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A Fuse #8 Production
Inside A Fuse #8 Production

31 Days, 31 Lists: Day 27 – 2016 Nonfiction Picture Books

It’s finally come!  The list is nearing its end.  So it is with great delight that I present to you some of the last of the lists.  Today’s is particularly long, celebrating what I consider to be some of the best books of 2016. Since so many of them have shown up on my other lists I’ll leave off the comments this time around except for those that haven’t appeared here before.

These are the nonfiction titles I was most impressed by in 2016:


2016 Nonfiction Picture Books

Ada Lovelace, Poet of Science: The First Computer Programmer by Diane Stanley, ill. Jessie Hartland


Ada’s Ideas: The Story of Ada Lovelace, the World’s First Computer Programmer by Fiona Robinson


Ada’s Violin: The Story of the Recycled Orchestra of Paraguay by Susan Hood, ill. Sally Wern Comport


Animals by the Numbers: A Book of Infographics by Steve Jenkins


Anything But Ordinary: The True Story of Adelaide Herman, Queen of Magic by Mara Rockliff, ill. Iacopo Bruno


A Beetle Is Shy by Dianna Hutts Aston, ill. Sylvia Long


Circle by Jeanne Baker


Cloth Lullaby: The Woven Life of Louise Bourgeois by Amy Novesky, ill. Isabelle Arsenault


The Deadliest Creature in the World by Brena Z. Guiberson, ill. Gennady Spirin


Death Is Stupid by Anastasia Higginbotham


Dining With Dinosaurs: A Tasty Guide to Mesozoic Munching by Hannah Bonner


Does a Fiddler Crab Fiddle? by Corinne Demas & Artemis Roehrig, ill. John Sandford


Dorothea’s Eyes by Barb Rosenstock, ill. Gerard DuBois


Elizabeth Started All the Trouble by Doreen Rappaport, ill. Matt Faulkner


Gabe: A Story of Me, My Dog, and the 1970s by Shelley Gill, ill. Marc Scheff


Grandmother Fish: A Child’s First Book of Evolution by Jonathan Tweet, ill. Karen Lewis


Growing Peace: A Story of Farming, Music, and Religious Harmony by Richard Sobol


If this hasn’t appeared on a list before it’s only because I’ve never found a place to slot it.  Though it has elements of biography to it, it’s mostly about sustainable farming, overcoming religious differences, and working together.  And since I never made a peace and global studies list (next year?) it shall go here instead.

How Cities Work by James Gulliver Hancock


Very keen.  It’s a good book to use if you want to describe to a kid how cities form, what they contain, their problems, their solutions, and their future.  Lots of lift-the-flap elements as well.

One note – if you’re buying this book for your system through Baker & Taylor, they’ll have a warning note attached saying that there are small parts and that it’s not appropriate for children under the age of three.  They sometimes will put this warning on books with small lift-the-flap flaps.  I personally think the book is safe, but you may be strict in your policies.  FYI.

How Much Does a Ladybug Weigh? by Alison Limentani


I Am NOT a Dinosaur! by Will Lach, ill. Jonny Lambert


I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsburg Makes Her Mark by Debbie Levy, ill. Elizabeth Baddeley


The Kid from Diamond Street: The Extraordinary Story of Baseball Legend Edith Houghton by Audrey Vernick, ill. Steven Salerno


Lift Your Light a Little Higher: The Story of Stephen Bishop: Slave-Explorer by Heather Henson, ill. Bryan Collier


Martin Luther “Here I Stand” by Geraldine Elschner, translated by Kathryn Bishop


The Marvelous Thing That Came from a Spring: The Accidental Invention of the Toy That Swept the Nation by Gilbert Ford


Since the book is focused far more on the invention than the inventor, I couldn’t really put it on the biographical list.  So for all that it’s fun and funny and interesting and beautiful (really beautiful) I’ve had to wait until now to put it on any lists.  That said, it was worth the wait.

