Cybils 2009 Finalists Revealed

Time to check if your favorite children’s and Young Adult books of 2009 made the cut at the Cybils Website.

For those of you that I have contacted about reading these books, here are the nonfiction picture book finalists. I can’t say anything about them right now, but these would be what I would be sharing. Check the Cybils website link above for more information on each book.

Non-fiction Picture Books

Or if you are looking for books to share with your children, the other genre finalists are some fantastic ones.

Fiction Picture Books

Middle-Grade/YA Non-Fiction

Note: I added Cars on Mars because Amazon won’t make a carousel widget with less than 6 books. Cars on Mars is a good book that didn’t make it as a Cybils finalist.

Finally, Amazon also created a list of Best of 2009 Picture books, although they combined both fiction and non-fiction. Some of the ones on this list couldn’t be nominated for Cybils because of requirements about the date of publication. In any case, it is fun to compare the choices. Only The Lion and the Mouse and The Curious Garden made both lists.

Please read my financial disclosure page for information about my affiliation with Amazon.

Cybils Reveal Coming Soon

Can you feel the excitement? The Cybils book finalists are going to be made public this Friday, January 1, at 6:00 am Mountain time. See the the Cybils blog for more information about the reveal.

Now the pressure will be on the second group of judges to pick the winners.

Will your favorite books from 2009 be in the running?

Torn Paper Collage Illustrations in Children’s Nonfiction

Our family visited an exhibit of botanical art at the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix last week. There was a heavy emphasis on scientific accuracy in all the incredible illustrations, which you can see by going to the member’s gallery
at the American Society of Botanical Illustrator’s website and clicking on any of the artists’ names.

Seeing these works made me think of the illustrations in a couple of children’s nonfiction books I had seen lately: How an Egg Grows Into a Chicken by Tanya Kant and Carolyn Franklin (Illustrator), and Life in a Coral Reef (Let’s-Read-and-Find-Out Science 2) by Wendy Pfeffer and Steve Jenkins.
In both cases the illustrators choose to use torn paper collage. This is a lovely and artistically interesting technique, but I’m afraid that the details and accuracy are lost somewhat. For example, in the first book the torn paper eggs look rough and irregular, not really egg-like at all. In the second book, one of the illustrations looked like it was composed of leftover dots from a hole punch. To paraphrase a famous comedian, if it looks like anyone off the street could have done it, it probably isn’t great art.

As a person interested in art, I like the unusual look and neat texture of torn paper collage in other contexts. As a scientist, I am worried that a child will not get as much out of a book with illustrations that are confusing, lack definition or are flat out unrealistic, especially when there are so many really good books out there with scientifically-accurate illustrations or fantastic photographs.

What do you think of this trend? Are torn paper collages useful or over used?

How an Egg Grows Into a Chicken
Tanya Kant and Carolyn Franklin (Illustrator)

Reading level: Ages 4-8
Paperback: 32 pages
Publisher: Children’s Press(CT) (September 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0531238016
ISBN-13: 978-0531238011

Life in a Coral Reef (Let’s-Read-and-Find-Out Science 2)
Wendy Pfeffer and Steve Jenkins

Reading level: Ages 4-8
Hardcover: 40 pages
Publisher: Collins (September 1, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0060295538
ISBN-13: 978-0060295530
Product Dimensions: 10 x 8.1 x 0.4 inches


Nonfiction Monday is a blogging celebration of nonfiction books for kids. For more information, stop by Picture Book of the Day. This week’s post is at Practically Paradise

Dragonflies of North America for Children

Dragonflies of North America: A Color and Learn Book With Activities by Kathy Biggs and Tim Manolis (Illustrator) is not your average coloring book. First of all, the author has written two field guides to dragonflies, as well as maintains a website about the dragonflies of California. You can tell by the quality of the text that she has a great understanding of, as well as passion for, dragonflies. Did you know that dragonflies often perch with only four legs, and use their front legs to wipe their eyes like windshield wipers? This book is filled with interesting information as well as the illustrations that are meant to be colored. dragonflies-of-north-america

Dragonflies of North America covers the basics nicely, such as the differences between dragonflies and damselflies, and the dragonfly life cycle. Then the author presents the characteristics of a number of different kinds of dragonflies, with enough detail so you could actually distinguish one from another. Although written for children, this is one of those books that is also perfect for the interested adult beginner.

The best part is that there is not one correct way to color the pages. In the “Publisher’s Note” right in the front of the book states that the colors of many dragonflies change as they get older (No wonder I have always had trouble telling the apart.) Children are encouraged to look up other pictures of the dragonflies, in addition to those provided inside the covers, and decide what colors they want to choose. Another activity would be to visit a lake or wetlands to observe the colors first hand.

You also might want to check this webpage where Kathy Biggs discusses her road to becoming an author. It all started when she put a pond in her yard. Now there’s an idea of a great project with children!

Note to Librarians: Although this book is consumable, it is also available as a CD.

Paperback: 48 pages
Publisher: Azalea Creek Pub (June 21, 2007)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0967793440
ISBN-13: 978-0967793443


Nonfiction Monday is a blogging celebration of nonfiction books for kids. For more information, stop by Picture Book of the Day. This week’s post is at Simply Science.