It’s that time of year again!! The time when the librarians, clerks, and other staff members of Evanston Public Library that have been reading all year long, finally reveal their 101 favorite children’s books. When I moved to Evanston from New York City, I took with me New York Public Library’s idea for an annual accounting of the state of kids books today. NYPL has created this same list for 117 years. EPL has created it for two. But whatta two it’s been!
If you’d like to get a physical copy of the list (pdf copy here!), they are available at the Main location (with copies available at the branches as well). All books are available in the library system and all of our local bookstores should be able to get you whatever titles strike your fancy. There’s something for everyone here, so enjoy!
Alma and How She Got Her Name by Juana Martinez-Neal
Call Number: JPicture Marti.J
Alma feels burdened by her extraordinarily long name. That is, until her father explains all the relatives it honors and what their stories were.
Blue by Laura Vaccaro Seeger
Call Number: JPicture Seege.L
Die-cuts and a single color revealed through a multitude of hues help tell the story of a boy and his dog.
Can I Be Your Dog? by Troy Cummings
Call Number: JPicture Cummi.T
A sunny pup with a heart full of hope tries to acquire a loving owner, only to find them in the least expected place.
The Day You Begin by Jacqueline Woodson, ill. Rafael López
Call Number: JPicture Woods.J
Everyone feels different sometimes. A book that celebrates the strength it takes to be yourself and tell your own story.
Ducks Away! by Mem Fox, ill. Judy Horacek
Call Number: JPicture Fox.M
A marvelous read aloud and peppy counting book for the youngest of readers.
The Field by Baptiste Paul, ill. Jacqueline Alcántara
Call Number: JPicture Paul.B
The ultimate Caribbean futbol mud match, complete with excitement, Creole phrases, and the occasional gooooooooal!
First Laugh, Welcome, Baby! by Rose Ann Tahe and Nancy Bo Flood, ill. Jonathan Nelson
Call Number: JPicture Tahe.R
Members of a Navajo family compete to be the first to make the new baby giggle, kicking off the child’s First Laugh Ceremony.
The Funeral by Matt James
Call Number: JPicture James.M
Two cousins at a funeral while away the hours, acting like total kids.
Hello Hello by Brendan Wenzel
Call Number: JPicture Wenze.B
Disparate animals can still have a lot in common, as this eye-poppingly colorful romp in the animal kingdom shows.
The Honeybee by Kirsten Hall, ill. Isabelle Arsenault
Call Number: JPicture Hall.K
This little bee book goes way beyond the waggle dance to tell kids more than they ever thought they could know about insects, honey, and more.
A House That Once Was by Julie Fogliano, ill. Lane Smith
Call Number: JPicture Fogli.J
What becomes of a house forgotten, and what kinds of people lived there before?
I Am a Cat by Galia Bernstein
Call Number: JPicture Berns.G
It might be roly-poly, cuddly, and cute, but don’t doubt that this little housecat has more in common with its fierce relatives than meets the eye.
Imagine! by Raúl Colón
Call Number: JPicture Colon.R
Smell the sugared nuts, hear the horns of the taxis, and join a boy and some surprising friends as they take in the sights of NYC.
Jerome by Heart by Thomas Scotto, ill. Olivier Tallec, translated by Claudia Zoe Bedrick and Karin Snelson
Call Number: JPicture Scott.T
A remarkably sweet tale of two boys that love each other, and how just holding hands can sometimes feel like an act of resistance.
Julián Is a Mermaid by Jessica Love
Call Number: JPicture Love.J
Julián dreams of elegant mermaids, but what will his abuela think when he tries to become one himself?
Love by Matt de la Peña, ill. Loren Long
Call Number: JPicture Delap.M
A celebration of love, with all its complications, highs, lows, tears, and joy.
My Hair Is a Garden by Cozbi A. Cabrera
Call Number: JPicture Cabre.C
The kids at school make fun of Mackenzie’s unkempt hair. Fortunately she has her neighbor Miss Tillie to show her that every strand can be tended like a garden. From an Evanston author!
Ocean Meets Sky by Terry Fan and Eric Fan
Call Number: JPicture Fan.T
A dreamlike voyage takes a boy to a fantastical place where at long last he can commune with the grandfather he misses so much.
