2021 Lists

The Golden Duck Notable Picture Books List

The Barnabus Project by Terry Fan, Eric Fan and Devin Fan. Tundra Books

Detailed illustrations reveal a basement lab that genetically engineers new Pets. After a group of pet ‘failures’ learn that they are to be recycled, they work together to escape.

Field Trip to the Ocean Deep by John Hare. Margaret Ferguson Books               

Deep hues convey the mood of the underwater world and set the tone as a young explorer finds themself separated from their class. Follow along and create the conversation as this intrepid submariner discovers ancient structures, and, perhaps, even older inhabitants.

A Jedi You Will Be written by Preeti Chhibber, illustrated by Mike Deas. Disney Lucasfilm Press

A lyrical story with gentle artwork follows Luke Skywalker as he progresses through his iconic Jedi training. What is that lurking in the shadows? Will Luke maintain his focus amongst the wonders of the planet? What exactly is Yoda up to, as he narrates the story?

Llama Unleashes the Alpacalypse written by Jonathan Stutzman, illustrated by Heather Fox. Henry Holt & Co

In a sequel to Llama Destroys the Universe, Llama returns to wreak havoc on the world once again. This time Llama attempts to get out of cleaning up after himself by building a machine that will clone his friend Alpaca. Soon the Alpaca clones are out of control and the titular “alpacalypse” is on the horizon. Can Llama find a way to save the day?

Mara the Space Traveler by An Leysen. Clavis

In an enchanting adventure with fantastical manga-like drawings, Mara travels by spaceship to a magical planet that needs her to save it.

Mars’ First Friends: Come on Over, Rovers! written by Susanna Leonard Hill, illustrated by Elisa Paganelli. Sourcebooks Wonderland

In the extended family of our solar system, the planet Mars is a little lonely, until he gets two playful, pet-like rovers. Factual information about human investigation of the red planet supports this joyful tale of companionship and exploration.

Robobaby by David Wiesner. Clarion Books

Robot baby Flange, newest member of his robot family, is delivered in pieces to be assembled. As his technologically challenged robot parents and other adults struggle to figure out how to put him together correctly, tech savvy older sister Cathode steps in to save the day.

The Stray by Molly Ruttan. Nancy Paulsen Books

This cleverly illustrated picture book tells the story of a family that adopts a stray creature. The words tell one story, while the illustrations tell another.


The Eleanor Cameron Notable Middle Grade Books

Alien Nate by Dave Whamond. Kids Can Press.

This easy graphic novel tells the story of Nate whose mission is to travel from the planet Vega to Earth and eat all the pizza he can. Nate and his new friend Fazel work to help Nate, after getting his fill of pizza,  escape the men in grey and safely travel home.

Bloom by Kenneth Oppel. Knopf Books for Young Readers

Almost overnight, nearly-indestructible carnivorous plants grow everywhere on Earth.  Three kids on a remote island have especially strange allergies, but seem to be immune to the plants. Are they the solution to this other worldly menace?

Cleo Porter and the Body Electric by Jake Burt. Feiwel & Friends

As a result of a virus that has killed much of the population in the late 21st century, twelve-year-old Cleo has never been outside her self-enclosed apartment. When a drone delivers medicine through her apartment’s tube that’s meant for someone else, Cleo resolves to escape her cube to deliver it to its rightful owner.

Dragon Ops by Mari Mancusi. Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Ian is excited to visit the not-even-open-yet augmented reality amusement park based on his favorite video game. But things start to go wrong, and Ian, his sister, and their cousin get trapped by a rogue AI dragon. Will they be able to beat the dragon Atraeus at his own game and escape?

Finn and the Intergalactic Lunchbox by Michael Buckley. Delacorte Books for Young Readers

What luck brought this lunchbox to Finn Foley, and how will he and his friends respond when faced with the threats following behind it? This is a humorous story with a despicable alien insect hoard as the foe. Finn and the crew hop around the universe facing physical, social, and mental challenges in order to save the Earth.

GenPet by Damian Campanario, Mike Kennedy & Alex Fuentes. Magnetic Press

In the near future, pets are genetically designed for a specific child. Niko, Nate’s pet, makes a great bodyguard –  so good that crime lords want to employ him as more than their pet.

Glitch by Laura Martin. HarperCollins

Regan and Elliot are enrolled in an elite school that trains cadets who will join the ranks of the Glitchers. Formed to ensure world history stays as it happened, these temporal police officers need more than a regular set of wits to unravel the multitude of possibilities challenging their detective skills.

In the Red by Christopher Swiedler. HarperCollins 

12 year old Michael lives on Mars and sets himself a challenge: to adventure beyond the Martian biodome with a friend and conquer his panic attacks. But a solar storm threatens to destroy them both, despite Michael’s genius and Lilith’s courage and friendship.

