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Children’s Literature 2014: 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: 201320122011201020092008)

Oddest Children’s Literature/Hip-Hop/Boxing Crossover

50 cent Will Donate $750,000 if Floyd Mayweather Reads One Page of Harry Potter

Granted, there weren’t many contenders in this category. How did this story end? Well, Harry Potter remains unread by Mr. Mayweather.

Sequel that Didn’t Need to Happen (Runner Up)

If You Give a Mouse an iPhone

First came Goodnight iPad, now this. I predict The Cat in the Apple Watch is next.

Sequel that Didn’t Need to Happen

You Have to F*****g Eat

One step too far.

Bizarro Books of the Year

Rabbbityness and Peek-A-Boo Bunny

Similar, yet opposite.

Occupation of the Year

Xenologist (from Work: An Occupational ABC by Kellen Hatanaka)

Xenology is the study of alien life. Thankfully, there were pictures to help me out.

Tie of the Year

Locomotive-inspired LEGO train tracks tie worn by Tom Angleberger at the 2014 Newbery/Caldecott Banquet

The man knows how to dress for an occasion.

Best Book Title

Wickedpedia by Chris Van Etten

Perfectly captures the horror of a teacher who sees Wikipedia cited as the only source on a student paper.

Swag of the Year

Flora and the Penguin flip book

The spirit of the book, captured perfectly.

Endpapers of the Year (Runner Up)

Found by Salina Yoon

A mass of clever lost posters (including a sly I Want My Hat Back reference) cover the Found endpapers.

Endpapers of the Year

The Right Word by Jen Bryant; illustrated by Melissa Sweet

On the back endpapers of The Right Word, Sweet embraced her inner Roget and wrote out a thousand-word list by hand. That’s dedication.

Best Appearance of a Caldecott Winning Book

Locomotive in The Baby Tree by Sophie Blackall

Sophie Blackall snuck Brian Floca’s Locomotive into her latest (and, for that matter, Bear & Bee by Sergio Ruzzier)

Best Appearance by Gallstones

The gall stones in The Baby Tree by by Sophie Blackall

At least, I think that’s what these are.

Calf Birth of the Year

The River by Alessandro Sanna

Is it for kids? Is it for adults? Does it matter? The River was as beautiful and unexpected at it got in 2014

The “The Dark” Award

What There Is Before There Is Anything There (A Scary Story) by Liniers

This is given to the book that, much like The Dark in 2013, could be mildly spooky, or completely terrifying depending on the whim of whoever is reading the book. 

Portrait of the Year

Jon Scieszka by Loren Long

At the first annual Ultimate Picture Book Sketch Off at ALA annual, M.C. Jon Scieszka had all the panelists draw him. Mr. Long embraced the setting (Las Vegas), and his glorious portrait of the former Ambassador of Young People’s Literature is better for it.

Companion of the Year (Runner Up)

The Julian Chapter by R.J. Palacio

Perhaps the biggest question readers had after finishing Wonder was “what was going on in Julian’s head?” With The Julian Chapter (which could almost pass for a novella in terms of length), Palacio brought in a perspective that was absent from the original story.

(Side note: this is also a first, right? Has a bestselling children’s book ever added a chapter after the fact?)

Companion of the Year

Ivan: The Remarkable True Story of the Shopping Mall Gorilla by Katherine Applegate

While not exactly a companion (the book is a stand-alone), it showed the true story that Katherine Applegate mined for Newbery gold in The One and Only Ivan

Doppelgänger of the Year (Third Runner Up)

Press Here and Touch the Red Button

I’ve been sensing more button pushing ever since Press Here started its bestseller reign.

Doppelgänger of the Year (Second Runner Up)

Revenge of the Flower Girls by Jennifer Ziegler and the poster for the film Bridesmaids

Bridesmaids had to be an influence here, and I love it.

Doppelgänger of the Year (First Runner Up)

City Cat and Cat in the City

Sometimes the stars align in weird ways.

Doppelgänger of the Year

Aaron Becker and this guy I saw

While at the annual Anderson’s Children’s Literature Breakfast, I encountered a photographer who shared an eerie resemblance to Journey author/illustrator Aaron Becker. Or was it him???

Book Title I Will Forever Mix Up Award (aka the I Want My Hat Back/This Is Not My Hat Award)

The Key that Swallowed Joey Pigza by Jack Gantos

It’s a great book, and the title makes perfect sense as a reference to the first title in the series, but I’ll be mixing this up forever.

Food of the Year (Location: Outer Space)


Zorgoochi Intergalactic Pizza: Delivery of Doom by Dan Yaccarino and The Glorkian Warrior Delivers a Pizza by James Kochalka

I suppose it’s better than spaghetti or something, but still far from my first pick in zero gravity.

