Books Picture Books Reading Themes Throwback Reads and Hot for Cybils!

[Hot for Cybils] Of Cakes and Happiness – LeUyen Pham and Amy Schwartz

Myra here.

Widget courtesy of the talented Iphigene.
Widget courtesy of the talented Iphigene.

Part of our current reading theme this January-February gives love to CYBILS. I am privileged to once again be part of the Second Round Judges for the Fiction Picture Book Category along with several other amazing kidlit enthusiasts.

Screen Shot 2014-12-31 at 4.52.17 pm

Second Round Judges for Fiction Picture Books 2014

Julie Larios
Books Around the Table

Dawn Mooney
5 Minutes for Books

Jennifer Reed

Julie Rowan-Zoch
Julie Rowan-Zoch

Currently, I am going through the books that have been nominated but didn’t make it to the Top Seven for Second Round Judging. Here are two that I feel would resonate with a lot of children.

IMG_8832100 Things That Make Me Happy

Written and Illustrated by: Amy Schwartz
Published byAbrams Appleseed 2015
Borrowed from the Jurong West Public Library. Book photos taken by me.

I have to admit, this book made me immensely happy. While I don’t normally go for rhyming text, this one had a simplicity to it that reminded me of the beauty in the ordinary, the magical in the mundane.


And there is also a quiet exuberance to the illustrations that go beyond mere cuteness, but one that exudes joy and radiance and all things joyful.


There is loving detail in the artwork that breathed life to the sparse text, making it more than it is. At the end of this beautiful yet quick read, teachers and students, parents and children, would definitely be inspired to create their own hundred things that make them happy. And we could do a bit of that to feed our soul each day.

A Piece of CakeIMG_8833

Written and Illustrated by: LeUyen Pham
Published by: Balzer + Bray: An Imprint of Harper Collins Publishers, 2014
Borrowed from the Jurong West Public Library. Book photos taken by me.

If I were to sum up this picturebook in one word, it would be: clever. When I flipped through the pages and noted that it was text-heavy, I immediately wondered if it would be interesting enough to catch a young child’s attention.


Mouse prepared a tasty cake as a present to Little Bird for her birthday. On his way, however, he sees friends who asked for a slice of cake in exchange for the most unlikely things: a cork from Chicken, a wire from Squirrel, a net from Bear, and a fly swatter from Cow. By the time Mouse arrived at Little Bird’s home, there was no more cake left!


This is another clear example of a picturebook being more than it seems (similar to Schwartz’ picturebook above). A young astute child would have fun predicting and inferring from the first few examples what the animals would trade in exchange for the piece of cake.


I enjoyed how LeUyen Pham eschewed the obvious and hid little parts here and there in the narrative that came together quite beautifully in the end. And it is a very quick read, despite it appearing text-heavy in the beginning. Again, a case of being more than it seems. Whether or not Little Bird gets her piece of cake, I shall leave for you to discover.

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 “[Hot for Cybils] Of Cakes and Happiness – LeUyen Pham and Amy Schwartz

  1. Myra, thank you for highlighting these books. I’ve never seen them! Just ordered them from the library 🙂


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