2020 Finalists: Fiction Picture Books

Dozens of Doughnuts (Amazon, IndieBound)
by Carrie Finison illustrated by Brianne Farley
G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
Nominated by: Darshana Khiani

This delicious read-aloud pairs perfect rhyme with expressive illustrations to create the ideal recipe for heart and humor. LouAnn is generous with her doughnuts, but she gets “FED UP” with sharing when there aren’t any left for her! This engaging story presents math in a fun way that will keep kids guessing and learning. Themes of sharing, caring, friendship, forgiveness, apology, and teamwork make this the kind of book that begs to be re-read. And who can resist doughnuts?

Kirsti Call, Picture Book Look

I Am Every Good Thing (AmazonIndieBound)
by Derrick Barnes, illustrated by Gordon C. James
Nancy Paulsen Books
Nominated by: kelstarly

The creative pair behind this amazing new picture book first proved their synergy in 2017 with Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut. They’ve returned with direct and exuberant text, illustrated with densely saturated color, bold lines, and empowering perspectives. Rhythmic and resolutely joyous proclamations of “I am …” are undeniable for every child around the world, or they should be. In this case, though, in this country (USA), in our schools and neighborhoods and culture, such fully realized experiences of life are rarely revealed in picture books for Black children, most especially so for Black boys. Each page elicits smiles, generates memories, evokes connection, and warms the heart. A celebration of Black boys’ lives bursts from each spread with brilliance and agency. Their magnificence is undeniable to readers of every age, race, or experience.

Sandy Brehl, Unpacking the Power of Picture Books

I Talk Like a River (AmazonIndieBound)
by Jordan Scott, illustrated by Sydney Smith
Neal Porter Books
Nominated by: Sandy Brehl

I Talk Like a River is a powerful, poetic read that successfully articulates what it feels like to struggle with speech fluency. Based on the author’s own experiences, the carefully worded text and stunning illustrations work together to illuminate one boy’s journey to self-acceptance. This is a title that will leave its reader with the desire to be a kinder, more patient, & empathetic person.

Emma Manolis, Instagram: Ever Emma

In A Jar (Amazon, IndieBound
by Deborah Marcero 
G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
Nominated by: Emma Manolis

Llewellen collects things. In jars. Lots of things. Feathers. Stones. He meets Evelyn, and they collect things together. Things that are hard to hold. Things that they thought might not fit in a jar. But they did. And then Evelyn moves away. What will happen now to their connection of collecting things together?

Sometimes you see a book and you know it’s just the book for you. This is a book that feels like it is just for me.

But here. I’ve collected it. In this jar. I’d love to share it with you, too.

Deb Nance, Readerbuzz

The Camping Trip (Amazon, IndieBound
by Jennifer K. Mann
Candlewick Press
Nominated by: Deb Nance at Readerbuzz

Ernestine is thrilled when her aunt and cousin invite her on a camping trip. She packs everything she’ll need for a successful trip into the great outdoors. But the woods and the wide-open land are a far cry from what Ernestine’s familiar with in the city. The lake has things living in it, hiking is exhausting, and the night is so, so dark. When Ernestine begins to have her worries take over, her aunt and cousin lead her to a star-filled sky to soak in nature’s beauty at night. It is at this moment that Ernestine begins connecting with the outdoors. This story is for all the nature lovers; present, or yet to come!

Nicole Levesque, Bluestocking Thinking

The Paper Kingdom (Amazon, IndieBound)
by Helena Ku Rhee, illustrated by Pascal Campion
Random House Books for Young Readers
Nominated by: happiestinthewoods

Daniel’s parents work at night and sometimes struggle to find him a babysitter. One night, they’re forced to take him with them. They work as janitors, cleaning the larges messes left behind in a large office building. Daniel doesn’t understand why everything is so messy. His parents make a game out of their work, creating a paper kingdom rules by dragons and kings. This imaginative story (based on the author’s own family) shares the struggles of one family, while they work hard and teach their child to be considerate, compassionate, and kind.

Jennifer Rummel, YA Book Nerd

We Are Water Protectors (Amazon, IndieBound)
by Carole Lindstrom, illustrated by Michaela Goade
Roaring Brook Press
Nominated by: Charlotte

This lyrical text presents the benefits of water in an informative and whimsical way. In it, the Granddaughter of Nokomis shares what she has learned from her Native American Grandmother and takes up the task of protecting it. She does this for her community, as well as all the creatures the water serves. The author also weaves a cautionary tale of the black snake into the story to make it even more appealing. The text is supported by beautiful, flowing, and colorful art that will engage and inspire the reader and make them want to soak in it as long as they might. Those who open the door to the world of this book will truly leave changed and will value water and Native American culture all the more.

Lynne Marie Pisano, My Word Playground Blog