The Crayon Man

  • Title: The Crayon Man: The True Story of the Invention of Crayola Crayons
  • Author: Natascha Biebow
  • Illustrator: Steven Salerno
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication year: 2019
  • Brief Summary: From Houghton Mifflin-“Celebrating the inventor of the Crayola crayon! This gloriously illustrated picture book biography tells the inspiring story of Edwin Binney, the inventor of one of the world’s most beloved toys.”
  • Ideas for using this book in classroom or library –I found this lesson guide on Library Lessons With Books that uses this book as a learning tool about inventions. The activity they state to do is have children in groups and ask them to brainstorm an invention for an everyday problem.
  • Whatever additional notes you’d like to add about this book and why you liked or didn’t like it –I really liked that there is a step by step guide on how Crayola Crayons are made today, a brief biography of the real Edwin Binney, and a bibliography list.

Hey, Water!

  • Title: Hey, Water!
  • Author: Antoinette Portis
  • Illustrator: Antoinette Portis
  • Publisher: Neal Porter Books/Holiday House
  • Publication year: 2019
  • Brief Summary: From Holiday House-“Join a young girl as she explores her surroundings and sees that water is everywhere. But water doesn’t always look the same, it doesn’t always feel the same, and it shows up in lots of different shapes. Water can be a lake, it can be steam, it can be a tear, or it can even be a snowman. As the girl discovers water in nature, in weather, in her home, and even inside her own body, water comes to life, and kids will find excitement and joy in water and its many forms.”
  • Ideas for using this book in classroom or library – I think this book could be used to teach children about the water cycle, about the different forms of water, and even geographically, where we can find water on the earth. So I think this would be ideal for young children in elementary school. This lesson plan from Library Lessons With Books suggests this activity: forming groups after reading to designing a water conservation campaign, perhaps creating posters with art based on Portis’s illustrations. So in this way, this book could be used for multiple teachers/multiple disciplines.
  • Whatever additional notes you’d like to add about this book and why you liked or didn’t like it –Portis’s illustrations are fast-paced; there is some level of action going on with each page flip, which I believe would keep a child’s interest. I liked that Portis subtly indicates each body of water with text that is next to the illustration, but does not overpower it, in fact, there is white space enough around the word and illustration that it does not look clumped together. I think was a great choice by the editor. I also want to note that our professor wrote this article about Hey, Water! for The Horn Book that you should read if you (as a teacher/librarian) are considering this book. Portis includes a brief note on water forms, the water cycle, and how to conserve water at the end of this book. I think this is a candidate for me for my Best 50 list.

Everyone Poops

  • Title: Everyone Poops
  • Author: Taro Gomi; translated by Amanda Mayer Stinchecum
  • Illustrator: Taro Gomi
  • Publisher: Kane/Miller Book Publishers
  • Publication year: First published in Japan in 1977, Kane/Miller Book Publishers 1993
  • Brief Summary: From Kane/Miller Book Publishers-“Since we all eat, we all must poop. All of us! Everyone! Everyone Poops. This wonderful, modern-day toddler classic presents information that children both want and need in a refreshingly honest, informative, and age-appropriate way.”
  • Ideas for using this book in classroom or library – I don’t know that this could be used for any particular curriculum but this book would be helpful for preschoolers and kindergarteners as they learn about their bodies and bodily functions.
  • Whatever additional notes you’d like to add about this book and why you liked or didn’t like it – I think the very simple illustrations done with backgrounds in primary colors would resonate and hold children’s attention.


  • Title: Earth: My First 4.54 Billon Years
  • Author: Stacy McAnulty
  • Illustrator: David Litchfield
  • Publisher: Henry Holt and Company, a trademark of Macmillan Publishing Group
  • Publication year: 2017
  • Brief Summary: From Macmillan Publishing Company-“Prepare to learn all about Earth from the point-of-view of Earth herself! In this funny yet informative book, filled to the brim with kid-friendly facts, readers will discover key moments in Earth’s life, from her childhood more than four billion years ago all the way up to present day.”
  • Ideas for using this book in classroom or library –This book could be a great resource and informational tool for a young child’s science class as it brings a lot of scientific information across easily. This resource from Stacy McAnulty’s website includes activity pages to use after reading this book.
  • Whatever additional notes you’d like to add about this book and why you liked or didn’t like it –I liked Litchfield’s humorous illustrations characterizing Earth and all the planets.

