100 Scope Notes
Inside 100 Scope Notes

7 Picture Books I Loved (But Didn’t Review) in 2014

Anyone who writes book reviews will tell you that every once in a while you feel like you just nailed it. You do the book justice, you provide insightful critique – it’s all working. Other times, however, you spend so much time trying to nail it that your time runs out. Since I slavishly adhere to the “I only review books during their year of publication” rule, my time has run out on the following seven books.

If you haven’t already, take the time to read them with kids.

A Letter for Leo by Sergio Ruzzier

Leo is a mail carrier who’s never received a letter himself, but when he befriends a little lost bird, things change.

Nancy Knows by Cybele Young

Elephants never forget, or so the saying goes. But Nancy is having trouble remembering something important.

Sebastian and the Balloon by Philip C. Stead

One of my favorite quotes of the year comes from Grasshopper Jungle: “Good books are about everything”. Philip Stead’s books tend to be about everything – including this one, about a boy who escapes boredom via balloon.

Hug Machine by Scott Campbell

What happens when the Hug Machine runs out of hugging power?

The Storm Whale by Benji Davies

Near the seaside home of a boy and his father, a little whale washes ashore. The lonely boy appreciates the company for a while, but knows what must be done.

Sparky! by Jenny Offill; illustrated by Chris Appelhans

A girl orders a sloth through the mail. What she’s expecting is a pet. What she gets is a sloth.

Fox’s Garden by Princess Camcam

A boy’s kindness is repaid by a mother fox in need of shelter. Another excellent entry into the Stories Without Words series from Enchanted Lion Books.

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. Just had Sergio Ruzzier as a speaker for an event this past Monday – he was incredible and his A Letter For Leo is one of THE best of 2014!

  2. Hmm, the comment didn’t post. I mainly wanted to say that I *love* that you did sketches of the book covers–really loved them–and that several of the titles (I think especially the hug one, which I’m judging from its cover, and the sloth one, which sounds like a cute idea) are ones I’d like to get for my niece.

  3. Wow… you draw as well? My envy knows no bounds….
    Can’t wait til Tuesday to begin checking out the 20 books you and John write about.
    Thanks for everything you do to promote a love of literacy