2020 Golden Duck List (Picture Books)
Field Trip to the Moon by John Hare. Margaret Ferguson Books.
In this wordless picture book a small child is left behind on the moon by mistake after a class field trip. The child passes the time drawing on moon rocks with crayons and meeting friendly aliens before the teacher returns.
Hello by Aiko Ikegami. Creston Books.
No words are needed to show the friendship that evolves between a red-caped antennaed space explorer and a little Earth girl after the explorer’s rocket ship lands on Earth. They eat ice cream, color, and make paper airplaces together until the explorer blasts off again, sending back a sweet message from space.
How to be on the Moon by Viviane Schwarz. Candlewick.
What do you need to get to the moon? Anna and Crocodile build a rocket and take a space flight, using the power of math, patience, and a lot of sandwiches.
Out There by Tom Sullivan. Balzer + Bray.
As the nature of the universe is explained to from the smallest plant to the far reaches of the galaxy, the narrators are eventually revealed to be green-skinned aliens. But who is really the alien in this story?
The Babysitter From Another Planet by Stephen Savage. Neal Porter Books.
When an alien comes to babysit, two siblings enjoy a meal conjured for them with eyebeams, get homework help from the suddenly-appearing 3-D forms, and play antigravity games before bed.
The Space Walk by Brian Biggs. Dial Books for Young Readers.
Astronaut Randolph Witherspoon is on a mission in space when he encounters an alien astronaut.
Ultrabot’s First Playdate by Josh Schneider. Clarion Books.
A huge robot worries before his first playdate, but when his neighbor Becky comes over the two have so much fun that Ultrabot ends up looking forward to their next adventure.
Good Boy by Sergio Ruzzier. Atheneum Books.
A boy and his super-smart dog share a day that culminates in building a space ship and journeying to the moon before returning to their quiet life of fun and friendship.
Llama Destroys the World by Jonathan Stutzman. Illustrated by Heather Fox. Henry Holt & Co.
After overindulging in cake on Monday, llama continues making some very bad decisions that, by Friday, result in a black hole causing the destruction of the entire world.
2020 Eleanor Cameron List (Middle Grade)
Awesome Dog 5000 by Justin Dean. Random House Books for Young Readers.
Marty is unhappy about moving to a new town until he discovers Awesome Dog 5000, a robotic dog left behind in his new house. Suddenly 5th grade starts getting exciting. Marty and his new friends Ralph and Skyler find themselves battling the mad scientist Dr. Crazybrains, and Awesome Dog 5000 might be just what they need to save the day.
Cog by Greg van Eekhout. HarperCollins.
Cog, a brown skinned boy, is this year’s creation by robotics expert Gina. She gives him curiosity, and when Cog goes outside on his own (as a curious boy might), they are separated. Cog befriends other robots to escape from a sinister corporation and its evil leader.
Field Trip (Sanity and Tallulah #2) by Molly Brooks. Disney-Hyperion.
When their geology class trip plans to visit the surface of a planet, Sanity and Tallulah are eager for terrestrial experiences like gravity. But when the twelve-year-old friends are left behind by mistake they need to survive by their wits as they are chased by space pirates and the planet is about to explode.
Friendroid by M. M. Vaughan. Margaret K. McElderry Books.
Danny makes friends with the new kid at school, but Eric is just a bit weird. What nobody knows is that Eric is actually an android. Danny, Eric, and their friends and family set out to discover what is really going on. But digging deeper will put all of them in danger, especially Eric.
Klawde: Evil Alien Warlord Cat by Johnny Marciano and Emily Chenoweth. Penguin Workshop.
The great feline emperor Wyss Kuzz, exiled from the Planet Lytterboks to Elba, Oregon, is renamed Klawde and taken up as a housecat by new kid Raj Banjeree, who is fighting his own battles in this illustrated novel.
Maximillian Fly by Angie Sage. Katherine Tegen Books.
Maximillian Fly, created from a medical experiment with cockroach genetics, lives in a dark gothic world where he is viewed as evil. He lives alone, a gentle soul inside his tough carapace, until two children hide in his home. When he ultimately offers them protection he is drawn into an adventure that will change his life forever.
The Owls Have Come to Take Us Away by Ronald L. Smith. Clarion Books.
Simon is an ordinary kid living with his parents on a series of military bases. But the more he learns about alien abductions, the surer he becomes that he himself was abducted in the past.
Greystone Secrets #1: The Strangers by Margaret Peterson Haddix. Katherine Tegen Books.
In this series opener that mixes mystery, adventure, and science fiction, three siblings must solve a coded message and pursue their mother through a strange alternate reality if they hope to save her and themselves.
