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10 to Note: Winter Preview 2010-11

One season. 10 books.

This was difficult.

After scouring the children’s lit landscape, what follows are the 10 titles set to release in December, January, and February that most caught my eye as a K-6 school librarian. It’s a subjective list, to be sure, and not a collection of surefire winners – just some promising prospects. Here we go…

Middle Grade Fiction

No Passengers Beyond This Point by Gennifer Choldenko

Feb. 8, 2011 | Dial

The Newbery-honor winning author of  Al Capone Does My Shirts offers up a departure that I’m looking forward to. A fantasy about three siblings and their journey to Colorado to visit their uncle. Good author, interesting premise – consider my curiosity piqued.

What’s Bugging Bailey Blecker? by Gail Donovan

Feb. 17, 2011 | Dutton

Do we share a similar sense of humor? Let’s find out. I think this story about a 5th grader growing out her hair to donate while dealing with a classroom outbreak of head lice sounds like a comedy gem in the making. What do you think? From the author of In Memory of Gorfman T. Frog.

Bone: Quest For The Spark #1 by Tom Sniegoski, illustrated by Jeff Smith

(*NOTE* This book is a regular novel, not a graphic novel. Click here to read about it on Jeff Smith’s site. Thanks to A Fuse #8 Production for the correction)

Feb. 1, 2011 | Scholastic Graphix

I feel a civic duty to alert you to the fact that the Bone universe is about to expand in a new way. This first book in the Quest for the Spark trilogy should calm the legions of Bone fanatics for the time being (or at least until book #2 comes out).

Nonfiction Picture Books

Tillie the Terrible Swede: How One Woman, a Sewing Needle, and a Bicycle Changed History by Sue Stauffacher, illustrated by Sarah McMenemy

Jan. 25, 2011 | Random House

While biographies of well known historical figures are eye-catching, it is often the lesser-known stories that have the biggest impact. The author behind the wonderfully odd Doughnuthead takes on pioneering female cyclist Tillie Anderson. I’m looking forward to the results.

A Nation’s Hope: the Story of Boxing Legend Joe Louis by Matt de la Peña, illustrated by Kadir Nelson

Jan. 20, 2011 | Dial

Speaking of well-known figures, Joe Louis is one of America’s most famous boxers. Last I checked, however, there wasn’t a solid Louis bio for younger readers. With Kadir Nelson handing illustration duties, this one might fit the bill.

Picture Books

Where’s Walrus? by Stephen Savage

Feb. 1, 2011 | Scholastic Press

A wordless story about a zookeeper’s attempts to capture an escaped walrus, illustrated with about as much charm as you can fit between two covers.

Except If by Jim Averbeck

Jan. 25, 2011 | Atheneum

First came the egg, then the chicken. Except if that egg becomes a dinosaur. Jim Averbeck (In a Blue Room) brings us a story full of possibilities.

Look! A Book! by Bob Staake

Feb. 1, 2011 | Little, Brown

Seek-and-find books get plenty of check-outs, but not much credit. Bob Staake might change some minds with his entry into this category. Pure fun in book form.

Cat Secrets by Jef Czekaj

Jan. 4, 2011 | Balzer + Bray

Playing with string, chasing tails – Cat Secrets is going to spill the beans on unexplained feline behavior. Based on the book trailer, this one is gonna bring the laughs.

Graphic Novels

Zita the Spacegirl by Ben Hatke

Feb. 1, 2011 | First Second

Aliens, ancient prophecies, doomsday cults – need I say more? I’ll be checking for this story of an unlikely intergalactic hero.

That does it. Which books are you looking forward to in the next three months?

10 to Note will be a quarterly feature. Look for Spring Preview 2011 coming in February.

(Top Image: ‘619 – Blizzard – Seamless Texture’ http://www.flickr.com/photos/60057912@N00/4426535173)

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. Heck of a preview! Some sweet looking stuff here. Thanks for this, Travis.

  2. I want the cooking show book illustrated by Dan Yaccarino! Cooking with Henry and Elliebelly. Although I guess it doesn’t qualify, as I think it’s already out. I’m just pouting because we don’t have it yet.

    But the Averbeck! WOO! Also the Joe Louis, and the bicyclist, and fer Pete’s sake, the new Bone… this is a great list, thanks Travis!

    • I’m a fan of Henry and Elliebelly, so I can second the fact that you should check that one out. I’ll probably review it here next week.

  3. Oh! I have a whole box of Zita on pre-order on Amazon. I can’t wait! Where’s Walrus and Tillie the Terrible Swede both look awesome too!

  4. Just one quickie correction. As odd as it sounds, that Bone book isn’t a graphic novel. Nope. It’s straight prose. Weird but true.

    Great list! A couple on here that I’d seen before. Cheers!

  5. I love Except If, and in fact, in celebration of its publication on Jan 25, I’ve got a podcast interview coming up with Jim Averbeck!