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10 to Note: Fall Preview 2013

Here’s how I approach these previews. I look at all the K-6 books coming out in the next three months, then pick 10 titles that jump out to me the most. Could be because I’ve read them and loved them, could be because they’re getting a lot of advance praise, could be because I can see them going over like gangbusters in my school libraries. Combinations of those three things are also welcome.

So let’s take a look at the latest batch, hitting shelves in September, October, and November…

Picture Book

How to Draw a Chicken by Jean-Vincent Senac

October 1, 2013 | Tate | Grades PreK and Up

Wait, a playful picture book from a Frenchman? You don’t say. Did you notice the heavy sarcasm there? That’s because between Herve Tullet, Blexbolex, and Édouard Manceau, the French countryside is apparently lousy with picture book creators who love to get playful. This book, where the illustrator attempts to draw a chicken amid a series of mishaps should receive lots of laughs.

Middle Grade Fiction

The Mysterious Woods of Whistle Root by Christopher Pennell; illustrated by Rebecca Bond

September 10, 2013 | Houghton Mifflin Harcourt | Grades 4-7

Gentle isn’t an adjective that typically gets much attention, but this middle grade debut looks to be a nice alternative for readers who don’t go for thrill-a-minute fantasy. A story about a girl who who goes from town oddball to something much more, this Indie Next pick looks to be a quiet winner.

The 14 Fibs of Gregory K. by Greg Pincus

September 24, 2013 | Arthur A. Levine Books | Grades 3-6

Hey! It’s the debut novel by Greg Pincus, a guy who’s been part of children’s literature realm for a while now. This is the story of a kid surrounded by a family of math geniuses who just wants to go to…author camp. Sounds like a collision of worlds kids can get into.

The Real Boy by Anne Ursu; illustrated by Erin McGuire

September 24, 2013 | Walden Pond Press | Grades 4-7

Chances are you know this one is coming, but I’d be a bad blogger not to mention a book that’s been getting loads of early attention. With The Real Boy, all signs point to Ursu building on the impressive rep she earned with her last offering, Breadcrumbs. Here’s guessing it’ll be popping up in discussions over at Heavy Medal: A Mock Newbery Blog in the coming months.


Sophie Scott Goes South by Alison Lester

November 19, 2013 | Houghton Mifflin Harcourt | Grades 2-4

Are you up for some creative nonfiction? Nine-year-old Sophie is headed to Antarctica with her dad and journals the whole trip. Facts, photos, diagrams, and illustrations of Antarctic wildlife combine to create a pretty intriguing mix.

Cool Creations in 35 Pieces by Sean Kenney

September 10, 2013 | Henry Holt | Grades PreK-3

At this point, every new Sean Kenney LEGO book should be an automatic add for your collection. LEGOs have never been more popular and Kenney’s books show kids how to build things they might not have considered before. This latest title gets down to basics, limited to things you can build using only 35 pieces. It’s like LEGO meets haiku.

Scaly Spotted Feathered Frilled: How do we know what dinosaurs really looked like? by Catherine Thimmesh

October 1, 2013 | Houghton Mifflin Harcourt | Grades 4-7

For everyone who’s seen a dinosaur depiction and asked “Dinosaurs had bright colored spots? Where’d they come up with that?”, this is the book for you. A Sibert medalist takes us behind the scenes with paleoartists, who attempt to determine dino appearance from nothing but a batch of bones.

NERF: Ultimate Blaster Book by Nathaniel Marunas

November 19, 2013 | POW! | Grade 3-7

This is what I like about doing these previews – critically acclaimed books next to NERF. This book, chronicling the evolution of the popular NERF Blaster, is about as high interest as it gets.

Graphic Novels

Smash: Trial by Fire by Chris A. Bolton, Kyle Bolton

September 10, 2013 | Candlewick Press | Grades 4-6

There’s no shortage of superhero graphic novels, but Smash: Trial by Fire is more well done than most. About a kid who inherits the powers of his favorite hero, it’s full of drama, humor, and seriously thrilling action sequences. To summarize: kids are going to love it.

Spelling Trouble (The Misadventures of Salem Hyde, Book 1) by Frank Cammuso

October 1, 2013 | Amulet Books | Grades 1-3

The Knights of the Lunch Table series has been a circulation champ in my libraries for the last couple years, and I’m predicting this new series by Knights creator Frank Cammuso will have a similar fate. And not to get all gender-y on you, but I like the fact that this features a girl main character but the cover doesn’t scream “for girls only” – makes it an easy sell for everyone (quiet pound to the Amulet folks).

Look for the next 10 to Note coming in November.

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. Colby Sharp says:

    The Year of the U.