Sunday, January 1, 2017

2016 Cybils Award Finalists

Whew, it's done! Our part, anyway - the second round judges in all the categories now have to whittle these lists down to one title each the best of the best! I know coming up with the short lists weren't easy, so I do not envy them their task. You can find links to the short list in each category at, but here are the short lists for the categories I was part of, Board Books and Fiction Picture Books. These are the must-haves for any library, so if you find you are missing some, get those order cards out!

2016 Finalists: Board Books

Cityblock (Alphablock)by Christopher Franceschelli
Harry N Abrams
Nominated by: Becky L.
Your little one will have fun while learning as he/she travels through a generic city in this quality board book with engaging lift flaps and cut page turns via a variety of city transportation methods. Fabulous city destinations await, including a museum, a carousel, a sports stadium and more! And that is not all – in this “big city – all you can eat city,” there are many cultural treats to discover. This fabulous book slices up the essence of a big city in manageable bites, just perfect for a little one’s mind to chew on. Chock full of art to enjoy, words to learn, details to savor and most importantly, it’s a city block little ones will want to revisit again and again.
Lynne Marie, My Word Playground
Cuauhtemoc: Shapes/Formas (English and Spanish Edition)by Patty Rodriguez
Lil’ Libros
Nominated by: PragmaticMom
What in the world is Cuauhtémoc? And what is it doing in a child’s board book?
The charm of this little board book is the surprising variety of learning the author and illustrator have included in twenty-two pages. Cuauhtémoc is a beautifully illustrated book that introduces the youngest of our future readers to shapes. But that’s not all: it also names the shapes in both English and Spanish. And this book has still more: it focuses on one of the most neglected groups in children’s literature, indigenous American culture. You can find this all in a package that is perfect for 0-2 year olds, with simple text and large bright pictures. Cuauhtémoc is a wonderful book for your baby or your library system.
Debbie Nance, Readerbuzz
Dinosaur Dance!by Sandra Boynton
Little Simon
Nominated by: Alysa Stewart
Filled with pitch perfect rhymes and onomatopoeia, Dinosaur Dance waltzes from one page to the next with daring illustrations and colorful dinosaurs. The words are fun to say and create a rhythm that encourages small children to dance with the dinosaurs. Reading this board book provides the ideal environment for learning, laughing, and of course, dancing.
Kirstine Call, Reading for Research
Follow the Yarn: A Book of Colorsby Emily Sper
Jump Press
Nominated by: ediew
Follow the Yarn is a creative new take on the basic color board book. Each page shows yarn of a different color being unraveled by a cat, and the featured color is written in big, bold, color appropriate text. On each subsequent page, the previous colors are still displayed in what creates a fun web of colors by the end of the book. The yarns crisscross each other, so toddlers will enjoy following each color’s yarn to the end. The last page, white, is stunning with the colors contrasted against a black background. This book will make the task of teaching colors a delightful experience for both parents and children.
Kate Unger, Mom’s Radius
LOOK, LOOK AGAINby Agnese Baruzzi
Publisher/ Author Submission
Look, a donut! Or is it? Unfold the (sturdily constructed) flap, and you find those are actually the curves of a lounging cat. A green apples becomes two crocodiles, and so on, in this playful counting book.
The counting part of it is almost an extra. The real fun comes in learning to look at each shape differently, and in guessing what else it might be. Adults may remember similar photo games in magazines like National Geographic for Kids, or in the back pages of Reader’s Digest. The pages are easily manipulated by little hands, and while younger readers will enjoy marveling at the transformation, older children can be led in games of, “What else could this shape be?”