We’re Not From Here by Geoff Rodkey. Crown Books for Young Readers.
Earth has been destroyed by nuclear war and only 2000 people survive. They’ve traveled as refugees to a new planet but during their journey the alien government has decided that they don’t want the refugees after all because humans are too violent. It’s up to one family and one kid, through the power of corny jokes and pop music, to convince the aliens to accept the humans.
The Unspeakable Unknown by Eliot Sappingfield. G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers .
In this sequel to The Problematic Paradox, Nikola is enjoying life at the Plaskington International Laboratory School of Scientific Research and Technological Advancement, even though she still worries about her father who has been kidnapped by the alien Old Ones. When her class field trips lead to interesting encounters, Nikola discovers the chance to befriend an Old One and save her father.
Seventh Grade vs the Galaxy by Joshua S. Levy. Carolrhoda Books.
Jack is a normal seventh grader attending Public School Spaceship 118 in orbit around Ganymede. He’s just trying to make it to the end of the school year when his school is mysteriously attacked and transported to a strange new part of the galaxy. It’s up to Jack and his friends to save the day.
2020 Hal Clement List (Young Adult)
Alien: Echo by Mira Grant. Imprint.
Twin sisters Olivia and Viola have followed their xenobiologist parents all over the universe, only having each other as their constant. While settling into a new colony world, a terrifying alien causes chaos and destruction. Except that isn’t the most horrifying thing that Olivia faces, as a family truth will cause Olivia to question everything she believes.
Aurora Rising by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff. Knopf Books for Young Readers.
Tyler Jones is the highest rated cadet at Aurora Academy when he decides to go for one more training run. He accidentally rescues a mysterious girl found adrift in space. In doing so, he misses The Draft, and gets the bottom of the barrel cadets for his squad mates. The ragtag team of misfits must work together if they’re going to save Aurora Academy from destruction.
Girls With Sharp Sticks by Suzanne Young. Simon Pulse
Philomena Rhodes is one of the perfect girls of Innovations Academy, beautiful, obedient, and ready to graduate in four months. But slowly Mena starts to realize that things at the Academy aren’t what they seem. Girls lose time. They forget things. Sinister things are taking place behind the school’s doors and it might be time for the girls to take action and fight back.
The Hive by Barry Lyga and Morgan Baden. Kids Can Press.
The Hive is the internet on steroids and Hive users are judge, jury, and executioners in this story of social media gone very wrong.
The Pioneer by Bridget Tyler. HarperTeen.
Jo and her family are colonizing scientists chosen to settle a new planet for humanity. However, she soon discovers that not only are they are destroying their new environment, but that they aren’t the only intelligent life there.
How We Became Wicked by Alexander Yates. Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books.
An insect-spread virus converts almost everyone who contracts it into very polite killer zombies. The world is split between the infected Wicked, the uninfected True, and the immune Vexed. In this dystopia two teenagers struggle to discover the secrets that have been hidden from them.
The Waning Age by S.E. Grove. Viking Books for Young Readers.
In this futuristic San Francisco, young people lose their ability to feel emotions when they reach adolescence. Teenaged Natasha should be as unemotional as other teens her age, but when her little brother is kidnapped, she’s angry enough to hunt down his abductors to get him back.
The Fever King by Victoria Lee. Skyscape.
In book one of the Feverwake series, in a near-future United States, contracting a virus will either kill you or endow you with science-based magical powers. Noam Alvaro is a refugee who has survived the virus, and the minister of defense is intrigued by Noam’s new abilities. Although Noam despises the government, he gets caught up in the twists and turns of the minister’s machinations until he almost loses what he believes in, trying to balance the new love in his life, his planned rebellion, and several stunning revelations.
War Girls by Tochi Onyebuchi. Razorbill.
In the year 2172, most of the world has become unlivable due to nuclear war and climate change. The country of Biafra is caught in a never ending war. Sisters Onyii and Ify, trained in the art of networked and mechanized warfare, must fight the world and each other to find their way out of the endless cycle of violence.
I Hope You Get This Message by Farah Rishi. HarperTeen.
Aliens are about to destroy Earth as a failed experiment. When NASA intercepts a message from their spaceship the world panics, and three teenagers’ lives are about to intersect. Cate and Adeem leave home to look for missing relatives and Jesse uses his tech skills to pretend to communicate with the alien ship, thinking quick money will improve his last days. Together they offer a possible reason that Earth is worth saving.
Honor Bound by Rachel Caine and Ann Aguirre. Katherine Tegen Books.
In this sequel to Honor Among Thieves, Zara Cole is the bonded pilot of an intelligent Leviathan ship. As she and her crew search for a safe haven, they uncover a secret that may help turn the tide of the war they left behind.