Janie B. Cheaney

Janie is a senior writer who contributes commentary to WORLD and oversees WORLD's annual Children's Book of the Year awards. She also writes novels for young adults and authored the Wordsmith creative writing curriculum. Janie resides in rural Missouri.


Man in conflict

Children’s Books of the Year | Children’s nonfiction book of the year: One theologian’s struggle to understand God and defeat Hitler
by Janie B. Cheaney
Posted 2/14/19, 02:18 pm

Few “Christian heroes” attract the admiration of the modern age more than Dietrich Bonhoeffer. His courage in standing up to an obvious evil like Adolf Hitler and the Third Reich, his devotion to his family, and his musical and literary gifts are all virtues anyone, secular or religious, can appreciate. But our nonfiction winner presents a figure few secular readers can grasp: a man smitten by God from an early age. Perhaps the most sensitive treatment of this life can only come from an author or illustrator with similar leanings.

Read more

Krieg Barrie

Books of the resistance

Children’s Books of the Year | A wave of activist-themed children’s books has surged in the Trump era
by Janie B. Cheaney
Posted 2/14/19, 02:17 pm

“One remarkable feature of Donald Trump’s constantly surprising tenure,” reported Publishers Weekly last May, “is this: he is a professed nonreader whose presidency just might launch a thousand books.”

Indeed, shortly after the election of 2016, the publishing world rose up with cries of “Resist!” Dozens of children’s authors expressed their dismay, followed shortly by determination to push back against this new wave of supposed racism, sexism, and xenophobia. Within months, books aimed at encouraging teen activism were rolling off the presses.

Read more

Matt Marcinkowski

From hand to heart

Children’s Books of the Year | A Q&A with author and illustrator John Hendrix
by Janie B. Cheaney
Posted 2/14/19, 02:16 pm

Illustrator John Hendrix’s picture book Miracle Man: The Story of Jesus gathered rave reviews three years ago. This year, The Faithful Spy, an unabashedly Christian take on Dietrich Bonhoeffer, has attracted even more attention. Hendrix, a Presbyterian Church in America elder, has a secular publisher that has never made an issue of his spiritual themes. “Christians are a market, and my editor recognizes that,” he says.

Read more