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A Fuse #8 Production
Inside A Fuse #8 Production

Alternative Anticipated Children’s Books of Fall 2018 List

No doubt by this time you’ve read PW’s list of the Most Anticipated Children’s And YA Books of Fall 2018. Good strong books are on that list, many that I absolutely adore. That said, I couldn’t help but notice a lot of gaps. Just one graphic novel. Three nonfiction. And, because a book is usually “anticipated” because its creator is already famous, there were a lot of familiar names without many debuts.

My idea: Let’s put together a list of Fall 2018 books that may not be anticipated by the masses since some of the creators aren’t as well known, but that I’m looking forward to because I just think they’re the bee’s knees. Instead of the “Most Anticipated Children’s Books of Fall 2018” I’m calling this the Alternative Anticipated Children’s Books of Fall 2018 List.  And we’ll say “Fall” is September-November, eh what?

By category:

Board Books

A Pile of Leaves by Jason Fulford and Tamara Shopsin

(Coming Out: September 17th)


Does the term “Rising Board Book Superstars” strike you as amusing? It really shouldn’t since in the last two years Fulford & Shopsin have been producing consistently inventive books in that field. This upcoming book bears more than a passing resemblance to Sam’s Sandwich by David Pelham but without the copious text. Leaves are printed on transparent plastic and as you lift them off of one another, with each page turn you reveal the buggies beneath. With bold striking colors and its infinitely cool design, I can’t think of a better autumnal title to kick off today’s list.



Picture Books

A Home in the Barn by Margaret Wise Brown, ill. Jerry Pinkney

(Coming Out: September 4th)


I’ll confess that when I get yet another Margaret Wise Brown on my desk, my instinct is to quietly run the other way. Couple that with the fact that while I like some of Pinkney’s books, I am by no means enamored of all of them. Yet this new text from Brown (which was probably found in that never-ending trunk of unpublished manuscripts) is lovely, warm, and cozy. As for Mr. Pinkney, he does a darned good job of contrasting the warmth in the barn with the sheer bone-chilling temperatures without. Doggone it. I’m a fan.

Imagine! by Raúl Colón

(Coming Out: September 11th)


Oh, hurray! I spend inordinate amounts of time complaining that books set in NYC aren’t accurate enough. This book is not only accurate in terms of the look and feel of the city, but you can actually follow the route of the boy and his friends as they caper everywhere from Coney Island to Central Park. I’m just sad the old Central Children’s Room of NYPL isn’t across the street from MOMA anymore. Would have made for a keen storytime tie-in.

Little Brown by Marla Frazee

(Coming Out: October 2nd)


I know you all went gaga for her (Boston Globe-Horn Book Award winning) The Farmer and the Clown, but something in that title never quite got to me. But this! This I like a lot! No, it’s not about the history of Little, Brown & Co. (would that it were) but instead is about a grumpy dog. Is the dog grumpy because no one plays with him or does no one play with him because he’s grumpy? No one talks to one another in this book and so Ms. Frazee has made the very brave choice to leave the conflict unresolved. Remember when I did a post about picture books that may or may not be about the Trump era? This, I would have included.

The Patchwork Bike by Maxine Beneba Clarke, ill. Van Thanh Rudd

(Coming Out: September 11th)


Quite possibly my favorite picture book at the moment. I just like to pick it up and turn to the page of the kids whizzing by their mom, just a blur of paint against the cardboard background. My poor co-workers. I lie in wait with the book, just hoping to pounce and present it to them. It’s so incredibly beautiful and the art is magnificent. It was published in another country before it came here, and I’m pretty sure Rudd isn’t in America, so it can’t win a Caldecott, but if it could? It would, it would, oh quite possibly it would.

Potato Pants by Laurie Keller

(Coming Out: October 2nd)


Look, I’m not made of stone. Yams in pants is funny stuff, but how do you actually construct a story around it? Laurie Keller’s greatest gift, aside from her penchant for the goofball, may be that she can take funny concepts and then actually create fully realized stories out of them. This is a great book. Spuds honor.

The Stuff of Stars by Marion Dane Bauer, ill. Ekua Holmes

(Coming Out: September 4th)

Stuff of Stars

Oddly, this book appears to be part of a 2018 trend: Big Bang picture books that reduce down to the importance of the child reading this story. But only one of these books is as jaw-droppingly gorgeous as this one. I could stare, entranced, at the papers used in this book for hours and hours and hours.

