100 Scope Notes
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10 to Note: Spring Preview 2020

Sifting through 2000-some-odd books each season and picking ten that I’m most excited about/intrigued by is always a tough task, but this time out was especially challenging. Why? Because spring 2020 is full of great-looking books.

So many great-looking books.

Below are ten books publishing in March, April, and May that jumped out to me.

Picture Books

Lift by Minh Lê, illustrated by Dan Santat

May 5, 2020 | Little, Brown | Grades K-2

The Drawn Together team is back at it with another book bursting with imagination and heart. Lift is a cinematic visual feast with a side of sibling rivalry and acceptance.

Weekend Dad by Naseem Hrab, illustrated by Frank Viva

May 5, 2020 | Groundwood | Grades K-2

A departure from her LOL-worthy Ira Crumb books, Naseem Hrab tells a heartfelt story about divorce that will ring true with plenty of young readers.

We Are Water Protectors by Carole Lindstrom, illustrated by Michaela Goade

March 17, 2020 | Roaring Brook Press (Macmillan) | Grades K-2

Sticking up for our natural resources: always a worthy cause. This story about taking a stand also features what will likely go down as some of the most glorious watercolor artwork in any picture book this year.

Chapter Books

Our Friend Hedgehog: The Story of Us by Lauren Castillo

May 5, 2020 | Knopf (Random House) | Grades K-2

Lauren Castillo branches out from picture books with this wonderful new illustrated chapter book series. On a journey to find her lost stuffed animal, Hedgehog is joined by a cast of memorable animal characters in a book that brings to mind Beatix Potter, The Wind in the Willows, and Winne-the-Pooh. To quote Jay-Z: “Oh, it’s timeless.”

Middle Grade Fiction

We Dream of Space by Erin Entrada Kelly

April 8, 2020 | Greenwillow (HarperCollins) | Grades 3-7

A Newbery winner tells a sibling story set in the 1986 lead-up to the Challenger disaster. Dang.

The List of Things That Will Not Change by Rebecca Stead

April 7, 2020 | Wendy Lamb Books (Random House) | Grades 3-7

With three starred reviews and counting, this book about a girl navigating her parents divorce sounds like Stead at her finest.

Graphic Novels

Stepping Stones by Lucy Knisley

May 5, 2020 | Random House Graphic | Grades 3-7

Because . . .

When Stars Are Scattered by Omar Mohamed and Victoria Jamieson

April 14, 2020 | Dial (Penguin) | Grades 4-7

An unexpected book from Roller Girl and All’s Faire in Middle School creator Jamieson, who worked closely with Omar Mohamed to tell his Kenyan refugee camp story. A story that runs the gamut of emotions: sadness, humor, love, hope and all points in between.


Clever Hans: The True Story of the Counting, Adding, and Time-Telling Horse by Kerri Kokias, illustrated by Mike Lowery

May 5, 2020 | G.P. Putnam’s Sons (Penguin) | Grades K-3)

Sometimes you finish a nonfiction book and you just think “I’m glad someone made a book about this.” This is that kind of book. A true story about a horse who was pretty good with numbers – or was he? Clever Hans dives into the myth of this famous horse.

Nacho’s Nachos: The Story Behind the World’s Favorite Snack by Sandra Nickel, illustrated by Oliver Dominguez

May 26, 2020 | Lee & Low | Grades K-5

Let me tell you something about me – you show me a nonfiction picture book about the invention of any kind of snack or dessert, and I am going to want to read that book. This book, about the ultimate snack food is directly in my wheelhouse.

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. Thanks so much! They all look fabulous and I can’t wait to order for my school and read myself!!