Sunday, November 15, 2009

Cybils Post #4

18 more of the 176 books nominated for the Fiction Picture Book award for you today! The Cybils committee has described an award-winning Fiction Picture Book as "a celebration of story and illustration, with lasting appeal for kids and/or adults. The best picture books completely excel in art, story, kid-friendliness, and adult appeal. A Cybils-winning picture book adds that special "It Factor." In message, in world-view, in connection, in humor, in reach, a book with "It Factor" rises to a higher level." (Cybils: 2009 Nominations Fiction Picture Books).

I've definitely come across many favorites that I've decided to "shortlist." However, for the fairness of all those who have authored and nominated titles, I'm trying to just share my positive thoughts here to encourage everyone to seek out the books and see how you feel about them! Being a teacher and an avid reader, I can definitely find positive (and ways to use each book educationally) in each of these books! Please take the time to check some of them out for yourself and let me know what you think of them!

Ferrari, Della Ross.
Star of the Show.
September 2009.
Shenanigan Books.

Francine, the oldest of two siblings obviously rules the roost in this funny story about being in charge! Poor Max is left to being his sister's slave until one day he figures out a way to show her that he'll no long be bossed around. Together, the two learn to share and work together. The result is two "Stars of the Show." This is another story that perfectly shows the implications of sibling rivalry. Parents will like the idea of a story that shows siblings sharing and getting along. The message to be learned: work together and share the "fame" and you'll actually have more fun playing together!

Gribnau, Joe.
Kick the Cowboy.
September 2009.
Pelican Publishing Company.

Kick the Cowboy is, plain and simply put, way too proud of himself. And his bragging ways have resulted in him driving away all of his friends and terrorizing those people who live alongside him in his Texas town. When little Belle, a new child in town asks for Kick's helps in searching for her missing puppy, she has more of an effect on him than any of us could have hoped - helping him learn to mend his way through all those tattered fences. This book wonderfully depicts the way one would envision a Texas cowboy town, but even better, it teaches a very important message, and it's not even one that children will have to search in the pages for - it's stated right there in plain English!
When you're ridin' a high horse, there ain't no way to get off gracefully. You need to apologize. If is like bustin' a bronc... you're gonna get thrown. The secret is to get back on.
Enderle, Dotti.
Gingerbread Man Superhero.
September 2009.
Pelican Publishing Company.

This unique take on "The Gingerbread Man" is most appropriate for older children who will pick up on the little things that make it funny - the other cookies in the bakery talking to the Gingerbread cookie, for example. I don't believe a lot of younger children will pick up on what's really happening in this story. Another aspect of this take on "The Gingerbread Man" that children will appreciate are the comic-style approach to the writing over the story. This comic-style has quickly become popular with children, so they'll likely love the text bubbles that make up the entire story and show a great deal of character dialogue throughout (this would be a great way to teach children about dialogue in writing as a way to show characters interacting). However, that being said, I don't think I'll be using this book in a classroom for that purpose or even as a read-aloud. I was a bit turned off by one part in particular. The old lady adds a purple prune to the stomach of the gingerbread man to try and make the the old man happy? Kids won't understand what that's all about, but an adult will easily to recognize what's being inferred. I found it disgusting really. How do you think you'd respond to this? Would you likely accept it as funny or find it inappropriate like I did?

Sussman, Michael.
Otto Grows Down.
February 2009.
Sterling Publishing Co, Inc.

It's Otto's 6th birthday! However, instead of him having a blast at his party, we notice just how terrible sibling rivalry can be for Otto. Rather than wishing for something happy before he blows out his birthday candles, he instead wishes he could go back in time - back to the time before his sister Anna was born. While many times, our wishes don't come true (or at least they don't in my case!), Otto's does, and time slowly begins to go in reverse. As time rewinds, Otto slowly comes to the realization that he'd rather grow up with Anna than grow down without her. The illustrations are greart, really showing Otto's life "growing down" and I think parents will enjoy this book and will be happy to show older siblings this type of book when a new baby arrives. Not only is a good book for a child's mentality as new siblings arrive, it also teaches an important message along the way! Be careful what you wish for, as sometimes, wishes do come true!

Paquette, Ammi-Joan.
The Tiptoe Guide to Tracking Fairies.
April 2009.