Miracle Man: The Story of Jesus by John Hendrix


My Book of Birds by Geraldo Valerio


Natumi Takes the Lead: The True Story of an Orphan Elephant Who Finds Family by Gerry Ellis with Amy Novesky


The Navajo Code Talkers by J. Patrick Lewis, ill. Gary Kelley


Olinguito, from A to Z! / Olinguito, de la A a la Z! by Lulu Delacre


Otters Love to Play by Jonathan London, ill. Meilo So


Pink Is for Blobfish: Discovering the World’s Perfectly Pink Animals by Jess Keating, ill. David DeGrand


A Poem for Peter: The Story of Ezra Jack Keats and the Creation of The Snowy Day by Andrea Davis Pinkney, ill. Lou Fancher & Steve Johnson


The Polar Bear by Jenni Desmond


Prairie Dog Song by Susan L. Roth and Cindy Trumbore


Radiant Child: The Story of Young Artist Jean-Michel Basquiat by Javaka Steptoe

Radiant Child

The Secret Subway by Shana Corey, ill. Red Nose Studio


She Stood for Freedom: The Untold Story of a Civil Rights Hero, Joan Trumpauer Mulholland by Loki Mulholland & Angela Fairwell, ill. Charlotta Janssen


A Spy Called James: The True Story of James Lafayette, Revolutionary War Double Agent by Anne Rockwell, ill. Floyd Cooper


Step Right Up: How Doc and Jim Key Taught the World About Kindness by Donna Janell Bowman, ill. Daniel Minter


Ticktock Banneker’s Clock by Shana Keller, ill. David C. Gardner


The Toad by Elise Gravel


The Tudors: Kings, Queens, Scribes, and Ferrets! by Marcia Williams


Under Earth / Under Water by Aleksandra Mizielinska and Daniel Mizielinski


When Grandma Gatewood Took a Hike by Michelle Houts, ill. Erica Magnus


Whoosh! Lonnie Johnson’s Super-Soaking Stream of Inventions by Chris Barton, ill. Don Tate


Whose Eye Am I? by Shelley Rotner


The Wildest Race Ever: The Story of the 1904 Olympic Marathon by Meghan McCarthy


The William Hoy Story by Nancy Churnin, ill. Jez Tuya


You Never Heard of Casey Stengel?! by Jonah Winter, ill. Barry Blitt



Interested in the other lists of the month? Here’s the schedule so that you can keep checking back:

December 1 – Board Books

December 2 – Board Book Adaptations

December 3 – Nursery Rhymes

December 4 – Picture Book Readalouds

December 5 – Rhyming Picture Books

December 6 – Alphabet Books

December 7 – Funny Picture Books

December 8 – Calde-Nots

December 9 – Picture Book Reprints

December 10 – Math Picture Books

December 11 – Bilingual Books

December 12 – International Imports

December 13 – Books with a Message

December 14 – Fabulous Photography

December 15 – Fairy Tales / Folktales

December 16 – Oddest Books of the Year

December 17 – Older Picture Books

December 18 – Easy Books

December 19 – Early Chapter Books

December 20 – Graphic Novels

December 21 – Poetry

December 22 – Fictionalized Nonfiction

December 23 – American History

December 24 – Science & Nature Books

December 25 – Transcendent Holiday Titles

December 26 – Unique Biographies

December 27 – Nonfiction Picture Books

December 28 – Nonfiction Chapter Books

December 29 – Novel Reprints

December 30 – Novels

December 31 – Picture Books

About Elizabeth Bird

Elizabeth Bird is currently the Collection Development Manager of the Evanston Public Library system and a former Materials Specialist for New York Public Library. She has served on Newbery, written for Horn Book, and has done other lovely little things that she'd love to tell you about but that she's sure you'd find more interesting to hear of in person. Her opinions are her own and do not reflect those of EPL, SLJ, or any of the other acronyms you might be able to name. Follow her on Twitter: @fuseeight.


  1. Will heaven include a library of great children’s books and all the time needed to read them? Your list today is fantastic. My favorite, chosen simply because of the memory I will always associate with this title, is I Dissent. Never in my life would I have imagined a Supreme Court Justice ( and a sitting President) publicly denouncing the Republican nominee for President of the United States. Appropriate? Effective? Trump still “won” the election. What is appropriate and effective, in my opinion, is that choice to speak up, no matter the consequences, can be a model for my own behavior. There is potential that the Trump “earthquake” will in time be seen as the catalyst for greater good than any of us can imagine.


  1. […] also made Betsy Bird’s Fuse 8 list for best nonfiction of 2016 and can be seen HERE. It was great to see my illustrator friends Fiona Robinson, James Gulliver […]