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2019 Children’s Lit: The Year in Miscellanea

It’s time to take a look back at the year that was in children’s lit miscellanea.

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Read previous Year in Miscellanea Posts:

READ Poster of the Year: Gene Luen Yang for Dragon Hoops

Yang’s book Dragon Hoops doesn’t come out until 2020, but can it even top the Michael Jordan-inspired READ poster that was sent out with the Dragon Hoops ARCs?

Best Feeling Book of 2019, and by “Best Feeling” I Don’t Mean the Book That Makes You Feel the Best, But the Book That Literally Just Feels Really Cool in a Tactile Way: Ogilvy by Deborah Underwood, illustrated by T. L. McBeth

If you get a chance, rub your hand across that wooly-feeling title, people – you won’t be sorry.

Best Act of Sewing: Giving the Beekle plush a butt

Kohl’s began selling plush characters to go along with some of Dan Santat’s books:

@StoryOwl asked the question all Beekle fans were thinking: will the Beekle doll have a butt?

@StoryOwl discovered the plush Beekle didn’t have distinct cheeks. Most people would have stopped there. @StoryOwl got out a needle and thread . . .

. . . and gave Beekle a proper rump.

Best Use of Children’s Literature in a Meme: Frog vs. Kermit by Isaac Fitzgerald

I laugh every time I read this.

Cover Recreation of the Year, (Runner Up): Minh Lê, Let Me Finish!

Cover Recreation of the Year: Crown

Funniest Award Reaction Tweet of the Year: Sergio Ruzzier


Two-Page Spread of the Year: Saturday by Oge Mora

The composition, the color, the element of surprise – no 2019 two page spread had more impact than this one did.

Best Use of Normally Unused Space: AstroNuts by Jon Scieszka and Steven Weinberg

Doppelgänger of the Year (Runner Up): Arthur A. Levine and Walter White from Breaking Bad

Do not mess with the head of Levine Querido.

Doppelgänger of the Year: Dave Eggers and Raúl the Third

Shout out to Minh Lê for this fantastic bit of “separated at birth”.

Cover Controversy of the Year: The Poet X

I think I speak for most people when I say “Whyyyyyy????”

*UPDATE* HarperCollins has revised the cover credit for this book.

Book Cover of the Year (Reissue): Bunnicula

Never has red velvet been put to better use than on the 40th anniversary edition of Bunnicula.

Bird of the Year: Book Expo Bird

The Best Reason Not to Delete Your Facebook Account: Author Derrick Barnes

The Crown author’s Facebook is the most inspiring place on the internet.

Unexpected Children’s Literature Reference of the Year (Runner Up): Jeopardy champ James Holzhauer

How did the current Smartest Guy Ever get so smart? Children’s literature.

Unexpected Children’s Literature Reference of the Year: Jennifer Garner reads We Found a Hat to her bagels

Librarian Win of the Year: Chicago Librarian breaks historic Jeopardy run

Remember that Smartest Guy Ever guy I talked about a couple awards ago? Who broke his historic Jeopardy run? A librarian.

Mystery I’m Least Interested in Solving: Poodunnit

Worst Bookmark: A Taco

The Chex Mix bookmark meme brought out the best and worst in us all.

Book Plate of the Year: King Mouse by Cary Fagan, illustrated by Dena Seiferling

So I’m casually opening up King Mouse and DAAANG! Gold foil EX-LIBRIS???

Barcode of the Year: Pokko and the Drum by Matthew Forsythe

It’s just perfect, isn’t it?


Baseball Stat of the Year: Favorite Book

Home runs? Not important. RBIs? Get out of here. The Little League World Series shared the most important information.

Book Jacket of the Year: Frankly in Love by David Yoon

The three dimensional effect of this cover stopped me in my tracks.

Human Jacket of the Year: Mo Willems Pigeon Jacket

When you have an event at the Kennedy Center, you bring out your finest.

Book Dedication of the Year, YA: Ben Philippe for The Field Guide to the North American Teenager

I hope Ben Philippe’s mom has come to terms with the fact that her son is a writer.

Dedication of the Year, Picture Book: Josh Lieb, for Chapter Two is Missing!

I don’t know who Dana is. I don’t know the severity of the torture, but well done, Dana.

Picture Book Animal of the Year: Unicorn

In a landslide.

Artist Studio of the Year: Christian Robinson

The image is from a studio slideshow of New York Times Best Illustrated Children’s Books winners. I want to go to there.

Mutual Respect award : LeVar Burton and Jason Reynolds

The admiration levels were high at this B&N store event in October.

Case Cover of the Year: At the Mountain’s Base by Traci Sorell, illustrated by Weshoyot Alvitre

Weirdest Book of the Year: Apocalypse Taco by Nathan Hale

There were plenty of astonishingly unconventional books this year, but this book about aliens making creepy copies of the human world via the local taco place was the weirdest.

Cover Trope of the Year: Flora all over the book

Having trouble telling them apart.

Children’s Literature Related Political Scandal of the Year: Baltimore Mayor Resigns

The questionable sale of thousands of children’s books is to blame for the resignation of Baltimore’s mayor.

Pumpkin of the Year (Carved): Elephant & Piggie

Pumpkin of the Year (Dressed Up): Dory Fantasmagory

Pumpkin of the Year (Painted): Gaston and Pups

Slyest Self-Promotion: Jonathan Stutzman Reads His Book at Target

Author tours? Ads? Who needs them? If you want to move copies of your book, head over to your nearest Target and do this:

2019 Trend Showing No Signs of Stopping: Cuteness Overload Mashups

In 2019 we toyed with combining things with unicorns and mermaids. In 2020 we will perfect it.

The 2019 “Am I Watching Vevo Right Now?” Award: Yuyi Morales Pura Belpré reaction video.

She’s been raising the picture book bar for years – now Yuyi Morales takes award reaction videos to the next level. This is incredible.

Incredible Author Story of the Year: Dan Santat’s 44th birthday rant

You really should read this.

Weeded Book of the Year: Those Amazing Leeches

The toenail is a nice touch, isn’t it?

Book Idea of the Year: “Something Happens”

I think we all can relate to Cindy Derby’s note to herself.

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. That. Was. Epic. You have outdone yourself, sir. Absolutely amazing work. And so much that I missed! Thank you!!

  2. This was so much fun to read. SO MUCH! Thank you for curating, Travis!

  3. Awesome and a much needed diversion from news feeds. Thank you so much!

  4. Karen MacPherson says:

    Fabulous post, Travis! I laughed, I cried — it has a bit of everything. Thanks for pulling it together.


  6. Deborah Ford says:

    WOW. What a great and thoughtful post. A must read in and of itself. Thanks for the year in review.

  7. I am going to write myself a big note to revisit this again and again. Great work Travis. Thankful for your wonderful mind.