Oh, how I would have loved to have this book as a child! I was always looking for creative things to do and I think the closest I ever came to looking for fairies was building chipmunk houses! I know my mom would have loved to give me this book as a gift, as it encourages cost-free imaginative play with children (outside the house - away from video games and computers). The unique blend of art and photography in this book will easily allow children to imagine themselves in such a situation, inviting them to their own backyards for their own adventures in tracking fairies. I think it will definitely be a hint among the little girls in your life!

Lazo-Gilmore, Dorina K.
Cora Cooks Pancit.
April 2009.
Shen's Books.

Little Cora, the youngest child in her family desperately wants to participate in cooking meals alongside her siblings. However, because she's a kid, she ends up with "kid jobs," drawing pictures in the flour, while the older kids get to do the adult jobs. One day, when her brothers and sister are out, she gets the opportunity to help her mother cook dinner and does so almost perfectly because of her previous attention to details while her siblings had all the fun cooking! This book vividly depicts Filipino culture and cooking style, making it a wonderful choice if you're looking to introduce your children to different cultures! It also will show you just how willing your children may be to help out in the kitchen, allowing you to pick up some special bonding time together, combined with fun learning experiences (yes, cooking can be educational, as many times recipes call for a certain amount of measuring that will expose your child to measurement skills)!

Haiber, Deen and Aimee MacDonald.
Seven Spirals: A Chakra Sutra for Kids.
January 2009.
Mushroom Hollow Press.

Through real-life situations, seven children learn about the chakras (circles of energy that exist throughout the body, if I'm understanding correctly) and their meanings (root, sacral, navel, heart, throat, forehead, crown). I had to to a bit of research about "chakras" on my own after reading this, because I was feeling completely in the dark! From what I gather, this could be a form of meditiation used to refocus the negative energy in the body to make it more positive. This book is very colorful, featuring every color of the rainbow and will likely appeal to children because the illustrations are eye-catching. It would probably be interesting to use at home with your children to help them get through troubling times (I don't think it would work just as a shared reading experience)... however, I think you'd have to make sure you really understand the concept of "chakras" before passing this on your child(ren)!

Ransom, Jeanie Franz.
What Really Happened to Humpty (from the Files of a Hard-Boiled Detective).
February 2009.
Charlesbridge Publishing.

Readers watch as Joe Dumpty workes to solve the mystery of how his brother, Humpty, really fell off the wall. Throughout his investigation, all of the other well-known nursery rhymes are waved into the story in some way. This is a really funny, creative book and I'm very fortunate that I'll now be able to add this to my library for use in an early childhood classroom some day when teaching a thematic unit focusing on nursery rhymes. Children will definitely be able to chuckle and enjoy this book as long as they are familiar with tradition nursery rhymes (Little Bo Peep, Little Miss Muffet, Three Little Pigs, Little Red Riding Hood, etc). While all the clues may lead you astray, the real culprit will likely not surprise you!

Reagan, Jean.
Always My Brother.
June 2009.
Tilbry House, Publishers.

Becky and her brother John used to do everything together - until John died. Becky experiences a great deal of grief in trying to overcome his death, until her new job as soccer team goalie helps her to see that even though John is no longer on Earth with her family, he is still very much a part of their lives and that his memories and impact will last forever. The simple, realistic illustrations in this book are perfect for children who are dealing with the loss of a loved one. They will not take away from the important coping mechanisms found within. Coupled with the simplistic art, we never learn how John died, making this book even more appropriate for dealing with grief, as it can occur in all shapes and forms. Children should really be able to connect with this book on some level!

Robley-Blake, Colleen H.
Mom, I Fired the Babysitter!
November 2008.
Imaaginn This.

Alex is upset that his mom has hired a newbabysitter, especially when he thinks he is old enough to take care of himself. He does everything he can possibly think of to try and make her quit, until one day, Mom decides Alex's older brother Stephen is old enough to care for Alex (sure, a little bit of scheming from Stephen and even Alex's dad, helps out)! The graphic-like, comical illustrations will likely appeal to children, as more and more often, I'm seeing children reach for books with similar styles. I think this book is most appropriate for older children (8-12 years old) who have a babysitter and are likely to understand and sympathize with Alex's situation.

Malaspina, Ann.
Finding Lincoln.
September 2009.
Albert Whitman & Company.

Louis, an African American boy decides to take a stand and enter the "Whites Only" public library in order to learn about Abe Lincoln's childhood, as he wishes to "shake things up" like Lincoln did in order to help African Americans gain access to the library. Similar to Richard Wright and the Library Card, this book teaches children about the lack of rights that African Americans experienced through the use of activities that today's children can easily relate to. The paintings easily take you back in time to 1951 in Alabama during the Civil Rights Movement and certainly help to teach the message that it's okay to take a peaceful stand when you firmly believe in an issue.

