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The Picture Book Buzz

The Picture Book Buzz - A Look At Great Books of 2021

So this has been a year! Ups, downs, delays, and fear. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine it would be so constraining AND so long-lasting.

But, Covid or not, there were some phenomenal and wonderful books released this year. And I had fun reviewing a small portion of them (and interviewing their authors & illustrators). Check out this earlier post for all of the 2021 STEAM Team Books (lots of board books, picture books, chapter books, middle grade, & YA - both fiction & nonfiction).

Now, I want to give one more shout-out to 94 truly amazing books I discovered this year:

Almost two a week, every week. This was a highlight of my kidlit year!

Did you see any favorites in there? Maybe even some new ones to check out? I had so much fun looking through the older posts and rediscovering books I loved and enjoyed. 2021 may have been a crazy mess, but there was still hope, friendship, and caring. Just look at these books. Besides this fun collage, perhaps the best way to highlight them would be by category (note many books fit in multiple categories):


The Boy Whose Head Was Filled With Stars: A Story about Edwin Hubble by Isabelle Marinov, illustrated by Deborah Marcero;

Flying High: The Story of Gymnastics Champion Simone Biles by Michelle Meadows, illustrated by Ebony Glenn;

Jump at the Sun by Alicia Williams, illustrated by Jacqueline Alcántara;

Here to There: Inventions That Changed the Way the World Moves by Vivian Kirkfield, illustrated by Gilbert Ford;

Grace Banker and Her Hello Girls Answer the Call by Claudia Friddell, illustrated by Elizabeth Baddeley;

Butterfly for a King: Saving Hawai'i's Kamehameha Butterflies by Susan L. Roth & Cindy Trumbore, illustrated by Susan L. Roth;

The Singer and the Scientist by Lisa Rose, illustrated by Isabel Muñoz;

A Most Clever Girl: How Jane Austen Discovered Her Voice by Jasmine A. Stirling, illustrated by Vesper Stamper;

30,000 Stitches: The Inspiring Story of the National 9/11 Flag by Amanda Davis, illustrated by Sally Wern Comport;

Mimic Makers: Biomimicry Inventions Inspired by Nature by Kristen Nordstrom, illustrated by Paul Boston;

The Secret Science of Sports by Jennifer Swanson;

Fred & Marjorie: A Doctor, a Dog, and the Discovery of Insulin by Deborah Kerbel, illustrated by Angela Poon;

Night Creatures: Animals That Swoop, Crawl, and Creep while You Sleep by Rebecca Hirsch, illustrated by Sonia Possentini;

Just You and Me: Remarkable Relationships in the Wild by Jennifer Ward, illustrated by Alexander Vida;

Survivor Tree by Marcie Colleen, illustrated by Aaron Becker;

Shipwreck Reefs by Aimée M. Bissonette, illustrated by Adèle Leyris;

In the Garden with Dr. Carver by Susan Grigsby, illustrated by Nicole Tadgell;

With Great Power: The Marvelous Stan Lee by Annie Hunter Eriksen, illustrated by Lee Gatlin;

Dear Mr. Dickens by Nancy Churnin, illustrated by Bethany Stancliffe;

A Queen to the Rescue: The Story of Henrietta Szold, Founder of Hadassah by Nancy Churnin, illustrated by Yevgenia Nayberg;

From the Tops of the Trees by Kao Kalia Yang, illustrated by Rachel Wada;

Tu Youyou’s Discovery: Finding a Cure for Malaria by Songju Ma Daemicke, illustrated by Lin;

A Vote for Susanna: The First Woman Mayor by Karen M. Greenwald, illustrated by Sian James;

A Voice For The Everglades: Marjory Stoneman Douglas by Vicki Conrad, illustrated by Ibon Adarne and Rachel Yew;

I Am Smoke by Henry Herz, illustrated by Mercè López;

Solitary Animals: Introverts of the Wild by Joshua David Stein, illustrated by Dominque Ramsey;

Stunning SPACE (also Nonfiction):

Little Leonards' Fascinating World of Astronomy by Sarafina Nance, illustrated by Greg Paprocki;

Spidernaut: Arabella, the Spider in Space by Jodie Parachini, illustrated by Dragan Kordić;

Touching and empowering SELF-ESTEEM:

I Am A Bird by Hope Lim, illustrated by Hyewon Yum;

Listen by Gabi Snyder, illustrated by Stephanie Graegin;

The Very Last Leaf by Stef Wade, illustrated by Jennifer Davison;

When Langston Dances by Kaija Langley, illustrated by Keith Mallett;

The Snowflake by Benji Davies;

The Littlest Yak by Lu Fraser, illustrated by Kate Hindley;


My Monsterpiece by Amalia Hoffman;

