Friends — 2011 Fiction Picture Books (Cybils Nominees)

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I Must Have Bobo! By Ellen Rosenthal and illustrated by Marc Rosenthal (Atheneum, January 2011) tells of a different kind of friendship. Young Willy wakes up only to find that his dear sock monkey Bobo is missing! He is found, much to Willy’s relief, as the boy cannot get through his day without Bobo. But as Willy and Bobo play, the sneaky cat repeatedly sneaks off with Bobo. Raisin and I loved this story: Raisin because he loved finding Earl stealing Bobo on each page, myself because the simple illustrations show just how less can be more. The most important things are colored in the illustrations (Willy, Bobo, that silly Earl) and the rest is left in sketch, a way of imitating a young child’s life when really, only a few things matter all that much. Raisin could relate to Willy’s dependence on Bobo. Bobo and Willy are great friends, much as, I suspect, Raisin is such great friends with his imaginary friend Goldbug, who is always by his side. (Nominated by Kara Schaff Dean)

Brownie Groundhog and the February Fox by Susan Blackaby and illustrated by Carmen Segovia (Sterling, January 2011) is partly a Groundhog Day book and partly a most unusual story about a groundhog and a fox becoming friends.  When Brownie appears on February 2, she’s welcomed by a deep snow. She’s of course bothered by the residual winter, but knows she must be patient: Spring will come. Meanwhile, the fox is very hungry and wants to eat Brownie. As Brownie encourages his patience by getting a few things done first (like ice skating), Fox begins to have fun playing with Brownie.  By the end, they both are willing to wait for spring, because there is plenty of fun to be had with each other as friends. I love the soft illustrations in the white wintery landscape, and I found the friendship that developed and the reminder to be “patient” a spectacular and memorable one. (Nominated by Jone MacCulloch)

Mudkin by Stephen Gammell (Carolrhoda, April 2011) is an clever book about an imaginary friend, in this case, one that comes from playing in the mud. A little girl discovers a mud creature called Mudkin who invites her to his castle where she will be queen. Although there is little text (Mudkin does not speak English but actually in muddy smudges), the story celebrates imagination. I loved the muddy illustrations and loved the overall effect of the story. Raisin liked it, and I suspect older children may grasp the imaginative aspects of the story more readily than Raisin did. As an adult, I loved it. Raisin needed some prompting to understand it.  (Nominated by Elizabeth Dingmann)

Perfect Soup by Lisa Moser and illustrated by Ben Mantle (Random House, October 2010) tells the simple story of Murray the mouse that wants to make “perfect soup.” When he finds himself short a carrot, he tries to borrow one from someone else but the farmer wants him to help in order to “earn” the carrot. One thing leads to another and it takes all day to do chores for others in order to get his carrot. In the end, the lonely snowman gives him a gift, and Murray learns from the snowman that giving something without expecting something is what friends do: and soup doesn’t need a carrot to be perfect. (Nominated by JoAnn Early Macken)

Willow and the Snow Day Dance by Dennise Brennan-Nelson and illustrated by Cyd Moore (Sleeping Bear Press, November 2010) tells of a bright and pleasant girl who organizes community events to bring people together, including the grouchy Mr. Larch. When Willow dreams about snow, Mr. Larch tells her how to do a snow day dance. When it does snow, he welcomes the neighborhood kids to sled on his hill. This was an inspiring story of how one child made a difference in a community by being a friend to all. (Nominated by Lois Hulme)

In You Will Be My Friend! by Peter Brown (Little, Brown, September 2011), Lucy has decided that today she will make a new friend. However, as she approaches potential friends with that demand, she finds it much harder than she anticipated. Never fear, Lucy finds friendship when she least expects it. Peter Brown’s illustrations are well done and the message about friendship one that little children (like Raisin!) certainly need to learn. (Nominated by Laura Given)

Two Non-Cybils Nominated Books

I don’t want the other great books we’re reading to go by the wayside, so I wanted to mention two great Jan Thomas books. We loved Jan Thomas’s books a few months ago, so we have been looking for more. Raisin loves Rhyming Dust Bunnies. Friends Ed, Ned, Ted, and Bob are quite silly, but Bob’s quick thinking keeps them out of danger. On the other hand, in Here Comes the Big, Mean Dust Bunny! a grumpy dust bunny learns what it means to have a friend. Both books are silly and lots of fun for young kids. (Both published 2009)

Reviewed on October 25, 2011

About the author 

Rebecca Reid

Rebecca Reid is a homeschooling, stay-at-home mother seeking to make the journey of life-long learning fun by reading lots of good books. Rebecca Reads provides reviews of children's literature she has enjoyed with her children; nonfiction that enhances understanding of educational philosophies, history and more; and classical literature that Rebecca enjoys reading.

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