2017 Fiction Picture Books Finalists

After the Fall (How Humpty Dumpty Got Back Up Again)
by Dan Santat
Roaring Brook Press
Nominated by: Flowering Minds

The story of what happened to Humpty Dumpty sounds like a simple, little kid story, but this Humpty Dumpty story? It’s so much more than a cute children’s book. Kids of all age groups will be touched by the emotional message.

Dan Santat is not subtle about telling and showing Humpty’s anxiety: “I was so scared that it kept me from enjoying some of my favorite
things.” This straightforward approach allows us to easily relate to Humpty’s feelings. The soft, detailed illustrations enhance the text
by adding touches of humor and by deepening Humpty’s worry and his struggle. There are many important messages here about coping with accidents, perseverance and not giving up, but also about waiting to be ready for new challenges and how it can take slow steps to get past fear. This is a book that can open the door to important discussions but it can also quietly soothe and remind one child they are not alone.

Andrea Mack, That’s Another Story

Baabwaa and Wooliam
by David Elliott, illustrated by ‎ Melissa Sweet
Candlewick Press
Nominated by: Michelle Leonard

“This is Baabwaa, also a sheep. In this picture, Baabwaa is knitting. Knitting is a practical hobby for a sheep. It’s surprising not more of them do it. Oh, well.”

In this sheepishly-funny picture book story, best friends Wooliam and Baabwaa attempt to find adventure. Not long after, they encounter a wolf (quite like one Wooliam has read about). Readers will enjoy this hilarious duo as they attempt to discover just what adventure means and who it may include. Melissa Sweet’s illustrations in water color, gouache, and mixed media entertain and add fun details as does the story’s voice, which tends to state the obvious. It’s a tale tale of friendship that children will love to hear, and adults will love to read, with elements that tie together nicely and lead to a satisfying ending,

Lynne Marie Pisano, My Word Playground

Big Cat, Little Cat
by Elisha Cooper
Roaring Brook Press
Nominated by: Adrienne Gillespie

“There was a cat
Who lived alone.
Until the day
a new cat came.”

Simple text, yes, with simple illustrations, yes, but don’t let the simplicity deceive you: this is a story of great depth and intensity. With the feel of a haiku and Japanese ink painting, Big Cat, Little Cat is a meditation on an endearing relationship that develops between opposites, big and little, black and white, and grows deeper and deeper, romping in work and play, until the inevitable end and the sadness that ensues. The author/illustrator doesn’t abandon us here, however, but nudges us forward with the reassurance of a new cycle of love and life beginning. Like all classic stories, Big Cat, Little Cat stirs readers of all ages to smiles, to laughter, to tears, to joy once again.

Deb Nance , Readerbuzz

Creepy Pair of Underwear!
by Aaron Reynolds, illustrated by Peter Brown  
Simon & Schuster
Nominated by: Amy

“…the underwear glowed.
A ghoulish, greenish glow.”

This book bursts with kid appeal. What kid doesn’t love underwear or glowing in the dark? Jasper Rabbit is an endearing character who overcomes his fear all on his own. Engaging and emotive illustrations utilize a limited color palette to enhance the clever writing and compelling story. Hilarious and heartfelt, the story will resonate with readers of all ages.

Kirstine Call, ReFoReMo

by Dashka Slater, illustrated by Sydney Hanson 
Farrar, Straus & Giroux
Nominated by: Melissa Fox

Escargot is easily the most charming and earnest snail you have ever met. At times seeming confident (“You may kiss me if you want!”), it becomes clear that he finds himself in a position recognizable to children and adults alike: he wants very much to be someone’s friend (yours!), but he is afraid you are not as interested in friendship as he is.

The text begs to be read aloud, and invitations to readers to stroke Escargot’s shell or to make a fierce face make it a wonderfully interactive story time read. The large, bright illustrations are every bit as charming as the text. This one is begging to be read over and over again.

Ami Jones, A Mom’s Spare Time

Flowers for Sarajevo
by John McCutcheon, illustrated by Kristy Caldwell
Publisher/ Author Submission

Flowers for Sarajevo, written by John McCutcheon and illustrated by Kristy Caldwell is one for our older picture book readers. The events in this book took place over two decades ago, but in a world where acts of war and terror take place regularly, this story gives children a chance to explore and process these troubling ideas, emotions, and actions. In the pages following the mortar blast, when the square goes silent from lack of activity, the audience you might be reading aloud to will also go silent. There is a depth of sadness and seriousness that warrants it. The cellist, Vedrun Smailovic, enters the story as a figure of bravery and peace, which softens the ending of the story, though does not erase the seriousness. The CD accompanying the book is powerful to play. Listeners will be transported to the square as Vedrun Smailovic himself plays the song he played those many years ago.

Nicole Levesque, Bluestocking Thinking

The Book of Mistakes
by Corinna Luyken
Dial Books
Nominated by: Sarah Sammis

In The Book of Mistakes by Corinna Luyken readers are dazzled and watch in amazement as Luyken turns mistakes into something beautiful. The progression of the story feels like a magic trick. Humor and elegance promote courage and flexibility over fear in making mistakes. Readers of all ages will be delighted and awed by the twists and turns of Luyken’s illuminating artwork. Inspiring, surreal, playful, and gorgeous, this book puts mistakes into a life-affirming perspective.

Tiffa Foster, The Picture Book Review