Cybils Winners Announced, Mrs. Harkness and the Panda Wins!

Today is the big day:  the 2012 children’s and young adult book winners (Cybils) for 2012 have been revealed. Go find some great books to read!

The winner of the Nonfiction Picture Book category is:

Mrs. Harkness and the Panda by Alicia Potter and illustrated by award-winning artist Melissa Sweet

We all know what a panda is, but who is Mrs. Harkness? She is not a household name, but she did something that was extraordinary for her time.

During the 1930’s, Mrs. Harkness was a dress designer and socialite living in New York City. Her husband had been traveling to exotic lands to bring back rare animals for zoos. Even though people weren’t even sure they really existed, he went to China to find a panda. When he died there, Mrs. Harkness decided to finish his expedition. What an adventure!

As a round II Cybils judge, I read this book numerous times. What I loved about it is that each time I discovered a new layer of details or meaning, almost like going on an expedition of my own. The first time I read it I was unfamiliar with the story, so I was astonished to find out about the amazing feats of the daring and persistent Mrs. Harkness. The second time I read it I savored the rich illustrations done on actual Chinese paper and the incorporation of Chinese words. The third time I discovered how well it worked as a read-aloud book. Later I noticed how the illustrations start almost as flat cartoons and become richer in detail and complexity until in the end actual photographs are incorporated. It was as if the illustrator was emphasizing how the life of Mrs. Harkness came into focus around the panda. I am sure there are still more things to be uncovered.

Mrs. Harkness and the Panda supplies endless opportunities for learning. It definitely would be great to accompany a geography or history unit on China. It would be perfect for Women’s History Month, coming up in March. It also brings up science issues, and could be used with a discussion of endangered animals. The illustrations could be a source of inspiration for numerous art projects, particularly collage. Finally, it would be wonderful to add to a Chinese New Year celebration. It will be a book you will come back to again and again. Wonderful!

All due to a great group of Nonfiction Picture Book Cybils Judges

Reading level: Ages 5 and up
Hardcover: 40 pages
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers; First Edition edition (March 13, 2012)
ISBN-10: 0375844481
ISBN-13: 978-0375844485



Cybils 2012 Nonfiction Picture Book Finalists!

Did you see that the Cybils Nonfiction Picture Book Finalists have been announced? I am very excited because I am a Round II Cybils judge and I get to read all these great books.

Balloons over Broadway: The True Story of the Puppeteer of Macy’s Parade (Bank Street College of Education Flora Stieglitz Straus Award (Awards)) by Melissa Sweet has already won a number of children’s book awards, including the 2012 Robert F. Sibert Medal, and the 2012 NCTE Orbis Pictus Award. That is pretty impressive! I have briefly reviewed the book as a suggestion for Thanksgiving reading.



I haven’t seen Eggs 1, 2, 3: Who Will the Babies Be? by Janet Halfmann and illustrated by Betsy Thompson yet, but I have reviewed a number of books by Janet Halfmann in the past.



Interested in snakes? I mentioned Nic Bishop Snakes by Nic Bishop over at Growing With Science.



Great minds must think alike, because I reviewed Island: A Story of the Galápagos by Jason Chin just a few weeks ago.



Looking forward to reading Dolphin Baby! -Junior Library Guild Selection (Candlewick Press) by Nicola Davies and illustrated by Brita Granström,



as well as Looking at Lincoln by Maira Kalman,




and Mrs. Harkness and the Panda by Alicia Potter and illustrated by Melissa Sweet.




Have you read any of the finalists yet?

Cybils Nominations are Open for 2012

In case you are interested in nominating a book for Cybils, the Children’s and Young Adult Bloggers’ Literary Awards, it is time. Go to the Nominate Here page and it will walk you through the steps. Nominations are open through October 15, 2012. You don’t have to be a member, or even have a blog, to participate.

Note:  if you are like me, you may find someone else has already nominated the book you chose. The form will return a message letting you know.

Good luck!

By the way, I am pleased to announce I am a round II judge in the Nonfiction Picture Book category this year. 🙂