Posts Tagged ‘Cybils Shortlist Reading Challenge’

We’ve read all this year’s Cybils fiction picture book finalists!

March 7, 2011 @ 1:38 pm | Filed under: Books, Cybils, Picture Book Spotlight

How’s your Cybils Shortlist Reading Challenge booklist coming along?

So far, I’ve read 19 of the 76 titles—most of them in the Fiction Picture Book and YA Fiction categories, the former because I have three picture-book-devouring younguns at the moment (and some of their big sisters have been known to listen in), the latter because I was part of the panel that drew up the list. We’re doing pretty well with the beginning readers, too; there’s another batch arriving for us at the library any day now.

Since we’ve now had the pleasure of reading all seven books on the fiction picture book shortlist, I thought I’d do a little roundup here.

A Sick Day for Amos McGee by Philip Christian Stead.

Rilla and I are in love. What a sweet, gentle, quirky story. Amos is an elderly fellow who works at the zoo, where he always makes time to visit with his friends. Chess with elephant, a race with tortoise, a quiet moment shared with a shy penguin. When Amos stays home sick one day, his animal pals (and a floating red balloon) set off to find him. Rilla giggled the whole way through this lovely, quiet book. “Again, again!” she begged the moment we finished. The second time through, she lingered over the pictures, murmuring over winsome details. It was this year’s Caldecott Winner, and I see why. The art is delicate and sweetly atmospheric, and full of tiny surprises. I’ll be giving this one as a gift, often and often.

Interrupting Chicken by David Ezra Stein.

Fantastic. A chicken lass can’t help but chime in when the stories her Papa’s reading get tense. Papa keeps trying new fairy tales—Hansel and Gretel, Chicken Little, Little Red Riding Hood—in hopes the little red chicken will settle down and get sleepy, but every time the story gets rolling, the energetic chick catapults herself into the tale and warns the main characters before they stray into danger. Wonderfully funny and absolutely true to life (except, of course, that they’re chickens). 2010 Caldecott Honor book and the winner of the CYBIL in this category.

Here’s the book trailer if you’d like a peek between the pages:

A Beach Tail by Karen Lynn Williams, illustrated by Floyd Cooper.

Gregory’s dad tells him not to go into the water, and not to stray too far away from the lion Greg has drawn in the sand. Gregory draws the lion’s tale longer and longer, veering around a jellyfish and a horseshoe crab, swooping over an old sandcastle and beyond. When he realizes Dad is lost in the mass of beach umbrellas, Gregory follows Sandy Lion’s tail back to its body—and there’s Dad, watching all the while. Gorgeous art and simple text; both Rilla and Wonderboy took a real fancy to this one. Just now, as I was writing this, Rilla peered over my shoulder at the cover and asked if we could get it back from the library.

I’ve already written about the other four Cybils picture book finalists here, but I’ll paste those notes in this post just to keep them all in one place.


Chalk by Bill Thomson.

Jiminy crickets, what art! Amazing expressions on the kids, especially when they’re running in terror from the T Rex…Rilla and Wonderboy were transfixed by this one. The magic of chalk that brings drawings to life, the dramatic turn of events, the clever solution. A wordless story, which is something Rilla always enjoys.


The Cow Loves Cookies by Karma Wilson, illustrated by Marcellus Hall.

Silly, funny, sweet. Very satisfying for Rilla and Wonderboy. A rollicking rhymed text that isn’t torture to read, and the joke at the end went over big. (From this post on Jan. 30, 2011.)

Flora’s Very Windy Day by Jeanne Birdsall—that’s right, the Penderwicks author has written a picture book!

Rilla and I were quite surprised to find ourselves and Huck in the opening pages of this book. I mean, really, it’s like Matt Phelan was peeking in the window. A charming story, quite appealing to the four-year-old big sister in this household. (She wouldn’t let Huck blow away either.) Flora is frustrated when baby brother Crispin gets into the paints and ruins Flora’s picture. Their frazzled mama sends them outside to play, despite Flora’s protests that the wind is too strong and will blow them away. Sure enough, a hearty gust scoops Crispin into the sky, and Flora must abandon her boots and go rescue him. Seems every high-flying creature in the big blue and beyond wants to claim Crispin—who is, admittedly, utterly irresistible in that long-tasseled hat—for a helper. Dragonfly, sparrow, eagle, rainbow, cloud, even the moon! Flora’s exchanges with these entities quite enchanted my Rilla. And my goodness, Matt Phelan’s art just blew me away.

Flora & Crispin will join Max & Ruby and Maggie B. & James in the company of great big sister-little brother pairs in children’s literature. (From this post on Feb 22, 2011.)

Shark vs. Train by Chris Barton, illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld.

