I've read three of the seven Fiction Picture Book finalists for the Cybils. All three of them are wonderful books (of course), but reading them together, I was struck by how different from one another they are, and how difficult the job of choosing one winner would be.
Leaves by David Ezra Stein (Putnam's, 2007)
For the littlest picture book readers (and listeners) on up; about the seasons of a bear's first year. Spare text and expressive art, created with bamboo pen and a warm palette of watercolors. This one feels timeless.
The Incredible Book-Eating Boy by Oliver Jeffers (Philomel, 2007)
Eating was a common medieval metaphor for reading. This boy, however, literally consumes his books. He could be forgiven for taking a bite of this one's creamy, krafty matte pages. I love the art, which was created with paint, pencil and Letraset "on pages from old books that libraries were getting rid of, the artist found, or people were throwing out."
Four Feet, Two Sandals by Karen Lynn Williams and Khadra Mohammed, illustrated by Doug Chayka (Eerdmans, 2007)
This book is dedicated to Zanib, a refugee girl who asked for a book about children like her (read more about how it came to be written at the author's website). The girls who share the sandals in this story are living in a refugee camp outside of Peshawar, but the themes of friendship and separation are universal.
[Okay, I also read Knuffle Bunny Too: A Case of Mistaken Identity by Mo Willems (Hyperion, 2007). You probably have (too). And did you hear it won a Caldecott Honor? Of course you did. So you don't need me to tell you how good it is, although I will if you want.]
How does one choose a winner from among these books? Hmm, maybe I need to take a closer look at the judging criteria for the Cybils.