2021 CLEL Bell Shortlists

The shortlists for the 2021 CLEL Bell Picture Book Awards for Early Literacy were announced December 15, 2020.


Twenty five books, five each in the categories Read, Write, Sing, Talk and Play, were chosen by the 2021 Selection Committee from eligible titles on the nominations’ lists.


The shortlists are:  



  • Help Wanted: Must Love Books by Janet Sumner Johnson and illustrated by Courtney Dawson (Capstone Editions)

  • A Book for Escargot by Dashka Sater, Illustrated by Sydney Hanson (Farrar, Straus and Geroux)

  • How to Read to a Grandma or Grandpa by Jean Reagan, illustrated by Lee Wildish (Alfred A. Knopf, Inc)

  • Library Babies by Puck, illustrated by Violet Lemay (duopress)

  • Eek!: A Noisy Journey from A to Z by Julie Larios and illustrated by Julie Paschkis (Peachtree Publishing Company)



  • I Am Perfectly Designed by Karamo Brown, Jason "Rachel" Brown and Anooshe Syed (Henry Holt & Co)

  • Can I Play Too? by Samantha Cotterill (Dial Books)

  • The Paper Kingdom by Helena Ku Rhee, illustrated by Pascal Campion (Random House Books for Young Readers)

  • Layla's Happiness by Mariahadessa Ekere Tallie, illustrated by Ashleigh Corrin (Enchanted Lion Books)

  • Mama Baby by Chris Raschka (Candlewick)



  • The Hips on the Drag Queen Go Swish, Swish, Swish by Lil Miss Hot Mess, illustrated by Olga de Dios (Running Kids Press)

  • Accordionly: Abuelo and Opa Make Music by Michael Genhart, illustrated by Priscilla Burris (Magination Press)

  • Here We Go Digging for Dinosaur Bones by Susan Lendroth, illustrated by Bob Kolar (Charlesbridge)

  • Wolf Cub's Song by Joseph Bruchac, illustrated by Carlin Bear Don't Walk (Reycraft Books)

  • Your Name Is a Song by Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow, illustrated by Luisa Uribe (Innovation Press)



  • When I Draw a Panda by Amy June Bates (Simon & Schuster)

  • It's Okay by Shiow-Miin Tsai (Reycraft Books)

  • Love, Sophia on the Moon by Anica Mrose Rissi, illustrated by Mika Song (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers)

  • Swashby and the Sea by Beth Ferry, illustrated by Juana Martinez-Neal (HMH Books for Young Readers)

  • Fern and Otto: A Story About Two Best Friends by Stephanie Graegin (Schwartz & Wade Books)



  • My Rainy Day Rocket Ship by Markette Sheppard, illustrated by Charly Palmer (Denene Millner Books/Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers)
  • When My Brother Gets Home by Tom Lichtenheld (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
  • The Button Book by Sally Nicholls, illustrated by Bethan Woollvin (Tundra Books)
  • Where's Baby? by Anne Hunter (Tundra Books)
  • Alphonse, There's Mud On the Ceiling! by Daisy Hurst (Candlewick Press)