2016 Finalists: Fiction Picture Books

A Hungry Lion, or A Dwindling Assortment of Animalsby Lucy Ruth Cummins
Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Nominated by: Sondra Eklund
“Once upon a time there was a hungry lion” the book begins, and then lists all the other adorable animals surrounding him. Oh wait, that’s not quite right. Let’s try listing those animals again. And again. And… where did everybody go? Surprise! Of course the lion didn’t eat them all! It’s a party! Um….they’re going to eat the cake, right? Well….maybe not….
There are quite a few “a hungry animal is going to eat you, no, wait, it’s just a party” books, but this one stands out with its triple-twist and giggle-worthy ending. Cummins’ bright, colorful illustrations feature an adorable assortment of animals – and a stoic lion with a glare that fits his naughty personality perfectly. Cummins has a perfect sense of timing as she plays out the joke and surprises readers on every page. A Hungry Lion will keep your storytime audience and classes laughing hysterically as they request multiple readings so they can catch every detail.
Jennifer Wharton, Jean Little Library
Ida, Alwaysby Caron Levis
Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Nominated by: Jennifer Rumberger
Filled with lyrical language and vivid verbs, this book reads like poetry. The story of Gus and Ida touches on death and friendship in a peaceful and hopeful way. The illustrations add depth and power to the well chosen words. The unmistakable bond between Ida and Gus creates an emotional resonance that stays with you long after you’ve read it. You’re reminded that those you’ve lost are right there with with you. Always.
Kirstine Call, Reading for Research
One Day in the Eucalyptus, Eucalyptus Treeby Daniel Bernstrom
Nominated by: Heidi G.
“One day in the leaves
of the eucalyptus tree
hung a scare in the air
where no eye could see,
when along skipped a boy
with a whirly-twirly toy,
to the shade of the eucalyptus,
eucalyptus tree.”
Are your toes tapping? There’s a definite rhythm going that makes this book a natural read-aloud. Children can of course see the snake peeking out of the eucalyptus tree, and that snake gobbles up that boy with the whirly-twirly toy. The boy keeps calm and immediately hatches a plan, convincing the snake to swallow more and more adorably illustrated creatures, until he is finally so full, he…er…burps them all out. Early literacy skills, a feeling of empowerment, fun illustrations, science and social studies extensions, and just plain fun make this a well-rounded addition to the list.
Strictly No Elephantsby Lisa Mantchev
Simon & Schuster
Nominated by: Flowering Minds
When one little boy and his tiny pet elephant try to participate in Pet Club Day, they are met with a sign that says: Strictly No Elephants. Despite their sadness, they push forward together and ultimately travel from the realization that they do not fit in that club, to a joyful accomplishment and a place where they can celebrate their differences with friends. This well-written and aptly-illustrated book conveys the sadness and sweet success often found in the process of finding true friends and subtly suggests the meaning of friendship.
Lynne Marie, My Word Playground
The Night Gardenerby Terry and Eric Fan
Simon & Schuster
Nominated by: Betsy
The Night Gardener is a magical book. A small town is forever changed by the works of the Night Gardener, a mysterious man who creates new topiaries out of the local trees each night. One little boy, William, is impacted a bit more. One night after celebrating with the neighbors late into the night, William comes upon the Night Gardener and gets to help him create many creations in the local park. Though the trees only last until fall, the community is never the same again. And a small gift from the Night Gardener inspires William for a life time.
The text in this book is fairly minimal, with no more than a few sentences per two-page spread. The illustrations begin in muted tones with only the topiaries in color. But as the story progresses and the people in the neighborhood are impacted by the Night Gardener’s sculptures, they begin to appear in color as well. By the end of the book, the whole town is in full color, appearing as vibrant and alive as the people of the town. This book is perfect for kids ages 4-8.
Kate Unger, Mom’s Radius
There’s a Bear on My Chairby Ross Collins
Nosy Crow Books
Publisher/ Author Submission
“There’s a bear on my chair!”
On my chair!
I declare! A bear on my chair!
A mouse arrives home and discovers an enormous polar bear is sitting on his chair. How far will the mouse go to remove that bear from his chair?
There’s a Bear on My Chair is a exuberant tale filled with surprising rhyme and unexpected plot twists and wild mouse mood swings. This is a book children will ask to hear over and over again, with side benefits: you will love reading it over and over, and it will soon be a book children will find they can read solo.
Dare to ensnare this rare and extraordinaire bear-chair affair, There’s a Bear on My Chair.
Deb Nance, Readerbuzz
They All Saw a Catby Brendan Wenzel
Chronicle Books
Nominated by: PragmaticMom
“The cat walked through the world, with its whiskers, ears, and paws . . .”
When you see a cat, what do you see? A child sees a cute calico cat and wants to pet the kitty. But a mouse sees a large black cat with yellow crazed eyes, large pointed teeth, and long sharp claws ready to pounce. It is all a matter of perspective in Brendan Wenzel’s debut. He gives children twelve animals’ vision of the cat. The beautiful images will have children thinking about size and perspective, giving them a new view of their world.
Sue Morris, Kid Lit Reviews

There were many wonderful titles nominated that did not make the short list, but which should not be missed either. Take a look through my reviews over the past few months, and check out the blogs of my fellow panelists (links above). I would like to thank those other ladies for making this such an enjoyable experience, and for making me take a second or third look at things!

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