100 Scope Notes
Inside 100 Scope Notes

10 to Note: Spring Preview 2021

Better late than never. Is that true? Do you agree with that statement? Because I’m a little late with this spring preview. When I look out the window here in Michigan, I’m seeing a lot of green. It’s more like a spring view.

For this spring view I looked at over 2000 books and hand-picked 10 that I’m excited about.

Picture Books

The Sorry Life of Timothy Shmoe by Stephanie Simpson McLellan, illustrated by Zoe Si

April 15 | Owlkids | Grades K-4

If you’re like me, then you saw this cover and read this title and laughed. A mistake-prone kid tells this story through a series of apology letters. Looks to be clever, quirky, and funny – perhaps my favorite combo.

Have You Ever Seen a Flower? by Shawn Harris

May 4 | Chronicle Books | Grades K-2

Shawn Harris is literally a chameleon. Yes, he’s the famous color-changing lizard known for it’s amazing adaptive qualities. In this book, Shawn “Chameleon” Harris takes us out of the city, to a glorious flower-filled wonderland created with colored pencil and stencil (or “Spencil” as lizards disguised as humans might call it).

Amira’s Picture Day by Reem Faruqi, illustrated by Fahmida Azim

April 13 | Holiday House | Grades K-3

Amira is planning to stay home from school to celebrate Eid, but soon realizes it is also school picture day. How to be two places at once? Amira keeps her wits about her and comes up with a solution.

Early Reader

Training Day (El Toro & Friends) by Raul the Third

May 4 | Versify | Grades K-2

Raul the Third continues his march toward children’s literature domination and I’m good with that. After releasing great graphic novels (Low Riders in Space, written by Cathy Camper) and picture books (the Vamos! series), Raul enters the early reader realm with this comics-inspired new series. Can’t wait.

Middle Grade Fiction

A Thousand Minutes to Sunlight by Jen White

April 20 |  Farrar, Straus and Giroux | Grades 3-7

Cora is consumed with worry, but what happens when real danger actually shows up? I don’t usually do this, but I have to shout out the cover of this book. That’s a cool cover.

Billy Miller Makes a Wish by Kevin Henkes

April 6 | Greenwillow | Grades 3-5

I love an unplanned companion book. Kevin Henkes had no intention of writing a follow-up to his Newbery Honor-winning The Year of Billy Miller, but Billy stuck around. In this book Billy wishes for something exciting to happen, but may get more than he bargained for.

Graphic Novels

In a Nutshell (Scaredy Squirrel Graphic Novel Book 1) by Melanie Watt

May 4 | Kids Can Press | Grades 1-4

I never considered the possibility of a Scaredy Squirrel graphic novel, and it’s a great idea. The picture books are already quite comic like. In this first installment, we get reacquainted with the world’s most worrisome squirrel.

Dinosaurs Before Dark: Magic Treehouse Graphic Novel #1 by Mary Pope Osborn, Adapted by Jenny Laird, illustrated by Kelly Matthews

May 18 | Random House | Grades 1-4

Okay, who didn’t tell me these were coming? Was it you? You should have told me. Not a whole lot to say here, other than I think these new versions will open up this series to a bunch of new readers.


Flip! How the Frisbee Took Flight by Margaret Muirhead, illustrated by Adam Gustavson

April 27 | Charlesbridge | Grades K-3

Any time a book tells how a favorite toy was invented, I’m interested. It happened with the Super Soaker. It happened with the Slinky. And it looks like it’s about to happen with the Frisbee.

Before They Were Artists: Famous Illustrators as Kids by Elizabeth Haidle

April 20 | Etch (HMH) | Grades 3-7

There is a section of the young reader population who is head over heels for biography. They’ve read every Who Was and bio collection they can find. Those kids will be happy to see this book, which recounts the lives of famous illustrator when they were young.

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.