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10 to Note: Summer Preview 2014

You never know how these preview things are going to turn out. Sometimes there’s a bunch of lesser-known books that jump out, other times it’s stuff that’s already been building some buzz. Today is more latter than former. What follows are 10 books for the summer season that look promising.

Picture Books

Peanut Butter and Cupcake by Terry Border

July 29, 2014 | Philomel | Grades PreK-2

Every once in a while you see a book that has a shockingly great cover. This is one of those times. It has delicious food (always a plus) acting like kids. Not to belabor the point, but  it is impossible to not smile when viewing this. Peanut Butter and Cupcake also has the distinction of being the most odd book included on this list. Side note: are we entering a period of photographic illustration popularity? I’ve been noticing photos more and more. Something to watch for.

The Troublemaker by Lauren Castillo

June 3, 2014 | Clarion Books | Grades PreK-2

I’m happy to see this book. Firstly, it’s from Lauren Castillo – the creator behind one of my favorite books of 2011, Melvin and the Boy. Secondly, it’s about a mischievous sibling rivalry – a topic that never fails to be a crowd pleaser.

Quest by Aaron Becker

August 26, 2014 | Candlewick Press | Grades K-3

Maybe you’ve heard this was coming? We have the makings of an epic trilogy on our hands. I can say this about the much-anticipated followup to Caldecott Honor-winner Journey: it takes things to the next level. Think a return to some familiar locations from the first book. Think more markers (and more colors). Think more imagination realized.

Early Reader

Andy Also by Maxwell Eaton 

August 5, 2014 | Blue Apple Books | Grades K-2

Maxwell Eaton III – strong name. Aside from having a strong name, Maxwell Eaton III has a talent for making some pretty funny books. Perhaps you’ve heard of The Flying Beaver Brothers? Those books get a lot of checkouts round my neck of the woods. Blue Apple books recently started up an early reader thingamajig (wow, the vocab is fading) called Jump Into Chapters. If Elephant & Piggie have taught us anything (and really, haven’t they taught us everything?), it’s that this sort of illustration heavy, text light, humor in spades template is as appealing as it gets for kids learning to read. And for 32-year-old school librarians.

Middle Grade Fiction

Courage for Beginners by Karen Harrington

August 12, 2014 | Litte, Brown | Grades 3-7

Harrington’s first book, Sure Signs of Crazy, was well-received (make that great-received – multiple starred reviews). This book, about a 12-year-old girl who wishes she could be a book character (to better deal with her life), sounds like an intriguing and worthy second effort.

Kate the Great, Except When She’s Not by Suzy Becker

August 5, 2014 | Crown | Grades 3-7

A good ol’ illustrated novel! Kate the Great is being billed as a book for fans of (naturally) Wimpy Kid and Dork Diaries. While Ellie McDoodle is getting a lot of love in our library these days (new covers: successful), this is a niche that continues to see a lot of demand.

Frank Einstein and the Antimatter Motor by Jon Scieszka; illustrated by Brian Biggs

August 19, 2014 |Amulet Books | Grades 3-6

And the hits just keep on coming! This one doesn’t need much help to get seen – any time a new book by children’s literature mad genius Jon Scieszka arrives, it tends to be an event. This book about a boy tinkerer gets going when his robot creations come to life.

Graphic Novel

Comics Squad: Recess! by Various Artists

July 8, 2014 | Random House | Grades 2-5

Name someone who’s making great comics for kids and chances are they contributed a story in this collection. Holm, Krosoczka, Roman, Vernon, Santat – the list goes on. Oh, yeah – and Dav Pilkey. This is a must-purchase if I’ve ever seen one.


Wild Things! Acts of Mischief in Children’s Literature by Betsy Bird, Jules Danielson, and Peter Sieruta

August 5, 2014 | Candlewick Press | Grades 9 and Up

Gotta admit – this is my most anticipated book. Bring together three of my all-time favorite children’s literature minds and I’m in. This book promises details on all the scandals, secrets, and general wildness behind the scenes throughout the history of children’s publishing. Can’t wait.

What’s New? The Zoo!: A Zippy History of Zoos by Kathleen Krull; illustrated by Marcellus Hall

June 24, 2014 | Arthur A. Levine Books | Grades PreK-2

Books like this remind me there’s plenty of territory not yet covered by children’s nonfiction. This looks to be a nice li’l bit of nonfiction for the lower elementary set. Pulled out a li’l there.

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.