A Parade of Elephants by Kevin Henkes
Call Number: JPicture Henke.K
It’s a counting book! It’s a bedtime book! It’s a perfect book for the youngest of readers to snuggle up to and enjoy.
The Patchwork Bike by Maxine Beneba Clarke, ill. Van Thanh Rudd
Call Number: JPicture Clark.M
Wind, speed, brothers, and fun. When your bike’s made by your own two hands there’s nothing you can’t do!
The Rabbit Listened by Cori Doerfeld
Call Number: JPicture Doerr.C
When something bad happens to someone else what should you do? The rabbit just stays and listens. A remarkable tale of compassion for younger readers.
The Stuff of Stars by Marion Dane Bauer, ill. Ekua Holmes
Call Number: JPicture Bauer.M
Handmade paper art that swirls like the cosmos itself evokes the chaos of creation that gave birth to us all.
Teddy’s Favorite Toy by Christian Trimmer, ill. Madeline Valentine
Call Number: JPicture Trimm.C
A boy and his doll are not easily parted, but when the mighty Bren-Da accidentally ends up in the trash it’s up to mom to save the day!
This Is My Eye by Neela Vaswani
Call Number: JPicture Vaswa.N
Hand a kid a camera and see the world through their eyes. You might be surprised at everything you could have missed.
We Don’t Eat Our Classmates by Ryan T. Higgins
Call Number: JPicture Higgi.R
It’s not easy to make new friends on your first day of school. Especially when they’re just so darn tasty.
Folktales and Fairy Tales
The Dragon Slayer: Folktales from Latin America by Jaime Hernandez, ill. F. Isabel Campoy
Call Number: JGraphic Herna.J
Three classic Latinx stories get a whole new look in this fresh and funny melding of comics and fables.
The Frog Prince by The Brothers Grimm, ill. Sybille Schenker
Call Number: x398.20943 Grimm.J
Luscious die-cuts, gold and gilt, and transparent pages render this classic fairytale in truly magnificent splendor.
The King of Birds (Gamayun Tales) by Alexander Utkin
Call Number: JGraphic Utkin.A
A poor woodsman saves The King of the Birds, only to be drawn into an epic adventure in the sky.
The Little Red Fort by Brenda Maier, ill. Sonia Sánchez
Call Number: JPicture Maier.B
The tale of the Little Red Hen gets fully modernized in this story of a girl with architectural dreams and the lazy boys who won’t lift a finger to help.
Never Satisfied: The Story of the Stonecutter by Dave Horowitz
Call Number: x398.20951 Horow.D
What goes around comes around. A stonecutter unhappy with his lot continually upgrades his life, until he reaches a funny conclusion.
Ramayana: An Illustrated Retelling by Arshia Sattar, ill. Sonali Zohra
Call Number: x398.6 Satta.A
In this epic tale, Prince Rama’s story is brought to bold, brilliantly illustrated life. Ten-headed demons, magical monkeys, betrayal, love, death, and more!
The Tiger Prince by Chen Jiang Hong
A king offers his own child to a vicious foe, but love and affection save the boy’s life. A keenly told folktale rendered in deep, velvety colors.
Easy Books and Early Chapter Books
Baby Monkey, Private Eye by Brian Selznick and David Serlin
Call Number: JEasy Selzn.B
No crime is too big for this tiny detective. Missing jewels? Pizza? Spaceships? Baby Monkey is on the case!
Houndsley and Catina and Cousin Wagster by James Howe, ill. Marie-Louise Gay
Call Number: JEasy Howe.J
When Houndsley’s fabulous and outgoing cousin Wagster comes for a visit, the simple hound worries that his best friend Catina won’t like him as much anymore.
Kick It, Mo! by David A. Adler, ill. Sam Ricks
Call Number: JEasy Adler.D
Sport-loving Mo loves to kick balls high into the sky, but that’s not a good idea in a soccer game. Can he learn to be a team player?
Min Makes a Machine by Emily Arnold McCully
Call Number: JBegin Mccul.E
A young pachyderm with an engineering streak finds a clever solution to a thirsty problem in this one-of-a-kind easy book.
The Party and Other Stories by Sergio Ruzzier
Call Number: JEasy Ruzzi.S
Fox may find Chick a little exasperating at times, but these pals definitely stick together in a collection of three bite-sized stories.
