Friday, January 10, 2014

friday's five: welcome back! 2013 wound down, I bumped one of my favorite bloggy features off my little site and over to the book blog where I've somehow been welcome as a reviewer for seven years now. The friday's five posts took on a Cybils Awards theme during that time, while I immersed myself in the nominated fiction picture books published within the previous year's time. By the end of our round one judging period, I had been able to get my hands on 218 of the 224 nominations- a 97% rate that might be my best yet.

But even though my role in the 2013 Cybils has come to an end, picture books continue to be a part of my everyday life. Right now, my younger two kids and I are in between shared chapter book reading, and most evenings find us engaged in a variety of reading activities-- sometimes we're all reading/looking at our own books. (Pudge is in the early independent reading stages! So exciting!) On other occasions, Pudge reads early reader books aloud to me, or we read a picture book together while nearby, Red works on one of the ten novels she usually has going at once. It's getting rarer that we all sit down to read a picture book together, though I still try my best to sell it to the crew, and even once in a while the teenaged JAM will pop his head in and ask to see an illustration after overhearing our enthusiastic reading. Even if we only read a couple of picture books together a week, there are always plenty around to choose from, if the kids are so inclined.

And, with my younger babysitting pals, I'm making sure to keep a steadily rotated supply of picture books from the library that will engage the 1-3 year old set, too. With this combination of picture book literary experiences, I felt it only appropriate to bring friday's five back over here on the blog where it was first born. This is also a fun way to start thinking toward the 2014 Cybils Awards, too... who knows which of these titles will end up on the list!

1. I See Kitty by Yasmine Surovec -- I plopped this book into the library bag immediately after spying the cover. One of my little toddler pals is a fan of "kitty cats," so I thought of her right away. And, my instincts were right. When I showed her the cover this week, her face broke into a huge grin, and she climbed right up on the couch. "Read it? Read it?" That we did, and the simple story line was just perfect for a 1.5 year old's attention span. She giggled at some of the forms in which the little girl sees a kitty, and the playful illustration style amused us both.

2. Moo! by David LaRochelle and illustrated by Mike Wohnoutka -- This one is all about expressiveness when reading, because 99% of the text consists of that one word that comprises the title. But let me assure you that this is a super fun picture book, and both my toddler pals and the 3.5 year old got a big kick out of it. We were reading it all together-- one toddler and the preschooler on the floor next to me while the other toddler sat trying to get some potty action going, (what better to do than read while we're waiting!) and Red and Pudge came in during the middle of the story. Even they started laughing! This book has the type of cover that draws young children in, and I predict you'll like it too if you check it out with your little one.

3. Flo & Wendell by William Wegman -- I imagine everyone is familiar with the Weimaraner guy, William Wegman. His photography of his dogs in anthropomorphic scenarios is always entertaining, and in this picture book he combines his photography and painting skills to create a story of a sister and brother whose relationship is perfectly realistic and relatable. I was happy when my preschooler pal piped up with a comparison between the story and her relationship with her little brother, and he, in his big-sister-adoration fashion, immediately echoed her comment, reinforcing the story even further! The pictures seemed to be very curious-looking to the younger kids, but the three year old tried to explain how they were really dogs but painted over to look like they were people. Fun story with even more fun illustrations- win/win!

4. I Can See Just Fine by Eric Barclay -- Though the text is minimal, I knew that 7 year old Red would like this story as soon as I spied the title. Just as I had expected, the story revolves around a little girl in a bit of denial about her failing vision due to her desire to not have to wear glasses. There's been resistance around the homestead as of late about wearing glasses, so I hoped that the cuteness and message of the story would hit home for Red, which it did and even got her to giggle a bit by some of the subtle details in the illustrations that hint at the little girl's inability to see too clearly. Fun stuff here, whether your child has the need for glasses or not.

5. Dot. by Randi Zuckerberg and illustrated by Joe Berger -- Don't be fooled by the fact that this picture book has only a few words in total, because the concepts are a bit more sophisticated for very young children to grasp. There must be at least a minimal understanding of the social media-influenced world in which we live to fully see the contrast of sociable Dot's experiences on devices and out in the real world. There isn't an end message that eschews all electronic interactions, but rather a healthy compromise is suggested for children to get the most of their personal relationships.

As you settle into your new year, hopefully reading books with the kids in your life will not go the way of most resolutions. Here's to another great year in the children's literature world!

Bookish as ever,