A perfect picture book, I tweeted the day I read it. “A perfect marriage of art and text” is a reviewer’s cliche but by golly it’s no overstatement in this case. Two little boys run for a toybox and brandish their selections in triumph and challenge. Shark vs. train—who wins? It depends…what’s the competition? Pie-eating? Diving? Marshmallow roasting? The stakes keep escalating, to hilarious effect. Rilla and Wonderboy sit and pore over the art, which is sharp and comic and enchanting. I find myself wishing my nephews and nieces hadn’t all grown up so much: this would be my birthday book of choice this year. (From this post in September 2010.)

Cybils 2010 winners and finalists.

ETA: A commenter alerted me to another Cybils Reading Challenge taking place at 5 Minutes for Moms. They have a Mr. Linky and everything if you’d like to participate!

Cybils Reading Challenge Update

January 11, 2011 @ 4:00 pm | Filed under: Books, Cybils, Early Readers

We’ve been enjoying these two finalists in the CYBILs Early Reader category:

Fly Guy Meets Fly Girl by Tedd Arnold

We’ve been big Tedd Arnold fans ever since Green Wilma. This one is wacky and fun, and just a little gross.

We Are in a Book! by Mo Willems

An instant Rilla/Wonderboy favorite. They have adored every single one of the Elephant & Piggie books & this one—a Geisel Honor book, as announced yesterday—is no exception. Our first time through, I loved the way Rilla gasped and cried out, “They know???” when Elephant realized he was in a book and we were reading it.

Of course this book generates an even more earnest “Again please, Mommy!” than the rest of the Elephant and Piggie series—which is saying a lot—because when you get to the end, Elephant begs you to go back to the beginning. As I remarked on Twitter, this may well be the book that tips Rilla over the edge into reading, because she is determined to read all of Piggie’s lines herself.

(Bet I’d read it six times before I realized that what Piggie is thanking us for in the front of the book is starting over.)

My running Cybils Shortlist Reading Challenge tally: 12 of 76

Cybils Shortlists and a Reading Challenge

January 1, 2011 @ 9:53 am | Filed under: Books, Cybils

Okay, I knew I wouldn’t last long before I came up with some kind of reading plan for the year…what’s a nice clean slate for if not to write on it?

See, I just had a fun idea: now that the eagerly-awaited 2010 Cybils shortlists have been announced, how about a Cybils Shortlist Reading Challenge?

If I’m counting correctly, there are a total of 76 books shortlisted across the 11 categories. (The odds of my having counted correctly, mind you, are slim. Feel free to correct me.) That means if you haven’t read any of them—and you’ve probably already read at least a few—you could read all 76 titles by tackling six or seven books a month. Many of these books are picture book and early readers, remember, so seven is a totally attainable number.

Of course those of us who served on a first-round panel (or who read lots of new books) will have a head start. I haven’t yet counted how many shortlisters I’ve read in total, but I did see several books I enjoyed on the lists already. I think I might only have to read four or five shortlisters a month to complete the challenge.

If you’re game, please chime in in the comments!

Serving on the YA fiction panel was a joy and (speaking of) a challenge. I gave up fall gardening—and here in San Diego, that’s one of our best garden seasons—in order to keep up with my reading responsibilities. (People are always asking me how I find so much time to read, and there’s your answer. Something’s gotta give. My ‘something’ usually has more to do with cooking and floor-scrubbing, but those are things that gotta give during ordinary times, and a stint on a first-round Cybils panel is not an ordinary time.) My fellow panelists are wonderfully insightful readers, women with wit and wisdom. We enjoyed our three months of book discussions so much, in fact, that when it was all over, we decided to keep this good thing going via monthly book-clubbish conversations. Maybe some of these other-category titles will provide some of the fuel for our sparky talks.

I hope to write more about our panel—and our selections—in the days to come, but for now if you’d like a peek behind the scenes, here’s a writeup by Kelly Jensen of Stacked.

“Being a part of this panel was some of the most fun I’ve had in a long time. It was completely exhausting and at times emotionally draining, but after three months of reading wildly, it all came down to a 4.5 hour discussion the day after Christmas.”

Kelly, Amanda, Ami, Cheryl, Jackie, Justina, I loved getting to know you, laugh with you, argue with you, read with you. I look forward to many more lively fights conversations to come. Also: In-and-Out burgers!

Updated—Okay, got my tally! Chagrined to see I’ve only read three of the other shortlisted titles (plus the seven from our panel). They happen to be three of my favorite books of the year, so I’m delighted to see them among the finalists in their respective categories. (SHARK VS TRAIN, SMILE, MIRROR MIRROR, all of which I’ve raved about here this year.)

76 books total
minus the 10 I’ve read =

66 finalists left to read in 2011. Fun!!

Here’s a link to my checklist.