December 26


Happy, happy Monday! I’m excited and honored to kick off the twelfth annual Nerdy Book Club Awards. First up is fiction picture books! A HUMONGOUS thank-you to everyone who nominated titles. Congratulations to this year’s winners!

Berry Song by Michaela Goade

“Getting to work on Berry Song, going into the experience of writing the story and then illustrating it, it just felt like coming home. Like I could take all of that experience and return to where I started illustrating and where I grew up.” –Michaela Goade

Endlessly Ever After: Pick Your Path to Countless Fairy Tale Endings! by Laurel Snyder and Dan Santat

“Dan Santat’s illustrations totally wowed me. I’ve been a fan of his work for a long time, and he brings such imagination to everything he does, but I still wasn’t prepared for the art in this book. There’s so much action and motion in it! It’s an indescribable feeling to watch someone bring your words to life like that. It really feels like magic.” –Laurel Snyder

Where Wonder Grows by Xelena González and Adriana M. Garcia

“I like using really bold colors like pinks and blues and greens and purples. I really love using a lot of color. I remember when I was in school… being told that I use too much color, which I thought was perplexing. But I was like ‘Ok, well, that’s what you think.'” –Adriana M. Garcia

Farmhouse by Sophie Blackall

“Objects become imbued with stories, they become mementoes and mnemonic devices. You forget the object’s story and then you take it out and you remember it. And then, just like that, someone dies and the object becomes worthless again, and everything gets cleaned up and sent away, and the meaningful becomes meaningless.” –Sophie Blackall

Gibberish by Young Vo

Hot Dog by Doug Salati

“Spare, vividly descriptive text written by Doug Salati draws us deeply and immediately into this narrative.  Two word alliterative phrases build toward a critical moment for the dog and his human.  As the story shifts, the phrases are longer; longing is replaced with a wondrous reward.  Concluding words lull readers, the pup, and his person into blissful dreams. ” –Margie Myers-Culver

John’s Turn by Mac Barnett and Kate Berube

“It’s about the abundant and everyday courage of children, and it is also about “sharing gifts.” John faces down his fear to share his gift with determination, beauty and a style that is all his own. A true gift, indeed.”—BookPage, Starred Review

Kapaemahu by Hinaleimoana Wong-Kalu, Dean Hamer, Joe Wilson, and Daniel Sousa 

Knight Owl by Christopher Denise

“Owl is a bit of a hybrid between a Western Screech Owl and a Northern Saw-Whet Owl. Before I started Knight Owl I really did not know much about Owls except what I might have learned at our Audubon society’s raptor weekend. By the end of any project, you become a bit of an expert in very specific realms of information. Few of them have ever proven useful in the real world.” –Christopher Denise

Luli and the Language of Tea by Andrea Wang and Hyewon Yum

“When I was young, I never enjoyed tea very much and I thought the tea is for Grandmothers. And Koreans have Da-lye (tea ceremony), which I haven’t quite mastered and I thought it was pretty boring. Now I love tea, I drink it every day and enjoy all kinds of teas. I think tea is like a book, it brings you somewhere else. Whenever I drink Camellia tea from Jeju Island, I think about the wind and the blue sea, and whenever I drink Korean herbal tea, it brings me to the days in my old house in Korea.” –Hyewon Yum

Nigel and the Moon by Antwan Eady and Gracey Zhang

“Antwan’s writing brought me such a sense of buoyancy and imagination while also sitting in a very grounded environment. The first thing I did after reading it was go exploring on Google Maps and taking as many reference pictures as possible. I found certain real life locations (such as the library Nigel visits and his school) to use as a baseline and then explored the neighbourhoods between. What stood out to me most was how many of the homes had older peeling paint and I wanted to the paintings to reflect that sort of baked in the sun look.” –Gracey Zhang

Out of a Jar by Deborah Marcero

“Don’t miss her new book Out of a Jar where Llewellyn learns not to bottle up his feelings. Add it to you #SEL collections!” –Dr. Maria Walther

Patchwork by Matt de la Peña and Corinna Luyken

“The palette color is probably the first thing that I sort of need to figure out or sort out when I’m working on a book because to me, color is really tied to emotion and to feeling. And different color combinations—in particular, when people will ask me in schools, I have a lot of yellow in my books. When I go to classrooms, I often get asked, what’s your favorite color?” –Corinna Luyken

Somewhere in the Bayou by Jarrett Pumphrey and Jerome Pumphrey

“This book, Somewhere in the Bayou written and illustrated by Jarrett Pumphrey and Jerome Pumphrey, is engaging and thought-provoking.  It is also laden with tension, possibilities, and humor.  It will surely promote discussions and requests for it to be read again, repeatedly.  You will want to have a copy for your personal and professional collections.” –Margie Myers-Culver

The Mouse Who Carried a House on His Back by Jonathan Stutzman and Isabella Arsenault

“THE MOUSE WHO CARRIED A HOUSE ON HIS BACK is dedicated to a librarian friend who saved a mouse that visited her library. Libraries are places like Vincent’s house, full of kindness, warmth, safety.” -Jonathan Stutzman

The Blur by Minh Lê and Dan Santat

Love in the Library by Maggie Tokuda-Hall and Yas Imamura

“I played around with the looser qualities of watercolor, how it tends to darken and create uneven texture, adding more interesting notes to what would otherwise be a very neutral earth-color palette. I wanted to embody the same shifting tones in Tama and George, in their clothing, their expressions, and I wanted to use the traditional medium to be a bit more dynamic as they interact with their environment: the light filtering from the library window, through curtains and makeshift spaces. I think light is a very useful tool in creating real intimate moments.” –Yas Imamura

Witch Hazel by Molly Idle

“All of my art is made entirely traditionally- without computers. And I usually begin by using a light table to transfer my sketches to drawing paper. But the brown paper for Witch Hazel is completely opaque- no light could get through! So, to begin each piece I turned to a truly old school technique— tracing paper transfers. For each illustration, I made a backwards copy of the sketch, then traced over that backwards sketch, with a pencil on tracing paper.” –Molly Idle 

The Year We Learned to Fly by Jacqueline Woodson and Rafael López

The Three Billy Goats Gruff by Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen

“Kids in your life with thank you for adding this fresh fairy-tale remake to their shelves.” —Smithsonian Magazine

This Is a School by John Schu and Veronica Miller Jamison

(Thank you!!)

“When I read a manuscript for the first time and fall in love with it, pictures immediately start forming in my head. That’s what happened for THIS IS A SCHOOL. I instantly envisioned this eclectic group of kids having tons of fun while learning in a bright, warm classroom setting.” –Veronica Miller Jamison