The Underdogs: 10 Great Picture Books You May Have Missed In 2016

Award season is upon us, as librarians across the country comb through the many wonderful picture books published in 2016 to choose the one most worthy of the coveted Caldecott medal.  Just as some books are published with much fanfare and excitement, others quietly appear on library shelves. Without high publicity or recognition, they fend for themselves.  Here are ten of these “quietly” published books that I read last year that surprised me in the best way possible.   They may not be making award lists or getting medals, but they have that little something special that makes a great book.

Cover of book - Once Upon a CloudOnce Upon a Cloud by Claire Keane.

Celeste is a young girl searching for a gift worthy of her mother. With the help of a little magic and imagination, she takes a trip throughout the night sky.  Claire Keane is an illustrator who worked on Tangled and Frozen, and her art is filled with that special Disney touch that children love.

Cover picture of Emma Dodd's Together

Together by Emma Dodd.

Emma Dodd is a prolific children’s author with a special ability to capture parent-child relationships.  In 2016, she released her best book yet, Together. She celebrates the importance of quality time and the bond that grows when we spend time with those we love.

Cover of Best Part of Daddy's DayThe Best Part of Daddy’s Day.

Bertie is the proud son of a builder. He spends his day at school practicing his own building skills with his teacher and classmates.  After a long day, he returns home to his father and they both reflect on the challenges they faced.  They agree that the best part of their day is being together.  A touching story about father-son relationships, and the importance of nurturing family relationships.

Cover of "Some Birds"Some Birds by Matt Spink. 

In his first picture book, Spink presents a variety of birds through rhyme and retro illustrations.  He cleverly introduces concepts and vocabulary words making it a great early literacy tool.  It’s perfect for the child learning about opposites, or simply wanting to look at cool art work.

Cover of "Painting Pepette"Painting Pepette by Linda Ravin Lodding and illustrated by Claire Fletcher.

A book in rhyme, set in Paris, about art? Could you ask for more? This clever story follows young Josette as she meets various artists and invites them to paint her stuffed rabbit, Pepette.

Cover of "Bringing the Outside In"Bringing the Outside In by Mary McKenna Siddals and illustrated by Patrice Barton. 

Four joyful children accompanied by their adorable dog set out to play outside, and witness the changing seasons.  The beautiful rhyme encourages children to explore their world and enjoy the gift of friendship.

Cover of "My New Mom and Me"My New Mom and Me by Renata Galindo.

A young puppy learns to adapt to a new home, and a new mom who happens to be a cat.  Through honesty and communication, the puppy learns love, trust, and how to be true to oneself in stressful situations.  Galindo has written a powerful story that will be a great resource for any caregiver or child looking for a book on adoption or welcoming a new person into a family.

Cover of "How to Find a Fox"How to Find a Fox by Nilah Magruder. 

Equipped with her camera, a young girl sets out to photograph a fox.  Her adventure through the forest is filled with trial and error until she’s finally able to get the perfect shot.

Cover of Secret Tree FortSecret Tree Fort by Brianne Farley.

A young girl tries to convince her sister to play with her in a magical tree fort, to no avail.  No amount of persuading will convince her to put down her book and play in the fort, until she has an idea of her own.  Farley celebrates the power of imagination in this sweet story about siblings.

Cover of "Next To You"Next to You: A Book of Adorableness by Lori Haskins Houran and illustrated by Sydney Hanson.

Interesting baby books are hard to find, and this one is a gem that I hope receives more traction.  It lives up to its title as being a “book of adorableness,” with gentle and cute pictures of baby animals. It’s the perfect prompt to snuggle with little ones and introduce animal vocabulary.


Photo courtesy guest blogger
Photo courtesy guest blogger

Today’s guest post was written by Katherine Hickey. Katherine is a children’s librarian at the Oklahoma City Metropolitan Library System, and is a recent graduate from the University of Oklahoma’s School of Library and Information Studies.

Please note that as a guest post, the views expressed here do not represent the official position of ALA or ALSC

If you’d like to write a guest post for the ALSC Blog, please contact Mary Voors, ALSC Blog manager, at


  1. Rebecca

    Can’t wait to read these to my children!

  2. Mary McKenna Siddals

    I’m delighted to discover BRINGING THE OUTSIDE IN among these wonderful Underdogs, and thank you so much, Katherine, for shining such a lovely spotlight on my book!

  3. Pingback: The Underdogs: 10 Great Picture Books You May Have Missed in 2017 - ALSC Blog

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