105 Ways to Give a Book

Cybils: Fiction Picture Books Shortlist Could-Have-Beens

Okay, resolutions are out of the way, I’ve put out my public service announcement about blogrolls, and now it’s time to get down to business. (Oh, one more blogroll note: I will often keep an eye on a new blog for a while before adding it to my blogroll, and I suspect that I’m not the only one who does this.)

Jules at Seven Impossible Things did a wonderful wrap-up of the picture book shortlist selection process and her own favorites that didn’t make the list. As it turns out, my absolute die-if-they-don’t-make-it books are on the shortlist. I loved Pssst!, by Adam Rex, because it has incredible art, a good storyline, lots of humor, a great trick ending, and a wide audience range. I’m linking to a review by Jules. I loved The Chicken-Chasing Queen of Lamar County because it also has incredible illustrations — though of a very different style — and a fantastic, humorous read-aloud kind of story. I also like that it portrays a segment of African-American culture without being an “issue” book. Here’s a review, again by Jules (Leading me to wonder what I’ve been doing with my time that I didn’t review either book.) Of course, I loved Knuffle Bunny Too, and not just because it’s a Mo book, but because as a sequel it really does kick it up a notch in terms of drama, illustration, and storyline. (Okay, that link is to my review.)

I did want Angels Watching Over Me on the shortlist because it’s such a beautiful, beautiful book, but it just didn’t quite make it in. I also loved the art in Let It Shine, but since the text wasn’t original, it was a hard sell for the Cybils. I wouldn’t be surprised to see it on the Caldecott list. Here are three other titles that I’d consider my favorites:

The Lonely MooseThe Lonely Moose, by John Segal
A moose is all alone until a bird falls into his world. He tries to fly, but can’t. (“Yikes!” moaned the bird. “Yikes, indeed,” groaned the Moose.) The Moose reluctantly takes him under his... uh, wing, even though the bird likes singing in the morning when the moose would prefer quiet. Even though the bird likes worms and the moose finds them revolting. They slowly build up a familiarity. One day there’s a forest fire, and in the intensity of the moment, the bird flies off. For good? One can hope not. I loved the soft, slightly odd paintings and the story of an unlikely friendship.

A Good DayA Good Day, by Kevin Henkes
A bird, a squirrel, a dog, and a fox each have a bad day in a different way. But then something happens to make them find that it’s a good day after all. Not to put too much psychology behind it, but:
  • The squirrel loses an acorn but finds a bigger one — sometimes when a small dream is gone it opens your arms for a bigger one.
  • The fox loses his mother, but she’s there all along — sometimes the things we worry about are really all in our mind.
  • The dog has gotten himself all tied around a pole, but works himself free —; sometimes we have to work hard to find our happiness.
  • The bird loses a feather, but finds he can fly higher — sometimes we have to let go of something, even something great, so that we can move on.
And in all of this, the loss of one — the feather — makes it a good day for a little girl. The messages in this book are amazing, and certainly more subtle then I’ve made them in this post. But I was a psychology major, even if it was a long time ago.

Lily Brown's PaintingsLily Brown’s Paintings, by Angela Johnson and E.B Lewis
Lily Brown sees the world in her own way in her paintings. The stars dance and hang out at the sidewalk cafés. The trees wear hats and drink tea. All sorts of things happen in her painting world, and it’s magical. But at the end of the day, she is with her family and it’s their world again, and it’s wondrous too. A tribute to the imagination and the range of a child’s worlds, and beautifully done.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for these. The Lonely Moose looks like our kind of book!

Swirl Girl said...

I love Knuffle Bunny 2. The 1st one is a big hit at my house, as well as in my school library. I can't wait to get the new copies in. The kids will be excited!

Vivian Mahoney said...

The kids loved Knuffle Bunny Too. Thanks for your Could-Have-Been recommendations.

web said...

This was such a great idea, I just did one over at my blog.

EM said...

I love the design of A GOOD DAY: very clean, very regimented, nice use of color, with more psychobabble in the text placement (did you notice? the "bad day" lines are all aligned with the bottom of the page; the "good day" ones with the top). I wouldn't be surprised to see this one as a Caldecott Honor.

Jules at 7-Imp said...

What a fab post, standing up for the books you wanted to see shortlist. I liked all those, too. Sigh, it's just so hard to pick.

Jules, 7-Imp

Susan Kusel said...

I wouldn't be surprised to see A Good Day as a Caldecott Honor either.

I liked your analysis, MR. Apparently there's much more in that book than I realized!