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A Fuse #8 Production
Inside A Fuse #8 Production

Better Together: Funny Pairings in 2018 Books for Kids

Look, I’m no teacher. I’m a librarian with a lint roller brain. What I mean to say is that I have a tendency to make connections between the books I read. And since I read primarily children’s literature, these connections have practical applications. So today we’re going to try something a little different. I’m going to list for you two books that were published in 2018. They’ll have something in common, but sometimes that something won’t be immediately apparent. Also, some of these will be odd pairings. I might put a picture book with an older chapter book. What can a teacher, librarian, or parent do with this information? Not quite sure, but it’s fun! Give ’em a gander:

  • I’m Done by Gretchen Brandenburg Mclellan, ill. Catherine Lazar Odell
  • Beavers: The Superpower Field Guide by Rachel Poliquin, ill. Nicholas John Frith


That one’s pretty easy to figure out. Let’s crank it up a notch.


  • Hammering for Freedom by Rita Lorraine Hubbard, ill. John Holyfield
  • No Small Potatoes: Junius G. Groves and His Kingdom in Kansas by Tonya Golden, ill. Don Tate


If you read them both you’d know that these two books both contain a BIG entrepreneurial spirit. In one case, a man becomes a millionaire through potatoes. In another, he manages to single-handedly buy back an enormous family with his labor.


  • The Diamond and the Boy: The Creation of Diamonds & the Life of H. Tracy Hall by Hannah Holt, ill. Jay Fleck
  • When Sparks Fly: The True Story of Robbert Goddard, the Father of US Rocketry by Kristen Fulton, ill. Diego Funck


Trickier. These two actually struck me as very similar. In them, boys that tinker in their youth invent things in their adulthood based on stuff from their childhood.


  • Earth! My First 4.54 Billion Years by Stacy McAnulty, ill. David Lutchfield
  • A Place for Pluto by Stef Wade, ill. Melanie Demmer


Aww. They even look similar!


  • Eavesdropping On Elephants: How Listening Helps Conservation by Patricia Newman
  • The Elephant by Jenni Desmond


Because every good booklist should contain some elephants somewhere.


  • Flying Deep: Climb Inside Deep-Sea Submersible Alvin by Michelle Cusolito, ill. Nicole Wong
  • Otis and Will Discover the Deep: The Record-Setting Dive of the Bathysphere by Barb Rosenstock, ill. Katherine Roy


What was hot in 2018? Submersibles! What do I never ever want to go into at any point in my adulthood? Submersibles!


  • Libba: The Magnificent Musical Life of Elizabeth Cotten by Laura Veirs, ill. Tatyana Fazlalizadeh
  • The Golden Thread: A Song for Pete Seeger by Colin Meloy, ill. Nikki McClure


As we are required to produce at least one Seeger picture book bio per year, Meloy’s is the latest. Pair it with Libba, a musical woman who worked for his family, for a more rounded, more interesting portrait.


  • A History of Pictures for Children by David Hockney & Martin Gayford, ill. Rose Blake
  • Lights! Camera! Alice! The Thrilling True Adventures of the First Woman Filmmaker by Mara Rockliff, ill. Simona Ciraolo


I loved that Hockney and Gayford included some cinematic history in their book. But to not include Alice Guy-Blaché? Insane! Make up for this egregious error by pairing these together.


  • Nothing Stopped Sophie: The Story of Unshakeable Mathematician Sophie Germain by Cheryl Bardoe, ill. Barbara McClintock
  • The Girl With a Mind for Math: The Story of Raye Montague by Julia Finley Mosca, ill. Daniel Rieley


Sure, they’re both about women who were good at math, but you know what else? Neither of these two books is about women who worked with computers in any way. Now THAT is rare!


  • Rivers: A Visual History from River to Sea by Peter Goes
  • Water Land: Land and Water Forms Around the World by Christy Hale


I’m so relieved that I managed to read Hale’s book before the end of the year. It is definitely one of my favorites. For sheer beauty, it pairs marvelously with Rivers.


  • The Sinking of Vasa: A Shipwreck of Titanic Proportions by Russell Freedman, ill. William Low
  • Capsized! The Forgotten Story of the S.S. Eastland Disaster by Patricia Sutton


Hubris on a scale that’s hard to imagine! Two ships sink. Two different centuries. Big, bold, idiocy.


  • Undocumented: A Worker’s Fight by Duncan Tonatiuh
  • My Family Divided: One Girl’s Journey of Home, Loss and Hope by Diane Guerrero with Erica Moroz


I had hoped to pair Tonatiuh’s book with another book of organized labor, but couldn’t find anything published in 2018 that really goes into the topic (now THAT is worrisome). Two books with healthy criticisms of the president’s attitude towards the undocumented.


  • Science Comics: Trees – Kings of the Forest by Andy Hirsch
  • The Sequoia Lives On by Joanna Cooke, ill. Fiona Hsieh
  • The Things That I Love About Trees by Chris Butterworth, ill. Charlotte Voake
  • Oliver the Second-Largest Living Thing on Earth by Josh Crute, ill. John Taesoo Kim


Of course submersibles ain’t got nuthin’ on trees this year. A very fun foursome.

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.


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