100 Scope Notes
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2016 Children’s Lit: 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: 20152014201320122011201020092008)

Best Appearance of Celebrity Chef Guy Fieri in a Picture Book: Because of Thursday by Patricia Polacco


A complete win for the chef. Not only does he show up toward the end of the book, he ends up saving the day too.

Men’s Room Graffiti of the year: Miss Frizzle

Bookface of the Year: This Dog

I’m giving this one the win for the sheer level of difficulty. Humans can stand still taking bookface pics until they get it right, but getting the shot with an animal? Hard to do.

Pillow of the Year: The Caldecott Pillow by Cece Bell

Caldecott Pillow

Gifted to Sophie Blackall after Finding Winnie won the medal. This thing is amazing.

Report of the Year: Diversity in Publishing by Lee & Low Books

Lee and Low Survey

Early in 2016 Lee & Low published results of their diversity-focused survey of 8 review journals and 34 publishers. Clearly, we have a long way to go.

Book Spine of the Year: Tru & Nelle by G. Neri, jacket art by Sarah Watts, jacket design by Whitney Leader-Picone

Tru and Nelle

It’s a ladder up to a tree branch and it’s great.

Book Title/Cover Combo of the Year: The Saddest Toilet in the World


Can you imagine sitting with Sam Ricks as he was sketching out ideas for this cover? I would have enjoyed that.

Travis: Sam, Sam – this is the saddest toilet in THE WORLD – we really gotta make this toilet look forlorn!

Sam: We? Leave my studio.

Two-Page Spread of the Year (Runner Up): “and the fish saw A CAT.” from They All Saw a Cat by Brendan Wenzel


In a book full of stunning artwork, this one takes the cake. 2016’s best use of watercolor.

Two Page Spread of the Year (Winner): This Is Not a Book by Jean Jullien


Everyone’s reaction when first seeing this:

*Confused look*

“What is that?”


“Is it?”


Jean Jullian with this spread:

Mic Drop

Question of the Year: Are We There Yet?

Are We There Yetthere-yet

Notable Invention: New Languages

Du Iz TakBest Frints


Some books used invented language to wonderful results (Du Iz Tak? Best Frints in the Whole Universe), while others were not successful (publication of When We Was Fierce was halted due to racial stereotyping concerns).

Boys of the Year: Cave Boys



Neanderthals were hot in 2016.

Children’s Book Movie News Too Real for Comfort: Jumanji 2

Jumanji 2

I keep checking to see if this is real. It’s real. How???

Best Long-Winded Speech: The Walrus in Penguin Problems by Jory John and Lane Smith


The wise walrus tries to remind the protagonist about all that is right in his life. Not since The Dark (written by Lemony Snicket) has an unexpected whole page of text been used so effectively in a picture book.

Life Imitates Art Moment of the Year: Cardboard Schu

This year a Flat Stanley competitor emerged when a cardboard cut-out of Scholastic’s Ambassador of School Libraries John Schumacher inexplicably began traveling. First stop, Dan Santat’s house

Best Toe: The Lady in The Uncorker of Ocean Bottles illustrated by Erin E. Stead, written by Michelle Cuevas

Uncorker 1

Uncorker 2

Upon receiving a letter from a loved one, a toe has never said so much.

Unexpected Pool Party Invite of the Year: Sweater Weather by Sara Varon


The characters are passing out invites to an indoor pool, and one shows up in the book.

Best Hidden Character: Ballet Cat in Excellent Ed illustrated by Julia Sarcone-Roach, written by Stacy McAnulty

Excellent Ed

Look closely, friends.

Best Midcentury Modern Furnishings: Ada Twist, Scientist by Andrea Beaty and David Roberts


Ada, no shoes on the Eames!

Most Grotesque: The Troll in The Heartless Troll by Øyvind Torseter


I can say this with confidence: there was no troll in children’s lit uglier in 2016 than this troll.

Best List of Bowie Songs: This List of Bowie Songs from The Liszts by Kyo Maclear and Julia Sarda

Bowie Songs

Kids, you’re going to need this later on.

Coincidence of the Year (Runner Up): Box Books

What to Do With a BoxBox

Coincidence of the Year (Winner): Two Books About Evolution Starring Fish

9780062451989_36626 9781250113238_59dbe

Picture books about evolution are rare, so what are the chances two would come out in 2016, both with orange fish on the cover?

Best Word Bubble: We Are Growing! by Laurie Keller

We Are Growing

I just like how the bugs word bubble goes through the hole he chewed.

Best Cameo of a Character From a Newbery Medal-Winning Book: Ulysses in Where Are You Going, Baby Lincoln? by Kate DiCamillo

Baby Lincoln

This squirrel sounds familiar.

Comeback of the Year: Gradients

shyWe Found a Hat

Seems like gradients fell by the wayside for a while there, but two excellent 2016 picture books used the technique to beautiful effect. Also, a website I just found called Design Shack backs me up.

The Alice and Martin Provensen Award: Sleep Tight Farm by Eugenie Doyle, illustrated by Becca Stadtlander



The Provensen award is an award I made up for the book that has the best pastoral images of the year, a la children’s lit legends Martin and Alice Provensen in books like Shaker Lane.

The Gutter Award (Runner Up): Don’t Cross the Line! by Isabel Minhos Martins and Bernardo Carvalho

Don't Cross the Line


Don't Cross the Line 1

Don’t Cross the Line! makes clever use of the gutter as a line the other characters in the book are not allowed to pass.

The Gutter Award (Winner): Shy by Deborah Freedman


The main character, Shy, hides in the gutter for a good portion of the book.

Dissatisfied Inanimate Object of the Year: School in School’s First Day of School


When School is unhappy with some troublemakers who say they hate school, he makes the inanimate object version of this face:


Best Willy Wonka Sample in a Hip Hop Song: The Space Program by A Tribe Called Quest


Legendary hip-hop trio A Tribe Called Quest released their final album this year, and the end of the first song had a surprise: a sample of Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka.

Unwanted Sequel of the Year: The Little Elephant Who Wants to Fall Asleep

Little Elephant

I think I speak for everyone when I say the rabbit was more than sufficient.

Tweet I Find Funny Every Time: Wimpy Kid Dabbing Fan Art

Best Book Dedication to Someone Famous: Erica S. Perl to Lin-Manuel Miranda in The Capybara Conspiracy


Best Book Dedication to Someone Not Human: Peter Brown to Robots in The Wild Robot

Wild Robot

Best Book Dedication to Oneself: Lindsey Eager in Hour of the Bees

Hour of the Bees

Swag of the Year: Mercy Watson Toast Stamp from ALA Midwinter 2016


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. What a fun roundup! Thanks! I’d like to suggest an addition to your cave boy array – The Oodlethunks by Adele Griffin. There are two so far with a third due in May. They are lots of fun.


  2. Anna Sedenka says

    I loved this! So many of them made me smile, or even laugh out loud!

  3. These are Brilliant, Travis!

    In fact, I hadn’t realized how much I love that speech by the Walrus until I read your post.

    (I’m using my full name now because I’M ON THE BALLOT FOR THE 2019 NEWBERY COMMITTEE!!!)

  4. And the Oscar for best list of the year goes to . . . YOU!!!!
    Love this and am so honored that ADA TWIST, SCIENTIST is included. (Thought maybe she’d make it in on the Best Chicken V. Egg visual joke, though.)

    Thanks for a great summary of the good parts of a very weird year. Much needed!

  5. Some of your best work ever, Travis! (and that’s saying a lot, because everything you do for and with the kidslit-o-sphere is amazing!)

  6. So fun – thanks for your time in pulling it all together!