Jinxed by Amy McCulloch. Sourcebooks Young Readers

In the future, instead of cellphones everyone has a digital pet Baku. Lacey dreams of being able to work at MONCHA Corp, the creators of Baku. After she finds Jinx, an advanced Baku, Lacey thinks her dream may come true. But Jinx is a mystery that may unravel the whole corporation.

Last Pick (series) by Jason Walz. First Second

Aliens invade and take over Earth, abducting almost everyone but the ‘old’ and ‘disabled.’ In a dramatic trilogy, two twins struggle to survive and then unite the diverse group left on Earth. Can the unwanted fight back and win?

Mega-Dogs of New Kansas by Dan Jolley & Jacques Khouri. Graphic Universe 

In this graphic novel, Sienna lives on the planet New Kansas with her scientist parents. Her constant companion is a Mega-Dog, Gus, part of her mom’s science work. After a prank gone wrong threatens the planet, Siena and Gus are determined to find a way to make things right.

Sal and Gabi Fix the Universe by Carlos Hernandez. Rick Riordan Presents

The hole in the universe has become an aware artificial intelligence in this sequel, and Sal and Gabi’s struggles to manage multiple possible universes is exciting and hilarious.


The Hal Clement Notable Young Adult Books List

Catfishing on Catnet by Naomi Kritzer. Tor Teen

Cheshire Cat runs Catnet, an internet community that gives Steph – who has been moving all her life– her only friends. This LGBTQ+ friendly group helps her after she hacks a school computer and the story becomes a thriller with lots of humor.

The Cloven Book One by Garth Stein & Matthew Southworth. Fantagraphics

Tuck is ostracized as a genetically modified human developed in a lab, known as the Cloven. As they escape into the world, they bring our values and prejudices into question and Tuck thrives when given the love he has always sought and been denied.

Crown Chasers by Rebecca Coffindaffer. Harper Teen

Blue-skinned Alyssa competes against her childhood playmates, sons and daughters of major planetary families, in an exciting crowd chase across the galaxy to find a hidden royal seal to determine the next ruler.

Devastation Class by Glen Zipper & Elaine Mongeon. Blink

Viv and JD are two teenagers chosen for an elite space program after aliens have invaded Earth. Their training spaceship is attacked by supposed allies, and they now need to face a challenge they thought they’d have years of training to prepare for.

Girl of Flesh and Metal by Alicia Ellis. Figmented Ink 

In the aftermath of a car accident, a Black teenager’s brain is implanted with a data chip and her left arm replaced without her consent with an AI programmed cybernetic arm. When she finds herself sleepwalking and waking up near the houses of murdered children, she wonders if she is the murderer.

Hard Wired by Len Vlahos. Bloomsbury YA

The story of Quinn, who has access to all the knowledge of the world through quantum intelligence, is amazing, though it is not the one he’s been told. In this book, he builds friendships, begins a romance, and develops a consciousness while hunting down those seeking his destruction.

The Loop by Ben Oliver. Chicken House

Luka has taken the fall for someone else’s crime, and now he spends day after monotonous day in The Loop. This infamous prison complex offers inmates a temporary stay of execution in exchange for their consent as test subjects. But something is changing on the outside, and there could be an opportunity for escape from the agonizing repetition of life in The Loop.

Malice by Pintip Dunn. Entangled

Alice thinks she is going crazy when a voice in her head tells her she has two days to stop someone from creating a virus that will wipe out two-thirds of the population in the future. It’s a race against time as she tries to figure who it is and how to stop them.

School for Extraterrestrial Girls #1: Girl on Fire by Jeremy Whitley & Jamie Noguchi. Papercutz

15 year old Tara Smith’s life is one of solitude and routines. All that changes when a small mistake reveals that nothing around her is as it seems. Her parents are strangers and she is actually a fire wielding alien! Tara is captured by the government and sent to a school for extraterrestrial girls where she must balance discovering her true identity with all the usual high school drama.

Sia Martinez and the Moonlit Beginning of Everything by Raquel Vasquez Gilliland. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

Sia is grieving for her mother who was deported and died trying to make her way back to America from Mexico. A budding new romance starts to heal the pain of her mother’s loss and the abuse from the town bigots. But in a genre-blending turn of events, Sia finds there’s much more to her mother’s disappearance, the universe is vaster than even she could imagine, and an alien invasion may be on the horizon.

The Sound of Stars by Alechia Dow. Inkyard Press

After the alien Ilori invasion, books and music are outlawed.  Ellie Baker runs the risk of execution for keeping a secret library.  When the Ilori MORr15 finds Ellie’s secret stash, he is supposed to turn her in but they are drawn together by their mutual love of music. Will it be enough to save them both?

Swamp Thing: Twin Branches by Maggie Stiefvater & Morgan Beem. DC Comics

Twin brothers Alec and Walker Holland are spending their summer with their cousins in their swampy, rural town. While Walker throws himself into the social scene, Alec grows increasingly obsessed with the botany experiment he has covertly brought with him until it threatens to consume him.