100 Scope Notes
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10 to Note: Winter Preview 2011-12

Interested in learning about some of the most intriguing children’s books coming out this winter but would like to keep the amount of titles to a number easily divisible by 5 and 2? This, friend, is the post for you. What follows are 10 books that had me pretending to stroke my whiskers, raise one eyebrow and let out a high-pitched “hmmmmmmmm”. Without further ado…

Middle Grade Fiction:

Dumpling Days by Grace Lin

Jan. 2, 2012 | Little, Brown | Grades 3-6

Fans of Grace Lin’s beautifully understated Year of the Dog and Year of the Rat take note – Pacy and her family are back. This time out, they’re headed to Taiwan for a summer trip. As you might guess, there are some bumps along the way.

Cold Cereal by Adam Rex

Feb. 7, 2012 | Balzer + Bray | Grades 3-7

Adam Rex is odd. No, wait, that’s rude. Adam Rex writes about odd topics. He does this well. Take, for instance, this first book in a planned trilogy, which is a fantasy about saving the world from an evil cereal company. It also contains a talking rabbit-man. See what I mean?

Crow by Barbara Wright

Jan. 10, 2012 | Random House | Grades 3-7

The shocking reality of the Jim Crow laws can be difficult to get across to students today. Already sporting positive buzz (including a starred review from Kirkus), this story of the political changes happening for African Americans in 1898 looks to be a winner.

Fiction Picture Books:

And Then It’s Spring by Julie Fogliano, illustrated by Erin E. Stead

Feb. 14, 2012 | Roaring Brook Press | Grades K-2

Are you ready for another dose of our reigning Caldecott winner? Erin E. Stead returns with Julie Fogliano in this story about a boy who decides to make a little spring happen by planting a garden.

Extra Yarn by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Jon Klassen

Jan. 17, 2012 | Balzer + Bray | Grades PreK-3

Do you ever wonder if a publisher has placed some sort of listening device in your brain? I’m talking about you, Balzer + Bray. This is an author/illustrator pairing I can get behind. Mac Barnett, he of the Brixton Brothers series, Oh No!, and Guess Again! joins forces with Jon Klassen, who is fresh off writing and illustrating I Want My Hat Back, one of the most memorable picture books of 2011. And how can you deny this sort of cryptic book summary?

This looks like an ordinary box full of ordinary yarn.

But it turns out it isn’t.

I’m in.


A Boy Called Dickens by Deborah Hopkinson, illustrated by John Hendrix

Jan. 10, 2012 | Random House | Grades K-4

The publishing world is nothing if not game to celebrate milestones. Turns out that 2012 is the 200 anniversary of the Charles Dickens’s birth. Hopkinson and Hendrix (a moniker that would work well if this pair ever decide to put out an album of roots music – consider it, guys) are just the folks to celebrate with. This is after all the combo brought us Abe Lincoln Crosses a Creek. Expect good things.

First Girl Scout : The Life of Juliette Gordon Low by Ginger Wadsworth

Dec. 6, 2011 | Clarion | Grades 5-7

You know what my libraries are lacking? Quality books on the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts. With the 100th anniversary of the Girl Scouts coming up in 2012, it appears there will be a few titles to help fill part of that collection gap, including this one, which focuses on the Scouts founder.

The Comic Strip Big Fat Book of Knowledge by Tracey Turner, illustrated by Sally Kindberg

Feb. 14, 2012 | Bloomsbury | Grades 4-7

Sound the perfect storm siren! Or is it a fog horn? Yeah, probably fog horn. What we have here is a book that takes two things that kids love – books of various facts and comics – and puts them together in one 288 page illustrated piece of hold shelf gold.

Citizen Scientists: Be a Part of a Scientific Discovery from Your Own Backyard by Loree Griffin Burns, photographs by Ellen Harasimowicz

Feb. 14, 2012 | Henry Holt | Grades 3-6

When it comes to kids, hands-on takes the cake. Why learn about scientific studies when you can get in on the action? Loree Griffin Burns (Tracking Trash) shows readers how they can participate in ongoing studies of the animal world.

Graphic Novel:

Fangbone! Third-Grade Barbarian by Michael Rex

Jan. 5, 2012 | Penguin | Grades 2-4

Michael Rex – that name sounding familiar? You might know him from his recent  children’s lit parodies Goodnight Goon and The Runaway Mummy. Now he’s decided to bring the goofiness down a notch by taking on… a third grade student who is a barbarian from another world. I may have wildly overstated that whole “bring down the goofiness” thing. This is a graphic novel that should find some eager readers.

Look for Spring Preview 2012 in February.

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. Very excited to hear about FIRST GIRL SCOUT! We definitely get requests for books about scouts and about Juliette Gordon Low in particular, so this’ll fill a gap in our collection for sure! Thanks for the head’s up!

  2. The things to love about this list! Grace Lin, Adam Rex, Mac Barnett, and then you hit me with a Girl Scouts book too! And that G.S. book has a great-looking cover – I may pass out. Thanks for the heads up on 2012.

  3. Don’t know the actual release date, but be prepared for goodness when you read K.A. Applegate’s THE ONE AND ONLY IVAN.

    I’m just saying . . .
    K. Appelt

  4. Ha! Totally laughed out loud about Hopkinson & Hendrix, roots musicians. THANKS for this list. Super psyched about Big Fat Book of Knowledge! Yes, that’s the perfect storm fog horn for my 8-year-old.

  5. Thanks for sharing the covers of Erin Stead’s and Jon Klassen’s new books. Do you think Citizen Scientists will be good? I want it to be.