2019 Golden Duck List (Picture Books)
Bitty Bot’s Big Beach Getaway by Tim McCanna. Illustrated by Tad Carpenter. Paula Wiseman/Simon & Schuster.
Bitty Bot is not excited about his family vacation to Botco Bay. Luckily, new friends make everything better. Bitty Bot and his new pals build a submarine using supplies they find at the beach for a rhyming undersea adventure.
Breaking News: Alien Alert by David Biedrzycki. Charlesbridge.
Reporter Chad Newsworthy of Channel 3 TV brings us Breaking News. Last night wildlife, farm and zoo animals were carried off in a spaceship. He interviews perplexed eyewitnesses and experts. Why did aliens snatch up these animals… and not humans? After a day of frenzied reporting, the spaceship brings the animals back to Earth. It appears they had a stellar day.
Doll-E 1.0 by Shanda McCloskey. Little Brown Books for Young Readers.
Charlotte is an inventor, tinker, and fixer of any technological gadgets. One day she receives a doll and wonders what to with it as it is not very technological. Her discovery of the doll’s electrical components and her engineer’s spirit lead her through a robotic adventure and the creation of Doll-E 1.0.
If You Had a Jetpack by Lisl H. Detlefsen. Illustrated by Linzie Hunter. Knopf.
When an inventive young rabbit engineers two personal jetpacks, one for himself and one for his brother, the siblings embark on a series of adventures, each one wilder than the last. First they zoom to the front of the lunch line at school and end with an expedition to outer space.
Little Robot Alone by Patricia MacLachlan and Emily MacLachlan Charest. Illustrated by Matt Phelan. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
A little robot with a toaster for a head lives alone in a small house in the country. Although the countryside is lovely, the robot is lonely. When an idea brightens his lightbulb atop his toaster, he begins building a special friend and soon has a robot dog as his constant companion.
A Place for Pluto by Stef Wade. Illustrated by Melanie Demmer. Capstone Editions.
Poor Pluto was a happy planet until he got kicked out of the planet club. Lonely, he travels around and meets asteroids and comets but doesn’t find anyone to fit in with until he meets a group of dwarf planets and finally figures out his place in the solar system.
2019 Eleanor Cameron List (Middle Grade Books)
CatStronauts: Robot Rescue by Drew Brockington. Little Brown. (Graphic novel).
The crew from Center for Aeronautical Technology and Space Underlying Programs (CATSUP) is back. When drilling on Europa goes awry, Flight Director Maisy turns down a rescue request for the CatStroBot robot. Undeterred, Blanket, Major Meowser, Pom Pom and Waffles hitch rides on the Modern Explorer of Other Worlds (MEOW) to come to its aid, all without losing their preoccupations over fish, milk, and litter.
Jamie Drake Equation by Christopher Edge. Delacorte.
Everyone is talking about Jamie’s astronaut father and what a hero he is. He’s orbiting Earth on the ISS, preparing to launch nano-spacecrafts to search for alien life. However, Jamie feels left out and is missing his dad. While exploring an abandoned observatory near his home, he finds that an eccentric astronomer is using it to scan space for alien signals. Jamie plugs his dying phone into a lab laptop to charge, not realizing that something accidentally downloads. When he discovers what is on his phone, he uses the information to become a hero himself.
Margot and Mateo Save the World by Darcy Miller. HarperCollins.
A hilarious—and slimy—alien adventure (set on Earth). When Margot Blumenthal removes a bright blue slug alien attached to Mateo Flores’s back, the school play co-stars know it’s definitely not going to be a regular day at West Cove Middle School. They ditch class to protect humankind, because one unexcused absence doesn’t matter when the world is at stake!
Mega Robo Bros by Neill Cameron. Scholastic. (Graphic novel).
Alex and Freddy are pretty typical brothers living in futuristic London. They’re also the most powerful robots in the world. Their plans to be normal and have fun are constantly thwarted by a sinister figure determined to destroy them.
A Problematic Paradox by Eliot Sappingfield. G. P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers.
Having her father kidnapped by aliens, being thrust into a school for geniuses, and finding it difficult to make friends are just some of the challenges that Nikola Kross faces as she uses intriguing gadgets to overcome obstacles. As Nikola attempts to unravel the aliens’ plot and locate her father, she must also achieve the impossible: Use her wits and her friends’ help to defeat an indestructible monster.
