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10 to Note: Winter Preview 2014

Happy New Year!

Excuse me for jumping the gun.

After a year of staying relatively mum on all books that might be eligible for a Caldecott Medal, I can go nuts talking about everything released on January 1, 2014 and beyond.

So let’s get started! Below are 10 books coming out in the next three months that are lookin’ good.

Picture Books

29 Myths on the Swinster Pharmacy by Lemony Snickey; illustrated by Lisa Brown

February 11, 2014 | McSweeney’s McMullens | Grades 2-4

Swinster Pharmacy is a mystery. A creepy one at that. Lemony Snicket provides 29 myths in hopes of uncovering the truth. The pairing that brought us The Latke Who Couldn’t Stop Screaming has me wondering – is it going to be too Snicket-y for your average reader (see: too quirky) or just the right amount of offbeat? We shall see.

Motor Dog by Kurt Cyrus; illustrated by David Gordon

February 25, 2014 | Disney-Hyperion | Grades K-2

I haven’t talked much about Kurt Cyrus around here. Don’t think I’ve reviewed any of his books. But he’s always a guy I’m always pleased to see pop up (his Tadpole Rex is a circulation champ at my library). This time out, Cyrus hands illustration duties to David Gordon (Smitten), who turns in some vibrant, cinematic artwork. I predict this will get plenty of attention.

Baby Bear by Kadir Nelson

January 7, 2014 | Balzer + Bray | Grades PreK-1

A Kadir curveball. Like you, I’m used to Nelson bringing us beautiful books about important people and events. So what does he do? Bring us what appears to be a beautiful, powerful book about…a bear cub. This foray into the world of simple storytelling for very young readers has already garnered a starred review from Publishers Weekly.

Weasels by Elys Dolan

February 25, 2014 | Candlewick Press | Grades K-3

I think it was A Fuse #8 Production who recently ruminated on the humor associated animal names. “Squirrel” scored high on her list, and I agree. I’d also add that “weasel” has to be pretty high on that list too. This book, about weasels plotting some good ol’ fashioned world domination, looks like a good time.


I Am Abraham Lincoln by Brad Meltzer; illustrated by Chris Eliopoulos

January 14, 2014 | Dial | Grades K-3

Who’s up for a different take on your standard biography? Ordinary People Change the World is a new series that focuses on one defining trait of a well-known figure from history. In Honest Abe’s case: staying true to what was right. Add in the fact that Abe is presented as a kid, and we have an engaging take on Mr. Lincoln for young readers.

Weeds Find a Way by Cindy Jenson-Elliott; illustrated by Carolyn Fisher

February 4, 2014 | Beach Lane Books | Grades PreK-2

Weeds don’t get a lot of attention, but kids come into contact with them all the time. Here we have a thoroughly kid-centric introduction to the world of dandelions and prickly burrs. I can envision teachers using this nonfiction picture book as a classroom read aloud before investigating the topic further.

Middle Grade Fiction

Odd, Weird, and Little by Patrick Jennings

January 28, 2014 | Egmont | Grades 3-6

There are plenty of new kid, new school books, but I have higher than average hopes for this one from Guinea Dog author Patrick Jennings. A pair of unlikely misfits discover friendship through … volleyball. It’s touted as a book that will appeal to fans of Dan Gutman, and Tom Angleberger.

Early Chapter Books

Invasion of the Ufonuts (The Adventures of Arnie the Doughnut #2) by Laurie Keller

In these previews I try my best to not highlight a bunch of sequels. It’s tough. In any given season there’s always a bunch of “Book 2″s that are following excellent “Book 1″s. Those tend to jump out as things I would like to read. I’m making an exception for Invasion of the UFonuts, the second book in The Adventures of Arnie the Doughnut series. The first book, Bowling Alley Mystery, was such fun (and has been such a hit in my library) I can’t resist.

Judy Moody and Friends: Jessica Finch in Pig Trouble (Book #1) by Megan McDonald; illustrated by Erwin Madrid

February 11, 2014 | Candlewick Press | Grades PreK-1

When a beloved character jumps to a new format, it draws attention. This looks like a promising transition to early reader world for Judy Moody. This new series pulls in Judy’s friends, adding a new dimension to the storytelling. As for illustrations, does the name Erwin Madrid sound familiar? That’s because he’s the guy illustrating just about every other cover you see these days (I talked about him in the 2012 Year In Miscellanea for this reason). His eye-catching style will certainly add interest.

Extraordinary Warren: A Super Chicken by Sarah Dillard

February 11, 2014 | Aladdin | Grades 1-4

This might be the most intriguing book of this whole preview. Take an early chapter book, a picture book, and a graphic novel, and put them all in a blender and you get Extraordinary Warren. Warren is looking for something more to life than the standard cluck and peck of chicken life. I see readers grabbing this in a hurry.

Look for the next 10 to Note coming 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. The review of Extraordinary Warren actually brought tears to my eyes, knowing how hard Sarah Dillard has worked on this wonderful book. I’m so thrilled for her that it’s already starting to get buzz for it! GO SARAH! GO WARREN! You’re both extraordinary! YAY, Travis, for having such extraordinary taste! 8-)

  2. These all look amazing, but count me in most of all on Extraordinary Warren. That looks phenomenal.

  3. I’ve already pre-ordered Extraordinary Warren. Need to get my order in for even more. Looks like the perfect book for gifting. The premise is quite wonderful!

  4. Zach Roush says:

    I know you can’t say what you think of it but is Oliver Jeffers a citizen of the U.S.? aka is he eligible for the Caldecott or no? Thanks for your posts!

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