100 Scope Notes
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2015 Children’s Lit: The Year in Miscellanea

Misc. 2015

It’s time to take a look back at the year that was in children’s lit miscellanea.

(Read previous Year in Miscellanea Posts: 2014201320122011201020092008)

Doppelgängers of the Year: Momo (from My Cousin Momo) and Richie Tenenbaum (from The Royal Tenenbaums)

The resmeblance is striking.

Momo Doppelgänger

Bjorn Borg approves.


Hottest Angel: Marcus Marvel from The Marvels

The tousled hair. The soulful eyes. Just enough of a five-o-clock shadow to suggest an inner bad boy. After surveying the children’s literature landscape in 2015, no angel was dreamier.

Dreamy Angel

Domination of the Year: Raina Telgemeier vs. The New York Times Bestseller List

Between Smile, Drama, Sisters, and the Babysitter’s Club books, Telgemeier owned the paperback graphic novel list, occupying multiple spots all year long.

Telgemeier NYT

Book of the Year (Last Place): The Rabbit Who Wants to Fall Asleep

The comedy gods smiled upon the world of children’s literature this year, giving us a book that uses subtle (who am I kidding? Pretty straightforward) mind control tactics to send kids off to dreamland. Long, super-boring and monotonous, the book comes complete with hilarious directives to read the entire book even if the child falls asleep, and a warning against reading it if someone is operating a vehicle within earshot. But then we all remembered that it was the bestselling book on Amazon and our hearty laughter slowly faded, and we felt sad.


The Bernie Mac Award (The Read Aloud Closer): Robo-Sauce by Adam Rubin and Daniel Salmieri

In the documentary The Kings of Comedy, Bernie Mac (R.I.P.) was the final act in a night filled with stars. This is because no one could follow him. He was the biggest personality. He was the most outrageous. He could not be topped. Robo-Sauce is the Bernie Mac of picture book read alouds: it’s the closer because, how can you follow it up? Hilarious and groundbreaking, don’t even try to read anything afterward – just send kids off saying to themselves, “What just happened?”

Robo Sauce

Allow Betsy Bird of A Fuse #8 Production to demonstrate:

Fuse 8 Robo Sauce

Best Reference to Classic Film Noir: The Skunk by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Patrick MacDonnell

There were definitely some comparisons to be drawn between MacDonell’s illustrations and the Noir classic The Third Man, starring Orson Welles. Coincidence? You be the judge.

Skunk Third Man

Best Dressed (Runner-Up): Roger, from Roger is Reading a Book

The right combination of classic style (bow tie and wingtips) and modern flair (skinny orange pants and stripy socks? Nice touch, Rog), much like the book itself.

Roger is Reading a Book

Best Dressed: The entire cast of The Moon is Going to Addy’s House

No book this year had better clothes. Ida Pearle, will you be my personal stylist?


(image: coolmomphotos)

Dedication of the Year (Heartfelt): Circus Mirandus by Cassie Beasley

Am I getting emotional? Great. I’m getting emotional. Again. Damn you Cassie Beasley!!!

Mirandus Dedication

Dedication of the Year (Creative): Friendshape by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Tom Lichtenheld

A choose your own dedication.

Friendshape Dedication

Item I Did Not Expect to Feature Prominently in a Children’s Book Series: The Rainbow Loom

Rainbow Loom

The Rainbow Loom is a craft device used to make things out of rubber bands. Never did I see it and think, “Kids book.”

That’s why Lucy and the Magic Loom took me by surprise.


Fake Game of the Year: Monotony (from Meet the Dullards by Sara Pennypacker, illustrated by Daniel Salmieri)


Actually, this might be a good name for the game which it spoofs – ’cause I’ve yet to complete a game of Monopoly in my life.

How does that burn feel, Monopoly?

Bookmaker Name of the Year: Rowboat Watkins (Author/Illustrator of Rude Cakes)

The matching double syllables in the first and last names. The way it rolls off the tongue. The connection to a real-life object. All authors/illustrators should aspire to this sort of pen-name greatness.


Best Jacket/Case Cover Combo: The Nest by Kenneth Oppel, illustrated by Jon Klassen

If you’ve seen this book in person, you know how cool it is. The vellum jacket is a nice texture match for a real hornet nest. There are see-through bits to show the type. And the case cover has an all-over comb pattern. Nice work all around.

The Nest

Best-Feeling Book of the Year: The Tiger Who Would Be King by James Thurber, illustrated by Joohee Yoon

It just feels so nice.


Best Case Stamp: Duck (from Milo Speck: Accidental Agent by Linda Urban)

A nice surprise.


Color of the Year: Gray

It was the color of choice for many of the best books of the year:

Best Art Note: Steve, Raised by Wolves by Jared Chapman

The story behind the illustrations took some unexpected turns.

Steve, Raised

Steve Raised by Wolves

Best Blog Post by an Author: Shannon Hale

No Boys Allowed: School Visits by a Woman Writer should be required reading for everyone in the children’s literature world.


