#Cybils2019 Nominations: A perfect place to find the best #kidlit

Nominations for Cybils Awards (Children’s and Young Adult Bloggers’ Literary Awards)  are now final.  You should go check them out.

If you want to encourage young people to read, the nomination lists are fabulous places to find the best children’s books from the last year, separated by reading level/genre.

If your are a children’s author, comparing lists from past years can help you find out what current trends are in children’s literature. (I see big changes in the nonfiction list compared to last year).

Direct links to the categories:

Easy Readers and Early Chapter Books
Elementary/Middle-Grade Nonfiction * My favorite category*
Elementary/Middle-Grade Speculative Fiction
Fiction Picture Books/Board Books (Some of the board books are nonfiction.)
Graphic Novels
Junior/Senior High Nonfiction
Middle-Grade Fiction
Poetry (Nonfiction everywhere here, too.)
Young Adult Fiction
Young Adult Speculative Fiction

What are your favorite categories?

#kidlit Picture Book That Excels At Suspense and Surprise

Along with picture books, I also write mysteries for adult readers (see It’s a Mystery blog). Mystery (and thriller) writers strive to create suspense and tension, as well as surprise in their work. That’s why it is cool to see an author/illustrator excel at this task in a nearly wordless picture book.

In Spencer’s New Pet by Jessie Sima, Spencer has an unusual pet, a balloon dog. The dog accompanies Spencer everywhere he goes, including some places that are decidedly dangerous for balloons.  Readers hold their breath. Will his pet survive?

The ending is a twist sure to surprise everyone. Once the surprise is revealed, many readers are going to want to read it again to look for clues that they might have missed. Although it will never be the same level of surprise, readers also want to re-live that initial experience of tension/suspense.

I noticed in reviews that some people were disturbed by the twist. Perhaps it is possible to defy expectations too much, to make the surprising twist too far from the realm of possibility.? You don’t want to do anything that interferes with readers suspending disbelief and buying into your story in adult books, but the standards are likely different in highly-imaginative children’s books.

Have you read Spencer’s New Pet? What did you think?

Age Range: 4 – 8 years
Hardcover: 56 pages
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers (August 27, 2019)
ISBN-10: 1534418776
ISBN-13: 978-1534418776

#Nonfiction Monday The Big Book of Birds

Last year as a Cybils judge I reviewed Yuval Zommer’s The Big Book of the Blue.  Frankly, it was one of my favorites of the 140+ nonfiction books I read.  I loved the unique, fun illustrations and the playfulness of it. Plus, the information presented was spot on.

Now Zommer has out a new title the series, The Big Book of Birds.

This book has many of the same features I liked about The Big Book of the Blue.  The big size and the complex, engaging illustrations are the same. There’s also a challenge to search for and find a object, this time an egg, throughout the illustrations.  Those sort of games can bring a young reader back to a book again and again.

The topic overviews, such as a spread about bird migration, mix well with zoomed-in discussions of specific types of birds, such as parrots or owls. Again the text is interesting and informative.

There’s only one thing that puts me off loving this one as wholeheartedly as Blue. Weirdly, I don’t like where he placed the birds’ eyes in some of the illustrations. He gives each bird two eyes in a stylized way that sometimes makes one them appear to be on the bird’s neck. Eyes on necks may not work for me, but it probably won’t be a problem for most readers.

Everything is big about this book. Even the back matter is oversized. It includes the answers to the search-and-find, a fun glossary, and a huge index.

The Big Book of Birds is the type of book that begs to be shared. Grab a copy, find a quiet corner, and spend time with a young reader delving into each and every page.  They will be glad you did.


Want to read more children’s books about birds? Check our growing list at Science Books for Kids.

Age Range: 6 – 8 years
Publisher: Thames & Hudson; 1 edition (June 4, 2019)
ISBN-10: 0500651515
ISBN-13: 978-0500651513

Disclosure: The book was provided by our local library. Also, I am an affiliate with Amazon so I can provide you with cover images and links to more information about books and products. As you probably are aware, if you click through the highlighted title link and purchase a product, I will receive a very small commission, at no extra cost to you. Any proceeds help defray the costs of hosting and maintaining this website.

Looking for more children’s nonfiction books? Try the Nonfiction Monday blog.