As those who read this blog regularly may have noticed, I was very scarce the past few months. Although some of it was because of school, it was also because I was deeply involved on the Sci-Fi/Fantasy panel for the 2008 Cybils. Finalists were announced Jan. 1, and the winners will be posted in mid-Febuary. To count down to that anticpated day, I'll be reposting finalists and the coresponding panel's blurbs every Thursday until the final announcement. So without further ado, here our our first two lists, fiction and non-fiction picture books. You can learn more about each book by following the links below.
Non-Fiction Picture Books
A River of Words: The Story of William Carlos Williams written by Jen Bryant
This biography follows "Willie Williams" from his days as a smart, athletic youngster to his later years as a physician. As readers see him aging, they also see the inexplicable pull of poetry in his life and the making of a man as a poet. The multimedia illustrations closely compliment the text, making for a book that exudes the spirit of Williams in every way. The book concludes with timelines of both Williams' life and world history during Williams' lifetime.
Astronaut Handbook written and illustrated by Meghan McCarthy
How does one become an astronaut? McCarthy opens the door to astronaut training and lets readers in on all the secrets. The eye-popping illustrations offer ways to understand information that would be too difficult for the target audience had it been presented only in text. The back matter includes a page of fascinating facts and a bibliography of books, web sites, videos and places to visit.
Duel!: Burr and Hamilton's Deadly War of Words written by Dennis Brindell Fradin and illustrated by Larry Day
Fradin's historically accurate telling of the story of the duel between Hamilton and Burr is dramatically told. Both men are cast as well-rounded human beings with flaws and strengths, and both are shown to be at fault for the duel. The book concludes with a lengthy bibliography.
Fabulous Fishes written and illustrated by Susan Stockdale Peachtree
This Seuss-like look at the world of fish uses bold illustrations and rhyming text to introduce young readers to the wide variety of ocean fish. Stockdale follows up her textual overview with a few pages of additional information about each fish pictured. A long list of resources is also included.
Nic Bishop Frogs written and illustrated by Nic Bishop
Jam-packed with amazing and sometimes quirky facts, and gorgeous photos, this book takes readers on a journey through the wonderful world of frogs. Scientifically, Bishop doesn't talk down to young readers, but rather helps to make the mystery that is life and science more understandable. A glossary and index are included.
Wanda Gag: The Girl Who Lived to Draw written and illustrated by Deborah Kogan Ray
Using Gág's own words, Kogan Ray tells the story of a woman born into an art-loving family who followed her own dream to create art, no matter what obstacles stood in her way. This biography follows Gág from her childhood years up through the publication of her Newbery award-winning book, Millions of Cats.
Wangari's Trees of Peace: A True Story from Africa written and illustrated by Jeanette Winter Winter's bold illustrations and straightforward prose tell the story of this Nobel Peace Prize winner's efforts to bring the green back to Kenya. Focused on her early life, this biography introduces readers to a girl who loved nature, decried its destruction, and worked tirelessly to reforest her beloved homeland. The back matter includes an author's note and quote from Maathai.
Fiction Picture Books
Abe Lincoln Crosses a Creek: A Tall, Thin Tale (Introducing His Forgotten Frontier Friend)written by Deborah Hopkinson and illustrated by John Hendrix
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.
--Travis Jonkers, 100 Scope Notes
Big Bad Bunny written by Franny Billingsley and 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.
--Melissa Wiley, Here in the Bonny Glen
Chester's Back! written and illustrated by Melanie Watts
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 touching one of kindness, patience, and humanity.
--Pam Coughlan, MotherReader
Katie Loves the Kittens 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 story-telling, and illustrations will engage kids of all ages in this fun, romping story.
--Pam Coughlan, MotherReader
The Sea Serpent and Me written by Dashka Slater and 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.
--Stephanie Ford, ChildLit
A Visitor for Bear written by Bonny Becker and 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 that creating a tale every member of the family will adore.
--Stephanie Ford, ChildLit
Wabi Sabi written by Mark Reibstein and 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.
For more information on the Cybils, visit their website. And look for more Cybils finalists next Thursday.