100 Scope Notes
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10 to Note: Summer Preview 2013

I shoulda called this “Preview Week” or something. Yesterday was Groundwood books, today is … every American publisher. One season, ten books that look promising.

Picture Books

Count the Monkeys by Mac Barnett; illustrated by Kevin Cornell

June 25, 2013 | Disney-Hyperion | Grades PreK-1

Mac Barnett always seems to be up to interesting things, and this fractured counting book is the latest example. Here Barnett pairs with Kevin Cornell to take a concept that has been covered endlessly and turn it on its head. I sense read aloud prospects here.

The Day The Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt; illustrated by Oliver Jeffers

June 27, 2013 | Philomel | Grades PreK-2

This book might win the fun award for the day. A boy named Duncan opens a box of crayons and finds letters of resignation instead. The crayons have all quit and Duncan must figure out how to remedy the situation. Witty humor right at a kids level.

Chapter Books

Home Sweet Horror (Scary Tales, Book 1) by James Preller; illustrated by Iacopo Bruno

July 9, 2013 | Feiwel & Friends | Grades 2-4

If I had an Oreo for every time I get a request for a scary book, I’d be in serious trouble re: blood sugar. The strange thing is, there aren’t a ton of viable creepy options, especially for the lower level chapter book crowd. There’s an age range/level of scariness balance that’s difficult to strike. This first book in the new Scary Tales series should fit the bill quite nicely.

Kelsey Green, Reading Queen (Franklin School Friends, Book 1) by Claudia Mills; illustrated by Rob Shepperson

June 4, 2013 | Farrar, Straus and Giroux | Grades 2-4

Veeeery interesting. Reading competitions never fail to be a controversial issue in schools (and I’m talking about among the adults here). This book, about the twists and turns of a schoolwide reading contest made my ears perk up. We run a battle of the books program for fourth graders at my schools and I know that team dynamics could make good fodder for a relatable young chapter book.

Middle Grade Fiction

Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan

August 29, 2013 | Dial | Grades 5 and Up

If my buzz-o-meter is functioning properly, this is a book that you’ll be hearing a lot about as the year goes on. Publishers Weekly called it a “Galley to Grab” at BEA, and early word has been positive. Plus the author wrote the script for the 90s classic The Big Green, so there’s that. Side note: I can’t comment of how the cover is going to play in schools yet, but I love it.

The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp by Kathi Appelt

July 23, 2013 | Atheneum | Grades 3-5

Newbery honoree Appelt is back and in familiar stomping grounds – southern swampland. This book about a pair of raccoon scouts, a massive swamp creature, and a boy intent on protecting them all sounds like Appelt is staying in her wheelhouse. Nothing wrong with that.


How Big Were Dinosaurs? by Lita Judge

August 27, 2013 | Roaring Brook Press | Grades K-2

You know how in some dinosaur books they put a little size comparison illustration down at the bottom of the page? It’s usually a shilouet of a dinosaur next to the shilouet of an average adult? This book takes that idea and gives it the spotlight, putting dinosaurs next to common (and uncommon) animals that exist today. Size is always a tricky thing to convey to kids and this book might just do it better than most.

When the Beat Was Born by Laban Carrick Hill; illustrated by Theodore Taylor III

August 27, 2013 | Roaring Brook Press | Grades 1-4

If you’re having collection problems I relate to you son, I’ve got 99 problems but a DJ Kool Herc picture book biography ain’t one. Somewhere, Jay Z is crying because of that line. But I can’t help myself – this is a great book to see. The history of hip hop told though the life of its founding father. Much needed.

Papa’s Mechanical Fish by Candace Fleming; illustrated by Boris Kulikov

June 4, 2013 | Farrar, Straus and Giroux | Grades K-2

Candace Fleming is unquestionably one of the best children’s nonfiction writers in the game right now. This book, about an inventor who created a homemade submarine looks promising. Every time I turn around it’s getting another starred review (Kirkus and School Library Journal). The detailed cut-away don’t hurt either. The fact that it takes place in Lake Michigan means that it fulfills my “hour away” mandatory review policy (more on that below). Indeed, I am a complete and utter homer.

Graphic Novel

Bluffton: My Summer with Buster Keaton by Matt Phelan

July 23, 2013 | Candlewick Press | Grades 4-7

I have a low bar for thrills. If the setting for a book is within an hour of where I live, I have to resist the urge to call all my friends and relatives to tell them the news. But, man, when the creator of that book is Matt Phelan, it’s cause for serious excitement. This time out the “King of Nostalgia” (don’t mind me, just trying out a new nickname here) sets his sights on a young Buster Keaton and the three summers he spent in Muskegon, Michigan beginning in 1908. I just finished this book the other day and it’s another moving graphic novel from Mr. Phelan.

Look for the 10 to Note: Fall Preview coming in August.

(Top Image: ‘Japan – Hiding the Sky‘ http://www.flickr.com/photos/30674850@N00/5078123765Found on flickrcc.net)

About Travis Jonker

Travis Jonker is an elementary school librarian in Michigan. He writes reviews (and the occasional article or two) for School Library Journal and is a member of the 2014 Caldecott committee. You can email Travis at scopenotes@gmail.com, or follow him on Twitter: @100scopenotes.


  1. These look great Travis, thanks! I’m especially excited to read the new Appelt! Counting by 7s intrigues. Makes me wish I were attending BEA.

  2. Sam Bloom says:

    Wow, Jay-Z may be crying but I’m laughing my head off! Well played, my friend. Anyway, the bottom six books on your list have me excited. Can’t wait!

  3. Travis,

    It goes without saying that I MUST HAVE A MECHANICAL FISH!!! (or at least a shirt with that cover illustration).

    Here at North Ward, Scary Tales (Preller), is a hit with my strong first grade readers (although I did have one young lady return it because it was too scary–but that turned out to be the BEST booktalk for several other students).

    • Travis Jonker says:

      Thanks for providing some first-hand experience with Scary Tales, Ed! And I agree on Mechanical Fish – you need that book and a t-shirt of that book.