The 2013 Cybils finalists have been announced!
"All the children at my school," I tell people, "are 100% illiterate when they arrive in August, but, by the time they leave us three years later, they are 100% literate. That's a 100% success rate."
I'm a librarian at a PreK-2 school. Our tiny folks are just learning to make their way through text and it's my job to find the best books for them. It's a challenge. Simple enough to read. Complex enough to be interesting. Tricky.
Happily, this year I served on the Cybils panels for Easy Readers and for Early Chapter Books. These books, I think, are perfect for the children at my school.
Here are some I loved from this year's crop of Cybils:
Life of Ty: Penguin Problems by Lauren Myracle
Ty is ignored these days; Mom is all wrapped up in caring for the new baby. Somehow Ty, usually a well-mannered little boy, wanders off while on his field trip and finds and takes home a baby penguin.
Lovely story, with lots of great aha moments.
A Big Guy Took My Ball by Mo Willems
A big guy takes Piggie’s ball. Of course Elephant feels confident he can get Piggie’s ball back from the fellow. Then he sees the big guy...and this big guy is really, really big.
Another perfect Mo Willems tale. Does Mo Willems ever swing and not get a hit?
Joe and Sparky Go to School by Jamie Michalak with illustrations by Frank Riemkiewicz
Oh dear. Before you know it, Sparky finds himself on top of a school bus and Joe must climb on back of the bus to rescue him.
And is school ever a strange place?! Yes, it is, especially to a turtle and a giraffe.
Fun, fun, fun.
Penny and Her Marble by Kevin Henkes
Penny finds a marble in her neighbor’s yard and is filled with trepidation about finding it and taking it home with her without telling her neighbor about it. A little story with big drama and a happy ending.
The Meanest Birthday Girl by Josh Schneider
I don’t ever remember reading books about mean girls when I was a little reader, but I seem to be reading more and more about them these days and I’m glad. It’s Dana’s birthday and she is a mean girl. One of her friends gives her an elephant for her birthday. It’s not a good gift. Dana seems to deserve it somehow, and she suffers greatly before finally, in a mean gesture, giving it as a birthday gift to another friend.
Dodsworth and the duck go to
What a happy matchup between writer and illustrator! And it is so refreshingly lovely to read a story about a happy child, Dani. Yes, she suffers a setback in her happiness when her best friend moves away, but we know that will only be a small setback somehow. Yes, a refreshingly lovely book. A genuinely lovely book.
Lulu and the Dog from the Sea by Hilary Mckay
Lulu and her cousin go with Lulu’s parents rent a house for a vacation by the sea and encounter the Dog from the Sea. It’s a homeless dog who scavenges for food and water and who has alienated himself from all the residents by digging in their trash. Lulu and her cousin lose their hearts to this dog. You know what’s going to happen and you are glad it does.
Violet Mackerel’s Natural Habitat by Anna Bradford with illustrations by Elanna Allen
Violet tries to make a ladybug happy, but she accidentally kills her. Violet’s sister desperately needs an idea for her science fair project. These two little plot lines twist and curve around each other and result in a wonderful little story.
Kelsey Green, Reading Queen by Claudia Mills with illustrations by Rob Shepperdson
Is it wrong to love a story so much just because the main character is an enormously obsessive reader? I’m not sure, and I’m also not sure that anyone other than enormously obsessive readers would love this book quite as much as those of us who are such do and will. Nevertheless, even if you are not, I would hope that you would admire the character growth of little Kelsey, who sets aside her own personal goals to help her class achieve its goal.
It’s a marvelous tale, I think. I love it.
Others I recommend:
Here's the complete list of all the Cybils Easy Reader and Early Chapter Book nominees.
Here are the Cybils Easy Reader finalists and Early Chapter Book finalists.
Have you read any of these? What did you think?