Jacket of the Year

The Jacket by Kirsten Hall and Dasha Tolstikova

The story on the page becomes the book in your hands. The beautiful story and delightful design made for one of the most entertaining read alouds of 2014

Do-It-Yourself Art Form of the Year


Two do-it-yourself sculpture books arrived in 2014. Giant Game of Sculpture by Herve Tullet and You Call That Art? by David Carter and James Diaz

Two build it yourself modern sculpture kits in 2014? Did I mention the stars aligning in weird ways?

Best Where the Wild Things Are Tribute

Wild from Rex Wrecks It! by Ben Clanton

The shadow of WTWTA looms large over the field of children’s literature, as evidenced by this charming homage by Ben Clanton.

Cover of the Year (Chapter Book)

The Fourteenth Goldfish by Jennifer Holm. Cover illustration by Tad Carpenter. Designed by Heather Palisi

The guy who brought the world the iconic Wonder cover was up to his usual tricks this year – namely, crafting another unforgettable cover image.


Children’s Literature Character Name of the Year

Blizz Richards from The Yeti Files #1: Meet the Bigfeet by Kevin Sherry

Say it a few times – it’s the perfect name for a Yeti (or the meteorologist on your local evening news).

Controversy of the Year Everyone Forgot

Rush Limbaugh is Children’s Author of the Year

Reactions to Rush Limbaugh being named Author of the Year at the Children’s Choice Books Awards ranged from No!!! to Yep.

Interview Series of the Year

Number Five Bus Presents…

Philip and Erin Stead set out to interview others in the field of children’s bookmaking, including Eric Rohmann, Matthew Cordell, Rebecca Stead, and more. The results are endlessly fascinating – in depth and unexpected. I daresay there’s never been anything quite like it, and the children’s literature world is better as a result.


Reissue of the Year

The Beast of Monsieur Racine by Tomi Ungerer (Phaidon) 

Hearty claps on the back to Phaidon for continuing to re-release out of print gems from Mr. Ungerer. 

Author of the Year

Kate DiCamillo

I’d say winning the Newbery Medal and being named National Ambassador of Young People’s Literature is a pretty solid 12 months.

Incredibly Expensive Promotion of the Year

Video player thing for Deep Blue by Jennifer Donnelly

Don’t want to go online to watch the book trailer? No prob – we’ll mail it to you.

Location of the Year

“in space”

Cleopatra in Space and Lowriders in Space led the way in 2014…

…with more “in space” coming in 2015.

The Press Here Award

The Book With No Pictures by B.J. Novak

I can’t think of any other book where I heard more people say “I wish I could have thought of that” than Herve Tullet’s Press Here. The Press Here Award honors the book that had the most people saying those words.

Case Cover Embellishment of the Year (Second Runner-Up)

The Night Gardener by Jonathan Auxier

A foil-y take on the cover image.

Case Cover Embellishment of the Year (First Runner-Up)

The Miniature World of Marvin and James by Elise Broach; illustrated by Kelly Murphy

A foil-y take on a memorable moment in the book.

Case Cover Embellishment of the Year

Zorgoochi Intergalactic Pizza: Delivery of Doom by Dan Yaccarino

I ask you: who’s going to argue with Peace, Love, and Pizza?

Ridiculous Theory of the Year

The Berenstain Bears and the Mandela Effect

Are you certain it’s spelled “Berenstein Bears” and not “Berenstain Bears”? It might be because you’re right … in a parallel universe.


Dedication of the Year

Oliver Jeffers in Once Upon an Alphabet

Cover Controversy of the Year

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl (Penguin Modern Classics Edition)

They went in a different direction.

Campaign of the Year

We Need Diverse Books

It was great to see this “grassroots organization created to address the lack of diverse, non-majority narratives in children’s literature” arrive in 2014. Here’s hoping we see the results of their work in 2015 and beyond.

Cover Trend Going Strong

The Silhouette

As My Brother’s Shadow, Brown Girl Dreaming, Rain Reign, Hansel & Gretel, Ghost of Tupelo Landing, and The Crossover show, this is a cover technique that we’ll be seeing more of.

Name of the Year


2012 was the Year of Chloe. 2013: Flora. With Tulip Loves Rex, Rex Wrecks It, and Rosie and Rex 2014 could perhaps go down as the year of Rex.

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 the quirky. Love the charming. Love the coincidences. Love the book love. Love that you noticed. And shared.

  2. Enjoyed this! Thank you!

  3. Best year-end list I’ve seen. Also Specks for Rex by Yasmeen Ismail fits the final category too! Definitely the year of Rex.

  4. Sharon Verbeten says

    Travis, as usual, a totally engrossing list! And your humor you always inject! Thanks for the Oliver Jeffers mention; it’s one of my faves of the year (esp. because the jacket color wakes me up!)

  5. do you think the Julian chapter could work for a Newbery?
    Was shocked how the book Wonder was ignored

    • Travis Jonker says

      I think since it depends on Wonder to make sense, and since Wonder was not published in 2014, it would be out of consideration. I really enjoyed this addition to the book

  6. Sophie Blackall says

    The Gall Stone Award has made me very happy.

  7. Another quirky and delectable compilation from you, a guy what knows his books. Thanks, Travis!