Nov 1, 2015

November is PICTURE BOOK MONTH! 3...2....1... GO!

I mentioned in a recent post how honored I am to be serving on the Round One Panel for the annual Cybils Awards in the category of fiction picture books.
It's a responsibility that takes my commitment to promoting quality children's literature to a different level. Rather than just selectively shining my limited light on those titles that I find particularly valuable for various purposes and reasons, I've been carefully examining every single nominated title in this category. 

I fully expected to enjoy this process. 

Wow, "enjoy" is one heck of an understatement! I'm loving it!

I also expected to find myself drawn to some titles more than others, for a variety of reasons. 

Right again. I've found something to appreciate in each and every one of the 150+ books I've read and examined (so far). The count of books I read and considered carefully eventually rose to 250. Even so, some clearly rise above the rest in the quality of their stories, illustrations, book design, and overall appeal. 

November is Picture Book Month, so all month long I'll be posting notes and links about some of the books that particularly caught my eye. I've also been posting about them on my GOODREADS book lists, usually with a short review. Before reading my reviews here or there, or those of anyone else, please read the excellent thoughts of fellow panelist Carrie Charley Brown on the Writers' Rumpus Blog, here.

 It's important to note that my comments, ratings, and reviews reflect personal opinions and do not reflect the opinions or discussions of our panel.

Candlewick Press, 2015
So, ta-da! The first title I'll feature here is an irresistible story that is based on actual characters and events, and they are extraordinary. Almost unbelievable! 

Except they're true.

Ketzel, the Cat Who Composed, is written by Leslea Newman and illustrated (brilliantly!) by Amy June Bates. Here's what I had to say about Ketzel's story on Goodreads:

"This story is difficult to "cat"-egorize as fiction since it is based on actual events, an actual cat, an actual composer and an actual contest. The evocative and moody illustrations capture the urban streets, the comforting apartment interiors, and, most of all, the warm and loving personalities of the composer and the cat. It's a story with as many rich layers as a symphony, told with a lighthearted and loving touch. It also weaves insights about creativity and the universality of music across cultures (and species) throughout the story."

So, this is a great place to start following along on the process and discover incredible books to read, share, and recommend for yourselves. Even if you don't read the hundreds of titles we'll be reading, you won't want to miss this one.

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Picture books are as versatile and diverse as the readers who enjoy them. Join me to explore the wacky, wonderful, challenging and changing world of picture books.