#Cybils: 2016 Children’s Book Finalists Announced Today

New Year’s Day is always exciting for a number of reasons, but the best is the announcement of the 2016 children’s book finalists for all the categories of Cybils Awards.

Let’s take a peek at some of the nonfiction finalists in the elementary/juvenile category. There are an unusually large number of books listed this year:  fourteen! I suspect it is because of the high number of awesome books that were nominated. Here are some of the highlights:

Finding Winnie: The True Story of the World’s Most Famous Bear* by Lindsay Mattick and illustrated by Sophie Blackall

(*Amazon affiliate links)

This one just “bearly” made the nomination period because it was published in October of 2015. In fact, it was the 2016 winner of the Caldecott Medal. It’s a heart-warming story about a real bear named Winnie (after the town of Winnipeg) who eventually found a home at the London Zoo.

Plants Can’t Sit Still by Rebecca E. Hirsch and illustrated by Mia Posada.

Although they can’t run around like some animals can, plants can move quite a bit. Sunflowers follow the sun, tendrils can creep around, and seeds can shoot away. A deeper look into the life of plants.

Isn’t the cover beautiful?

Some Writer!: The Story of E. B. White by Melissa Sweet

I’m beginning to see why there are so many finalists this year. Melissa Sweet is such a wonderful illustrator, and what better topic for a children’s book than E. B. White? No wonder this book was a Caldecott Honor book.

The Slowest Book Ever by April Pulley Sayre and illustrated by Kelly Murphy

As a middle grade title, this book is longer than some of the other finalists. That’s because April Pulley Sayre “takes her time” delving into the topic. Could also be titled The Most Fun Book Ever.

Will’s Words: How William Shakespeare Changed the Way You Talk by Jane Sutcliffe and illustrated by John Shelley

Word play is popular around my house, so I can appreciate this choice. It introduces children both to Shakespeare’s plays and to the “household words” that have became part of our everyday vocabulary.

The Inventors of LEGO® Toys (Awesome Minds) by Erin Hagar and illustrated by Paige Garrison

Given the popularity of LEGO® Toys, this book is sure to reel in a bunch of reluctant readers.

If you are looking for great books for kids of all ages, be sure to visit the Cybils Awards website.

#Cybils: This Side of Wild

Gary Paulsen is the ultimate storyteller. Many of his books, including the wildly popular Hatchet, are on almost every school reading list. Now Paulsen’s latest work, This Side of Wild: Mutts, Mares, and Laughing Dinosaurs illustrated by Tim Jessell, has already quietly made the longlist in Young People’s Literature for the 2015 National Book Awards, as well as is a nominee for a 2015 Cybils award in the Elementary/Middle Grade Nonfiction category.

In a series of essays, Paulsen reveals some unusual encounters he has had with animals, particularly dogs, but birds, horses and honey bees as well. His thesis is that animals may have more going for them in the way of intelligence, and even compassion for other animals, than we may have previously thought.

As with some of his other works, Paulsen reveals that his parents were alcoholics and suggests at some of the neglect and abuse he suffered as a child. He also writes about some serious topics, such as the distress he felt while serving in the military as an 18 year old, as well as the horrors he saw in the aftermath of World War II while visiting his father. Although the publisher suggests the book is appropriate for 10 and up, it is probably for more mature readers unless the students are given extra preparation and guidance.

This Side of Wild is chock full of compelling and powerful stories that are sure to stay with the reader long after the book is finished. It would make an excellent gift for anyone interested in nature, animals and adventure, plus readers who are already fans of Gary Paulsen. Be sure to pick up a copy for yourself as well!

Age Range: 10 and up
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers (September 29, 2015)
ISBN-10: 1481451502
ISBN-13: 978-1481451505

Disclosure: This book came from the library. 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.

nonfictionmonday

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

#Cybils: Flying With The Wolf-Birds

Today’s Cybils nominee, The Wolf-Birds by Willow Dawson, was a complete surprise. It was shelved in the fiction section of our library. It looks and reads like a fictional picture book. Watch out, however, because under the fictional look is a serious nonfiction work based on cutting-edge animal behavior research.

Why are ravens called wolf-birds? Dawson reveals there is a complex relationship between ravens and gray wolves, particularly in areas with cold, harsh winters. It all points to the idea that nature is not as simple as it sometimes seems, that interrelationships exist that we might not be aware of, but that can be easily disrupted because of our actions.

As to be expected, a book about predators must necessarily feature the deaths of a few animals. In this case, the author put a lot of thought into how death was presented. Find out more with this fabulous Q-and-A video with the author.

As for the illustrations, the unique and exciting acrylic paintings lend a primal feel and would be perfect inspirations for art lessons on cave paintings or aboriginal art. Pull out the charcoal, cray-pas, and earth-toned paper!

Overall, The Wolf-Birds is perfect for young readers interested in science and nature, particularly animals. It is also likely to appeal to those readers who think they prefer fiction. It is one of those versatile books to pull it out for units on winter, animal behavior, and even art.

Related:  Sue recently reviewed this book at Nonfiction Monday.

Looking for more children’s books about birds? Check out our growing list of books for young birdwatchers at Science Books for Kids.

Age Range: 5 – 8 years
Grade Level: Kindergarten – 3
Hardcover: 40 pages
Publisher: Owlkids Books (September 15, 2015)
ISBN-10: 1771470542
ISBN-13: 978-1771470544

Disclosures: This book was provided by our local library. 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 not extra cost to you. Any proceeds help defray the costs of hosting and maintaining this website.

Come visit the STEM Friday blog each week to find more great Science, Technology, Engineering and Math books.

#Cybils Winnie: The Real Bear Who Inspired The Classic Books

Have you ever wondered about how the classic children’s book character Winnie-the-Pooh came about? You can find the answer in one of the nominees for a 2015 Cybils award in the Elementary/Middle Grade Nonfiction category, Winnie: The True Story of the Bear Who Inspired Winnie-the-Pooh by Sally M Walker and illustrated by Jonathan D. Voss.

The story relates how the cuddly toy and book character is based on a real American black bear that was brought from Canada to the London Zoo during World War I. Named Winnipeg by the veterinarian who rescued the bear as a cub, Harry Colebourn, the bear’s name was soon shortened to Winnie. One day author A.A. Milne took his son to the zoo where he met the real Winnie. The bear made such an impression that Milne’s son Christopher Robin renamed his stuffed bear Winnie-the-Pooh, the Pooh part apparently coming from another animal he knew. The bear became a central figure in their bedtime stories and a book was born.

As an aside, it is fascinating how experiences with living things can inspire authors looking for ideas for children’s books. Robin Page revealed that the idea for her book (reviewed Monday), A Chicken Followed Me Home, came to her after watching chickens following her neighbor. Kate DiCamillo said having a sick squirrel come onto her front porch generated ideas for Flora & Ulysses. What if the authors had not had those encounters? It is also interesting how the concrete is useful to spark the creative.

Back to Winnie, the end papers are amazing. Inside the front cover are archival black-and-white photographs of Winnie and Harry. In the back is a photograph of Christopher Robin and Winnie at the London Zoo. Given how long ago this was, it is fabulous how well the events were documented.

Winnie is sure to appeal to the numerous Winnie-the-Pooh fans. It is also a heartwarming story that can stand on its own.

Age Range: 4 – 8 years
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR) (January 20, 2015)
ISBN-10: 0805097155
ISBN-13: 978-0805097153

Disclosure: This book came from our local public library. 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.