Fifty Cents and a Dream

  • Title: Fifty Cents and a Dream: Young Booker T. Washington
  • Author: Jabari Asim
  • Illustrator: Bryan Collier
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company, an imprint of Hachette Book Group
  • Publication year: 2012
  • Brief Summary: From Little, Brown and Company-“Born into slavery, young Booker T. Washington could only dream of learning to read and write. After emancipation, with only fifty cents in his pocket and a dream in his soul, Booker walked five hundred miles to Hampton Institute, taking his first of many steps towards a college degree. The young slave who once waited outside of the schoolhouse would one day become a legendary educator of freedmen.”
  • Ideas for using this book in classroom or library –While in grade school, I know I learned about Booker T. Washington, but only about his political stance and not about his personal life. So, I think young and older children would learn a lot more than they would in class about Washington’s life by reading this book. This book could be introduced while children are learning about the ideologies of both Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. Dubois in class.
  • Whatever additional notes you’d like to add about this book and why you liked or didn’t like it –Like many other of Collier’s illustrative works that I’ve covered, I really enjoyed the patchwork quality of his illustrations, with all the patterns, colors, and pieces of photographs intermingled within the clothing or backgrounds.

Power Up

  • Title: Power Up: Your Incredible, Spectacular, Supercharged Body
  • Author: Seth Fishman
  • Illustrator: Isabel Greenberg
  • Publisher: Greenwillow Books, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication year: 2019
  • Brief Summary: From HarperCollins-“Did you know there is enough energy in your pinkie finger to power an entire city? And that everything you do—running, jumping, playing, and exploring—uses that same energy inside of you?”
  • Ideas for using this book in classroom or library –I definitely think this book would work for a science class to teach some of the basics of energy in the human body, and some of the bones and muscles in our body. I think this book could be used for older children as well as younger children. This resource from HarperCollins had some suggestions to use Fishman’s other book The Ocean in Your Bathtub (which now I want to find and read) for STEM activities for children. I also think this article was interesting because it gives a brief introduction to Fishman, his life, and his move to L.A. from Texas.
  • Whatever additional notes you’d like to add about this book and why you liked or didn’t like it –What I found refreshing in this book is the diversity present. Unlike in The Moon Seems to Change or What Makes Day and Night that I covered in my first 100, this book has a diverse main character, and diverse characters throughout. The protagonist is not “defaulted” to a white boy. Our main character that we are following throughout our “science lesson” is an African American girl and the book is written as if her parental figure is telling her all of these scientific facts (see the first page illustration of our protagonist and her mother (or mother figure, teacher, the relationship is not defined, but can be assumed to be an older person acting as her guide). I enjoyed Greenberg’s bright, wavy, and engaging illustrations too. The author’s note at the end (which I think older children could read on their own and comprehend) explains Einstein’s E = mc2. I would include this in my Best 50 list instead of the books I mentioned above.


  • Title: Josephine: The Dazzling Life of Josephine Baker
  • Author: Patricia Hruby
  • Illustrator: Christian Robinson
  • Publisher: Chronicle Books
  • Publication year: 2014
  • Brief Summary: From Chronicle-“In exuberant verse and stirring pictures, Patricia Hruby Powell and Christian Robinson create an extraordinary portrait for young people of the passionate performer and civil rights advocate Josephine Baker, the woman who worked her way from the slums of St. Louis to the grandest stages in the world. Meticulously researched by both author and artist, Josephine’s powerful story of struggle and triumph is an inspiration and a spectacle, just like the legend herself.”
  • Ideas for using this book in classroom or library – I have to admit I did not know of Josephine Baker until this class, our presentation on Robinson, and reading this book. So, I think it is important that a famous African American dancer and show-woman like Baker be taught in schools as a historical art figure ( with other modern and post modern dancers). I found this teacher’s guide from The Classroom Bookshelf (from The School Library Journal) that has helpful suggestions for teaching this book in the classroom, including examining picture book poetry, African American dancers, and diversity within entertainment (this could be used in a music or humanities class as well). There is a also a section referring to different films and videos on African Americans and France.
  • Whatever additional notes you’d like to add about this book and why you liked or didn’t like it – As always Robinson’s illustrations coexist with the text in a beautiful collaboration. I like the change in font between Josephine Baker’s quotes and the rest of the text. And I liked that in some moments of the text, to emphasize, the text is capitalized. Also, there is an author’s note, an illustrator’s note, a Bibliography, and sources for all the quotations used. I think this would make a great addition to any school library and I think for the reasons stated about this would be a great addition to the Best 50 list.


