I have read the 10 books on this list and given a short description/review of the books for you:
· Mother Bruce by Ryan T Higgins
o This book is definitely one of my new favorite picture books. Parents will enjoy this book just as much as the kids, if not more so. Bruce, the bear, loves eggs and he cooks them all kinds of ways. One day, as he was trying to make a new recipe with goose eggs, the eggs hatch and four little goslings think Bruce is their mother. No matter what he does, Bruce cannot get the goslings to leave him alone. When they get old enough to fly south for winter, he thinks he will finally be free, but alas, they stay with him. The illustrations are funny and detailed and depict the story well.
Winnie by Sally Walker
o This is the heartwarming story about a black bear named Winnipeg, a.k.a. Winnie and Winnie’s friendship with Harry. Harry Colebourn was a veterinary soldier who bought Winnie at a train station. Winnie was by his side until the war became too intense and Winnie had to go live in the London Zoo. Winnie quickly adapted and made many friends, including Christopher Robin Milne. Christopher’s father, A.A. Milne wrote the stories of Winnie-the-Pooh, based on his son and the lovable bear, Winnie. Though this book mentions war, nothing upsetting is mentioned or depicted in the illustrations. Jonathan D. Voss, the illustrator, uses watercolor to create a serene feeling to the book. This book does not discuss how Winnie might have felt about being kept by a soldier or then being kept in a zoo, but she is depicted as being happy except for when Harry has to leave her behind. While older readers may question whether it was moral to treat a bear like a pet, younger readers will simply enjoy the sweet story that Walker presents.
· The Day the Crayons Came Home by Drew Daywalt
o This book is by the same author of “The Day the Crayons Quit,” and it is just as funny and entertaining. This story chronicles the tales of crayons left behind or broken. Each crayon has written a postcard to their owner, Duncan, who has forgotten them or lost them in different locations around the house and world. This book is entertaining for children and adults and teaches kids to look after their toys and treat their stuff with care.
Fur, Fins, and Feathers by Cassandre Maxwell
o This book is about Abraham Bartlett and his intense love for animals. His love for animals grew and he has become known as the father of the modern zoo. He was self-taught and cared greatly about the best way to take care of animals. Eventually, he became superintendent of the London Zoo and took care of animals, created habitats similar to what the animals would live in in the wild, and he started the trend of placing placards outside the cages and habitats describing the animals to the zoos visitors. This book will be inspiring to anyone who loves animals and the artwork is colorful and draws the eye.
· Ketzel, the Cat Who Composed by Leslea Newman
o This is a charming book about a composer, Moshe Cotel, who found music in anything that he heard. One day, he found a kitten on the street. Kitten in Yiddish is “ketzel,” so that was the name of the cat. The composer received a letter to compete in a 60-second composition contest and he thought it was impossible and grew very upset when he couldn’t come up with anything. Ketzel saw his frustration and jumped on the keyboard and Moshe loved the sound it made. Ketzel’s composition was 21 second long and Moshe submitted it. It didn’t win a prize, but received special mention and was played in a famous music hall. Everyone found it hard to believe that a cat composed the beautiful, unique piece. Ketzel even got paid for it! The illustrations in this book are great and Ketzel is just super cute. The story is based on the real life of Moshe Cotel and Ketzel and has a brief biography in the back.
· Marilyn’s Monster by Michelle Knudsen
o This story didn’t particularly grab me like some of the other nominees did. It has a lot of text that will be challenging to young readers and if being read to, young children may lose interest. Every child is supposed to have a monster friend, but for some reason, Marilyn hasn’t gotten her monster yet. Finally, she gets frustrated with waiting patiently and decides to go out and look for her monster (which you’re not supposed to do). She finds her monster stuck in a tree so she’s happy she went to look for him and her monster was happy too. The story ends with Marilyn thinking that there are “a lot of different ways that things could work,” but I didn’t really think that message came across clear. I respect the attempt, but I think the moral of the story falls short.
· I am Trying to Love Spiders by Bethany Barton
o Most people don’t like spiders and this book shows that in a fun way. The author is trying to love spiders, but ends up smashing a few of them. Throughout the book, the reader will learn facts about spiders while enjoying the artwork on the pages. In the end, the narrator likes spiders, but ends up disliking something even more…cockroaches. My favorite thing about this book was the outline of the handprints where the narrator says to squash the spider and cockroach. This is a simple interactive element that makes the book fun.
· If You Ever Want to Bring an Alligator to School, Don’t! by Elise Parsley
o This is a debut book from Elise Parsley and it is quite enjoyable. Magnolia is a strange girl who decides to bring an alligator to show and tell for nature day. The alligator is getting Magnolia in trouble by making her laugh during spelling, making paper airplanes during art, and getting gum everywhere. He even tries to take a bite out of one of her classmates! Magnolia’s name appears on the chalkboard for all of these reasons, but she keeps telling the alligator to just wait until show and tell. When show and tell finally arrives, Magnolia surprises everyone with her presentation. This book will leave kids laughing and will remind parents of all of the shenanigans that toddlers and young ones can get themselves into. The artwork is colorful and fun and will definitely keep the audience’s attention.
· Trombone Shorty by Troy Andrews
o This book is an autobiographical picture book about Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews. Growing up in the musical town of Treme, Troy was surrounded by music and it became his passion. Before he was able to have an instrument of his own, he would make them out of whatever he could find. When he was four, he received his first trombone and he got the nickname Trombone Shorty because the trombone was bigger than he was. Troy went on to become a famous musician and wrote this book to inspire other children who are growing up in difficult circumstances and let them know that they can achieve their dreams if they work hard. The artwork in this book is a mixture of watercolor and collage and received a Caldecott Honor medal. This book won the Coretta Scott King award and I think it is definitely deserving of these honors.
· Queen of the Diamond by Emily Arnold McCully
o This book is about Lizzie Murphy, the first woman to play on the all-star teams in the National and American leagues. When she was a young girl, she was told she couldn’t play because she was a girl. But, her father and brother were supportive and she started playing on her brother Henry’s team after persuading the other boys to let her. Her story is one of triumph because she tackled something no one thought she could just because she was a woman. While I don’t think the book details the prejudices she probably dealt with to be able to play, it does give an innocent look into what it was like for a woman to play with the professionals.