Sunday, November 1, 2009

Cybils Post #2

Well, the Cybils race is on and I'm so excited to share with you my thoughts about the 18 more of the 176 books nominated for the Fiction Picture Book award! 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).

For my own review of the nominated books, I am doing mini-reviews just to get my initial thoughts on the books out there!

Tankard, Jeremy.
Boo Hoo Bird.
April 2009.
Scholastic Press.

Boo Hoo Bird is a book that will definitely appeal to the youngest of children (ages 3-7). They will certainly connect with the need to be comforted when feeling sick or hurt and the characters in this book go to great lengths to comfort Bird when he's bonked on the head when playing a game of ball. I think that it's very important for children to see how each of these characters try to comfort Bird - allowing children to see that even though they aren't parents or doctors, they can sometimes help their friends during times of need. I definitely think this is one worth sharing!

Scanlon, Liz Garton.
All the World.
September 2009.
Beach Lane Books.

The world is made of lots of different things - everyone fits and has a place in which they "belong"... that's a strong message intended for the readers of this book. Will children take that away? I'm no so sure that young children will understand this, but I think older ones (and definitely adults) will understand appreciate this idea! While the book is intended to be "worldly" so that all readers can connect and ultimately work towards finding their place in the world, only the Caucasian race is depicted. I think the only thing that could have made this book better would be to depict children of all races and classes!

Sierra, Judy.
The Sleepy Little Alphabet.
June 2009.
Alfred A. Knopf.

This is a fun, light-hearted perfect bedtime story for little ones, not only helping them see what makes bedtime "bedtime," but also introducing and/or reinforcing the alphabet! The colorful illustrations emphasize the printed text. I think many children will connect with this, as I'm sure much of this book depicts their own bedtime routines. While this is great bedtime alphabet, I wouldn't use the book alone to introduce the concept of the letters representing sounds, as not all of the concepts presented show letter-sound correspondence.

Portis, Antoinette.
A Penguin Story.
December 2008.
HarperCollins Publishers.

Children will surely love the adventure in this book as a curious penguin sets out to ultimately find what else exists out there in the world, although through the eyes of Edna, her quest is limited to finding more than just the three colors that surround her life: white, black and blue. The inspirational part of this story are the results readers see when Edna discovers just how many other colors exist... her quest doesn't come to an end... it's actually just beginning! Not sure if children will catch on to this message though, without a little help and explanation from adults.

Berger, Samantha.
Martha Doesn't Say Sorry.
May 2009.
Little, Brown and Company Books for Young Readers.

This is a well-written story in which a message is easily conveyed to young readers - when you've done something that's wrong or not nice, the way to make it better is to apologize. I think children will appreciate seeing someone else (Martha) apologizing after doing wrong and will then make the connection to their own need to do so at times. The only downfall I found with this book is the "pinkness" - I think this will result in boys being unlikely to pick up the book due to it's "girly" color. However, if we can get them past the initial gender stereotypes, I think this is a wonderful book for boys and girls, young and old alike!

Rosenthal, Amy Krouse.
Duck! Rabbit!
March 2009.
Chronicle Books, LLC.

Accepting different ways of seeing things is the concept presented in this book, as two children argue back and forth about the "mysterious" animal that's presented repetitively on the pages of this book. Despite the repetitive illustrations (which are very effective to the story, this is a really humorous book that I feel teaches an important lesson!

Willems, Mo.
Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed.

January 2009.

Hyperion Books for Children.

This cute story about daring to be different is definitely one that children of all ages will enjoy... especially since it deals with nakedness, a concept with more than enough humor for kids! I think many children will connect with this book as they almost always have some point in lives in which they've wanted to stand apart and to encourage others to try things their way. The message that I found important here was that sometimes it's good to be daring - to be brave - and, when appropriate, take a stance and ask Why Not?

Leijten, Aileen.
Hugging Hour!

January 2009.
Philomel Books.

Colorful, comical illustrations definitely help set the mood in this cute, therapeutic story for children facing a first-time overnight stay. I think adults and will find the book helpful in showing children than they'll return for their child(ren). The book will also work wonderfully ease the child(ren) into a vacation away from their parents, by showing that their parents left them with someone who cares very much and wants to make their stay a happy one!

Newberry, Linda.
December 2008.

Antheneum Books for Young Readers.

This very simple, easy to read book definitely accurately describes the life of an active kitten (Posy's daily activities are very humorous)! The eye-catching illustrations will definitely grab childrens' attentions and draw them into the book, especially if they have an active kitten/cat at home or even if they're just animal lovers! As a teacher, I could see myself using this book to teach adjectives (words that describe nouns) or just as a classroom read-aloud.

Norman, Kim.
May 2009.

