100 Scope Notes
Inside 100 Scope Notes

10 to Note: Summer Preview 2021

I sifted through every children’s book being published in June, July, and August to highlight the ten books I’m most excited about.

And they are . . .

Picture Books

Vampenguin by Lucy Ruth Cummins

July 20 | Atheneum (Simon & Schuster) | Grades K-2

The vampire family visits the zoo, and baby Dracula goes missing. Told with playfulness and humor, this is a tale of mistaken identity that I can get behind.

The Little Wooden Robot and the Log Princess by Tom Gauld

August 24 | Neal Porter Books (Holiday House) | Grades K-2

You might know Tom Gauld from his (often book-themed) comics. Now he has a quirky fairy tale of a picture book coming, and I’m excited to read it.

Chez Bob by Bob Shea

August 24 | Little, Brown | Grades K-3

Let’s all take a moment to recognize the best picture book title of all time. Chez Bob by Bob Shea. CHEZ BOB by BOB SHEA. I also happen to know that this book (about an alligator who opens a restaurant on his nose to try to catch birds) is Bob Shea at his best: wickedly funny with just a touch of sweetness.

Early Readers

We Have a Playdate by Frank W. Dormer

August 10 | Amulet Books (Abrams) | Grades 1-4

Could this book be in the Graphic Novels section of this preview? Yes. But since it’s a comic for emerging readers, I decided to put it here. A group of animal friends have an off-the-wall day at the playground.

Chapter Books

Aven Green: Baking Machine by Dusti Bowling, illustrated by Gina Perry

August 17 | Sterling | Grades 1-3

Aven is a third grader born without arms, and she has her sights set on the blue ribbon at the county fair.

Middle Grade Fiction

The Many Meanings of Meilan by Andrea Wang

August 17 | Kokila (Penguin) | Grades 4-7

2021 is a busy year for Andrea Wang. A couple months ago her stunning picture book, Watercress (illustrated by Jason Chin) was released. Next up is her middle grade fiction debut, about a family who moves from Boston’s Chinatown to rural Ohio.

Black Boy Joy: 17 Stories Celebrating Black Boyhood edited by Kwame Mbalia

August 3 | Delacorte (Random House) | Grades 4-7

When this book is released, the pandemic might cease to exist. A batch of joyful short stories by the likes of Varian Johnson, Jason Reynolds, Jerry Craft and more.

Graphic Novels

Long Distance by Whitney Gardner

June 29 | Simon & Schuster | Grades 5 and Up

Vega heads to summer camp to make new friends when things start getting weird. I’m a sucker for summer camp books and this one looks like it might be good to hand to fans of Be Prepared.

Bad Sister by Cherise Mericle Harper, illustrated by Rory Lucey

July 13 | First Second (Macmillan) | Grades 3-6

Siblings fight. Siblings can annoy each other. Siblings can be cruel. Cherise Mericle Harper digs into her own shortcomings as a sister in this graphic novel.


Dude Perfect: 101 Tips, Tricks, and Cool Stuff by Dude Perfect

June 22 | Thomas Nelson | Grades 3-6

Here’s the thing: when I see a book where I know I’m going to have to get like 10 copies for our library and it still won’t be enough, I have to include it. That’s the case here as the popular Youtube trick shot artists take readers behind the scenes.

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.