Thursday, February 23, 2012

Picture Books: Cybils Fiction Finalists

My kids and I recently read all of the Cybils Fiction Picture Book finalists, and thoroughly enjoyed them.  I already wrote about Press Here and Do You Know Which Ones Will Grow? here in this post, but thought I'd write a bit about the others.

Me...Jane, a picture book biography of young Jane Goodall, won the Cybils Award for this past year.  It's truly a beautiful book, using different kinds of art:  cartoonish drawings with soft (water?)color; engravings from the 19th and early 20th century depicting animals, natural objects, and more; a few photos of Jane; and some drawings and puzzles created by Jane herself when she was young.  My kids really liked it, and I've been meaning to take a look at Dr. Goodall's Roots & Shoots program with them.

I Had a Favorite Dress reminded me of Joseph Had a Little Overcoat (except that it's about a modern-day girl!)  When this girl discovers her favorite dress has become too small, her mother helps her cope with the loss by making it into a shirt instead.  It then becomes a tank top, then a skirt, etc.  I think all three of us were intrigued to see how this story would end.  And it's a very sweet ending.  The illustrations are cheerful and fun, imitating child's art a bit, and incorporating stitching for some of the words.

Blackout is such a fun story.  A family and their neighbors in the city experience a blackout.  What do they do when the phone, computer, and video games no longer work?  They find some fun to experience together, of course!  And what do they do when the lights come back on?  Another sweet ending.  The artwork is fun, sometimes using a comic book style to tell the story, sometimes using a lovely two-page spread picture.  My kids loved it, and we vowed to have some family "blackout" nights together.

I Want My Hat Back is big like a picture book, but written like an early reader; it did win a Theodore Seuss Geisel Honor.  It's a lot of fun to read aloud, and I was giggling from the start at the simple language reminiscent of Dick and Jane, but with a sardonic yet silly humor behind it all.  My kids were a bit shocked at the ending, but eventually were won over by it.  The simple drawings have a goofy humor to them, too.

The Princess and the Pig was a book they read again and again.  This story, where a princess switches places with a pig in a far-fetched accident, had them laughing and spotting little details in the illustrations and trying to guess what would happen next.  I loved the play with fairy tales; different characters would make assessments of the crazy situations, decisively announcing, "It's the sort of thing that happens all the time in books," while holding a famous one, like Puss in Boots or Thumbelina.  The illustrations are always fun and sometimes stunningly beautiful.

Wanna know my kids' favorites?  When asked to vote, they couldn't decide between I Want My Hat Back and The Princess and the Pig.  They announced it was a tie.

And then they asked me to read them both again.

Be sure to check out the other Read Aloud Thursday posts at Hope Is the Word.


Amy @ Hope Is the Word said...

The only ones I've read are Me. . .Jane and the hat book. (Oh, and Press Here. I don't think I'm missing any.) I like Me. . .Jane best out of all the ones I've read. I do think the hat book has kid appeal, though.


Caryl said...

It's so hard to choose! I didn't include which one was my favorite, did I? If I had to pick, I think it would be... Blackout. Great bunch of books, so check out the rest of them when you get a chance, Amy. :)

Books4Learning said...

You have some great selections. There are several I plan to check out.

Thanks for stopping by my son's new blog and commenting. He is expecting big numbers to view it and getting discouraged. I keep telling him he has to keep doing it for the fun of it and the views will come later! I know it encouraged him to get your comment. :)

Caryl said...

Books4Learning: I hope your son keeps blogging and that he gets more comments as he does it. :) I did request that book from the library, as it looks like one my kids would love! It's great to get a kid's perspective, you know?