Ricki’s NCTE/ALAN Top Ten Books


Ricki’s Top Books from NCTE/ALAN (What?! I am actually picking ten?)

This may be the most painful post I write this year. I wrote Kellee an email last night that said, “I just can’t do it. I can’t pick ten! And imagine I went through my boxes before I wrote the post? I can’t do it, Kellee.” I can’t believe I agreed with Kellee (before the conference) that we should write this post. I am an idiot. Really…how do I pick from the piles and piles of books I received at NCTE/ALAN? My stomach hurts as I write this introduction.

In the end, I have decided to do this post from memory. I am not going to comb through my boxes to look for my favorites. I am going to list the books that stick in my head. That doesn’t mean these are the best, but these are the ones that are the first ten that are imprinted in my skull, a few weeks later:

(In alphabetical order):

1. The Alex Crow by Andrew Smith

alex crow

I love Andrew Smith and find his books to be exceptionally entertaining and literary (a tough balance for many authors). I am excited I received this one.

2. All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

all the bright places

A friend and publisher representative highly recommended this book, and frankly, I read everything she recommends because she is always right. The way she described it made me realize I would have to resist the urge to lock myself in my hotel room and read it (rather than attending the rest of the conference).

3. Breakout by Kevin Emerson


I was speaking with Kevin (the author), and imagine our shock when we learned that we attended the same high school! I am ashamed I haven’t read his books (Carlos is Gonna Get It), and after learning about this one, I am thrilled to read it!

4. Echo by Pam Muñoz Ryan


Read the description of this book. I dare you to resist reading it.

5. How It Went Down by Kekla Magoon

how it went down

Kekla Magoon is one of my favorite authors, so I was thrilled to receive this new book by her.

6. Killer Instinct by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

killer instinct

You can’t leave a conversation with Jennifer Lynn Barnes without thinking about how incredibly insightful and intelligent she is. I’ve heard this book gives you the creepy-crawly feeling. A friend related it to the television show, Criminal Minds. It is the second in the series, but I hear that each can be read alone—as long as you are okay with learning who the killer of the first book in the beginning pages of the second book.

7. Like Water on Stone by Dana Walrath

like water on stone

Someone described this to me as The Book Thief meets Between Shades of Grey. Sign me up.

8. Market Maze by Roxie Munro

market maze

A colorful maze picture book that describes how food gets to our tables. Doesn’t that sound neat?

9. When I Was the Greatest by Jason Reynolds

when i was the greatest

After hearing Jason speak, I think everyone in the audience wanted his book. Wow.

10. Wildlife by Fiona Wood


I had the pleasure of meeting Fiona Wood, and she was such a well-spoken, kind soul. She is from Australia, and thank goodness we nabbed her book in the USA. I am very excited to read it.


That was both exciting and painful at the same time. If you ask me tomorrow, I am sure my top ten will be a little bit different, but these books really stick out in my head (right now).



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