Power Forward by Hena Khan
Call Number: JChapter Khan.H
You know what Zayd loves? Basketball. You know what his parents give him? Violin lessons. What’s a kid who just wants to play gotta do to get what he wants?
Call Number: J Lia.M
It may not be easy to be friends with someone who wants to eat you, but it is by no means impossible!
Can I Touch Your Hair? Poems of Race, Mistakes, and Friendship by Irene Latham and Charles Waters
Call Number: x811 Latha.I
Two classmates navigate the waters of race and friendship in this thoughtful consideration of how we treat one another.
In the Past: From Trilobites to Dinosaurs to Mammoths in More than 500 Million Years by David Elliott, ill. Matthew Trueman
Call Number: x811 Ellio.D
Funny poetry filled to brimming with wit, weirdness, and facts about the ancient denizens of the Earth.
Sakura’s Cherry Blossoms by Robert Paul Weston, ill. Misa Saburi
Call Number: JPicture Westo.R
Tanka poems tell the tale of a little girl who moves to America from Japan and misses her grandmother terribly.
Seeing Into Tomorrow: Haiku by Richard Wright, ill. Nina Crews
Call Number: x811 Wrigh.R
Overlapping photographs reimagine a dozen of Richard Wright’s haikus, showing black boys as they investigate and observe the natural world around them.
Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Black Boy by Tony Medina & 13 Artists
Call Number: x811 Medin.T
Stylistically diverse artists accompany tanka poems dedicated to showing the family, spirituality, self-confidence, and stresses of black and brown kids today.
Vivid: Poems & Notes About Color by Julie Paschkis
Call Number: x811 Pasch.J
A quirky colorfest that celebrates the art and the science of every hue in the rainbow.
Aru Shah and the End of Time by Roshani Chokshi
Call Number: J Choks.R
Witty sisterly repartee, cosmic battles, and Hindu Mythology combine when Aru Shah discovers she’s the daughter of a god with a quest of mammoth proportions.
The Assassination of Brangwain Spurge by M.T. Anderson, ill. Eugene Yelchin
Call Number: J Ander.M
Just your average Middle Earth, Cold War, buddy comedy with an unreliable but brilliant visual narrator.
The Book of Boy by Catherine Gilbert, ill. Ian Schoenherr
Call Number: J Murdo.C
A relic thief and a misfit boy who can talk to animals team up in this extraordinary story of a Medieval pilgrimage to Rome.
The Button War by Avi
Call Number: J Avi
WWI Poland sets the scene for this dark tale of a button collecting contest gone horribly, tragically wrong.
Dear Sister by Alison McGhee, ill. Joe Bluhm
Call Number: J Mcghe.A
An epistolary novel between an older brother and the younger sister he hates/tolerates/loves over the course of seven years.
Front Desk by Kelly Yang
Call Number: J Yang.K
While her parents secretly shelter new immigrants in the motel where they work, Mia Tang reflects on immigration, racism, and her own belief that “sometimes you have to … be creative to get what you want.”
Ghost Boys by Jewell Parker Rhodes
Call Number: J Rhode.J
Jerome has been shot and killed by a white police officer. Now a ghost stuck on earth, Jerome must find out what to do so he can move on. But first he needs to understand why he can talk with the daughter of his killer and why the ghost of Emmett Till keeps appearing to him. A powerful call to action.
Harbor Me by Jacqueline Woodson
Call Number: J Woods.J
Six misfits join together, listen to one another, and help when one of them confesses his father has been deported from the country.
Ivy Aberdeen’s Letter to the World by Ashley Herring
Call Number: J Blake.A
It isn’t enough that Ivy’s house was hit by a tornado. Now she’s not speaking to her beloved older sister, mysterious notes appear in her locker, and she’s terrified to confess her crush on another girl. What’s going on?
The Jamie Drake Equation by Christopher Edge
Call Number: J Edge.C
When there’s an alien on your cellphone and your parents are splitting up, things are far from normal. Outlandish science fiction at its finest.
The Journey of Little Charlie by Christopher Paul Curtis
Call Number: J Curti.C
Coerced into helping the despicable overseer Cap’n Buck travel North to track down some stolen property, Little Charlie is horrified to discover the “property” is people.
