Jan 9, 2016

A Trio of " Ones-That Got-Away" from our Cybils Finalists

When I began serving on the CYBILS Round One panel for fiction picture books I knew we'd read stacks and stacks of books. By the time the submission deadline arrived the list of eligible books topped out at 254! Long before we began the discussions that eventually narrowed our finalists list to seven, I was spotting remarkable books that were each, unquestionably, winners in their own right. 

With SO MANY amazingly impressive fiction picture books to consider, it was inevitable that not all would make it through to the finals. That in no way implies that non-finalists have "fallen by the wayside" or been "left in the dust". Quite the contrary. These and other titles not on our finals list are turning up in mock competitions in multiple categories. These decisions are difficult and undoubtedly subjective, regardless of best efforts to rely on objective critieria. 

The upcoming Winter Convention for ALA (American Library Association) will feature the official announcements of winners and honors titles in multiple categories. You can follow that news of the YOUTH MEDIA AWARDS on their press pages, here. I didn't bother buying a $2.00 Powerball ticket for a chance to win $800 million, but I'd put more than $2.00 down as a safe bet that more than one of these titles will be included among the honored and medaled titles in those announcements on Monday morning, January 11, 2016. Get a head start on reading them now, if you haven't yet, so you can feel smug and nod knowingly when the titles are officially listed.

Roaring Brook Press, 2015
Let's begin with a title from an author/illustration pair whose picture books have won a fair share of awards in the past, Philip C. Stead and Erin E. Stead. LENNY & LUCY  distinguishes itself for other stories about loneliness, fear, and change in ways tender and creative, 
shivering and reassuring.

I'd read so many glowing reviews about this before I got my hands on it that I half-expected to be disappointed. My reaction was quite the opposite. There are so many depths to plumb in this book, for readers, writers, illustrators and, above all, kids, that it is likely to remain a classic for generations. The background images (and color tones) are a story in themselves, but nothing outshines the subtle, gentle, powerful story of Peter and Harold, and Lenny & Lucy, and Millie, of course. 
Rather than rave (which is easy for me to do about this one) I urge you to get a copy for yourself ASAP. The library hold list on this one goes on forever. I try hard not to buy books if I can get them from the library, but even after reading and returning this one, I plan to own a copy.

Roaring Brook Press, 2015
Next up is a masterpiece written by Marsha Diane Arnold with pictures by Matthew Cordell, LOST. FOUND. This is a small miracle of a book in which two words lead readers on an epic, heroic journey from woodland walk to the establishment of a community of friends. The two title words form the total vocabulary for this story, so the reader must fully engage in each scenario as animal(s) depict a series of encounters with a colorful scarf. The illustrations romp, amuse, and propel page turns to reveal the unraveling of and eventual reconstruction of society itself. Creativity, cooperation, exuberance, and exasperation lead to confrontation then collaboration and eventual resolution. Humor and charm abound.

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2015

Both of the titles above are proving to be favorites of kids and adults. The same is true for those lucky enough to have discovered DRUM DREAM GIRL, written by Margarita Engle and illustrated by Rafael Lopez. This is destined to be a timeless classic and I hope everyone who reads it helps to make it so by recommending it far and wide.
It's a readable, very brief story in free-verse inspired by an actual multi-ethnic girl/young woman who overcame social taboos about girls drumming by force of her talent, determination, study and perseverance. Its category-bending nature mirrors the inspired and persistent girl's pursuit, couched in a book with rich visuals and language that can inspire readers, artists, and writers to follow their own dreams and talents. This story deserves more attention than it may garner in a crowded field of outstanding books, and should find a home with older readers as mentor writing text,  initiating discussions of social expectations and restrictions.

I'll feature even more titles in future days and weeks, celebrating announcements of winners like these and many others. Stay tuned to the ALA announcements and follow my blog for more amazing picture books, winners all: not because of medals awarded, wonderful as they are, but because these books are unforgettable and amazing. 


  1. Thanks, Sandy! I appreciate your recommendations! Looking forward to more!

  2. Thanks for stopping by, JoAnn. Tomorrow Am the ALA Youth Media Awards live stream and I can't wait to watch and see which of this year's amazing titles are named for various awards. It's been an tremendous year for kid lit!

  3. Thanks so much for this, Sandy. One starts to feel a little LOST with the whirlwind of award winners around you, but your blog has brought such a light to my day. I feel FOUND again. :)

  4. Awww, that's so good to hear. I'm happy to know my reviews and comments were helpful. even happier to read your fun word play and know that some amazing books will find their way into your life, and on from there into the hands of kids. Thanks for the kind words and for stopping by!


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.