See Me Read! | #CYBILS2023 Book Reviews 12.28.2023

Today’s featured books draw on classic styles of storytelling. They meet young audience not just where they are as readers, but also offer them choice in the kinds of stories they want to read.

One of our judges likened Bear and Bird: The Picnic and Other Stories to Winnie the Pooh and Frog and Toad. Classic stories from our youth that combine adventure and friendship with a dash of humor. 

Jom Klassen’s The Skull is a  retelling of a classic folktale story from Tyrol, a small state in Western Austria. “Tyronean (sic) version of tales that are part of the stock of German and European folktales.” source  It is more akin to the original versions of fairy tales whose origins come from Europe, than the Disney-fied ones. The distinction is important.

Not all readers like dark, scary stories but some do. Some developing readers enjoy the silliness of friendship stories, others don’t. The great news is that up-and-coming readers can choose from an array of stories.

Summary excerpts come from Goodreads. Click the cover to add this book to your TBR.


Kirsten @ Goodreads – I love early readers where the reader can read the chapters independently, because it is a great introduction to chapter books – a very different style of reading. This is one of the best early readers I have read in a while.

Linda @ Goodreads – There are adventures and mistaken assumptions. You’ll need to get the book to see what friends do to stay friends and enjoy the delightful illustrations and expressions in this very fun story!

Sarah @ Goodreads – A modern update to Frog and Toad or Winnie the Pooh. The story is sweet and caring. My kids love snuggling up and hearing this one over and over.


Sandy @ Goodreads – Jon Klassen never fails to surprise, and this latest offering is no exception.  This complex and rather intense story is handled with matter-of-fact calm, which goes a long way to making this amenable to early elementary readers, though not to all. It is presented with illustrations on every spread, paired with minimal but direct text that uses simple, controlled vocabulary effectively. Even middle-grade readers will devour this, especially those whose reading challenges may deny them the subject matter they would otherwise choose. 

Kirsten @ Goodreads – This is definitely not my kind of story, but children who are into spooky stories will love it. There is limited text, the illustrations are gorgeous, and the story is fun. It will not appeal to all children and it is a bit dark, though those titles are getting more popular now. I would not hesitate to recommend this book to someone looking for a scary chapter book.