The Truly Brave Princesses / Las princesas más Valientes by Dolores Brown, ill. Sonja Wimmer, text edited by Eva Burke and Rebecca Packard

(Coming Out: October 2nd)



I decided to include both the English and Spanish covers of this book. On first glance this looks like yet another book filled with different princesses. Ho hum. Yeah. Not even. It’s a strong woman book with a princess veneer, that celebrates such a wide range of different types of women that I was honestly amazed. There’s the woman in the wheelchair. There’s the nurse that supports her family. There’s a woman with Down Syndrome. Yep. I have never seen anyone with Down Syndrome ever celebrated in this manner before. Plus the writing is really fun. Better check it out.

We Are All Me by Jordan Crane

(Coming Out: September 4th)


At first I had a hard time reading this book without George Carlin’s hippy dippy weatherman voice doing all the narration. Put simply, this would be an excellent book to read while high. Yet as it turns out, it’s just an excellent book period. Essentially, it falls into the same category of The Same Stuff As Stars, but goes granular. It may even contain the most beautiful rendering of DNA I’ve ever seen in a picture book. Prepare to have your little mind blown (and in shockingly few words too).


Early Chapter Books

Edison: The Mystery of the Missing Mouse Treasure by Torben Kuhlmann, translated by David Henry Wilson

(Coming Out: October 2nd)


I wonder if this trilogy has a name. If you’ll cast your mind back, the first book by Torben Kuhlmann to come out in the States was his fantastic Lindbergh: The Tale of a Flying Mouse (I think I called it “Shaun Tan meets Beatrix Potter”). Then came Armstrong. Now we have Edison. Though the physical size would indicate that this is more of a picture book, the sheer amount of text definitely scoots it up to early chapter book / bedtime book territory. Not convinced you’ve time to read a long, German tale of mouse exploration and discovery? Just look at the shoes on the guy on the cover. Look how big they have to be to encompass mouse feet. Mickey, this ain’t.

Houndsley and Catina and Cousin Wagster by James Howe, ill. Marie-Louise Gay

(Coming Out: September 4th)


Hooray! Houndsley and Catina are back again at last!  It’s been far too long. I adore the style and sensibility of these books. And was there ever a more perfect pairing, tone-wise, than Howe and Gay? In this latest episode we meet Houndsley’s incredibly outgoing cousin. Few things could be better.

Stories of the Night by Kitty Crowther

(Coming Out: September 1st)


Perhaps Ms. Crowther’s name rings some faint bells for you. Here’s the deal: This Belgian creator won the top prize in children’s literature worldwide, the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award. And, like far too many winners of that award from countries where English is not the native language, she is almost entirely unheard of in the States. Change that by picking up this ineffably sweet collection of three short bedtime stories. I’ve never associated the color pink with a sleepy evening before. Now I’ll have a hard time associating it with anything else.


Middle Grade Fiction

The Assassination of Brangwain Spurge by M.T. Anderson, ill. Eugene Yelchin

(Coming Out: September 25th)


What can I say of this that I didn’t already declare in my review?  All I can say is that it’s a book for our time. An unreliable visual narrator. A Cold War, Middle Earth, buddy comedy. Art that looks like the lovechild of Hieronymus Bosch and Terry Gilliam. You know. One of those.

Dear Sister by Alison McGhee, ill. Joe Bluhm

(Coming Out: October 2nd)


I think I devoured this tiny treasure in a scant ten minutes. Normally that would mean that it belongs in the early chapter book section, but I think that due to the fact that the title character grows up and goes to college in the course of the epistolary narrative, this book is really intended for the older set. With great care and attention, McGhee uses a minimal amount of words to be funny and moving by turns. Bound to appeal to any kid with sibling issues.

Dodger Boy by Sarah Ellis

(Coming Out: September 4th)


I’m still not pleased that they went with this book jacket, and the copious impolite words might throw some readers off, but if you’re looking for a Canadian bildungsroman to beat all Canadian bildungsromans, have I got a book for you. Plus, it may be one of the very rare depictions of Quakers and Quakerism that felt true and contemporary (though it’s set in the 70s) to me. A shockingly good book.

Small Spaces by Katherine Arden

(Coming Out: September 25th)


Because sometimes you just want to scare the living daylights out of your child readers.

