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A Splash of Art and an Irascible Pen in Cybils Fiction Picture Books



These picture books have been nominated for 2012 Cybils Fiction Picture Book Category: all of them celebrate creativity and the arts in one form or another.


Kali’s Song IMG_5217

Story ByJeanette Winter
Publisher: Schwartz & Wade Books, 2012.
Book borrowed from the public library.

The setting of this picture book is “thousands and thousands of years ago” – during the time when men were hunters and gatherers and women were expected to remain at home and take care of the family. Gender roles were pretty much the way they are – not out of spite or discrimination, but because they were what made sense at the time – and people had to do what they needed to do to survive.

What makes this little book stand out is that this young boy, Kali, knew what brought him peace and what made him whole. While he did what was expected of him, and that was to shoot his arrow and hunt for meat – he also learned that plucking the string, putting the bow to his lips as “sounds filled the quiet air” is what made the stars come close to him to listen to the beauty of the music that he creates. There is absolute stillness as all the forest animals, the birds, even the huge mammoths, and the glistening galaxies in the skies would stand quiet to listen. It is indeed a celebration of a song that has survived thousands of ages and one that was embraced for its beauty and all its awe-inspiring worth.

IMG_5211Think Big

Story By: Liz Garton Scanlon
Illustrations By: Vanessa Brantley Newton
Publisher: Bloomsbury, 2012
Book borrowed from the public library.

This is a colorful vibrant book that is perfect for little hands and young artists who have huge dreams and who ‘think big.’ Each page is filled with illustrations that literally jump off the page with its movement, colors, animated smiles and never-ending dancing, stitching, drawing, knitting – as the kids are portrayed to be in the thick of creating and simply being.

It is perfect for very young readers since each page is filled with very simple words like “Pinch salt, dice, chop, click, flash, time stop.” There is nothing superfluous with the text, everything is worded-just-right to resonate with a young mind who is able to grasp each of the word that captures the soul of what is being said. This picture book is a wonderful illustration of words distilled to its barest essence – as it communicates the grandest of all message possible: Think Big! Make art!

Sky Color IMG_5214

Story and Pictures By: Peter H. Reynolds
Publisher: Candlewick Press, 2012
Borrowed from the public library.

Marisol is a young artist who lived and breathed paints and artwork. She is the quintessential artist who does not only ‘make’ art – she interweaves it into the very fabric of her being.When her teacher told her class that they are to create a mural for the library, she was excited and eager to begin and resolved to paint the sky.

However, when she looked at her box of paints, she was dismayed to discover that she could not find any color blue.

“How am I going to make the sky without blue paint?”

As she looked out of the window of her bus, pensive, the sky slowly darkening and turning into night, she knew exactly what she had to do. This picture book shows that there is more than just one way of perceiving things as it empowers young readers to see the world in multi-colored hues.

IMG_5220The Obstinate Pen

Story and Pictures By: Frank W. Dormer
Publisher: Henry Holt and Company, 2012
Borrowed from the public library.

As per usual, I am saving my absolute favorite for last. Frank W. Dormer’s “The Obstinate Pen” made me laugh out loud in so much delight. When Uncle Flood unwrapped his new pen, little did he know how much ruckus it would cause – and how much truths it would unleash in the most unexpected of moments.

Uncle Flood removed the cap from his pen and began to write: The following story is all true.

But the pen did not write that sentence. What the pen wrote was this:

“You have a BIG nose.”

Oh yesiree. This irascible pen has a mind of its own and it does not care whether it’s a police officer who is wielding its mighty ink, or Mrs. Pigeon-Smythe who just happened upon it when Officer Wonkle threw it out into the street in absolute exasperation.


It managed to insult “a duke, three duchesses, and the maid” in style and in very few words, in fact. All you needed was a piece of paper for you to know exactly what the ‘obstinate’ pen has to say about you. When Mrs. Pigeon-Smythe placed the pen under glass for her friends to marvel and gawk at each time they visit, the pen just had to escape and break out from captivity. How the pen was ultimately tamed, I shall leave for you to discover.


A-Z Book Challenge Update: 19 of 26
(K, S, E, G, C, M, Z, B, N, R, J, A, H, W, X, V, I, L, T)


39, 40, 41, 42 of 150

4 comments on “A Splash of Art and an Irascible Pen in Cybils Fiction Picture Books

  1. Catherine Johnson

    I must read these, Myra. I’ve heard of the last two not the first. Thanks!


  2. Oh, what a fun post — I’m especially anxious to see The Obstinate Pen. What a riot! 🙂


  3. Myra, I’ve used Kali’s Song & Think Big with younger classes-they’re wonderful. I know Sky Color-lovely, but The Obstinate Pen looks just priceless. I don’t remember seeing it at all. Thanks much!


  4. I want that last book! 😀


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