Before I share the Cybil nominees for fiction picture books we’ve recently enjoyed I thought I’d list the ones I’ve previously reviewed.
I wrote here about the following:
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 I wrote here about these:
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
And finally, I reviewed the following:
Blue Chameleon by Emily Gravett
Blue Chicken by Deborah Freedman
The Artist Who Painted a Blue Horse by Eric Carle
As soon as David saw this in the library pile he started asking me to “Please, please, read the mouse and bear book.” As you can see, we are fans of the grumpy on the outside bear and the “small and gray and bright-eyed” mouse. In this new addition to the series, Bear is sick and is quite certain he is the sickest person in the world. Mouse, of course, tries all sorts of ways to make him feel better despite himself. If you don’t know these charming, sweet and funny books by Bonny Becker, you are in for a treat.
Follow Me by Tricia Tusa is at its heart a poem. There isn’t really any story but as a young girl swings she entreats the reader to follow her into a swirl of colors. The colors of the soft dreamlike pictures (a kind of etching) go perfectly with the text. Ultimately this is a book I thought was beautifully done. However, I think both boys are more linear thinkers and prefer more of a story.
I wasn’t surprised that my boys didn’t love Follow Me, neither of them enjoy poetry very much. Still, they didn’t dislike it. What did surprise me was how much they both hated Along a Long Road. It’s true that it doesn’t have much of a story but I’d seen such fantastic reviews of the book by Frank Viva all over the place. A man on a bike follows a road. That’s the whole story. The striking thing about the book is the layout with bold graphics and one continuous winding yellow road that goes from page to page. I thought it was fine but the boys were quite vocal in their dislike. It is probably better for younger kids. Ruth requested multiple readings, during which David held his hands over his ears and loudly groaned each time I repeated the refrain “Along a long road”.
I think I’ve seen other books with this same basic plot: busy family suffers blackout only to discover that life away from electronics is more fun. But even though it’s not an original concept the cartoon style pictures and the use of light and dark to tell the story by John Rocco make this one fun and worth reading.
Lane Smith is a deservedly well-known and celebrated author and illustrator. We have enjoyed many of his books and those of other authors he’s illustrated. However, I’ve often thought that they have a little more edge or sarcasm than I prefer in children’s books. This book though has all the whimsy and fun of his others but with a warmth and heart that the others are missing. I really loved this book and Grandpa Green and his magical garden.
Just like with the nonfiction books, it would be incredibly difficult for me to pick one best book from these. Many of the books we read were one in a series that we already knew and loved. If I was choosing the Cybil I’d exclude those even though they might be ones we really liked. But I think it’s more difficult and award-worthy to come up with a totally new idea than to write a very good book but with known characters. Of the fiction books I’ve read so far, my shortlist would include Naamah and the Ark of the Night, Doodleday, Argus and Grandpa Green.