Dulemba, Elizabeth O.
Soap, Soap, Soap: Jabon, Jabon, Jabon.
September 2009.
Raven Tree Press.

Hugo is sent on a mission by his mother to go to the store and purchase soap. Along the way, he encouters numerous setbacks resulting in him dirtying himself before he finally remembers what he was supposed to purchase. While there is no moral that I could find within this stoyr, it would certainly be ideal for bilingual children or children who are beginning to learn English or Spanish language, as Spanish words are interweaved appropriately, allowing children to easily pick up on their meaning (and there's a Spanish/English glossary at the back for easy reference). The colorful illustrations that portray Mexican, Latin, African American and Caucasian children also makes the book very appropriate to show intertwined cultures living in one area.

Stephens, Dawn.
The Little Pot.
May 2009.
bPlus Books.

A little pot or "vessel" is created for a special purpose - a fruit pot. However, before discovering his purpose in life, Little Pot must first endure life's trials and tribulations. Parents will love sharing this story! If not for the hand-sketched illustrations which are attractive to the eye, they'll love the inspirational story that's contained within. The message here, quoted directly from author Stephens,
Like "Little Pot," you, too, were made for a very speical purpose. And as you trust, believe, and accept God's plan for your life, you will become a "vessel" that bears "fruit."
Would this not be an amazing book to use in place of Oh, The Places You'll Go as a graduation gift?

Rylant, Cynthia.
All in a Day.
March 2009.
Abrams Books for Young Readers.

A person will realize just how much significance a day holds after reading this wonderful book! Everyone has experienced the time frame of a single day, not knowing what the future holds and unable to change the past. Each day allows opportunities and chances that will exist for just one day and never again, allowing readers to see that they should take advantage of every chance they're offered. This is a powerful story that I truly believe anyone can relate to and appreciate, and the message is blatantly stated, for those unable to pick up on it!
This day will soon be over
and it won't come back again.
So live it well, make it count,
fill it up with you.
The day's all yours, it's waiting now...
See what you can do.
Myron, Vicki and Bret Witter.
Dewey: There's a Cat in the Library.
September 2009.
Little, Brown and Company.

Librarian Vicki Myron found little Dewey abandoned in the drop box of the Spencer Library. She nursed him back to health and eventually named him mascot of the library, naming him Dewey Readmore Books. While Dewey impacted a great many library patrons, this children's book focuses on the library's youngest patrons and Dewey's interactions with them. Children will love the story, as Dewey is an adorable, easily likeable cat - one who shows that the best way to be is to be yourself! I don't think children will easily take away this message, but I think with a little conversation about how Dewey best interacted with the child patrons, children should be able to pick up on the message!

Brown, Peter.
The Curious Garden.
April 2009.
Little, Brown and Company.

Liam, a city-child at heart, sets out to explore the top of the buildings in his city. There, he discovers a few plants that appear to be dying off. Upon his discovery, Liam decides to take matters into his own hand and show the plants special love and attention. Little-by-little, the drab city is transformed as the plants begin to thrive because of the attention they've received by one small person, a message that allows readers to see that the efforts of one small person can help change the world! Perhaps what I liked the most about this story was the use of the boy as the gardener, as gardening (especially among children) tends to be a stereotypically girly-activity. I'm definitely glad I've had the chance to read this one!

Ubanovic, Jackie.
Duck and Cover.
January 2009.
HarperCollins Publishers.

Duck returns in this newest book in the "Duck" series, and fans of the series are sure to love this newest adventure. He's at Irene's house playing with their animal friends when suddenly a knock appears at the door and Harold the Alligator arrives looking for help after escaping the zoo, because he's eaten someone's dog. Cleverly, the animals band together to help Harold outwit the zoo detectives who show up looking for him. While I didn't find the book to be terrible appealing to me, I think many children will enjoy the humor within.

Pinkney, Jerry.
The Lion & The Mouse.
September 2009.
Little, Brown and Company.

Beautiful pencil drawn illustrations make this wordless version more than worthy of sharing! I can honestly say I've never seen such beautiful artwork for a book. While it is important for children to be familiar with Aesop's Fable, The Lion and the Mouse, this wordless version of the tale will certainly have little minds creating a story of their own as they examine the images. This is definitely worth sharing!

For more information or to purchase any of the books on this post, click on the image for a link to