I was the organizer and panelist for the Fiction Picture Book list, and from that perspective I can tell you how hard it was this year. In our category we had 186 nominations, and about a third of those books we had to find on our own including four of the books that ended up on our shortlist. I was lucky to have a large library system to rely on, but Cheryl ended up reading many titles huddled in the bookstore aisles, afraid of getting thrown out.
With a dedicated group of panelists, an incredibly useful database to track our progress and favorites (Thanks, Sheila!), and a fantastic, intelligent, thoughtful discussion, we arrived at a shortlist. I’m proud of it, as I believe it presents great books across a variety of styles, targeted readers, and even genres. Enjoy.
Abe Lincoln Crosses A Creek: A Tall Thin Tale (Introducing His Forgotten Frontier Friend)
written by Deborah Hopkinson, illustrated by John Hendrix
Schwartz and Wade Books
In a year abundant in releases about our 16th president, this picture book title stands out for its originality, vibrant illustrations, and interactive flair. While the setting is historical, the mood is thoroughly modern in this clever celebration of the oral storytelling tradition.The Big Bad Bunny Travis Jonkers, 100 Scope Notes
written by Franny Billingsley, illustrated by G. Brian Karas
No rushing stream or mucky swamp can stop Big Bad Bunny and his long sharp claws. Through the tangly bushes he marches, fierce and scowling and a worried mama mouse has just discovered her baby mouse is missing. Suspenseful pacing, engaging art, and a delightful twist ending make this an enchanting tale for the preschool set.Chester’s Back Melissa Wiley, Here in the Bonny Glen
written and illustrated by Melanie Watts
Kids Can Press, Ltd.
A sublimely pushy cat vies for attention and control with his author and illustrator in this wildly funny book. With creativity and innovation, the author allows her persistent character Chester to scrawl over her illustrations and text with a red marker, creating immediacy, tension, and humor.How to Heal a Broken Wing
written and illustrated by Bob Graham
When a pigeon is injured in the middle of a busy city, no one stops to help until a little boy and his family take the bird home to heal it. Told mainly through pictures with minimal text to drive the plot forward, the story is a touching one of kindness, patience, and humanity.Katie Loves the Kitttens Pam Coughlan, MotherReader
written and illustrated by John Himmelman
The dog Katie can’t contain her desire to play with the new kitten companions in her home, but unfortunately her exuberance is overwhelming to the tiny creatures. With redirection and restraint, Katie finally finds a way to show her love for the kittens. The humor in the situation, the storytelling, and the illustrations will engage kids of all ages in this fun, romping story.The Sea Serpent and Me Pam Coughlan, MotherReader
written by Dashka Slater, illustrated by Catia Chien
An extraordinary friendship begins when a sea serpent drops from a faucet into a little girl’s bath. As their friendship grows, so does the sea serpent, until the girl has to admit that this creature belongs in the sea. This charming tale of friendship is propelled by lovely, energetic watercolor illustrations that create a world full of whimsy the reader will find hard to leave.A Visitor for Bear Stephanie Ford, ChildLit
written by Bonny Becker, illustrated by Kady Denton
When a mouse ignores the sign on Bear’s door that reads “NO VISITORS ALLOWED,” Bear can’t get back to business as Mouse continually reappears in Bear’s home, finally making Bear wonder if he really prefers to be alone after all. The text begs to be read aloud, and the subdued watercolor, ink, and gouache illustrations chock full of personality create a tale every member of the family will adore.Wabi Sabi Stephanie Ford, ChildLit
written by Mark Reibstein, illustrated by Ed Young
A Japanese cat searches for the meaning of her name, and discovers that beauty can be found in simple, ordinary things and experiences. The text shows many layers and depth, the haikus are well integrated into the story, and the collage illustrations are astonishing in their texture and beauty.