Quantum Mechanics by Jeff Weigel. Lion Forge. (Graphic novel).
Rox and Zam, alien girls on a desolate asteroid, are ace mechanics who get a chance to show off their skills when they take a repair job on the skull-shaped Quasar Torrent. Once on board, they are kidnapped and discover the crew is made up of space pirates.
Sanity & Tallulah by Molly Brooks. Disney/Hyperion. (Graphic novel).
On the remote Wilnick space station, two tween besties use mad science and rationed protein cubes to create a baby three-headed cat. When duct weasels cause mechanical troubles on the craft, it is Princess Sparkle Destroyer of Worlds’s dramatic growth curve that saves the day and the space colony.
Star Scouts: The League of Lasers (Volume 2) by Mike Lawrence. First Second Publishing. (Graphic novel).
This graphic novel continues the adventures of Avni, a girl from Earth and member of the Star Scouts. When she receives an invitation to join The League of Lasers, an elite secret society within the Star Scouts, she jumps at the chance. But to become a member she will have to survive an initiation mission to an uncharted planet, where she will contend with extreme conditions, hostile lifeforms, and, worst of all, her biggest rival.
The Story Pirates Present: Stuck in the Stone Age by Geoff Rodkey. Rodale Kids.
An accident with a time machine plunges a janitor with scientific aspirations and a shy, socially awkward scientist back to prehistoric times. Now the two time travelers must struggle against cave men, Stone Age beasts, and a hostile environment, while hoping they can use their unique skills to find a way to return home.
Too Much Space! (Beep and Bob) by Jonathan Roth. Simon and Schuster.
Meet space-school attendee Bob and his alien bestie Beep in this first book in the series for the lower middle grades. Bob chronicles their adventures as “splogs” addressed to the Kids of the Past with Beep providing the illustrations.
Voyage of the Dogs by Greg Van Eekhout. HarperCollins.
When the Barkonauts wake up from stasis, they find a hole in their ship and the human crew missing. Without thumbs, canines Lopside, Daisy, Champion, and Bug must figure out how to fix the ship, find the crew, and complete their mission.
Waste of Space by Stuart Gibbs. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers.
Dash, a teenage sleuth on Moon Base Alpha, must find out who tried to poison a multi-billionaire. There’s just one problem. With a notoriously unpopular victim and so many people on the space station serving as potential suspects, can Dash unravel the impossible mystery before it’s too late?
The Wild Robot Escapes by Peter Brown. Little Brown.
The robot Roz had adapted to an idyllic life on an isolated island, befriending the animals there and adopting her goose-son Brightbill. Now Roz has been forced to return to the factory for repair and reprogramming. She is sold to a farmer to help run his dairy farm. Although obeying orders and doing a good job on the farm, she longs to return to the island and be reunited with Brightbill. The farm children, along with the cows, aid in her escape, and she encounters ever-escalating dangers as she attempts to find her way home.
2019 Hal Clement List (Young Adult Books)
A Conspiracy of Stars by Olivia A. Cole. Katherine Tegen Books.
Humans marooned on an alien planet are permitted to build a colony and study their surroundings as long as they never interfere with the balance of nature or harm anything. Scientists (whitecoats) are the most important members of society, and sixteen-year-old Octavia, the daughter of two brilliant whitecoats, longs for the day when she can be a whitecoat as well. Yet when she develops the ability to hear, see, and feel things her friends cannot, she discovers that nothing is as it seems.
Cross Fire by Fonda Lee. Scholastic.
This second book in a series shows an occupied Earth with conflict between normal humans, altered humans, and two alien factions. One alien faction wants to abandon Earth to the other faction, and the humans are caught in the middle.
Unearthed by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner. Disney/Hyperion.
In a future where humanity’s only hope of survival lies in unraveling the riddle of an extinct alien race known as the Undying, two teens form an unlikely alliance to solve the mystery. Amelia is a scavver seeking to salvage enough tech from the Undying temples of Gaia to get back to Earth and save her sister. Jules wants to piece together the puzzle of the aliens, for humanity, for history, and for his father. Together, they brave assorted dangers that plunge them into a complicated race to the finish. First book in a duology.
The Future Will Be B.S.-Free by Will McIntosh. Delacorte Press.
