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2018 Children’s Lit: The Year in Miscellanea

2018 Children's Lit

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

Read previous Year in Miscellanea Posts:


Tweet of the Year: Reader Reaction to Dear Martin

“WHAT?!?!?” This completely candid reaction of a kid reading Dear Martin by Nic Stone is the best thing I’ve seen in a while. Shout out to @LadybugsLilAnne for alerting me to this all-timer.

Most Difficult Book to Shelve: Sam’s Hamburger by David Pelham

Sam's HamburgerSam's Hamburger 1

You can’t really shelve it, but such is the price you pay for being Astonishingly Unconventional.

Best Use of the Arthur Fist Meme (Runner Up): Draymond Green

Arthur FistDfggyzpUEAAV8oz.0

You just won an NBA championship. How do you celebrate? By wearing a shirt with a children’s book character’s fist on it. The Arthur fist meme has officially become universal.

Best Use of the Arthur Fist Meme: Marc Brown

This makes me laugh every time. The keen-eyed Shannon Ozirny spotted this oh-so-subtle homage to the Arthur fist by the creator himself, Marc Brown.

Name Change of the Year: The Award Formerly Known as the Wilder

The Laura Ingalls Wilder Award – ALSC’s version of the lifetime achievement award – was renamed the Children’s Literature Legacy Award. Long live the Children’s Literature Legacy Award!

Hip Hop Tribute of the Year: Dilla from Niblet & Ralph


Zachariah OHora is no stranger to the Year in Miscellanea, making the post in 2015 for Royal Tenenbaums reasons. The name Dilla pays tribute to J Dilla, a musical genius and true hip-hop innovator, lost too soon.

(Almost) Book Title of the Year: Robin De Niro: What Will I Be?


I say almost because it appears this book was cancelled before it actually made it to shelves. We are all lesser for it.

Worst Book Title of the Year: The Dinosaur That Pooped the Bed


We can do better.

Best Cover (Nonfiction): Saving Fiona


What kid isn’t going to love this cover? But it’s a good thing it came out in 2018, because another book already has this category locked up for 2019.

Trend of the Year for Completeists: Boxed Sets


It’s a good time to want it all.

Most Heartbreaking Book of 2018: A Bubble by Geneviève Castrée


Before Geneviève Castrée passed away, she wrote this heart-wrenching story for her daughter.

Narrowest Book of 2018 (Runner Up): Hello Lighthouse by Sophie Blackall

Hello Lighthouse

It’s tall. It’s skinny. Perfect for a book about a lighthouse. This book was oh-so-close to taking home this highly coveted award, but it was edged out . . .

Narrowest Book of 2018: The Little Barbarian by Renato Moriconi

Little Barbarian

The tallest. The most narrow. Also, the insides are good too. The Little Barbarian is a wonderful wordless picture book (on of the best of the year, according to A Fuse #8 Production – I concur).

Just like his writing, the guy brings it every single time sartorially speaking. I wore a suit to the Newbery Caldecott Legacy Banquet this year because I knew he would be in attendance bringing his A game and I had to do my best.

Case Cover Fake Out of the Year: Beavers (The Superpower Field Guide) by Rachel Poliquin and Nicholas John Frith

BeaversBeavers Case

Dust jacket on, this is a retro-inspired burst of nonfiction fun. Dust jacket off, it’s disguised as an unassuming snoozer.

Best Use of Late 80s/Early 90s Tech on a Book Cover: A Game Boy on Mac Undercover (Mac B. Kid Spy) by Mac Barnett and Mike Lowery

Mac B

Do kids know what it is? Don’t care. Was I excited to see it? Yes.

Trend with No Signs of Stopping: Nonfiction Comics




Remember a few years ago when nonfiction comics were hard to come by? Between Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales, Science Comics, Secret Coders, and the upcoming Maker Comics, that’s a distant memory.

The Dav Pilkey Flip-o-Rama Award: Dreamers by Yuyi Morales

Eyes open, eyes closed. Eyes open, eyes closed. Eyes open, eyes closed.

Most Instructive Case Cover of the Year: Potato Pants! by Laurie Keller

Potato Pants

All you need to do to learn the robot (excuse me, po-bot) is take the jacket off of this book.

Case Cover of the Year (Middle Grade Category): Lions & Liars by Kate Beasley

Lions and Liars

Green gator.

Best Feeling Book of 2018, and by “Best Feeling” I Don’t Mean the Book That Makes You Feel the Best, But the Book That Literally Just Feels Really Cool in a Tactile Way (Runner Up): The Itchy Book! by LeUyen Pham


It’s a book about itching and the word “itchy” in the title has this scratchy texture. Well done.

Best Feeling Book of 2018, and by “Best Feeling” I Don’t Mean the Book That Makes You Feel the Best, But the Book That Literally Just Feels Really Cool in a Tactile Way: Stumpkin by Lucy Ruth Cummins


You have to feel it to believe it.

Best Use of Negative Space: Adrian Simcox Does NOT Have a Horse by Marcy Campbell, illustrated by Corinna Luyken

Adrian Simcox

Adrian Simcox 1

Luyken plays it perfectly elusive as the reader tries to find out if Adrian does or doesn’t have a horse.

Best Book to TV Adaptation: Hilda on Netflix


I have an almost 100% disappointment record when seeing film or television adaptations of kid’s books. Hilda is the (very) rare exception. The episodes that followed the books were faithful. The ones that broke new story fit in seamlessly. I loved it, my kids loved it, and I’m happy to hear there’s a second season coming.

Barcode Placement of the Year: Neck and Neck by Elise Parsley

Neck and Neck

I like a creative picture book barcode. And no barcode in 2018 was more creative than this one.

Best Use of a Children’s Book as a Political Attack Ad: Oh, the Places You’ll Forget!


Oh the Places

It turns out you don’t need the guy with the most sarcastic voice in the world for a proper political attack ad – just a copy of Dr. Seuss’s Oh the Places You’ll Go and some time. This was for a U.S. Senate campaign in Indiana.

Picture Book Spine of the Year: Drawn Together by Minh Lê and Dan Santat

Drawn Together Spine

It’s a pencil. And the case cover underneath is best-of-the-year level as well.

Best Book of the 2018: 20 Slices


I would have preferred a more artisnal cheese. Maybe something with goats milk, definitely something aged. But then I check my snobbishness and realize that a book made of individually wrapped slices of American cheese doesn’t deserve my nit picks. All it deserves is glorious praise.

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. My favorite list of the year is finally out!!! I’m so thrilled. And, if I might add one of my own favorite oddities of the year, Best Celebrity Cameo should go to a certain squid in the book Off & Away by Cale Atkinson. I’m 99% sure that Ira Glass has been squidified.

  2. A delightful roundup. Thank you!

  3. These lists you make should be required reading in our art AND ELA classes at school! Thanks for sharing!

  4. Alison L Morris says:

    A treat as always, Travis! THANK YOU!

  5. Just picked up the Fiona Hippo book at the library today. Will my daughter Fiona love the cover as much as we do? Time will tell.

  6. What a fun list! Thank you for highlighting the playful designs.