Hello Fellow Book Lovers,
It’s Cybils Time! And what, you may be asking, are Cybils?
The Cybils Award is given by kidlit bloggers to celebrate the best children’s and young adult books of the year.
“The Cybils Awards aims to recognize the children’s and young adult authors and illustrators whose books combine the highest literary merit and popular appeal. If some la-di-dah awards can be compared to brussel sprouts, and other, more populist ones to gummy bears, we’re thinking more like organic chicken nuggets. We’re yummy and nutritious.”
To be eligible for this year’s award, books must be published between October 16, 2017 and October 15, 2018. There are categories for all ranges of children’s books from board books to YA and for both fiction and nonfiction. Public nominations are open until October 15, 2018. If you are interested in seeing the lists and nominating a favorite, click on this link:
I am a third time judge in my favorite book category, Easy Readers and Early Chapter Books. Most books are available through the public library inter-library loan system so my library card is getting a workout and I’m saying “hello” to my favorite librarians almost daily as the books come in.
Easy Readers are books written for children learning to read. They are frequently leveled from very easy to books with longer and more challenging text which help children on their way to becoming proficient readers. They are often published as a series which supports young readers as they become familiar with characters and settings. Easy readers usually have 32-64 pages, large type, simple sentences, and illustrations that help tell the story. I think writing for this age takes special skill since it is difficult to write an engaging story which can be read by the youngest readers. There are many easy readers that are written with the story based on controlled vocabulary. This is the number one way to turn children off to reading as they tend to be boring. The books I’m on the lookout for are the ones that are filled with humor, heart, surprises, and make children want to read more.
Early Chapter Books are longer than easy readers but shorter than middle grade fiction. They are written with short chapters but have fewer illustrations than easy readers. They are often character driven and are are frequently are written in series. These books appeal to children who are on their way to becoming independent readers and don’t want to be seen reading “baby-ish” books.
For the next several months, I’ll be sharing books I’m reading in my category as well as books that stand out in other categories. When I read books for young readers I ask myself these questions:
- How does this book stand out from others written for the young reader audience?
- Does the book provide a challenge but also enable a successful reading experience?
- How do the illustrations add to the story?
- Is the ending satisfying?
- Is this a book that children will want to read again and share with their friends?
Today, I’d like to share a book that defies categorizing –
Baby Monkey, Private Eye
Scholastic Press, 2018
Early Chapter Book
Is it a picture book? An easy reader? A graphic novel? It could be categorized as all of the above but it has landed in the Early Chapter Book Category.
The story begins:
Who is Baby Monkey?
He is a baby.
He is a monkey.
He has a job…
Now, if that doesn’t make a child want to read on, nothing will.
Baby Monkey, Private Eye is written in five chapters, each featuring a mystery that Baby Monkey solves. The illustrations are an integral part of each case and will cause readers, young and old, to spend time noticing details. The book is long at 192 pages, but the text is large and speech bubbles are used for the dialogue. There is a humorous subplot, told through illustrations, of Baby Monkey struggling (as young children do) to get his pants on. Baby Monkey’s personality shines through as he solves each mystery and the ending is sweet and satisfying.
Baby Monkey, Private Eye will appeal to all young readers who like monkeys, mysteries, detailed illustrations, and to laugh. Of special interest to adult readers is a key to the art, theater, and movies featured in the illustrations as well as the hilarious bibliography and index.
Hooray for Baby Monkey! This book is destined to be a classic.