Sweep: The Story of a Girl and Her Monster by Jonathan Auxier

(Coming Out: September 25th)


Aww. We always associate chimney sweeps with Mary Poppins or maybe, if we’ve a bit of history under our belt, The Water Babies. Auxier researched the profession extensively and relays it here with that mix of harsh reality and outright fantasy that we’ve come to love and expect from him. The subtitle on this book is absolutely perfect too.

Tight by Torrey Maldanado

(Coming Out: September 4th)


It’s easy to write a book about a stereotypical bully. They steal your lunch money. They shove you in lockers. Big deal. It is much much harder to write a book about someone who can be honestly and truly your best friend one minute, and veer into mild sadism the next. How do you stop a friend who keeps inching you into doing what’s wrong? When you’ve gone too far, how do you get back? So many good questions in this book. You’ll be riveted.

Graphic Novels

Sanity & Tallulah by Molly Brooks

(Coming Out: October 23rd)


Oddly, most of the graphic novels and comics I’ve enjoyed in 2018 have already come out. This is one of the exceptions. You want strong female characters exhibiting massive STEM qualities in space? The sheer amount of science in this book will, I won’t lie to you, turn off your less dedicated readers. But once they figure out that a three-headed kitten is loose in a space station and needs to be tracked down, you won’t be able to pull this book out of their hands. Hand it to the kid who wails when you tell them that there is no sequel to The Secret Science Alliance.



Animal Antipodes: Global Opposites by Carly Allen-Fletcher

(Coming Out: September 3rd)


I give extra points to Nonfiction picture books that employ a certain level of cleverness. We all know that we live on a big round ball, floating in space. So why do we never think all that hard about what is directly on the opposite side of the Earth from ourselves? Allen-Fletcher takes that idea one step further. What is on the opposite side of the Earth in terms of wildlife? Now, at long last, we’ve a book that can talk about how polar bears are as far as possible from penguins. You get a lot of neat pairings this way AND you get to learn about the tilt of the earth AND opposite times of day, opposite seasons, etc.

The Eye That Never Sleeps: How Detective Pinkerton Saved President Lincoln by Marissa Moss, ill. Jeremy Holmes

(Coming Out: November 6th)


It’s not that it’s the first children’s book out there to talk about the thwarted assassination attempt on President Lincoln. It just may be the best. Some of us may be aware that Detective Pinkerton started the first detective agency in America, but what else do you know about the man? Did you know he was an immigrant? That his sons were downright evil? That the Lincoln affair was only one of his major accomplishments and adventures? Jeremy Holmes brings us a unique artistic style to this rather long, but worth it, nonfiction title. You’ll buzz through it, entranced. There’s really nothing else like it out there today.

The Faithful Spy: Dietrich Bonhoeffer and the Plot to Kill Hitler by John Hendrix

(Coming Out: September 18th)


Confession: When I reviewed this book I actually did so off of the galley. Had I bided my time and waited to see the final, I would have realized how breathtakingly beautiful it really is. Though it only uses two colors, Hendrix has penned a masterful and deeply beuatiful depiction of a single life. It’s religious, spiritual, moral, philosophical, historical, and exciting. Pair it with the television show The Good Place.

The Girl With a Mind for Math: The Story of Raye Montague by Julia Finley Mosca, ill. Daniel Rieley

(Coming Out: September 4th)


This is the third, I believe, in a nonfiction biographical picture book series of STEM women from publisher Innovation Press. Part of the reason I love this one is that Raye is that rare woman celebrated in a children’s book as a mathematician who did not work in computer science. It also contains a moment of such searing unfairness that it won’t leave a single child reader unmoved.

Plus it rhymes.

An Inconvenient Alphabet: Ben Franklin & Noah Webster’s Spelling Revolution by Beth Anderson, ill. Elizabeth Baddeley

(Coming Out: September 25th)


As mentioned in a previous post, I like this book quite a lot because it shows how our historical figures could make poor decisions and/or fail. Ben Franklin really wanted to redo the whole American English language. It didn’t really happen, but boy is it fun watching him try!

