100 Scope Notes
Inside 100 Scope Notes

Top 20 Children’s Books of 2010 (#10-6)

#20-16 | #15-11 | #10-6 | #5-1

10. The Chicken Thief by Beatrice Rodriguez [Enchanted Lion]

Published in France in 2005 as Le Voleur de Poule, this wordless picture book takes readers on an adventure through a forest, up and down a mountain, across an ocean, and into Fox’s lair. Why? Because Bear, Rabbit, and Rooster must rescue Chicken before Fox has her for dinner (or so they think). Readers of all ages will delight in its exploration of stereotypes, and may wonder aloud, “Why didn’t Chicken just tell her friends that…” While you might find yourself explaining Stockholm Syndrome to a seven-year-old as a result, The Chicken Thief is sure to be “read” again and again. –John Schumacher


9. A Nest for Celeste by Henry Cole [Katherine Tegen]

Henry Cole’s A Nest for Celeste is a visual stunner reminiscent of Brian Selznick’s The Invention of Hugo Cabret. Cole’s black and white pencil illustrations are as integral as the words he writes. The story follows Celeste, a mouse who realizes that home is where you make it, and that the relationships you establish are more important than where you are. Readers also learn of the sometimes questionable practices of James Audubon, a name synonymous with nature. A tale to savor and a work of art to treasure for years to come. –John Schumacher


8. Keeper by Kathi Appelt, illustrated by August Hall [Atheneum]

Keeper defies simple summation: it’s simple yet complex, realistic yet magical, somber yet hopeful. Author Kathi Appelt creates only a few characters here (and one heck of a memorable setting), but each is constructed with a sophistication that’s rare – in children’s literature or elsewhere. 10-year-old Keeper wants (or is it needs?) to believe that her absent mother is a mermaid. After a day where everything goes wrong, Keeper sets out on a dangerous mission to seek her mother’s guidance in setting the world right. –Travis Jonker


7. Countdown by Deborah Wiles [Scholastic Press]

A playbook in creating and sustaining a mood, Countdown feels like an event as soon as you crack the cover. Actually, it feels like a very specific event. Following 12-year-old Franny and her military family over the 13 day Cuban Missile Crisis, Wiles steadily ratchets up the tension with the help of iconic photos, evocative quotes, and bios of key figures. The first of a planned 60’s trilogy, Countdown is a documentary novel that captures a time and place. Put the needle in the groove and enjoy. –Travis Jonker


6. Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper [Atheneum]

Out of my Mind gives a voice, literally, to those who otherwise lack one. Sharon Draper highlights Melody’s struggle and allows the reader to focus on her abilities, rather than her disabilities. You  cannot help but pause and consider how you have unintentionally treated those who may face a similar struggle. Out of My Mind is difficult to get out of your mind. It changes the way you think about those differently-abled. –John Schumacher

#20-16 | #15-11 | #10-6 | #5-1

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. I looooove The Chicken Thief!

  2. The Chicken Thief! Love.

    See? Inevitably, I stumble across some book I haven’t even HEARD of and feel like a poseur. The Henry Cole book is all-new to me. I shall explore further.

    • Chicken Thief is getting lots of love here, which is cool to see. Enchanted Lion made a good choice in bringing it to the U.S., eh? John’s comments about A Nest for Celeste are right on – such a great book.

  3. Abby–The Chicken Thief deserves buckets of love. :)