  • Title: Honeybee: The Busy Life of Apis Mellifera
  • Author: Candance Fleming
  • Illustrator: Eric Rohmann
  • Publisher: Neal Porter Books/ Holiday House Books
  • Publication year: 2020
  • Brief Summary: From Holiday House Books-“A tiny honeybee emerges through the wax cap of her cell. Driven to protect and take care of her hive, she cleans the nursery and feeds the larvae and the queen. But is she strong enough to fly? Not yet!”
  • Ideas for using this book in classroom or library – This could definitely be used in a science class to teach children the importance of bees to our environment and our daily food intake.
  • Whatever additional notes you’d like to add about this book and why you liked or didn’t like it –Rohmann’s illustrations are luminous, making the bees look real. I also like that Fleming included a dictionary of words, a summary of why bees are important to our environment, and a diagram of the bee. The acknowledgement at the top of the book shows that Fleming and Rohmann gathered their research from doctors, and researchers.

Prehistoric Actual Size

  • Title: Prehistoric Actual Size
  • Author: Steve Jenkins
  • Illustrator: Steve Jenkins
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin
  • Publication year: 2005
  • Brief Summary: From Houghton Mifflin-“What is it like to come face-to-face with the ten-foot-tall terror bird? Or stare into the mouth of the largest meat eater ever to walk the earth? Can you imagine a millipede that is more than six feet long, or a dinosaur smaller than a chicken? In this “actual size” look at the prehistoric world, which includes two dramatic gatefolds, you’ll meet these awe-inspiring creatures, as well as many others.”
  • Ideas for using this book in classroom or library – This book would be great for young children to get familiar with prehistoric animals. This book could be used in a science class also. I also think that this book could be used for older children too, not just young children.
  • Whatever additional notes you’d like to add about this book and why you liked or didn’t like it – I think children who are interested in science, or young children who are fascinated by dinosaurs will find this picture book interesting. I like the colorful, some full-size illustrations as well.


  • Title: Locomotive
  • Author: Brian Floca
  • Illustrator: Brian Floca
  • Publisher: A Richard Jackson Book, Atheneum Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Simon & Schuster
  • Publication year: 2013
  • Brief Summary: From Simon & Schuster-“It is the summer of 1869, and trains, crews, and family are traveling together, riding America’s brand-new transcontinental railroad. These pages come alive with the details of the trip and the sounds, speed, and strength of the mighty locomotives; the work that keeps them moving; and the thrill of travel from plains to mountain to ocean.”
  • Ideas for using this book in classroom or library – I found a really comprehensive curriculum guide from Myra Zarnowski, a professor in the department of Elementary and Early Childhood Education at Queens College, CUNY that details some activities students can do with/around this book, such as writing a “help wanted” ad for a crew member of the train, or having the student imagine they are crew member and writing a diary of their experience. This book could be used in a history class, or in a language arts class. I also believe this book could be used for older children as well.
  • Whatever additional notes you’d like to add about this book and why you liked or didn’t like it – This book has a wealth of information. Floca does a great job of giving all this information in an creative and attention-grabbing way. I liked the use of text around the illustrations. Additionally, I think the text changing, especially for the onomatopoeias in this book, is a great way to get children interested and keep their attention in the book. Floca also uses sources, and he includes these in the back of the book.