When I daydream about the ‘perfect house’ that I’d love to have someday, the requisite beautiful wood floors are there, along with the shiny new appliances and the great big tree-filled yard for the kids, of course. But, the best image is the large play room with an entire reading area filled with shelves of picture books. Sure, my kids will grow up, but I will never outgrow the joy of picture books!
In my role as a round two judge for this year’s Cybils awards in the Fiction Picture Books category, I spent a lot of time with the seven finalists. I blogged about them, I read them to my children, I read them on my own, I studied their illustrations, I even dreamed about them. (Yup, that’s true!) I happily shared my thoughts about the winner, All The World by Liz Garton Scanlon when the annoucements were made, and I wanted to take a moment to feature the other finalists here.
Gloria Whelan’s The Listeners truly blew me away when I first received it back in September. I even purchased an additional copy from Amazon to donate to my son’s fourth grade classroom library, because it’s that amazing of a book. From the illustrations that burst with life to the straightforward voice of the child narrator that speaks with emotion and honesty, this book tackles an ugly part of our nation’s history with hope and beauty. I could continue to sing its praises, but I’ll direct you instead to my original review.
Next is The Lion & The Mouse by Jerry Pinkney. Seriously, this is one of the most memorable book covers I’ve ever seen. And yes, you noticed correctly over there; no words are present on the cover, only the exquisitely painted drawing of the mighty and powerful king of the jungle, with an expression that conveys the choice the lion must make in this adaptation of the classic Aesop fable. Not only are the words absent from the cover, but the entire book is wordless, save for a few animal noises that are written in the illustrations. The illustrations beautifully propel the story along, and no words are necessary to demonstrate the tension of the moment the lion chooses to set the mouse free.
John Perry’s The Book That Eats People is definitely unique and memorable, and opposite my prediction, my own young children really enjoyed this, even though I peg it more appropriate for older readers on the picture book spectrum. The humor quality is high here, and the combination of several different types of illustrations give the book a visual appeal. For an adult who loves to read aloud enthusiastically, this book is perfect, and the final page just screams for a big finish!
The Curious Garden by Peter Brown is a beautiful book that celebrates the power of one person, some patience and effort, and the resiliency of Mother Nature. My own children adore this book, and it’s one that I really don’t mind reading again and again.
Peter McCarty’s Jeremy Draws a Monster is an interesting book to me. I’m not sure that I ‘got’ the book the way several other of the judges did, as we pondered what the monster may have represented to Jeremy. (LOVE these deep conversations about picture books!) For me, I found the illustrations to be whimsical, and the story to be fairly simple but engaging to young children, along with a happy ending that all children can understand, as well.
A goofball duck with a pancake for a hat is on center stage of Eileen Spinelli’s Silly Tilly. Full of funny rhymes and brightly colored illustrations, this is one for a raucous reading with some silly little kids, which is why my own children adore pulling this one off the shelf!
Thanks to all of the Cybils organizers, panelists, judges and nominators. Congrats to the authors and illustrators of these wonderful picture books that will be enjoyed by tons of children for many years to come!
Picture books outnumber people in Dawn’s house by about a gazillion to one. More hyperbole, along with hyper children, can be found on her blog, my thoughts exactly.