Cynsational Books of 2005

What a year in books it has been!

Young adult novels in particular really shined (so many of them in pink that I’ve labeled one of my bookshelves the Malibu Barbie YA Fiction Collection).

Across the age ranges, humor was strong, and, hopefully, will finally receive some overdue critical recognition. What’s more, debut voices were among the brightest and best.

It’s always hard to pick favorites, but then again, why not take advantage of the opportunity to highlight?

The following is not a list of predictions for ALA or other award programs, but rather the top choices I’m recommending to cynsational readers.

That said, I stand behind all of this year’s recommendations and urge you to also consult the archives on this blog and the bibliographies on my site. And of course, as always, I’m only one person with so much reading time. I’ll continue reading 2005 and other backlist titles even though the 2006 ARCs have begun to arrive. I encourage y’all to do likewise.

Cynsational Young Adult Novel

Sleeping Freshmen Never Lie by David Lubar (Dutton, 2005).


Boy Proof by Cecil Castellucci (Candlewick, 2005).

Storky: How I Lost My Nickname and Won The Girl by D.L. Garfinkle (Putnam, 2005).

A Room on Lorelei Street by Mary E. Pearson (Henry Holt, 2005).

Cynsational Middle Grade Novel

Three Good Deeds by Vivian Vande Velde (Harcourt, 2005).


Each Little Bird That Sings by Deborah Wiles (Harcourt, 2005).

Last Dance on Holladay Street by Elisa Carbone (Knopf, 2005).

Shakespeare’s Secret by Elise Broach (Henry Holt, 2005).

Cynsational Picture Book

Hotel Deep: Light Verse from Dark Water by Kurt Cyrus (Harcourt, 2005).


Beyond The Great Mountains by Ed Young (Chronicle, 2005).

Henry & The Buccaneer Bunnies by Carolyn Crimi, illustrated by John Manders (Candlewick, 2005).

Jerusalem Sky: Stars, Crosses, and Crescents by Mark Podwal (Doubleday, 2005).

Cynsational Notes

I’m not the byline author on Tofu and T. rex by Greg Leitich Smith (Little Brown, 2005) or Moccasin Thunder: American Indian Stories for Today edited by Lori M. Carlson (HarperCollins, 2005). But the former is by my husband and the latter includes one of my stort stories, “A Real-Live Blond Cherokee and His Equally Annoyed Soul Mate.” Therefore, however much I appreciate those books, it seems a conflict of interest to consider them for purposes of picking the Cynsational Books for 2005. That said, I do hope you’ll seek out those titles and that you enjoy them as much as I do.

While I enjoyed a bit of excellent non-fiction this year, I don’t feel as though I read enough of it to give a thoughtful endorsement of a slate of books as “cynsational.”

I’d also like to point out that many of this year’s pink books are absolute literary gems!

Finally, Louise Erdrich’s The Game of Silence (HarperCollins, 2005) seems like the best shot at a Native American authored Newbery novel in some time. I would be thrilled.

See Cynsational Books of 2004.

Cynsational News & Links

Advice from a Caterpillar: Writing for Children by Peggy Tibbetts from December 2005. Focus on: “Understanding “Reluctant Readers,” Fighting Writer’s Block, Getting Online Reviews and Interviews.” Note: the mention of my site is most appreciated. See also What Every Writer Needs To Know About Titles by Julie K. Cohen.

Congratulations to Austin author Chris Barton, who is signing with agent Erin Murphy! And congratulations to Erin for signing with Chris!

“It’s Only Pink on the Outside” by Rosemary Graham from Not-So-Terrible After All. Rosemary talks about pink cover art, feminism, the associations of the “chick lit” label, and acknowledges its market power and limitations. Rosemary is the author of Thou Shalt Not Dump The Skater Dude (And Other Commandments I Have Broken)(Viking, 2005). Read a recent cynsations interview with her on the novel. See also her blog, not-so-terrible after all for “Gift Ideas for the Reading Teens in Your Life.”

Thanks to those readers who’ve commented of late on my cynsations LJ syndication: Tanya Lee Stone on the interview with author/illustrator Ed Young; Debbi Michiko Florence on critiquing first drafts (see post on her related insights) and personalized picture book protagonists; Holly Black and Cecil Castellucci on Miss Cecil’s upcoming release, Queen of Cool (Candlewick, 2006); Monique Madigan on agents. Thanks to all my LJ readers for their interest, participation, and support!