A-Z Book Challenge Books Crazy about Cybils Picture Books Read-a-Latte Reading Themes

A Celebration of Animals, Creatures, and Friendship: More Cybils Fiction Picture Book Nominees

Our current bimonthly theme in GatheringBooks is Crazy over Cybils where we give love to all the books that have been shortlisted and have won awards in Cybils since 2006.



These are three titles that have been nominated for the Fiction Picture Book Category in 2012. Reminiscent of Robot Zombie FrankensteinUp! Tall! and High! also celebrate this spirit of one-upmanship among these three animal friends as they show who is tall! who is up! and who can fly high! There is also an interactive component in this book as readers are invited to pull the flaps to see who can fly higher or who is taller. Tao Nyeu’s Squid and Octopus: Friends for Always is a picture book collection of four short stories: The Quarrel, The Dream, The Hat, and The Fortune Cookie. The charming stories show conflict resolution, the value of affirmation, and a celebration of oddities among the friends squid and octopus. Tor Freeman’s Olive and the big Secret is a book that I am sure most kids would resonate with as they learn the importance of keeping secrets in order to maintain friendships. What the ‘big’ secret is, I shall leave for you to discover.


Text By: I. C. Springman
Illustrations by: Brian Lies
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, 2012. Nominated for Cybils, Fiction Picture Book Category, 2012. Book borrowed from the public library. Book photos taken by me.

I love how sparse the text is in this picture book which strangely enough is entitled More. This would be a good companion book to counting books that provide specifics about numbers and how things/stuff/creatures are neatly quantified.

Here, there is a qualitative celebration of “several” as opposed to “a few,” how different “more” is from “less” and the subtle distinction between “a bit much” from “much too much” and of course, when one has had “enough.” The illustrations by Brian Lies are gorgeous, the play on perspective, the rich colors, and the fact that he experiments with panels worked beautifully in this lovely book.

Step Gently OutIMG_5289

Story By: Helen Frost
Photographs By: Rick Lieder
Publisher: Candlewick Press, 2012
Book borrowed from the public library. Book photos taken by me.

Helen Frost is one of our absolute favorites here in GatheringBooks. I have reviewed two of her novels-in-verse during our bimonthly theme devoted to poetry (see here for my review of Hidden and Crossing Stones). I was delighted to see a picture book by her nominated for Cybils. I was wondering though why it was not placed in the Poetry Category as it is a picture book in verse.

Accompanied by beautiful photographs, this is a story that celebrates the stillness and the quiet gentleness of nature and how creatures that “shine with stardust” or those which are “balanced lightly on a leaf, bathed in golden light” share the universe with us – if we have the eyes and ears to see their beauty.


Teachers would be happy to note that there is a detailed text that accompanies each photographs that describe the insects that are featured in each of the pages from European honeybee to striped ground cricket to chickweed geometer moth among others.


U: Up, Tall, and Long

O: Olive’s Big Secret

A-Z Book Challenge Update: 20-21 of 26
(U, O, K, S, E, G, C, M, Z, B, N, R, J, A, H, W, X, V, I, L, T)


44, 45, 46, 47, 48 of 150

Myra is a Teacher Educator and a registered clinical psychologist based in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates. Prior to moving to the Middle East, she lived for eleven years in Singapore serving as a teacher educator. She has edited five books on rediscovering children’s literature in Asia (with a focus on the Philippines, Malaysia, India, China, Japan) as part of the proceedings for the Asian Festival of Children’s Content where she served as the Chair of the Programme Committee for the Asian Children’s Writers and Illustrators Conference from 2011 until 2019. While she is an academic by day, she is a closet poet and a book hunter at heart. When she is not reading or writing about books or planning her next reads, she is hoping desperately to smash that shuttlecock to smithereens because Badminton Is Life (still looking for badminton courts here at UAE - suggestions are most welcome).

1 comment on “A Celebration of Animals, Creatures, and Friendship: More Cybils Fiction Picture Book Nominees

  1. All look great, Myra, but I especially want to own a copy of Step Gently Out. It just sounds beautiful!


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