Imagine a future when a disastrous war with Russia and China has left the U.S. in tatters and a demagogic president in charge. A group of students from the now-closed gifted and talented school decide that they can help rid the country of this president by creating an app that detects lies – but have they really thought through the consequences of not being able to tell any lies, white or otherwise?
Honor Among Thieves by Rachel Caine and Ann Aguirre. Katherine Tegen Books.
Zara Cole of dystopian New Detroit is destined for a life which has all the hallmarks of becoming cruel, brutal, and short. When she steals from the wrong person, though, it leads her to unexpected opportunity. Chosen to join the Honors, humans who help a race of sentient alien ships to explore the far limits of space, she finds herself embarking on the ultimate adventure. Soon she discovers that the Leviathans’ relationship with humans and each other may not be what it seems.
Ignite the Stars by Maura Milan. Albert Whitman and Company.
Ía Cocha is the most notorious pirate in the Olympus Commonwealth, but few realize that this daring space outlaw is a teenage girl. When circumstances force her into the Commonwealth’s military academy, she finds herself forced to defend the very government she has sworn revenge against. As danger mounts, she must choose between her outlaw past and protecting the friends she has made at the academy.
Impostors by Scott Westerfeld. Scholastic.
Frey has been raised in secret to be her identical twin’s body double. Trained from the age of seven to fight and kill to protect Rafi, she is sent in her place to a neighboring city to serve as a hostage in a deal between her father and the Parafox family whose heir, Col, befriends her. Trying to fit into a life for which she has no training, Frey experiences romance, intrigue, explosive events, and betrayal.
Pitch Dark by Courtney Alameda. Feiwel and Friends.
Tuck Morgan and his fellow colonists have been in stasis, lost in space, for centuries. Laura Cruz is a raider looking for any remainder of old Earth that might be enough to save the failing human race. When her ship finds Tuck’s, a long forgotten enemy resurfaces and the two of them race to save their ships, their lives, and all of humanity.
Skyward by Brandon Sanderson. Delacorte.
The remnants of humanity struggle to survive underground on the planet Detritus, where their only hope lies in the ability of their star-pilots to fight off the alien enemies, the Krell. Sixteen-year-old Spensa Nightshade is determined to enter pilot training despite her deceased father’s reputation as a traitor and coward. As she learns the skills she will need, Spensa begins to make friends, encounters danger and death, and discovers an AI starship in desperate need of repair.
The Spaceship Next Door by Gene Doucette. John Joseph Adams Books.
Three years ago a spaceship landed in Sorrow Falls and nothing happened. Local teen Annie Collins has become the de facto liaison between townsfolk, the odd UFO hunters who have camped out, and the military who have established a base in town. When the spaceship wakes up and things start getting weird, Annie realizes that she might in fact be the most important person on Earth.
A Spark of White Fire by Sangu Mandanna. Sky Pony.
When Eseme, an exiled princess, hears that the King of Wychstar is holding a contest to award ownership of a powerful starship, she sees it as a chance to reclaim her heritage and help her brother win back the Throne of Kali, stolen by a traitorous uncle. Yet her entrance into the contest puts in motion a series of events that will ignite an interstellar war and push her into a desperate fight for survival. This book is based on the Sanskrit epic, The Mahabharata.
Stronger, Faster, and More Beautiful by Arwen Elys Dayton. Delacorte.
The physical body offers considerable potential for improvement. From combining two compromised twins to create one perfect being, to prejudice and a spate of hate crimes against the re-engineered, to a reservation where genetically pure humans are kept guard by winged, engineered sentries, Dayton’s sequence of stories explores bioengineering and delves into what it means to be human.
This Splintered Silence by Kayla Olson. HarperTeen.
This sci-fi thriller and survival story is set on a space station which has just been devastated by a lethal virus. When the commander’s daughter, Lindley Hamilton, takes charge, she is forced to learn under pressure and figure out who she can trust even as the survivors face the terrifying truth of a murderer in their midst.
Your One & Only by Adrianne Finlay. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
Centuries after the Slow Plague killed off humanity as we know it, ten generations of nine models of clones, genetically altered to survive the plague, live in a tropical Central American village. Althea-310, who has a tiny scar differentiating her from the other nine Althea’s in the 300 series, becomes fascinated with Jack, a human boy living on the periphery of Visperia. As their bond deepens, though, so does the danger.