Boat-Building Material of the Year: Newspaper

Two of the year’s most beautiful picture books, Float and My Pen featured paper boats.


My Pen

The Press Here Award: Look! by Edouard Manceau

The Press Here Award goes to a book that carries the torch of Press Here‘s deceptively simple interactivity. I vote for this book, which turns a rectangular hole into an opportunity to see the world with fresh eyes.

Look! Cover

Look Spread

Case Cover of the Year: Special Delivery by Philip C. Stead, illustrated by Matthew Cordell

This was a hotly contested category – there were a lot of cool case covers out there in 2015. But for the sheer visual overload of it Special Delivery takes the cake. With dozens of unique stamps featuring a cast of characters and objects both unexpected and familiar, this is the Sgt. Pepper of picture book case covers. Or, for hip-hop fans The Midnight Marauders of picture book case covers.




Diary of a Wimpy Kid Fan of the Year: The Pope

Not photoshopped! When Diary of a Wimpy Kid was translated into Latin this year, it went without saying that Pope Francis had to have a copy.

Wimpy Kid and the Pope

Best Unexpected Appearance of a Caldecott Honor Book: Flora and the Flamingo in One Day, the End

One Day

One Day the End

Best World, Revisited: This Is My Home, This Is My School by Jonathan Bean

For This Is My Home, This Is My School Bean revisited his childhood – specifically, the childhood he depicted in his great 2013 book Building Our House. The difference? Art style. Can’t say I’ve seen anything like this before.

This Is My Home

Left: This Is My Home, This Is My School Right: Building Our House

Best Sound Effects: Dav Pilkey

He’s won this award before, but this year he outdid himself for the latest installment of Captain Underpants. Can you place these names?

Pilkey Sound Effects

Most in Need of Privacy: The Rabbit in Mr. Postmouse’s Rounds by Marianne DuBuc

Just keep scrolling.

Mr. Postmouse

Best Children’s Lit Book for Grown Ups: 100 Great Children’s Picture Books by Martin Salisbury

Worth it for the photographs alone, this is a book that makes you want to go out immediately and track down every title mentioned.

100 Great

Tweet of the Year: Dan Santat

Some book award winners go for exuberance. Some for speechless understatement. When Dan Santat won the 2015 Caldecott Medal, he went for humor:

Santat Patriots

Most Hypnotizing Endpapers of the Year: Mesmerized by Mara Rockliff, illustrated by Iacopo Bruno

This optical illusion made the perfect endpaper addition for a book about people falling under a trance.


Cover of the Year (Picture Book): Wolfie the Bunny by Ame Dyckman, illustrated by Zachariah O’Hora

The yellow and pink. The onesie. It grabs your attention and makes you wonder what’s going on inside.


Cover of the Year (Middle Grade): The Honest Truth by Dan Gemeinhart

Simple and bold – this cover makes a statement while capturing a key moment in the book. A win all around.

Honest Truth

Cover of the Year (YA): X by Ilyasah Shabazz and Kekla Magoon (Designed by Matt Roeser)

It came out in January, and for the rest of the year no other cover even came close.


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. Nest is pretty great but I think I may have voted for Pax by Sara Pennypacker, which comes in its own diorama!

  2. The diorama can make it into next year’s round-up, since it’s a 2016 release, yes? And you’ve never finished a game of Monopoly? CHALLENGE ACCEPTED!! We set aside time at the next ALA Conference and duke it out. Who’s with me?

    • Travis Jonker says

      Is the finished copy really a diorama? That isn’t some sort of promo thing? Man. That’s a 2016 shoe-in for sure.
      I hereby challenge you to an ALA Conference game of Monopoly, Betsy!

  3. Great post, Travis. I look forward to this one every year!

  4. JOY.

  5. Travis, will you be my personal book stylist?

  6. I just love all the categories, Travis, AND I agree with a lot of your picks :D My eyes are still spinning from MESMERIZED lol

  7. Thank you for making this a safe space for my unholy feelings toward Angel Marcus Marvel. I thought it while reading and DID NOT FEEL OKAY SHARING.

    This whole roundup is great. And may I recommend Monopoly Junior Disney Princess? We got it as a gift a few years ago and I grumbled in my feminist grinch way, but HOLY CRAP does it improve the Monopoly experience. Similar game without all the farshtunkner hotels and utility-hoarding, and it’s over in 20 minutes. 10/10 WOULD PLAY AGAIN. I call Mulan.

  8. Great roundup! Might I add, I saw a woman shopping on Black Friday in what looked very similar to a Wolfie the Bunny costume.

  9. Great show!

    I really enjoyed this.

  10. Fun stuff!
    (And so is Monopoly if you don’t play by house rules– no free parking free money, no lending money to other players, all nice options that extend the game’s misery. It’s over quickly if you play strictly by the rules. When I was a kid I didn’t care who “won” the game; I cared most whether I got to play with the game marker I wanted, the Toto dog. If I got stuck with the iron or the thimble, I’d already lost.)