Today Amy at Hope is the Word is hosting the first of several Armchair Cybils linkups. I chose to concentrate on picture books, both fiction and nonfiction. First, I have a few new titles to share.
We enjoyed both of these books about the life of Jane Goodall. The first, Me…Jane is by Patrick McDonnell who also writes the comic strip Mutts. The illustrations as you would expect are vaguely cartoonlike. However, McDonell also incorporates engravings under the text and a two page spread that has elements of one of Jane’s own notebooks. It’s an unusual combination and difficult to describe but it works very well and is likely why it just was named as one of the best illustrated books of the year by the New York Times. The text is simple and well suited to preschoolers and young children.
Although I liked both books, I preferred The Watcher by Jeanette Winter. The illustrations aren’t as unique as in Me…Jane but I think David enjoyed the bright colors and more realistic pictures. He also liked that in some of the pictures the chimps are hiding and it was fun to find them. The text is more complex in this book and I felt like told a better story. Winter and McDonnell both use quotes from Goodall’s autobiography sprinkled through their books.
Either of these is a great introduction to Jane Goodall for a child and read together make a nice comparison in different ways of telling the same story. I’m not sure why but for the Cybils, Me…Jane is listed under fiction and The Watcher is listed under non-fiction. My own library shelves them both under juvenile biography.
This beautiful book by Susan Stockdale is deceptively simple. Each page has a different bird and the text underneath has only a phrase per page to describe the different characteristics of birds. (“Swooping birds, whooping birds, birds with puffy chests. Dancing birds, diving birds, birds with fluffy crests.”) At the end a two-page spread identifies the birds and gives a little more information about each one. I wasn’t sure if David would think this was too babyish (something he is sometimes sensitive too as a middle child) but he really enjoyed looking at the birds. We had fun trying to identify them (some are easy, some are not) and then checking ourselves in the back.
In addition to these books, we’ve read quite a few other Cybils nominees.
I wrote here about:
Five Little Monkeys Reading in Bed by Eileen Christelow
Llama Llama Home with Mama by Anna Dewdney
Creepy Monsters, Sleepy Monsters by Jane Yolen
Hogwash by Karma Wilson
The Loud Book by Deborah Underwood
Naamah and the Ark of the Night by Susan Campbell Bartoletti
and here about:
Perfect Square by Michael Hall
Doodleday by Ross Collins
Pirate vs. Pirate by Mary Quattlebaum
Argus by Michelle Knudsen
Look, a Book! by Bob Staake
So far, in the picture book fiction category my top three are Naamah and the Ark of the Night, Doodleday and Argus. I haven’t read enough in the non-fiction category yet to have a top pick but I have a bunch on hold at the library. So stay tuned!
And in the meantime, do be sure to stop by Hope is the Word to look at all the other links.