Louisiana’s Way Home by Kate DiCamillo
Call Number: J Dicam.K
Believing that she and her Granny are cursed, Louisiana Elephante finds herself abandoned at a motel in the middle of nowhere. A stunning tale of forgiveness and small delights.
The Mad Wolf’s Daughter by Diane Magras
Call Number: J Magra.D
Young Drest watches as her whole family is captured by the king’s soldiers. Now it’s up to her to cut a swath through medieval Europe and get them back!
Marcus Vega Doesn’t Speak Spanish by Pablo Cartaya
Call Number: J Carta.P
Marcus is six feet tall, 180 pounds, and in the eighth grade. Now he, his mom, and his brother Charlie, who has Down syndrome, are travelling to Puerto Rico to find the family he never met, but deserves.
Merci Suárez Changes Gears by Meg Medina
Call Number: J Medin.M
Cuban-American Merci is more than just a scholarship kid in a private school. She wants to save up for a bike, but before she can she’ll have to mentor a new kid, deal with a bully, and face the fact that her beloved Grandfather is acting less and less like himself.
The Miscalculations of Lightning Girl by Stacy McAnulty
Call Number: J Mcanu.S
After being struck by lightning at age six, Lucy Callahan became a math genius. Now for the first time, her grandmother is forcing her to attend public school. Math can solve a lot of problems, but this is one Lucy will have to work out herself.
My Year in the Middle by Lila Quintero Weaver
Call Number: J Weave.L
Set in 1970s Alabama, Argentinian immigrant Lu Olivera just wants to be a runner. But in a time when white and black kids are kept separate, where do kids in the middle, like Lu, belong?
The Parker Inheritance by Varian Johnson
Call Number: J Johns.V
The Westing Game meets Holes in this twisty mystery involving a town’s bleak racial past, a hidden treasure, and two kids determined to uncover secrets everyone thought were buried for good.
Rebound by Kwame Alexander
Call Number: J Alexa.K
It’s 1988 and Charlie Bell is floundering in grief over the recent death of his father. When he’s sent to spend the summer with his grandparents, he’s sure it’s going to be the worst time ever. Is he right or is he wrong?
The Season of Styx Malone by Kekla Magoon
Call Number: J Magoo.K
Rule-breaking, laugh-out-loud humor, and nail-biting adventure combine when two brothers meet the incredible Styx Malone. Their summer will never be the same.
Small Spaces by Katherine Arden
Call Number: J Arden.K
Are you afraid of scarecrows? After reading this book, you will be.
The Stone Girl’s Story by Sarah Beth Durst
Call Number: J Durst.S
A girl carved entirely of stone sets off on a quest to save herself and her friends in this deeply thought out fantasy novel full of danger and an incredible, inventive world.
Comics and Graphic Novels
Be Prepared by Vera Brosgol
Call Number: JGraphic Brosg.V
High on the misery scale, and even higher on the humor, this semi-autobiographical tale follows young Vera as she navigates a Russian-American camp experience that’s nothing like she’d expected.
Cardboard Kingdom by Chad Sell and Various
Call Number: JGraphic Sell. C
What do you want to be? A mad scientist? An evil queen? A monster? In this neighborhood all it takes is some cardboard and imagination to live your dreams.
Illegal by Eoin Colfer and Andrew Donkin, ill. Giovanni Rigano
Call Number: JGraphic Colfe.E
Two brothers take a harrowing journey from Ghana to Europe in this deftly illustrated, agonizing tale for older readers. Beautifully wrought.
Lowriders: Blast From the Past by Cathy Camper, ill. Raúl the Third
Call Number: JGraphic Campe.C
Three children with big dreams have to face down the nasty Las Matamoscas who are trying to prevent both women and kids from entering the big car show. Humor, Spanish words, and low-riders combine in a fabuloso tale.
Monster Mayhem by Christopher Eliopoulos
Call Number: JGraphic Eliop.C
Science genius Zoe is convinced that friends are more trouble than they’re worth. But when she’s befriended by a gigantic sea creature straight out of her favorite kaiju movies, she discovers it’s not so bad having your pals at your side.
