10 in 2019: Upcoming Picture Book Titles
Tooling about the internet yesterday, I ran across Travis Jonker’s recent blog post 10 to Note: Spring Preview 2019. Naturally, I could not resist reading it. I mean, who could? And lo and behold I saw the man had made some stellar picks of what to peruse in the coming year. So good, in fact, that it was enough to make me want to rip off the idea entirely. Only while Travis is restrained and gentlemanly, keeping only to the Spring, I just couldn’t keep myself from throwing some fall books on my list as well.
Here then is my own list of upcoming 2019 titles that I simply adore. All of these are Picture Books. Thank you for the idea, Travis!
Fiction Picture Books
Great Job, Dad / Great Job, Mom by Holman Wang (March 26, 2019)
With his brother, Holman Wang became well-known when he created that board book series of Cozy Classics. You know. Jane Eyre in felt in board book form. Well, Holman did a couple Star Wars board books as well, and those were great, but now he’s branching out into full-on picture books. If you know me then you know that I’m a sucker for models and photography. Wang utilizes both. These books avoid the usual stereotypes (which I hope is evident from mom’s sick carpentry skills here on her cover) and are just gorgeous to look at. They’re out later this month, so give ’em a looksee.
High Five by Adam Rubin, ill. Daniel Salmieri (April 16, 2019)
A whole book that consists of both the training and the competition to be the best high five champion in the world? Yeah, this title is pretty on brand for me. You should have seen me present High Five to my fellow librarians the other day. I was jumping up and dancing around and then I made everybody high five the octopus at one point. This is the picture book children’s librarians dream of performing for large groups of kids. I actual envy Adam Rubin because that lucky son-of-a-gun is going to get to read this to so many kids, having a blast the whole time. That should be a rule of picture book writing. Don’t write a readaloud that you’re not going to thoroughly enjoy performing it over and over again.
Lenny the Lobster Can’t Stay for Dinner by Finn Buckley with Michael Buckley, ill. Catherine Meurisse (April 1, 2019)
From the minute I saw this crustacean’s crabby little face, it was love. Plus it didn’t hurt that Michael Buckley is giving co-author credit to his kiddo. Between this book and The Happy Book, I swear the kids are getting good at this whole write-a-picture-book thing. This is the rare choose your own adventure book. Don’t worry. You won’t have to stick your fingers between the pages to go back to your previous choices. Basically, there are only two possible endings to this book. One is relatively happy. The other is delicious. But then, I’m a fan of lobster.
My Footprints by Bao Phi, ill. Basia Tran (September 1, 2019)
Boy, this is really interesting. I feel like there is a LOT to unpack here. Bao Phi first came to national attention with the surprise Caldecott Honor given to his A Different Pond. Like that book, Phi prefers small, realistic stories, though this one definitely has some flashes of fantasy. In it, a girl replicates the footprints of different animals. I was really intrigued by how the book equated mythical creatures made of different parts to families made of different kinds of people. Also, extra points for it being a two moms book where that’s important but not the sole focus. Probably one of the smarter anti-bullying picture books I’ve seen this year. Celebrates the “unexpected combination of beautiful things”.
My Papi Has a Motorcycle by Isabel Quintero, ill. Zeke Peña (May 14, 2019)
I was listening to the podcast RadioLab the other day and on a recent episode they discussed the biology behind why humans, when they really like something, scream or cry or bunch up their fists or do all kinds of seemingly violent things. I say this, because when I see this book it makes me so happy I just want to grab it and start thwapping my fellow librarians over the head, chanting “Readitreaditreaditreadit…” incessantly. This is so freakin’ good. The story really just consists of a girl going for a ride with her Papi on his motorcycle. That’s it. But in spite of its seeming simplicity, I found it immensely cool. The art by Peña is so keen and you get this amazing sense of the author’s love of Corona, CA. It’s also available in a Spanish-language edition. I just sort of loved it.
Who Wet My Pants? by Bob Shea, ill. Zachariah OHora (September 17, 2019)
Somewhere out there, living amongst us, is a genius. A person who blends in with the crowd. They don’t look any different from your average children’s book editor, but I assure you that they are a divine personage unlike any other you’d ever meet. Why do I say this? Because this inspired editor had the wherewithal to pair the words of Bob Shea with the art of Zachariah OHora. It’s the pairing I’ve been waiting for all my life. This book . . . I don’t want to give away too much. If I did and you saw that you had to wait half a year to see it in person . . . it could break you. So I’ll just say this. Love the book’s title, absolutely, but I think we need to give extra points for the subtitle.
And, oh what the heck, the phrase on the back as well.
Why? by Laura Vaccaro Seeger (August 13, 2019)
Initially this cover was telling me that this wasn’t a Betsy book (I’ve a low goo tolerance) but since this is Laura Vaccaro Seeger under the auspices of Neal Porter, I was willing to give it a shot. So glad that I did. There is a cute element to this with the rabbit in the child’s role and the bear the parent’s. But cleverly, rather than hear the beginning of the conversation, we always hear the end in the bear’s answer to “Why”. This comes to a head when the bear, faced with something he cannot explain, simply says, “I don’t know why.” It jerks the heart with hardly any words at all.
Nonfiction Picture Books
Skulls! by Blair Thornburgh, ill. Scott Campbell (July 23, 2019)
I was so happy when I picked this book up and discovered that it was a work of nonfiction. Basically, this title walks you through your wonderful, durable skull. It’s like a carseat for your brain! Scott Campbell could illustrate the Apple User Agreement contract and I’d read it. This Blair Thornburgh also appears to know what she’s doing. Looking forward to more books from her.
Stonewall: A Building. An Uprising. A Revolution by Rob Sanders, ill. Jamey Christoph (April 23, 2019)
My first job in NYC was at the Jefferson Market Branch of NYPL. To get to it, I walked past the Stonewall Inn every day. Not only is this a really amazing encapsulation of the Inn’s history, as well as the movement’s, but illustrator Jamey Christoph clearly did the requisite research necessary to make it visually authentic. I’ve also never seen a picture book praise and cheer on trans people as beautifully as this one has. More of the same, please!
You Are Home: An Ode to the National Parks by Evan Turk (June 4, 2019)
You can tell that a book is doing something right when you get to the end, see the map of all the National Parks in America, and start typing into your Google Maps the nearest ones to determine the distance from your home. This is “I want to go to there” the book. Amazing that, when you think about it, a book like this about the beauty and necessity of the National Parks is practically a political statement in the era of Trump.
About Betsy Bird
Betsy Bird is currently the Collection Development Manager of the Evanston Public Library system and a former Materials Specialist for New York Public Library. She has served on Newbery, written for Horn Book, and has done other lovely little things that she'd love to tell you about but that she's sure you'd find more interesting to hear of in person. Her opinions are her own and do not reflect those of EPL, SLJ, or any of the other acronyms you might be able to name. Follow her on Twitter: @fuseeight.
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