Lovely Beasts: The Surprising Truth by Kate Gardner, ill. Heidi Smith

(Coming Out: September 18th)


Lovely beasts make for a lovely surprise. The purpose of this particular book is to upend expectations. Each creature is paired with a stereotype associated with its species. That stereotype is then turned on its head with some facts. Gorillas are tough as nails . . . and surprisingly tender fathers. Wolves are dangerous loners . . . that travel in tight knit groups. Add in the simply lovely art of Heidi Smith and you’ve a fun book idea, presentation, and follow through.

Not My Idea: A Book About Whiteness by Anastasia Higginbotham

(Coming Out: September 4th)


Not much I can say about this that I didn’t already mention in my review. Maybe this: The one book your library needs to buy this fall. There you go.

Paul Writes (A Letter) by Chris Raschka

(Coming Out: September 11th)


I’m putting this in the Nonfiction section since I don’t really have a spirituality or religious category. That said, this is just the coolest little book. Paul’s letters are pared down to their most essential elements. Along the way, you get the distinct feeling that they really are letters to friends. They mention mutual acquaintances. They give good advice. So while every library in America needs Not My Idea, every Sunday School needs Paul Writes (a Letter).

Picturing America: Thomas Cole and the Birth of American Art by Hudson Talbott

(Coming Out: September 4th)


I love a pleasant surprise. What should have been a fine but dull encapsulation of the life of Thomas Cole is instead turned into a fascinating glimpse of ecological awareness and how our appreciation of the world around us makes America distinctive. It is remarkably difficult to make a person’s life have some kind of greater meaning. Talbott’s writing in this book is notable alone, never mind the gorgeous pictures he created along the way.

Thirty Minutes Over Oregon: A Japanese Pilot’s World War II Story by Marc Tyler Nobleman, ill. Melissa Iwai

(Coming Out: October 9th)


As for this book, it’s such a cool story and practically no one knows about it! During WWII there was one instance where a Japanese bomber actually made it to America and dropped its deadly payload. No one was killed, but the pilot suffered guilt and post-traumatic stress. Years later, he was invited back to the area, where he was welcomed, befriended, and from that day forward he and the town near the bombing incident were quite close. It’s this remarkable story about forgiving yourself, forgiving others, and reaching a hand out to someone you’re supposed to think of as an enemy. We sort of need this book right now.

Through the Window: Views of Marc Chagall’s Life and Art by Barb Rosenstock, ill. Mary Grandpré

(Coming Out: September 25th)


Rosenstock and Grandpré have done a number of books together, going so far as to win the occasional Caldecott Medal. Doesn’t really matter, though, because this book is my favorite in the series thus far. Now you might feel that writing a Chagall picture book bio is like shooting fish in a barrel. His art just naturally lends himself to the children’s book sphere. But there’s something particularly beautiful and touching about this book. I could read it over and over again.

And what about yourself? What are you looking for this fall? Remember, if you didn’t see your favorite here, that may be because it was already listed in the PW round-up.

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. My heart is on my sleeve with Kekla Magoon’s forthcoming The Season of Styx Malone. You can read my gushing review here:

  2. I love everything of Marla Frazee except the The Farmer and the Clown which I find, to be put it technically, creepy.

  3. Brandon Ward says:

    This is a great list – thanks for gathering it!

    It’s interesting to see how many of these authors and illustrators have earned incredible achievements (Caldecott, Horn, Lindgren, etc.). And these are people whose new books DIDN’T make PW’s list. I guess it just goes to show how many extremely talented people are making books this year!

  4. A little birdie told me Kitty Crowther illustrated that one with make-up.

  5. Wow! These look absolutely amazing. I’m keeping a link to this so I can track them down once they’re available to the masses. THANK YOU.

  6. Ooh, thanks! So many ones I’d like to order now 🙂

  7. This is a wonderful list; the PW list is also promising. It’s always easy to complain about an omission, but I am surprised not to see on either list the new Emily Jenkins and Paul O. Zelinsky All-of-a-Kind Family Hanukkah. Perhaps it will appear on a separate PW list for the holidays, and I’m sure that you will also take note of it later in the fall, but it is undoubtedly in the category of “most anticipated” and it will be released in September. Not only are both author and illustrator respected and the recipients of many honors, including a Caldecott for Zelinsky, but it is a newly conceived interpretation of one of the most revered classics in Jewish American, and I hope American, children’s literature.

    • Elizabeth Bird says:

      They must be holding tight to it at the publisher’s. I don’t recall being sent it. Will keep an eye peeled!

  8. Fantastic list! Thank you for compiling these!