9 Books I Loved (But Didn’t Review) in 2022
Shout out to the book review writers in the world. While my review production is hovering at Nearly Nonexistent (and has for a while), I respect the folks out there putting in the work.
It was a challenge to narrow it down, but here are nine books I read, loved, and didn’t review in 2022.
Victory, Stand! Raising My Fist for Justice by Tommie Smith and Derrick Barnes, illustrated by Dawud Anyabwile
I’m not sure any 2022 book with stick with me as long as this one will. Newbery Honor winner Derrick Barnes collaborates with gold medal runner Tommie Smith to go behind the iconic “fist” Olympic podium photo to tell Smith’s life story. At turns harrowing, saddening, and inspiring.
Somewhere in the Bayou by Jarrett and Jerome Pumphrey
If you read my Geisel predictions, you know the Pumphrey Bros are currently #1 in my Official Bros Ranking. And it’s books like this one that keep them there. A page-turning read aloud winner that will make you marvel at its beautifully efficiency.
Monsters in the Fog by Ali Bahrampour
I feel like this book could be used to help teach picture book writing. The page turns, the building suspense, the subtle repetition – it works so well. Donkey’s journey to the top of the mountain takes a creepy turn as monsters emerge from the fog. But are they really so scary? A wonderful conclusion caps off this beautiful book.
The First Cat in Space Ate Pizza by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Shawn Harris
If a book has its own merch, does my ringing endorsement mean anything? Short answer: no, but I still want you to check it out if you haven’t yet. It began as a series of “Live Cartoons” during the pandemic and has been gaining steam ever since. The Homer’s Odyssey of 2022 graphic novels (but with more jokes). With more First Cat books on the way, you’ll want to get on the train now.
Apple Crush by Lucy Knisley
You know what books quietly get checked out all the time at my school library? The Babysitter’s Club graphic novels. If you work in a library, I’m guessing you see the same thing. This second book in Lucy Knisley’s foray into middle grade comics (the Peapod Farm series) is the perfect book to hand B.C. readers. It’s full of humor, friendship, and a little first love to keep things interesting.
The Last Mapmaker by Christina Soontornvat
Part high-seas adventure, part Miyazaki-esque fantasy, this is the middle grade novel that stood out to me the most this year. Coming off a double Newbery Honor year in 2021, Christina Soontornvat is firing on all cylinders, combining beautiful prose and action into one irresistible book.
Pizza! A Slice of History by Greg Pizzoli
I kind of can’t believe there aren’t more nonfiction books about pizza. Twelve thousand and thirty eight unicorn books, but a scant few informational pizza books? Leave it to Greg Pizzoli to help even the score with this playful and enlightening book on the beloved pie. From various theories on how pizza was invented, to the ways pizza has evolved and spread around the world, this book will make readers into burgeoning experts on the subject. Side note: As a Michigan resident, I also appreciate the inclusion of Detroit style pizza.
Action! How Movies Began by Meghan McCarthy
If Meghan McCarthy has a new book out, I’m reading it. Over and over again she’s proven that she’s one of the best nonfiction book makers going. Add this to her list of gems. Everything you wanted to know (and plenty of informative surprises) about the history of the motion picture. Spanning from photography to modern day, it’s the perfect balance of detail vs. overview, and the bug-eyed artwork is masterful.
Totally Random Questions (Volume 1) by Melinda Gerosa Bellows
You know what’s nice to have in a school library? A nonfiction book that is compulsively readable. Show this book to a kid and they want to read it. This book (and the many successive volumes that have already been released) poses often-discussed questions and provides answers. Similar in size and shape to the Weird But True series, this is the perfect read alike for that ever-popular series.
Filed under: Reviews
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 email@example.com, or follow him on Twitter: @100scopenotes.
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