The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang
Call Number: JGraphic Wang.J
With the help of talented dressmaker Frances, Prince Sebastian transforms nightly into the magnificent Lady Crystallia, but is terrified someone might learn his secret. A lushly illustrated, gorgeous tale of gowns, secrets, and love.
Sanity & Tallulah by Molly Brooks
Call Number: JGraphic Brooks.M
Smart science girls in space! When Sanity’s three-headed kitten escapes into the walls of her space station, she and best friend Tallulah must find it and convince everyone that it’s not responsible for the mysterious power outages.
Sci-Fu: Book 1: Kick it Off by Yehudi Mercado
Call Number: JGraphic Merca.Y
In this 1980s tale, all Wax wants is to be the greatest DJ in Brooklyn. When he and his friends and family are abducted by evil space robots, he’ll find it’s those same DJ skills (and a new robotic hand) that are needed to save the day.
Small Things by Mel Tregonning
Call Number: JGraphic Trego.M
In this silent black-and-white tale, a boy is eaten up both literally and figuratively by anxiety. A quiet, evocative story with unique art and a smart message.
Between the Lines: How Ernie Barnes Went from the Football Field to the Art Gallery by Sandra Neil Wallace, ill. Bryan Collier
Call Number: xBiog Barne.E Walla.S
Ernie Barnes always loved art, but thanks to his sports skills ended up a professional footballer player instead. Determined to follow his dreams, Barnes committed to his passion, eventually becoming the American Football League’s official artist.
The Confidence Code for Girls: Taking Risks, Messing Up, and Becoming Your Amazingly Imperfect, Totally Powerful Self by Katty Kay, Claire Shipman, JillEllyn Riley, ill. Nan Lawson
Call Number: x305.235 Kay.K
Written for all those kids that identify as girls, this book builds a strong foundation of self-awareness, knowledge, and resilience. A title where girls can feel at home.
Do Not Lick This Book by Idan Ben-Barak, ill. Julian Frost, photography by Linnea Rundgren
Call Number: x579 Benba.I
Combining the tone of an interactive book with high resolution microscopic photography, this book lets kids see firsthand that germs and microbes are everywhere (and how easy it is to move them around). Gross, goofy fun for everyone.
Dreamers by Yuyi Morales
Call Number: xBiog Moral.Y Moral.Y
Yuyi Morales recounts her journey from Mexico to America and how it was libraries and books that opened new worlds for her and her son. A tribute to reading and a beautifully illustrated personal tale.
Earth! My First 4.54 Billion Years by Stacy McAnulty, Ill by David Litchfield
Call Number: x550 Mcanu.S
A quick but comprehensive look at Earth’s life, likes, and pet peeves over the last few millennia. Quirky, cute, and fun.
The Eye That Never Sleeps: How Detective Pinkerton Saved President Lincoln by Marissa Moss, ill. Jeremy Holmes
This behind-the-scenes look at America’s first private eye and his role in protecting Abraham Lincoln from early assassination attempts offers mysterious illustrations in an always interesting presentation.
Call Number: xBiog Bonho.D Hendr.J
If you believe murder is a sin, is it wrong to kill Hitler? A mature graphic-hybrid novel tells the life and dark times of a good man caught in a world gone mad.
Frenemies in the Family: Famous Brothers and Sisters Who Butted Heads and Had Each Other’s Backs by Kathleen Krull, ill. Maple Lam
Call Number: x306.875 Krull.K
You’re stuck with the family you have. Covering everyone from Queen Elizabeth and Bloody Mary to the Jacksons and beyond, the good, the bad, and the downright dirty lives of historical siblings are presented, warts and all.
Call Number: xBiog Meria.M Sidma.J
Meet the 17th century naturalist that inspired Linnaeus, Darwin, and many other scientists to come. Poetry, art, and engaging writing bring Maria to life once more.
The Girl With a Mind for Math: The Story of Raye Montague by Julia Finley Mosca, ill. Daniel Rieley
Call Number: xBiog Monta.R Mosca.J
Imagine designing a battleship and then not being allowed to attend its opening because you’re black! Meet a heroine every kid should know.
Irving Berlin: The Immigrant Boy Who Made America Sing by Nancy Churnin, ill. James Rey Sanchez
Call Number: xBiog Berli.I Churn.N
A refugee from Tsarist Russia, Berlin, his humble beginnings, and rise to fame are chronicled alongside handsomely stylized graphics and pops of intense color.
