girl Gigi just wants to dance—but the very act might kill her. Privileged New Yorker Bette's desire to escape the shadow of her ballet star sister brings out a dangerous edge in her. And perfectionist June needs to land a lead role this year or her controlling mother will put an end to her dancing dreams forever. When every dancer is both friend and foe, the girls will sacrifice, manipulate, and backstab to be the best of the best.

Delicate Monsters
, written by Stephanie Kuehn, published by St. Martin’s Griffin, HC, age14 and up
Haunted is a good word for fifteen-year-old Miles Tate. Miles can see the future, after all. And he knows his vision of tragic violence at his school will come true, because his visions always do. That's what he tells the new girl in town. The one who listens to him. The one who recognizes the darkness in his past. But can Miles stop the violence? Or has the future already been written? Maybe tragedy is his destiny. Maybe it's all of theirs.

Rid wit’ Me Part 2
, written by Joy Deja King, published by A King Production Presents a Young Diamond Book, PB, age 12 and up
The Romeo and Juliet of the streets are back in Ride Wit' Me part 2. Mercedes and Dalvin are fighting to keep their love intact and make it down the aisle. Will the two lovebirds be able to overcome their obstacles and finally become husband and wife? Find out in this next installment.

, written by Edwidge Danticat, published by Scholastic, HC, ages 12 and up
Untwine is a haunting and mesmerizing story about sisterhood, family, love, and loss by literary luminary Edwidge Danticat.  In this spellbinding tale, lyrical and filled with love, mystery, humor, and heartbreak. Award-winning Danticat brings her extraordinary talent to this graceful and unflinching examination of the bonds of friendship, romance, family, the horrors of loss, and the strength we must discover in ourselves when all seems hopeless.

Juba! A Novel
, written by Walter Dean Meyers, HC, published by Amistad, 12 and up
In New York Times bestselling author Walter Dean Myers's last novel, he delivers a gripping story based on the life of a real dancer known as Master Juba, who lived in the nineteenth century. This historical novel includes photographs, maps, and other images from Juba's time and an afterword from Walter Dean Myers's wife about the writing process of Juba!

Monster: A Graphic Novel, written Walter Dean Myers, adapted by Guy A. Sims and illustrated by Dawud Anyabwile, published by Amistad, PB, ages 12 and upA stunning black-and-white graphic novel adaptation of Walter Dean Myers's Michael L. Printz Award winner and New York Times bestseller Monster, adapted by Guy Sims and illustrated by Dawud Anyabwile. Fans of Monster and of the work of Walter Dean Myers—and even kids who think they don't like to read—will devour this graphic adaptation.

See No Color
, written by Shannon Gibney, published by Carolrhoda Labs, HC, age 12 and up
Alex is biracial and adopted, and she is a stellar baseball player just like her father.  She begins to question who she really is. She's always dreamed of playing pro baseball just like her father, but can she really do it? Does she truly fit in with her white family? Who were her biological parents? What does it mean to be black? If she's going to find answers, Alex has to come to terms with her adoption, her race, and the dreams she thought would always guide her.

This Way Home
, written by Wes Moore and Shawn Goodman, published by Delacorte, HC, ages 12 and up
Elijah Thomas knows one thing better than anyone around him: basketball. But when a sinister street gang, Blood Street Nation, wants him and his team members to wear the Nation’s colors in the next big tournament, Elijah’s love of the game is soon thrown into jeopardy. This Way Home
is a story about reclamation. It’s about taking a stand for what matters most, and the discovery that, in the end, hope, love, and courage are our most powerful weapons.

All American Boys, written by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely, published by Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books, HC, ages 12 and up
With Reynolds writing Rashad’s first-person narrative and Kiely Quinn’s, this hard-edged, ripped-from-the-headlines book is more than a problem novel; it’s a carefully plotted, psychologically acute, character-driven work of fiction that dramatizes an all-too-frequent occurrence. Police brutality and race relations in America are issues that demand debate and discussion, which his superb book powerfully enables.” - Booklist, starred review.

The Wicked Will Rise (Dorothy Must Die) written by Danielle Paige, published by HarperCollins, HC, age 12 and up
In this New York Times bestselling sequel to Dorothy Must Die, who is good—and who is actually wicked? The Wicked Will Rise is perfect for fans of richly reimagined fairy tales and classic tales like Marissa Meyer’s Lunar Chronicles and Gregory Maguire’s Wicked.

Game On
, Book 3 in the Coleman High Series, written by Calvin Slater, published by Dafina, PB, ages 14-18
Xavier Hunter hoped his senior year would be bad news-free. His old enemy is finally in lockdown and Xavier is out from under one mad-crazy relationship disaster. And he's cool with his dream girl, Samantha Fox, dating other guys because fair is fair--he hasn't been a saint. But he's not hearing anything good about her new man, Sean. And showing Samantha the truth could be the one game Xavier can't win.
Tiny Pretty Things, written by Sona Charaipotra and Dhonielle Clayton, published by Harper Collins, HC, YA
Gigi, Bette, and June, three top students at an exclusive Manhattan ballet school, have seen their fair share of drama. Free-spirited new girl Gigi just wants to dance—but the very act might kill her. Privileged New Yorker Bette's desire to escape the shadow of her ballet-star sister brings out a dangerous edge in her. And perfectionist June needs to land a lead role this year or her controlling mother will put an end to her dancing dreams forever.

The descriptions of the titles on this list were mostly drawn from publishers’ promotional copy, and, in a few cases, excerpted from reviews.  Our goal was to ensure that this list is as inclusive as possible, showcasing the wide variety of books written and or illustrated by Black book creators during 2015. This list is not intended to be an endorsement of all the titles included.   

This list was compiled and curated by:

Wade Hudson, Just Us Books, Inc.,

Kelly Starling Lyons, The Brown Bookshelf,

Dr. Nancy Tolson, Assistant Director of African American Studies, University of South Carolina,