Evanston Public Library’s 101 Great Books for Kids 2021: Picture Books

October 18, 2021

Picture Books

1. The Big Bath House by Kyo Maclear, ill. Gracey Zhang

A girl and her Japanese grandmother don’t share a language, but they do share a love of bathing! A gentle story of family and loving all kinds of bodies, big and small. JPicture Macle.K

2. Bodies are Cool by Tyler Feder

One body type is boring. We like bodies in ALL their shapes, sizes, colors, and more. Body positivity gets cranked up to 11 in this fantastic, wild, wonderful title. JPicture Feder.T

3. Bright Star by Yuyi Morales

A visually striking and powerful allegorical work about the young  finding their way in an uncertain world. A companion to the author/illustrator’s award-winning Dreamers. JPicture Moral.Y

4. Ergo by Alexis Deacon, ill. Viviane Schwarz

Ergo the chick only knows the smooth, round world in which she lives, so she very quickly comes to the belief that she IS the world. But when evidence suggests there might be more, this little chicken is unafraid to burst through barriers to discover what is and isn’t real. JPicture Deaco.A

5. I Dream of Popo by Livia Blackburne, ill. Julia Kuo

The distance between Taiwan and America is vast but over time (and Zoom!) a granddaughter and her popo stay in touch with one another. Heartfelt illustrations bridge the gap between nations. JPicture Black.L

6. The Little Wooden Robot and the Log Princess by Tom Gauld

When a childless king and queen seek kids of their own, they end up with a wooden robot and a girl made from a log. And as tragedy places the siblings in danger, they’ll do anything they can to keep one another from harm. JPicture Gauld.T

7. Magic Candies by Heena Baek, translated by Sophie Bowman

When Tong Tong purchases a bag of strange round candies, he discovers that each one allows him to hear the hidden speech of someone or some thing. Marvelous models bring this kooky story to life. JPicture Baek.H

8. The Me I Choose to Be by Natasha Anastasia Tarpley, ill. Regis and Kahran Bethencourt

“I am a superhero yet unnamed / I am laughter that falls like rain.” Fantastic, surreal Afro-futuristic photography coupled with a life-affirming text helps turn ordinary kids into their extraordinary selves. JPicture Tarpl.N

9. Mel Fell by Corey R. Tabor

Little kingfisher Mel takes her first flight (or is it a plunge?), falling through the air at rapid speed as other animals watch with concern. Be ready for some tricks and laughs that amaze and delight. JPicture Tabor.C

10. Midnight Fair by Gideon Sterer, ill. Mariachiara Di Giorgio

When the fair has closed and the night has come, what happens to the merry-go-rounds, rides, and games? Join a troop of intrepid animal adventurers in this beautifully rendered wordless romp. JPicture Stere.G

11. Milo Imagines the World by Matt de la Peña, ill. Christian Robinson

On a long subway ride, Milo draws and imagines the lives of the people around him. But is there more to their stories than at first glance? Is there more to his own? JPicture Delap.M

12. Mr. Watson’s Chickens by Jarrett Dapier, ill. Andrea Tsurumi

Mr. Watson wants some chickens, so he and his partner Mr. Nelson get three. But what happens when those three turn into 456 or more? JPicture Dapie.J

13. My First Day by Phùng Nguyên Quang and Huynh Kim Liên

A child in Vietnam experiences an eventful journey down the Mekong River. Where is he going? What natural wonders (and dangers) will he encounter next? Visually riveting. JPicture Quang.P

14. On the Trapline by David A. Robertson, ill. Julie Flett

A trip with his grandpa to see the trapline, a place where he once hunted, takes a child into the heart of his family’s history. JPicture Rober.D

15. The Rock From the Sky by Jon Klassen

Five short chapters follow three behatted animals as they avoid death, aliens, and rocks falling from the sky. Not necessarily in that order. JPicture Klass.J

16. Ship in a Bottle by Andrew Prahin

Mouse dreams of a better life so one day she sets sail for distant lands. Peaceful watercolors illustrate her gentle search for a new home. JPicture Prahi.A

17. Someone Builds the Dream by Lisa Wheeler illustrated by Loren Long

Architects, artists, scientists, and more all dream but . . . someone has to build what they dream up. A clever and respectful celebration of skilled laborers. JPicture Wheel.L

18. Soul Food Sunday by Winsome Bingham, ill. C.G. Esperanza

It’s Sunday at Granny’s and her grandson is old enough to help get that dinner ready. Meat’s got to be primed, greens cleaned, cheese grated. Vibrant eye-popping colors explode off the page in a book so good you can practically smell the food cooking. JPicture Bingh.W

19. We Wait for the Sun by Dovey Johnson Roundtree & Katie McCabe, ill. Raissa Figueroa

Fruit picking as resistance. In a time of terror in the South, a girl accompanies her grandmother and other Black women for an early morning ritual. Warm and sweet, just like a blackberry. xBiog Round.D Round.D

20. Wishes by Mượn Thị Văn, ill. Victo Ngai

This visually striking book chronicles the scary journey by boat made by people fleeing Vietnam to Hong Kong  in 1980. A true story based on the author’s experiences. JPicture Van.M

21. Your Mama by NoNieqa Ramos, ill. Jacqueline Alcántara

Your mama is strong, powerful, friendly, beautiful. A multifaceted Latinx celebration of motherhood takes an old insult, and turns it completely on its head. JPicture Ramos.N


Return to the full list of 101 Great Books for Kids here.


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