For the past few months, I've been working as a Cybils panelist to find the best picture books that combine literary value with a kid-friendly appeal. On January 1, 2010 Fiction Picture Book finalists were revealed - along with the finalists from all of the Cybils categories. Taking off on Susan's post on the upcoming Caldecott awards, I'm starting my focus on all of the Cybils winners with the ones more likely - in my opinion - also bring home Caldecott silver or gold.
The Lion & the Mouse
by Jerry Pinkney
Gorgeous. Jerry Pinkney has to win the Caldecott for this stunning book. Has to. The wordless book - unless you count the owl sounds and mouse squeaks - allows the reader to fill in the Aesop's fable of the mighty lion who releases a mouse, to find that the tiny creature comes back another day to save him. But by making the story wordless, it removes the arrogance of the lion and the meekness of the mouse, allowing a greater depth of interpretation. This spectacular book breathes new life to an old tale. And I must mention again, gorgeous.
All the World
by Liz Garton Scanlon, illustrated by Marla Frazee
The Lion & the Mouse is likely to find company on the Caldecott list with this enchanting book. The poetic text is simple, taking a multicultural family through a day that focuses on their connection with each other, with friends and neighbors, and the world around them. The sentiment is lovely and is made more so by the detailed illustrations and breathtaking panoramas. This title encourages repeat readings to expand on the stories contained in the pictures, and the beauty contained in the message.
The Curious Garden
by Peter Brown
Don't rule out this title for the Caldecott list, with it's amazing artwork that takes a dark, smoggy urban area to a green, bright lushness. In the story, Liam discovers a little bit of greenery in a gray, bleak city and decides to care for it. He nurtures the struggling plants into a thriving, growing garden which creeps into the city and transforms the buildings and people. If the book is about the value of nature and the environment, it is also about the possibilities in each of us to affect change for the better.
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