100 Scope Notes
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2016 Geisel Award Predictions


I’ve never officially tried to predict which books will win Geisel awards. This must change! Embrace new things, Travis! Remember tomatoes? You like those now!

Okay, that pep talk worked.

With a mix of “I think this will win”, and “I hope this will win”, here are my picks for 2016 Geisel greatness.

Pig in a Wig

GEISEL MEDAL PREDICTION: What This Story Needs is a Pig in a Wig by Emma J. Virjan

Of all the books I mention today, this one seems the most well-suited for the award. The basic vocabulary, cumulative story, and rhyme all scream “beginning reader”. This is the book I would be most surprised to see left out come Geisel Award time.

Ballet Cat

GEISEL HONOR PREDICTION: Ballet Cat: The Totally Secret Secret by Bob Shea

You’ve already heard me compare this book to anther Geisel-winning series (Elephant & Piggie), and I see this first book in Shea’s new early reader series as similarly formidable.

Two Mice

GEISEL HONOR PREDICTION: Two Mice by Sergio Ruzzier

I was disappointed when, a couple years back, Have You Seen My New Blue Socks didn’t get any Geisel love. That book was written by Eve Bunting and illustrated by the man responsible for Two Mice, Sergio Ruzzier. With a story built around the numbers 1, 2, and 3, Two Mice plays with repetition, while allowing the illustrations to subvert expectations. I wouldn’t be surprised to see it get a Geisel nod.

I Yam a Donkey

GEISEL HONOR PREDICTION: I Yam a Donkey! by Cece Bell

The cover credits Bell for “story, pictures, and bad grammar”. The idea here is that bad grammar will help to inform readers about the opposite. It has a “Who’s on First” complexity, but the past has shown that Geisel smiles upon books that tackle concepts (see You Are (Not) Small and A Big Guy Took My Ball (both are about relative size), Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons (numbers)). It’s also very funny.

I Used to Be Afraid

Geisel Honor Prediction: I Used to Be Afraid by Laura Vaccaro Seeger

Seeger has won Geisel in the past (honors for One Boy and First the Egg). The Dame of the Die Cut (am I the first person to come up with that name, or am I subconsciously stealing it from someone else – let me know A.S.A.P.) is back with a book about overcoming fears that uses spare text and creative cut-outs, with wonderful results.

And also look out for…

Geisel isn’t afraid to award a past winner. I wouldn’t be surprised to see any of the following books get shiny stickers, either.

In Over and On

In! Over! and On! (The Farm) by Ethan Long

Long previously won a Geisel Medal for Up! Tall! and High! This book contains three short stories to illustrate the titular prepositions.

That's Not Mine

That’s (Not) Mine by Anna Kang, illustrated by Christopher Weyant

This duo previously won a Geisel Medal for I Am (Not) Big. This book continues the comparison fun.


Templeton Gets His Wish by Greg Pizzoli

Pizzoli won a Geisel Medal for his book The Watermelon Seed. As he shows again in Templeton, few author/illustrators can tell a story as simply and effectively. I love this book and am mad I haven’t talked about it more this year.

I Really Like Slop

I Will Take a Nap

I Really Like Slop! and I Will Take a Nap! by Mo Willems

Let me just take a moment to say that the 2017 Geisel Medal is going to The Thank You Book, the final title in the Geisel-studded Elephant & Piggie series. But before that happens, we have 2016 to deal with, and Willems has two strong contenders.

Mr. Putter

Mr. Putter and Tabby Smell the Roses by Cynthia Rylant, illustrated by Arthur Howard

Mr. Putter and Tabby won an honor last year, can they go back-to-back?

SO! What do you think will win?

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. Ballet Cat!

  2. After I read Look by Jeff Mack, my first thought was: Geisel!

  3. Great list Travis! This is a tough year to call and I’m really impressed by a lot of books. I don’t envy the committee – there are some tough choices ahead!

  4. Rob Bittner says:

    So excited to see this list. I always feel totally out of the loop on Geisel, but suddenly I actually feel like I am able to get to a few of these titles before Midwinter! Yay! Thanks so much for this list.

    • Travis Jonker says:

      Thanks for the thanks, Rob – I feel like it was a really strong year for Geisel-worthy books.

  5. Jonathan Hunt says:

    Mo Willems has won either the Medal or an Honor every single year that an Elephant & Piggie book has been in contention. I think I REALLY LIKE SLOP is a comic masterpiece (in a series of comic masterpieces). I think it’s the best shot of keeping the streak alive.

    • Travis Jonker says:

      Wow – I didn’t know this. It seems like he’s always in there, but I didn’t realize he’s won a medal or honor every year an E&P book has been released. They’re both so good this year, I have a hard time choosing a favorite.