Cybils 2010

I am very excited to be part of the Cybils again this year.  In the last few years, I have been part of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Panel.  It’s great to be back where I originally started in the Young Adult Fiction category.  This time as a Round 2 judge.  Take a look at our entire YA panel here

So how can you be involved?  You can nominate one book in each of the categories between October 1st and October 15th.  The books have to have been published between October 16, 2009 and September 30, 2010.

The finalists in each category will be announced on New Years Day.  The winners will be announced on Valentines Day.

A huge thank you to everyone who puts their time and energy into these awards every year.  It is an honor to be a small part it.

Piglet’s Picnic: Yummy Fun


Piglet’s Picnic by Jessica Souhami

On a sunny day, Piglet posted a note about a picnic by the river, just bring your favorite food to share.  She headed off to the river with her friend Mouse.  Both carried covered baskets with their favorite foods in them.  Some crows fly up with a bundle, two frogs come with promises of something crunchy.  Dog arrives with a newspaper packet and two sheep bring a knitted bag.  It was then time to open the parcels of food.  But as each is opened with a flap that the reader gets to open, the other animals are disappointed to see what is there.  Luckily they all brought enough for each of them to each their favorite food, the food they brought.

This friendly and fairly predictable story has plenty of toddler appeal.  Small children will enjoy opening the parcels with the flaps as well as the surprise of the final foldout page that shows the entire picnic laid out.  Nicely, different concepts are layered in the book unobtrusively with numbers and addition as new animals arrive.  Souhami’s cut paper illustrations are bright and bold enough to show nicely to a group. 

A simple story perfect for toddler story times or sharing with your own small child.  Appropriate for ages 2-4.

Reviewed from copy received from Frances Lincoln Children’s Books.

Dust Devil


Dust Devil by Anne Isaacs, illustrated by Paul O. Zelinsky

This companion book for the wonderful Swamp Angel is filled with the same tall tale antics of the first.  Swamp Angel grew too big for the state of Tennessee, so she had to move to the wide open spaces of Montana.  Unfortunately, the sun woke her too early so she plucked some mountains and placed them around to create some shade, making the buttes of Montana.  But her biggest problem was finding a horse that she could ride.  They were too small to carry her.  Then a huge storm came across the state, kicking up dust and sucking the roof off of her barn.  Swamp Angel jumped onto the storm and rode it until it turned into a horse that could strike lightning with its hooves.  When Backward Bart and his Flying Desperadoes enter the state, Swamp Angel and her horse, Dust Devil, have to combine their strength and size as well as a secret weapon to bring them to justice.  A wild stampede of a story, this is a tale worthy to follow in the huge footsteps of the original.

Isaacs has a wonderful time with the language of tall tales, using words that dance and whirl, immediately placing readers on familiar ground but amping it up to a new level.  Her description of the jail is worthy of note as a great example of her word play: “single-starred, double-barred, triple-guard jail.”  Isaacs’ story is completely jam-packed with Angel being a tall tale heroine.  She exemplifies everything readers want in adventure.  Isaac also adds a punch of humor to the book from the rollicking words she chooses to the villains themselves.  Backward Bart speaks his sentences in reverse-word order, which will have children listening very closely to be the first to decipher what he is saying. 

Zelinsky’s illustrations are done in oils on cedar, aspen and maple veneers.  This gives the illustrations a great framed effect that is rustic and perfectly suited to the story.  Zelinsky enjoys playing with perspective in his illustrations, offering views that intensify the size of Angel and Dust Devil.  The illustrations have a timelessness that is very appealing.

Swamp Angel is a girl who will give Paul Bunyan a run for his money, just as Dust Devil stands up well to Babe, the Blue Ox.  This brand new tall tale heroine stands tall among giants.  Appropriate for ages 5-8.

Reviewed from copy received from Schwartz & Wade Books.

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Literacyhead Features Leo Lionni

Literacyhead, a biweekly online magazine, has just published an issue that is an author study of Leo Lionni.  They received permission to use over 60 of Lionni’s images on their site, making it a feast of Lionni goodness.  Each issue of their magazine offers a writing lesson and a read-aloud lesson that incorporate the visual arts.

The Leo Lionni issue will be available for free until October 5th.  Every current issue is available for free.  If you are interested in accessing back issues, you will need a membership.

The magazine is put together very nicely with a friendly interface, plenty of great graphics, and a real ease of use. 

Make sure you take a look at the Coaching Matters section where I hope you will be as delighted as I was to get a glimpse of Lionni’s baskets of mouse parts.