Evanston Public Library’s 101 Great Books for Kids 2020: Picture Books

November 6, 2020

Picture Books


  1. The Barnabus Project by Terry, Eric and Devin Fan.


Barnabus is half mouse, half elephant, and 100% an utter failure as a genetically modified pet. When he and his imperfect friends decide to make a break for freedom, you’ll root for them every step of the way. Call Number: JPicture Fan.T



2. Danbi Leads the School Parade by Anna Kim.


Charming illustrations tell the tale of how a young Korean immigrant child’s first day of school goes from tragedy to triumph. Call Number: JPicture Kim.A


3. Evelyn Del Rey Is Moving Away by Meg Medina, ill. Sonia Sánchez.


What do you do when your “numero uno” best friend is moving away? Daniela and Evelyn squeeze every bit of fun out of their last day in this sweet, hopeful narrative. Call Number: JPicture Medin.M

Read it in Spanish here.

Read, watch or listen to it on Hoopla here.



4. Facts vs. Opinions vs. Robots by Michael Rex.


A bunch of cheery robots help readers learn the difference between facts and opinions in this colorful, funny, much-needed romp. Call Number: JPicture Rex.M


5. Friday Night Wrestlefest by J.F. Fox, ill. Micah Player.


Are you ready to RUMBLE??? Where will your loyalties lie when Dangerous Daddoo takes on the Tag Team Twins with Mama-Rama joining in the fun? Call Number: JPicture Fox.J


6. The Haunted Lake by P.J. Lynch.


Jacob loves Ellen and Ellen loves Jacob. But when Jacob explores a mysterious light in an underwater tower, he’s sucked into the embrace of the beautiful, very dead, Lillith. Can Ellen rescue her love? Call Number: JPicture Lynch.P


7. Hike by Pete Oswald.

A father and child travel to the mountains and enjoy the great outdoors in this warm wordless book. Call Number: J Picture Oswal.P


8. I Am Every Good Thing by Derrick Barnes, ill. Gordon C. James.

“I am a roaring flame of creativity. / I am a lightning round of questions, and / a star-filled sky of solutions”. An empowering ode to Black boy joy. Call Number: JPicture Barne.D

Read or listen to it on Overdrive here.


9. I Talk Like a River by Jordan Scott, ill. Sydney Smith.

“I wake up each morning with the sounds of words all around me. And I can’t say them all . . .” This exquisitely illustrated book tells the tale of a stuttering kid who finds comfort in his father’s advice. Call Number: JPicture Scott.J


10. My Best Friend by Julie Fogliano, ill. Jillian Tamaki.

“she is my best friend i think / i’ve never had a best friend so i’m not sure.” Two girls meet, play, and enact what may be the world’s most perfect example of friendship. Call Number: JPicture Fogli.J


11. Nana Akua Goes to School by Tricia Elam Walker, ill. April Harrison.

Grandparents Day is coming up and Zura’s Nana Akua intends to arrive. But with the traditional tribal marks on her face, will Zura’s classmates be nice or be mean? Call Number: JPicture Walke.T


12. A New Green Day by Antoinette Portis.

From a “comma in the long, long sentence of the stream” (a tadpole!) to “a black coat slipped around Earth’s shoulders” (night!) simple riddles and breathtaking pictures produce a beautiful book. Call Number: JPicture Porti.A


13. Old Rock (Is Not Boring) by Deb Pilutti.

The other forest creatures think Old Rock lives a boring life, but it astounds them with stories of its surprisingly eventful existence. A clever, humorous science lesson. Call Number: JPicture Pilut.D


14. On Account of the Gum by Adam Rex.

Oh no. There’s gum stuck in your hair? Don’t worry, I know a surefire solution. A book where things get increasingly, hilariously, catastrophically worse. Call Number: JPicture Rex.A


15. Outside In by Deborah Underwood, ill. Cindy Derby.

When you forget that the Outside exists, it has ways of gently reminding you. Nature is the true star of the show in this gentle, poetic celebration of the outdoors. Call Number: JPicture Under.D


16. Overground Railroad by Lesa Cline-Ransome, ill. James E. Ransome.

At the crack of dawn Ruth Ellen clutches her book of the life of Frederick Douglass as she and her family climb a train bound for New York City. A thrilling historic tale of one family’s hope for a better life. Call Number: JPicture Cline.L


17. A Place Inside of Me: A Poem to Heal the Heart by Zetta Elliott, ill. Noa Denmon.

Deep down inside you might feel joy, fear, anger, and peace. But more than anything else, feel the love. A poem of pride by an Evanston author. Call Number: JPicture Ellio.Z


18. Salma the Syrian Chef by Danny Ramadan, ill. Anna Bron.

Salma, a Syrian refugee living in Vancouver, hopes she can make her mother happy again by cooking one of her favorite dishes. A lovely celebration of community and compassion. Call Number: JPicture Ramad.D


19. Smashy Town by Andrea Zimmerman and David Clemesha, ill. Dan Yaccarino.

Who’s looking for some serious smash time? Join Mr. Gilly as he crashes, tumbles and crumbles a great big building down to smithereens. Expect to read this one out loud again and again! Call Number: JPicture Zimme.A


20. This Old Dog by Martha Brockenbrough, ill. Gabriel Alborozo.

Old Dog likes to take things slow to explore the world, but his people just rush rush rush. Will New Girl be the friend he needs? Call Number: JPicture Brock.M


21. We Are Water Protectors by Carole Lindstrom, ill. Michaela Goade.

A powerful look at the Indigenous-led movements in the United States to stop the oil pipelines from ruining the natural world. Call Number: JPicture Linds.C


22. Your Name Is a Song by Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow, ill. Luisa Uribe.

On the first day of her new school, no one can pronounce a little girl’s name. Fortunately, her mother has a surefire solution. A celebration of names of every kind. Call Number: JPicture Thomp.J

Read it on Hoopla here.


You can find the full 101 Great Books for Kids 2020 list here.


Today a reader, tomorrow a leader.

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