2014 NERDY AWARDS FOR FICTION PICTURE BOOKS ANNOUNCED BY TERI LESESNE
I have read a ton of picture books this year. That ton might even be a literal ton given the number of them packed into boxes (see photo) so that they can “float on” to new owners after the holidays plus the ones forming the base for my book tree (see photo). I have read many titles as part of my Cybils judging. And, I have a little secret about keeping up with my #bookaday obligations: I will read a stack of picture books when I feel I am falling behind in my reading goal. It has been a great year for picture books, too. I have noticed a few trends and those are borne out by the 25 picture books honored by the Nerdy Book Club for 2014.
One trend that continues from last year is textless books. You will recall that several Caldecott winners were textless books; perhaps there will be some among the winners in 2015 as well. The Farmer and the Clown, Flora and the Penguin, Flashlight, Quest, and The Girl and the Bicycle all relate stories without a single word. Textless books are not only wonderful to share with kids who are not yet adept with text, they have a myriad of uses in classrooms. They work well with ELL students who can tell the story in their own words and their own language; likewise, they are reader friendly to kids who struggle with text. Share them with an entire class via a document camera asking each student to draft a story as you proceed. Compare those stories to see how we all have a unique way of telling stories.
Another trend, one that is certainly not new but is always welcome, are picture books with great good humor. In The Book with No Pictures, nonsense words will make kids giggle like the ones in this video with author B.J. Novak. Readers will love the humor found in the illustrations of Sam and Dave Dig a Hole where the text is deadpan but the illustrations reveal more to the story. What kid does not think at some time My Teacher Is a Monster only to discover she is not one at all. Watch reader reaction in Kid Sheriff and the Terrible Toads when a 7-year-old sheriff defeats ornery villains with his knowledge of paleontology. The Pigeon is back for my hilarity in The Pigeon Needs a Bath.
Speaking of animals, many of them take center stage in some of the Nerdy picture book winners. Sparky, the sloth; Gaston, some dogs one might never associate (poodle and bulldog); a raccoon in The Troublemaker; and an elephant in Little Elliot, Big City. Another dauntless explorer of the big city can be seen in Nana in the City as well.
Some of the Nerdy picture books focus on the arts. In A Dance Like Starlight: One Ballerina’s Dream comes true despite obstacles. Emily’s Blue Period and Louise Loves Art have main characters who are budding artists. A young boy’s devotion to all things ninja makes him an artist of sorts in Ninja! Art gives pleasure to these characters, makes them happy.
Need to inject some happiness in your own life? Sample Hooray for Hat and see how bad moods can disappear with the perfect fashion accessory. Or try becoming a Hug Machine and cheer up others, too. Perhaps all you need is a little perspective, something that certainly cheers up the main character in The Most Magnificent Thing.
Finally, some books defy categorization. These last three Nerdy picture book winners demonstrate the incredible range of books we have seen this past year. Blizzard is based on the blizzard of 1978 and shows that even kids can be heroes when the weather causes problems. The Adventures of Beekle, an Unimaginary Friend might just be the picture book version of The Velveteen Rabbit for many of us. And then there is Once Upon an Alphabet: Short Stories for all the Letter which proves that an alphabet book can go well beyond the “A is for apple” variety.
In short, there is something here for every single reader imaginable! Treat yourself to some post-Christmas gifts in these books.
The 2014 Fiction Picture Book Nerdy Award Winners
A Dance Like Starlight: One Ballerina’s Dream by Kristy Dempsey
Blizzard by John Rocco
Emily’s Blue Period by Cathleen Daly
Flashlight by Lizi Boyd
Flora and the Penguin by Molly Idle
Gaston by Kelly DiPucchio
Hooray for Hat by Brian Won
Hug Machine by Scott Campbell
Kid Sheriff and the Terrible Toads by Bob Shea and Lane Smith
Little Elliot, Big City by Mike Curato
Louise Loves Art by Kelly Light
My Teacher Is a Monster by Peter Brown
Nana in the City by Lauren Castillo
Ninja! by Arree Chung
Once Upon an Alphabet by Oliver Jeffers
Quest by Aaron Becker
Sam and Dave Dig a Hole by Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen
Sparky by Jenny Offill
The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend by Dan Santat
The Book With No Pictures by B.J. Novak
The Farmer and the Clown by Marla Frazee
The Girl and the Bicycle by Mark Pett
The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires
The Pigeon Needs a Bath by Mo Willems
The Troublemaker by Lauren Castillo