Rhyming text and facial expressions of the child in the story will definitely have children laughing. That humor, coupled with the bright, colorful illustrations will surely capture the attention of young children. The story itself is definitely a sweet story and I could envision the father/son bonding that was taking place throughout the adventure that is this story! I think this book would make for a perfect Father's Day read and should definitely be shared between father and children!

Thomas, Jan.
Rhyming Dust Bunnies.
January 2009.
Atheneum Books for Young Readers.

Well, adults will definitely pick up on the humor in this colorful eye-catching book about dust bunnies! Kids on the other hand, I'm not so sure. How much will kids really connect with the ideas of "dust bunnies" being chased by brooms and vacuums? I thought the book was really funny and could see myself using it in Pre-K through 1st grade classrooms to introduce and reinforce the concept of rhyming words and word families.

Spinelli, Eileen.
Silly Tilly.
March 2009.
Marshall Cavendish Children.

Ahh, this is a truly wonderful book - Silly Till is definitely silly! The book is very funny and well thought out, all the while passing along a very important message to children of all ages. The book could be used both educationally (to teach cause and effect) and just for fun as a read-aloud. While the message - accept someone for who they are, don't try to change them, especially if they're physically/emotionally causing you no harm, because you just might miss the old person - might be hard for younger children to understand and catch on to without a little bit of discussion, but it's definitely a message they'll be able to pick-up on, given they're directed in the right way.

Feiffer, Kate.
My Mom is Trying to Ruin My Life.
March 2009.
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers.

The story here is great - well written and throught out with a clear beginning, middle and end! Here you have a little girl who believes her mom (and dad) are doing everything in their power to ruin her life. In the end, the little girls learns the lesson to appreciate what she has because you don't realize how important it is until it's gone. Parents are sure to love this story as they watch as this little girls comes to the realization that her parents really do care for her and are only acting in her best interest. They'll see that given the time, their child(ren) will likely come around to the same conclusion! The only downfall with this book is that again, the illustrations exhibit gender stereotypes which may defer boys from reading or even picking up the book... however, if you can find a way to get them past the initial girly-ness, I think they'll love the story as much as any girl would!

Polacco, Patricia.
In Our Mothers' House.
April 2009.
Philomel Books.

As a fan of Patricia Polacco's, I was thrilled to see a new title nominated for the Cybils! This story touches near and dear to my own hear as it focuses on same-sex families. With a brother who's gay, this book will definitely be a welcome addition to my own book shelves, as someday, when I have children of my own, I want them to be accepting of the idea. While I realize that not all parents may see the appeal here, they should be open to the idea of sharing this wonderfully written story with their children, as we live in a diverse world today and more than likely come into contact with these types of family situations at some point in their lives. Families are unique - love and relationships are formed based on who you are, not what you are and that's the important message to take away from this book!

Leist, Christina.
Jack the Bear.
September 2009.
Simply Read Books.

This book is very unique... the cover seems to be misleading as I expected an entirely different story... however, this just reinforces the idea of not judging a book by it's cover I guess! There's a very simple message that's passed along to readers... there are simple, cost-free things that anyone can do to make the world a better place. This message is portrayed through Jack the Bear, who appears to be sitting around all day doing nothing... in reality though, he's doing so much more than nothing - sharing the act of a smile that has the potential of changing the day for someone! I think this will really hit home with children!

Crimi, Carolyn.
Henry & the Crazed Chicken Pirates.
August 2009.
Candlewick Press.

Determination and self-belief pay off in the long run - that's the message to be learned here, although I think children may have a hard time personally connecting with this message in the way in which it is delivered. However, the bright, colorful illustrations perfectly depict the island scenery you'd expect when dealing with pirates and children will likely love the plot of this new adventure with Henry! I could see this being used as a bedtime story or a fun read-aloud, but probably wouldn't use it in an educational manner.

Kleven, Elisa.
A Carousel Tale.
February 2009.
Tricycle Press.

One thing that I believe most children (or at least parents) will pick up on immediately is the familiarity of the Ernst character returning! This story is well written, depicting a child's willingness to take care of something he/she so treasures. While I didn't find any strong message here, kids will definitely love the bright and colorful artwork that almost appears magical and will easily make a connection to Ernst's need to protect the dog's tail since almost all children have some sort of a security object that they treasure so dearly!

Young, Ed.

April 2009.
Roaring Brook Press.

Friendship and dedication are the main focus of this story, as a young boy, hens and roosters work together to help the misfit eaglet learn to fly and reach new heights. This is a sweet message, but I worry that children will have trouble understanding it. Does anyone have any experience sharing this title with children? Did they understand it? What were their thoughts?

If you're interested in finding out more information about any of the books reviewed or if you'd like to purchase the books, click the cover image for a link to