Having served on my first Cybils committee this year, I can attest that a great deal of thought, discussion, and debate goes into narrowing down the finalists to the eventual winner. This experience has made me realize that finalists and winners of any award should be considered on nearly-equal footing. This Top 10 list was created not only to honor such finalists but also to bring together a collection of fabulous picture books that reflect the diversity of our country and our world.
– Katie @ The Logonauts
Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Peña, illustrated by Christian Robinson. 2015 Cybils Finalist. Fiction Picture Books. In this Newbery Award Winning picture book, CJ and his grandmother’s ride on the bus after church becomes a statement about beauty, the power of observation, and the joy of wonder.
Mango, Abuela, and Me by Meg Medina, illustrated by Angela Dominguez. 2015 Cybils Finalist, Fiction Picture Books. Mia isn’t sure what to think when her distant Abuela moves into her house – and into her room. Unable to communicate with each other about the important things, Mia uses the lessons from her best friend, an ESL student from Korea, to teach her grandmother English.
Emmanuel’s Dream: the True Story of Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah by Laurie Ann Thompson, illustrated by Sean Qualls. 2015 Cybils Finalist, Elementary / Middle Grade Non-Fiction Picture Books. Emmanuel was born with a crippled leg, but his mother refused to let others treat him differently even if that meant hopping the long walk to school and back. Emmauel eventually learned to ride a bike and his nation-wide bike ride through his native Ghana helped cement his place as an advocate for other people with disabilities too.
Knock, Knock: My Dad’s Dream for Me by Daniel Beaty, illustrated by Brian Collier. 2014 Cybils Finalist, Fiction Picture Books. This powerful picture book evolved from an earlier spoken word piece written by the author [Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8VLjZPqJqE0&feature=youtu.be]. The story traces a young boy’s journey from reaching an understanding of his father’s incarceration to growing into the man his father hoped for him to be.
Separate is Never Equal by Duncan Tonatiuh. 2014 Cybils Finalist, Non-Fiction Picture Books for Elementary / Middle Grade.
Barbed Wire Baseball by Marisa Moss, illustrated by Yuko Shimizu. 2013 Cybils Finalist, Non-Fiction Picture Books for Elementary / Middle Grade. Kenichi “Zeni” Zenimura, a Japanese-American baseball player, was sent to an internment camp during World War II. At the camp, Zeni strove to build his own baseball field and to inspire hope in a difficult time.
Sit-In: How Four Friends Stood Up by Sitting Down by Andrea Davis Pinkney, illustrated by Brian Pinkney. 2010 Cybils Finalist, Non-Fiction Picture Books. This poetic picture book introduces readers to the Civil Rights Movement and specifically the Woolworth counter sit-in in Greensboro, North Carolina.
Faith by Maya Ajmera, Madga Nakassis, and Cynthia Pon. 2009 Cybils Finalist for Non-Fiction Picture Books. Illustrated with photographs of children, this book explores the commonalities of faiths around the world. The text itself is simple, but the back matter helps readers delve more deeply into the pictures and their origins.
Wangari’s Trees of Peace: a True Story from Africa by Jeanette Winter. 2008 Cybils Finalist for Non-Fiction Picture Books. Wangari Maathai of Kenya became the first African woman awarded a Nobel Peace Prize. This book details the creation of her Green Belt Movement and its positive impact on the environment. Readers cannot help but be inspired to think about their own impact on the world.
Four Feet, Two Sandals by Karen Lynn Williams, illustrated by Khadra Mohammed. 2007 Cybils Finalist for Fiction Picture Books. Set in a refugee camp near the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, this book follows the story of two girls who meet and befriend each other over a pair of sandals. Details of their lives, the hidden costs of war, and the difficulties of immigration are presented gently but powerfully. Sadly, this story is still a timely one today.