Birds of a Feather by Sita Singh, illustrated by Stephanie Fizer Coleman;

Perdu by Richard Jones;

Meet Me By The Sea by Taltal Levi;

Sloth and Squirrel in a Pickle by Cathy Ballou Mealey, illustrated by Kelly Collier;

Not Little by Maya Myers, illustrated by Hyewon Yum;

The Perfect Plan by Leah Gilbert;

Mindful Mr. Sloth by Katy Hudson;

Stick and Stone: Best Friends Forever by Beth Ferry, illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld;

Bear Is a Bear by Jonathan Stutzman, illustrated by Dan Santat;

It Fell From the Sky by The Fan Brothers;

Little Narwhal, Not Alone by Tiffany Stone, illustrated by Ashlyn Anstee;

Planting Friendships: Peace, Salaam, Shalom by Callie Metler, Shirin Rahman, & Melissa Stoller, illustrated by Kate Talbot;

Amos McGee Misses the Bus by Philip C. Stead, illustrated by Erin E. Stead;

James' Reading Rescue by Dianna Wilson-Sirkovsky, illustrated by Sara Casilda;

Little Forest Keepers by Mary Lundquist;

Entertaining ANIMAL/NATURE:

Woodland Dreams by Karen Jameson, illustrated by Marc Boutavant ;

Love in the Wild by Katy Tanis;

Hello, Rain! by Kyo Maclear, iIllustrated by Chris Turnham

Eat Up, Bear! by Terry Pierce, illustrated by Nadja Sarell;

I love You with All of My Hearts by Lindsay Bonilla, illustrated by Eleonora Pace;

Hello, Tree by Ana Crespo, illustrated by Dow Phumiruk;

Bat's Moonlight Feast by Gordon McMillan, illustrated by Carly Allen-Fletcher;

Little Loon Finds His Voice by Yvonne Pearson, illustrated by Regina Shklovsky;

Beautiful POETRY:

Once Upon Another Time by Charles Ghigna and Matt Forrest Esenwine, illustrated by Andrés F. Landazábal;

What If? by Darren Sardelli, illustrated by Max Hergenrother;


Oswald Messweather by Dimity Powell, illustrated by Siobhan McVey;

I Miss Your Sunny Smile by Deb Adamson, illustrated by Anne Zimanski;

A Flood of Kindness by Ellen Leventhal, illustrated by Blythe Russo;

When Grandfather Flew by Patricia MacLachlan, illustrated by Chris Sheban;

Unraveled by Leanne Hatch;

Big Bear Was Not the Same by Joanna Rowland, iIllustrated by John Ledda;

Being Mindful Like Grandpa by Sheri Mabry, illustrated by Ilaria Urbinati;

Squirrel's Sweater by Laura Renauld, illustrated by Jennie Poh;

I Am Odd, I Am New by Benjamin Giroux, illustrated by Roz MacLean;

Adrift by Heidi E.Y. Stemple, illustrated by Anastasia Suvorova;

If You Miss Me by Jocelyn Li Langrand;


Dino Pajama Party: A Bedtime Book by Laurie Wallmark, illustrated by Michael Robertson;

Time for Bed, Old House by Janet Costa Bates, illustrated by A.G. Ford;

As Babies Dream by Lesléa Newman, illustrated by Taia Morley;


Sam's First Word by Bea Birdsong, illustrated by Holly Hatam

All We Need by Kathy Wolff, illustrated by Margaux Meganck;

The Whole World in Nan’s Soup by Hunter Liguore, illustrated by Vikki Zhang;

Grand Jete and Me by Allegra Kent, illustrated by Robin Preiss Glasser;

Bisa's Carnaval by Joana Pastro, illustrated by Carolina Coroa;

Wonderful FOLKTALES:

The Children's Moon by Carmen Agra Deedy, illustrated by Jim LaMarche;


ABC Rise Up and Be!: An Empowering Alphabet for Changing the World by Annemarie Riley Guertin, iIllustrated by Sandie Sonke;

Inspire the World: A Kid's Journey to Making a Difference by Sammie Vance, illustrated by Talitha Shipman

I Am Today by Matt Forrest Esenwine, illustrated by Patricia Pessoa;


I Want a Boat! by Liz Garton Scanlon, illustrated by Kevan Atteberry;

Room For Everyone by Naaz Khan, illustrated by Mercè López;

Detective Mole by Camilla Pintonato;

Chinese Kite Festival by Richard Lo


Beach Toys v. School Supplies by Mike Ciccotello;

Oh, that actually was 112 books because I also did three interview/"book look" posts with members of the Picture Book Scribblers. I'd like to highlight these books once again as well -




Here's wishing us ALL an amazing, magical New Year!

A year full of more delightful books!

See you all in January!


Maria Marshall

 Photograph © A. Marshall

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