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2013 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.

(Read previous Year in Miscellanea Posts: 2012201120102009, 2008)

Most Disgusting Moment in a Children’s Book

The tapeworm scene in Akissi: Feline Frenzy

I dare you to find a more memorable, shocking, hilarious scene in a children’s book this year.

Tweet of the Year

Jon Klassen

After being told he’d won the 2013 Caldecott Medal (and a Caldecott Honor), Klassen took to Twitter to share his beautifully understated reaction.

Best Author Introduction

Neil Gaiman on Fortunately, the Milk

It’s funny because it’s true.

Book Blurb of the Year

Mac Barnett for Recipe by Angela & Michaelanne Petrella; illustrated by Mike Bertino & Erin Althea

Presented without comment.

Cake of the Year

Mr. Wuffles cake at Brook Forest Elementary

School librarian John Schumacher always rolls out the red carpet for author visits. The frosting covered, edible kind of red carpet. This cake to celebrate David Wiesner’s visit really captures the book.

Picture Book Type of the Year


Wordless books were all over the place in 2013.

Children’s Literature Headline of the Year

One-Legged Parakeet Rescued from Hoarder’s Home Inspires Kids’ Book

I’m not sure how R. Kelly ended up as the image for this article when it came up in my newsfeed, but I think that detail takes it to the next level.

Best Children’s Lit Graffiti

The Pigeon Was Here

Mo Willems likes messing around. I like that he likes messing around. His addition to this plaque celebrating a visit from the Queen of England is but one piece of evidence.

Picture Book Mode of Transportation of the Year


Trains saw a revival in 2013, with Locomotive, Train, Steam Train, Dream Train, and How to Train a Train all being released.

Book I Didn’t See Coming But Should Have

Biography of Psy

The Korean pop star had a big year. That year was 2012.

Illustration Style That’s Going Strong

Flat and matte

High gloss has been running for the hills for a couple years now, but in 2013 it was harder to find than ever. And flat illustrations are the hippest thing going.

YA Cover Title Trend


YA can be an intensely personal genre, so the idea of a title scrawled by hand is a perfect fit. I have to say, I’m a fan.

Picture Book Paper Trend of the Year

Au Naturel

It seemed like picture books far and wide were embracing all forms of raw, unbleached, and paper bag-ish papers.

Best Cover Update

The new paperback Harry Potter covers by Kazu Kibuishi

For the 15th anniversary of the series, Scholastic gave the Harry Potter covers a nice update.

Most Ironic Use of a Children’s Book

Green Eggs and Ham, read by Senator Ted Cruz

As part of his Affordable Care Act fillibuster, Cruz read his kids Green Eggs and Ham. You know, the book that encourages you to try something before rejecting it out of hand.

Creepiest Use of a Children’s Book

Famke Janssen and The Lonely Doll

In the oddest story of the year, actress Janssen acused someone of creeping her out by using the legitimately creepy vintage children’s book, The Lonely Doll.

Best Use of LEGOs

Hilary Leung’s LEGO Picture Book project

For the month of February, Leung posted LEGO versions his favorite 28 picture books. What do you say we go fire up my childhood Nintendo?

Best Cover Reconsideration

Hokey Pokey by Jerry Spinelli

I’m not sure how seriously the publisher was considering the cover on the left, but man did they make a good move in going with the cover on the right.

Dog Name of the Year

Thwack (from the book Danny, Who Fell In a Hole by Cary Fagan)

How can you not like a dog named Thwack?

Author Photo of the Year

L.J.R. Kelly

Roald Dahl’s grandson gives Dallas Clayton a run for his author photo money in Blanket & Bear, a Remarkable Pair.

Best Dedication (YA Edition)

Kiera Cass in The Selection

(Thanks to @brianwyzlic for this one)

The Axl Rose Award

Giant Dance Party by Betsy Bird; illustrated by Brandon Dorman

Rumor has it that one time Axl Rose decided he was going to confuse everyone by doing just one video with full-on Aquanet Hair Metal hair, and then never do it again. The cupcake on the cover of Giant Dance Party is like the Axl Rose Hair Metal hair of picture book cover cupcakes. Never seen again.

Children’s Literature Pedicure of the Year

The Giving Nails

My eyes were opened to the theme nails world in 2013.

Name That Keeps Going Strong


Kids still can’t get enough Bob. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

The “Good Idea” Award

Colorizing Captain Underpants.

I think we all let out a collective “Of course!” when we saw this on the shelf. A perfect candidate for colorization.

The “Nice Try” Award

Back to the Wild, an unauthorized Where the Wild Things Are sequel on Kickstarter

In the words of Liz Lemon, “Shut it down”.

Best Smelling

Chews Your Destiny (Gum Girl #1) by Rhode Montijo

It’s a shame that libraries will be covering up this bubble gum scented scratch and sniff cover.

Book Jacket That Was Hiding Something (First Place)

Doughnut on Flora & Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo

Book Jacket That Was Hiding Something (Second Place)

Whale on If You Want to See a Whale by Julie Fogliano; illustrated by Erin E. Stead

Book Jacket That Was Hiding Something (Third Place)

Textured tiger print for Mr. Tiger Goes Wild by Peter Brown

Book That Should Be Turned Into a Play A.S.A.P.

Zebra Forest by Adina Rishe Gewirtz

Few characters, a minimum of location changes, scintillating dialog – is it just me, or would this book make an incredible transition to the stage?

Best Song

Take Me Out for Some Bowling (to the tune of Take Me Out to the Ball Game) from Blowing Alley Bandit (The Adventures of Arnie the Doughnut #1) by Laurie Keller

I maintain that bowling is our most underrated pastime. It’s always fun. The only thing it’s missing is an anthem. Leave it to Arnie the Doughnut to change the words to the song about our national pastime into something that will have readers singing along at the lanes.

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. I love all of this! And it’s so true about Bob…my fifth graders are forever writing stories about “Bob”. I’m off to look under my Flora and Ulysses book jacket…

  2. Assuming you keep a working obituary (which is perfectly normal), I hope you’re including how your year-end miscellanea’s embody the creative approach you take to children’s literature.

  3. I wish there were one more “place” so that LOCOMOTIVE could also win for best undercover-ness.

  4. I’m not the only one who noticed that Zebra Forrest was a play in book form?! Man oh geez, that just made my day. The superfluous cupcake was a treat (ar ar) as well.

  5. BRILLIANT. bravo.

  6. I love these posts! What a year of awesome :)

  7. Travis,

    This continues to be your greatest annual post EVER! Thanks for sharing your insight, your finds, and your book love with all of us! Happy new year, friend!

    – Matthew

  8. sue corbett says

    Can I add Worst Title Reconsideration (or maybe Best TR, depending upon your perspective)?

    Original Title: Severed Heads, Broken Hearts (Whoa!)
    Published Title: The Beginning of Everything (bland)

  9. Thanks for all this information.

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