105 Ways to Give a Book

Cybils Finalists 2013

It’s New Year’s once again — and that means it’s time for the 2013 Cybils Finalists! A lot of great books on this year’s shortlists, but I want to take some time to call out the ones from my Fiction Picture Books committee:

Count the MonkeysCount the Monkeys
by Mac Barnett

Disney Hyperion, 2013

Looking at the troop of monkeys on this cover, young readers may be in for a bit of a surprise as they begin to turn the pages. Where did all the monkeys go? No need to fret, though, for each page brings a new (and increasingly ridiculous) possible factor in their disappearance. Expect a rowdy story time experience with this hilarious, unique addition to the counting book genre.

If You Want to See a WhaleIf You Want to See a Whale
by Julie Fogliano

Roaring Brook, 2013

There’s a lot going on beneath the peaceful surface of this slow-building, contemplative deep blue sea of a picture book. As a small boy meanders toward his goal of seeing a whale, he must decide whether or not to pause in order to investigate insects, roses, smiling pelicans, or other things that are not whales. The deliberate pace, simple word choice and list-like structure mimics process writing, but unpredictable, stuttering line breaks undermine the authoritative tone with a jazzy rhythm. Charming, textured illustrations by Caldecott Medal winner Erin Stead subtly rock the boat — balanced, yet always with an off-kilter, asymmetric element, and sometimes revealing the boy’s actions to be at odds with the prescriptions of the text. Is this book about achieving a goal? Or about observation? It is certainly fertile — and beautiful — ground for conversation.

by Aaron Becker

Candlewick Press, 2013

With a subtle nod to Harold and his purple crayon, a bored young girl draws herself a door into a magical world using a red crayon she finds on her bedroom floor. Lush and detailed double page spreads draw the reader into the imaginary world, while well placed panels of action sequences along with picture clues lead the reader through this wordless adventure. Like the magic in the story, additional details seem to suddenly appear on re-reads, rewarding readers who are sure to take the Journey again and again.

Mr. Tiger Goes WildMr. Tiger Goes Wild
by Peter Brown

Little, Brown, 2013

Claiming Mr. Tiger Goes Wild is, perhaps, his most autobiographical book to date, Peter Brown shares a story about a tiger, growing up in a prim and proper place, who looks for that appropriate place to release his wild side. Once sent into the wilderness where being wild is most appropriate, Mr. Tiger feels lonely, misses his friends, and makes the decision to return and settle in to his own unique style. He decides to be himself. This story resonates with readers and celebrates an author-illustrator who is fully in charge of both brush and pen. Brown writes slim, allows art to support and carry the story, and paces this story well. Rhythm, repetition, and dramatic, comedic action on each and every spread beg for interactive attention to the details of story. Parallel house images, parallel text in the before and after of his “wild” and the repetition of one word: ROAR! make this book a performance kids will scream to experience again and again.

Open This Little BookOpen This Little Book
by Jesse Klausmeier

Chronicle Books, 2013

In an era of enticing digital media, here’s a book that celebrates the magic of paper and ink. A ladybug opens her little red book, and inside is nested a frog’s even smaller little green book, and so on through a series of quirky creatures until we arrive at the tiniest book of all — which happens to belong to a friendly giant, who will need a reader’s help to turn the itty-bitty page. With gorgeous, whimsical, richly detailed illustrations, this charming story pulls young readers right into the action, and may very well inspire them to create little books of their own. The final drawing of the animals curled up among stacks and stacks of books is an irresistible invitation to dive into another tome — or to turn back to the beginning and enjoy this one all over again.

Sophie’s SquashSophie’s Squash
by Pat Zietlow Miller

Schwartz and Wade Books, 2013

Which came first, the text or the illustrations? It’s difficult to tell in this picture book because the two work so well with — and off — each other. The story (created by both text and art) is tender and funny with a big dose of comfort. Kids, who so easily grant inanimate objects the ability to feel emotion, will relate to Sophie’s attachment to a butternut squash with a magic-marketed face. Parents will love the inside jokes (ex., mom prepares to make squash for supper, but after learning Sophie has named her squash Bernice, says she’ll “call for pizza”). The story smoothly transitions over time as Sophie’s fresh squash begins to soften, becomes planted, sprouts in spring, and grows two new butternuts that, as Sophie declares, “look just like your mom.” It’s a contemporary book with an old-fashioned storytelling feel that can be read again and again with pleasure.

The Bear’s SongThe Bear’s Song
by Benjamin Chaud

Chronicle Books, 2013

First sight of this book hints at its uniqueness with the large format bathed in deep colors and intricate illustrations. The Bear’s Song, by Benjamin Chaud, is a gorgeous French import with spare narrative text and humorously packed illustrations that have an almost Where’s Waldo? characteristic in a more sophisticated flair. Chaud’s lightly clever narration follows Papa Bear as he attempts to track down his bee-following Little Bear through forest and city, busy streets and bustling opera house; until a final hilariously misunderstood, climactic performance by Papa Bear clears the stage for an endearingly cuddle-worthy ending. The Bear’s Song begs for rereads; moves with powerful, yet lilting pacing; and invites lingering over each scene to relish the many added details as well as help spy on the trail of that adventurous little bear.

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1 comment:

Even in Australia said...

My vote goes to The Bear's Song but I bet Journey wins.