Cybils YA Nominees

Jen has posted the list of Young Adult Fiction Nominees for the 2006 Cybils Awards.  80 books were nominated!  I don’t envy the Nominating Committee working their way through that many titles in a short amount of time.  But I am thrilled to be on the Judging Committee and happy to read the five nominated titles in January. 

I am trying to read as many of the nominated titles as possible hoping that I will have read at least a couple of the final five titles before I am called upon to judge them.  There has been such a crop of great YA titles this year, that narrowing it to five will be tough and then selecting one will be an amazing feat. 

To see the nominees for the other Cybil Award categories, go to the official website.

Carnegie Long List

The longlist for the 2007 CILIP Carnegie Medal has been announced. The Carnegie Medal is a UK award, given each year to the author of an outstanding book for children. The short list will be published in April 2007 and the award is announced in June.

Christian Science Monitor Books Section

The Christian Science Monitor Books Section has several articles on children’s books. They feature some great new additions to popular series, a review of One Potato, Two Potato, a small list of noteworthy titles from 2006, and features on other books.

Chowder

Chowder by Peter Brown.

Chowder is a bulldog who leads a rather unique life.  He doesn’t fit in with other dog, doesn’t like to take walks and is happy left at home alone to play with people toys like computers.  But he is lonely and wants to make friends.  The other dogs have told him he belongs in a zoo, so when he sees a billboard for a new petting zoo at a supermarket, he finds a way to get there.  But it is still complicated getting the petting zoo animals to be his friend, especially when he kicks their ball high into a tree.  In the end, he manages to make a whole group of new friends.

Peter Brown’s art is a wonderful mix of quirky modern and vintage.  It is eye-catching and a lot of fun.  Children will immediately be caught up in a book that opens with Chowder sitting on a toilet and the words, “Chowder had always been different.”  The book has the perfect amount of words for the story to be well told and complete, but not for small children to be overwhelmed. 

Add this to your dog storytime or share it with children in a discussion of being different and unique.  Chowder certainly is…in a wonderful way. 
You can also visit his website where you too can be tempted by wallpaper for your computer that shows Chowder sitting at his.

Find Anthony Ant

Find Anthony Ant by Lorna and Graham Philpot.

Warning!  This is not a book recommended for reading to a group, rather it should be shared with just one or two children while cuddled happily.  A clever book for kids who are just a little too young for Where’s Waldo, children follow Anthony Ant through a maze trying to spot his red backpack, red cap and yellow shirt in one of three spots in the maze.  It is going to be a leisurely read with small fingers tracing the mazes and laughter as ants on toilets are found, and debates about where Anthony is. 

The sense of humor adds a lot of fun to this book, and the maze feature makes it much less frustrating than the Waldo series.  Share this with your Kindergartener or first grader for a good cozy time.

SLJ's Best Books of 2006

Just got an email in my box that announced the release of SLJ’s Best Books of 2006!  Hurrah!  I always love getting these lists of books and discovering what I missed out on through the year.  Enjoy!

Max's Words

Max’s Words by Kate Banks, pictures by Boris Kulikov.

Max has two brothers.  Benjamin collects stamps and Karl collects coins.  Neither will give Max even a single stamp or coin for himself.  So Max decides to start his own collection, of words.  He starts with small words and moves on to larger ones.  When his brothers boast that they have thousands of stamps and hundreds of coins, Max says that he is saving to have enough for a story.  Max starts to sort through his words, and his brothers are caught up in the joy of creating a story too.

Banks has written a readable, friendly book about the joy of language.  Her word choices are wonderful, and you can tell that she had quite a large collection to choose from herself.  Kulikov’s illustrations add a whimsical, humorous side to the story, especially in the section where the words that Max is collecting are listed.  He uses graphics mixed with the words themselves to create a visual feast of words. 

My youngest son is an emergent reader and loved being able to match the words I was reading aloud with their graphic depiction.  The story is rich and wonderful and begs to be shared with children.  Kindergarteners through second graders should enjoy the story and may be prompted to start their own word lists or even their own stories. 

Why Did the Chicken Cross the Road?

Why Did the Chicken Cross the Road? is a series of illustrations by famous children’s book illustrators that give the punch line to the gag.  The list of illustrators is amazing with people like Marla Frazee, Mo Willems, David Shannon, Tedd Arnold, Jerry Pinkney and many many others.  Some of the spreads are wordless, others offer a punchline.  It is a book that showcases the breadth of talent and types of art happening in children’s literature today.  Anyone who loves picture books will find themselves happily turning from page to page, immediately recognizing the style of almost every illustrator.  The joy is seeing the art one after the other, like a visual who’s who of children’s artists. 

This was a joy.  It can be shared with children, especially those who enjoy art and will like looking at each piece slowly.  Children who have read a lot of books will also enjoy seeing their favorite artists next to others that they don’t know.  Pure children’s lit fun.

Reality vs Fantasy

ScienceDaily has an article on a study that concluded that children can distinguish between reality and fantasy using contextual cues.
“In three studies, about 400 children ages 3 to 6 heard about something new and had to say whether they thought it was real or not. Some children heard the information defined in scientific terms (“Doctors use surnits to make medicine”), while others heard it defined in fantastical terms (“Fairies use hercs to make fairy dust”). The researchers found that children’s ability to use contextual cues to determine whether the information is true develops significantly between the ages of 3 and 5.”
And what does this have to do with children’s literature? Plenty!
My question is what is wrong with a child between the ages of 3 and 5 or even much older believing in fairies or other amazing creatures like elves, witches, dragons, etc. Why does this demonstrate their ability to distinguish reality from fantasy? Seems to me that there is a lot larger issue that if something is seen as scientific it is real and if it is creative it must be untrue.
Or perhaps I am just a trippy type of person who wants children to read books, internalize them and dream their big dreams. I want children to be children a lot longer than they are in our society. Let’s give them their years to believe in fairies and the fantastical. Let’s allow them to be real for children.