Competencies for Librarians Serving Children in Public Libraries

Underdogs – Ten Books You May Have Missed in 2019

Another year is behind us, with wonderful new releases in the picture book genre. I’m excited to share these particular titles with you. They’ve flown somewhat under the radar, with little fanfare. They stood out to me for various reasons: unique topics, incredible illustrations, humor. Please let me know about any other “underdogs” from 2019 you’d like to share! And without further ado… my 10 favorite underdogs!

Cover image of You Are NewYou are New by Lucy Knisley

Good books for baby storytime are hard to come by, so I was excited to stumble upon Lucy Knisley’s “You Are New.” I love the minimalist illustrations, abundance of action verbs that lend themselves well to caregiver-child interactions, and hopeful message about being new in the world. Change to I love you from head to toe?”

Cover image of Bloom BoomBloom Boom by April Pulley Sayre

Photographer and author April Pulley Sayre really hit it out of the park with this one. With rhythmic, engaging text, she guides the reader through colorful deserts and fields of wildflowers celebrating the beauty of flowers.

Cover image of Carl and the Meaning of LifeCarl and the Meaning of Life by Deborah Freedman

Who knew learning about science could be so fun? Carl is a humble worm facing an existential crisis: what is the purpose of his life? Join him as he finds out and learn a few things about the earth along the way.

Cover image of You Are HomeYou Are Home: An Ode to the National Parks by Evan Turk

The illustrations of this book are stunning. In fact, I wouldn’t be mad if Evan Turk made prints available so that I could frame them and put them up on my walls. He captures the wilderness of of our National Parks with a distinctive and evocative color pallet, all while acknowledging the complicated and colonialist relationship Americans have with the land.

Cover image of Nighttime SymphonyNighttime Symphony by Timbaland and Christopher Myers

A young boy gets ready for bed, and experiences all of the sounds and rhythms of the storm outside his window. The action verbs make for great engagement and exchange during storytime.

Cover image of My Mama Is a Mechanic

With simple text and lively illustrations, Doug Cenko has crafted a lovely celebration of mothers.

Cover image of PlaydatePlaydate by Maryann Macdonald and  Rahele Jomepour Bell

A cute, diverse celebration of play using opposites vocabulary? Yes please!

Cover image of Triceratops StompTriceratops Stomp by Karen Patkau

Dinosaur fatigue, you say? Not with Karen Patkau! Her rhythmic and interactive book about dinosaurs wonderfully weaves narrative and facts, and is perfect for storytime.

Cover image of Skulls!Skulls! by Blair Thornburgh

Body positivity takes on a whole new meaning in this hilarious book about skulls.

Cover image of BabymoonBabymoon by Hayley Barrett and Juana Martinez Neal

Barrett uses clear and evocative rhymes to immerse the reader in a couple’s first few days at home with their child. The illustrations are whimsical and are sure to draw in parents and children alike!

What books did you love from 2019?  Let us know in the comments below.

Headshot of guest blogger, Katherine HickeyToday’s guest blogger is Katherine Hickey. Katherine is a children’s librarian at the Oklahoma City Metropolitan Library System.

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

This post addresses the following ALSC Core Competency: Knowledge Curation and Management of Materials.

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