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.

Auxier: Libby Hilf • Magoon: Curtis Sabir/WENN/Newscom

Restless souls

Children’s Books of the Year | Children’s novels of the year: When the ordinary becomes extraordinary
by Janie B. Cheaney
Posted 2/14/19, 02:19 pm

In Sweep: The Story of a Girl and Her Monster by Jonathan Auxier (Amulet, ages 10-14), Nan Sparrow’s first memories are of the gentle, quiet man who adopted her as an abandoned infant and taught her his trade. The Sweep added love and imagination to a life that, for most 19th-century chimney climbers, was unrelievedly grim. But now he’s gone, his only legacy a lump of charcoal that Nan can’t bring herself to toss away. Maybe it’s good luck, and she needs all the luck she can get working for Wilkie Crudd, the most heartless master in London. 

Read more


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