Joan Procter, Dragon Doctor: The Woman Who Loved Reptiles by Patricia Valdez, ill. Felicita Sala
Call Number: xBiog Proct.J Valde.P
Could you love a komodo dragon so much you’d walk him around like a dog? The world wasn’t made for Joan Proctor to succeed as a naturalist, so she paved her own way and taught everyone else around her in the process.
Lovely Beasts: The Surprising Truth by Kate Gardner, ill. Heidi Smith
Call Number: x590 Gardn.K
Think you know the animal kingdom? This little book upsets expectations, showing how kind, fierce, and clever animals can sometimes can be.
Mallko and Dad by Gusti
Sometimes in our quest for perfection we fail to appreciate the truly wonderful. The true story in an eclectic presentation of an artist father and his son with Down syndrome.
Marley Dias Gets It Done (And So Can You) by Marley Dias
Call Number: x305.2308 Dias.M
When Marley Dias started her #1000blackgirlbooks campaign she never could have dreamed it would take off like it did. Now she’s here to give tips to kids on reading, style, activism, and being your best self.
Mary Who Wrote Frankenstein by Linda Bailey, ill. Júlia Sardà
Call Number: xBiog Shell.M Baile.L
How did an 18-year-old girl come to write one of the greatest horror stories of all time? Told with dark, gothic illustrations and a keen knowledge of Mary’s early years and influences. Kids will see how creation can be born out of darkness.
The Mushroom Fan Club by Elise Gravel
Call Number: x579.6 Grave.E
Hilarious and informative by turns, Gravel shares her deep and abiding love for mushrooms of all shapes and sizes. Just try and not be charmed.
My Family Divided: One Girl’s Journey of Home, Loss, and Hope by Diane Guerrero
Call Number: xBiog Guerr.D Guerr.D
Imagine coming home from school one day to find your whole family has been deported by ICE. Actress Guerrero tells her story while shining a light on the plight of so many other kids facing the same problems today.
Not My Idea: A Book About Whiteness by Anastasia Higginbotham
Call Number: x305.8 Higgi.A
Collage and candor combine in this dissection of white privilege. Provides a solid foundation for critical discussions of white people and racism for young readers everywhere.
Nothing Stopped Sophie: The Story of Unshakable Mathematician Sophie Germain by Cheryl Bardoe, ill. Barbara McClintock
Call Number: xBiog Germa.S Bardo.C
Neither sexism nor the French Revolution could stop Sophie Germain from embracing her love of math and solving the riddle behind the vibrations that surround us. The most engaging book on mathematics you may ever encounter.
Otis and Will Discover the Deep: The Record-Setting Dive of the Bathysphere by Barb Rosenstock, ill. Katherine Roy
Call Number: x551.46 Rosen.B
Imagine diving to 803 feet in a homemade device. Engaging and accurate art as well as a riveting text tell the story of the two men who plunged deep into the sea to see what they could see. Warning: Do not read if prone to claustrophobia.
Call Number: x791.4472 Jarro.G
What would you do if aliens attacked? Jarrow offers a blow-by-blow account of the day Orson Wells put fear into the hearts of Americans everywhere.
Thirty Minutes Over Oregon: A Japanese Pilot’s World War II Story by Marc Tyler Nobleman, ill. Melissa Iwai
Call Number: x940.5428 Noble.M
Nobleman highlights a WWII Japanese attack on Oregon, following how the bomber and the people of Oregon came to terms with one another, forging a friendship that stands as an example for us today.
This Is the Nest That Robin Built by Denise Fleming
Call Number: JPicture Flemi.D
Utilizing a classic cumulative format, this book introduces kids to robins’ nest-building methods and the ways that animals “help” with the process.
The Truth About Bears by Maxwell Eaton III
Call Number: x599.78 Eaton.M
The Truth About Dolphins by Maxwell Eaton III
Call Number: x599.532 Eaton.M
The Truth About Hippos by Maxwell Eaton III
Call Number: x599.635 Eaton.M
In these three thoroughly engaging books, Eaton uses his signature cartoony style to talk about facts with abundant humor and a lot of laughs.