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2011 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.

Saddest Moment for Brick-and-Mortar Bookstores

The demise of Borders

More reader-focused and personal than Barnes & Noble, Borders was the chain bookseller you could still get behind. No longer.


Most Subtle Change of Expression from Cover to Inside Book

Bumble-Ardy by Maurice Sendak

Did you catch this? Bumble-Ardy curiously seems to have calmed down a bit from the inside of the book to the cover.




Best Dedication

Look! It’s a Book! by Bob Staake

Fitting right in with the theme of his seek-and-find book, Mr. Staake turns his dedication into an eye test.


Worst Depiction of FDR

Einstein (Great Figures in History series) by YKids

I know manga is known for doing some wacky stuff, but turning our 32nd president into a dude who looks like this?

Unacceptable. Hilariously unacceptable.


Best Endorsement for Reading

Teacher Colby Sharp goes Dead Poets Society

If a teacher did this when I was in school, I can guarantee I would remember it to this day. Here’s to Mr. Sharp starting off the school year right and making some memories.


Controversy of the Year

E-book lending for libraries

The e-book wars intensified in 2011. First HarperCollins wanted to limit the number of checkouts per digital copy, then Penguin temporarily pulled their e-books. This is far from over.


Mistake of the Year

Shine and the National Book Awards

Oh, did this ever get folks up in arms. First Lauren Myracle’s Shine was included in the Young People’s Literature category of the National Book Awards, then it was not. Bad decisions aplenty. The outcomes were: the NBAs looked silly while Shine got a huge popularity bump. I think things worked out as they should.


Bear that I Thought Was a Beaver Until I Read the Book

The Bear from I Want My Hat Back

Did anyone else have this first impression? No? Moving right along!


Book That Inspired the Most Parodies

I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen

There was something about the simplicity and deadpan humor of this 2011 release that inspired a mass of tributes. Know Your Meme has a nice roundup:


Most Unintentionally Scary Book Cover of the Year

Beach Babies

Sometimes, you just don’t intend to make a creepy cover, but you do.


Best Sound Effect


Bang? Weak. Boom? Lame. Dav Pilkey tests the limits of acceptable sound effects (and drops a Winfrey reference) in the delightfully crude Super Diaper Baby 2.


‘Stache of the Year

Thomas Stevens in Around the World by Matt Phelan

Thick, black, and luxurious, no other children’s lit-related facial hair of 2011 topped it.


Best Animal Bling

The Bear’s “Honey” chain in The Woods by Paul Hoppe

As you can tell by the picture, bear is slightly ashamed by this show of wealth.


Best Reappearance

The elephant in Blue Boat by Philip Stead

Was it an homage? The children’s lit equivelant of a callback? When a familiar elephant appeared in Philip Stead’s The Blue Boat, I like to think of it as the reappearance of an old friend from his book with wife Erin E. Stead, A Sick Day for Amos Mcgee (in spirit, anyway).


Best Barcode

Cloudette by Tom Lichtenheld



Most Unexpected Children’s Lit Villain

NFL Quarterback Michael Vick

It’s rare when you open a children’s book and an actual, living person is named as the villain. Saving Audie, about a dog rescued from Vick’s infamous dog-fighting ring, does just that.


Picture Book-Related Quote of the Year

We condemn the amnesiacs who treasure unruly classics while praising the bland today

Mac Barnett and a host of excellent picture book creators made waves in October with “A Picture Book Manifesto”. The proclamation became a rallying cry against the “picture book is dying” crowd.


Best Aligning of the Stars

Sendak, Silverstein, and Seuss release books in the same season

Improbably, three of the biggest names in the history of children’s literature had books out within weeks of each other. And best of all, there wasn’t a weak release in the bunch.



YA Cover Trend of the Year

Making out

2011 was the year that cover designers said “let’s cut to the chase!” Holding hands is sooo 2010.

(Special thanks to Cindy at Bookends for pointing this out)


Quirkiest Book of the Year

People by Blexbolex

You know when the corpse shows up on page nine, things a just a bit off kilter in this wonderfully inscrutable book of different sorts of people.


Board Book Adaptation of the Year

It’s a Little Book by Lane Smith

Who knew that the characters (and spirit) of one of the more controversial books of 2010 would appear to become one of the best board books of 2011?


Most Unsuccessful Board Book of the Year

HTML for Babies

I know this is a joke, but still.


Best Harry Potter Reference on the Senate Floor

Via Orrin Hatch

Technically, this was the only entry into this category. But a win by default is still a win!


Shower Curtain of the Year

Edward Cullen

Does this require a comment?


Slightly Disturbing Mini Trend of the Year

Animals Dressing as Other Animals

Happy Pig Day by Mo Willems and A Dog is a Dog by Stephen Shaskan both depicted animals disguised in full-on costumes of other animals. Very funny, and to some, slightly…unnatural.


Most Ambitious Idea Brought to Fruition

The 90 Second Newbery

Here’s to author James Kennedy who tirelessly banged the drum for folks to create 90 video interpretations of Newbery-winning books. And also for providing a platform for Jon Scieszka to share “the mullet of tuxedos”.


Time-Waster of the Year

#lessambitiousbooks on Twitter

Twitter, that monument to disposable time-wasting brought us the entertaining #lessambitiousbooks meme this year, where folks took famous book titles and toned them waaay down.


Children’s Lit Tattoo of the Year

Tie: Owly and Where’s Waldo


Best Endorsement

Maurice Sendak for A Pet for Petunia by Paul Schmidt

A blurb on the cover of a picture book is rare, but when Maurice Sendak is doing the blurbing, that deserves its own sticker.


Best Mix-Up

Jarrett J. Krosoczka: Thriller

Poor Mr. Krosoczka. At this year’s Book Expo America, he somehow didn’t get the memo that he would be promoting Thriller, the book of short stories, and not the classic Michael Jackson album.


Funniest Book-Related Meme

The Judgemental Bookseller Ostrich

The place to be for smart-alecky book jokes.


Best Use of Books as Musical Instruments

Book xylophone

This gets pretty wild.


Children’s Lit Movie Hype of 2012

The Hunger Games

Not only is this the biggest children’s/YA adaptation coming out, it might be the most pre-hyped movie of 2012 period. In theaters March 23, 2012.

Read previous Year in Miscellanea Posts:




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. LOVE LOVE LOVE this post! 

    Lol. How awesome.

  3. Great post, Travis!

  4. I read Happy Pig Day and A Dog is a A Dog to several classes in the same day. They were quick to point out the costumed animal similarities! Loved this whole post.

  5. Amazing blog entry!

  6. I’m in shock that it’s NOT a beaver. What the what?!?

  7. Very fun! (And yes, I thought it was a beaver at first glance, too.)

  8. No fair, making me laugh out loud at the reference desk!

  9. Wonderful! Gotta share! Need to check out the “People” book.

  10. Awesome round up, Travis! And, yes, consensus at the First Book office was: beaver.

  11. Fantastic post!!!

    I plan to win the mustache category next year! Or, rather, illustrator Jen Wang will!

  12. Thanks for generously including me and Jon and the 90-Second Newbery in the roundup, Travis! (And thanks also for helping me tirelessly pound that drum…)