[Edited] My Cybils Reading List, Part 1: Easy Readers, Picture Books, and Poetry

Finalists for the 2008 Cybils (Children's and Young Adult Bloggers' Literary Awards) were posted on January 1; thank you to the panelists who read and reviewed the nominated books in each of eight categories. Last year I planned to read and review at least one new (to me) book from each category before the winners were announced on February 14; you can see how well I did here. This year I'm planning to do even better. Would you like to join me? Here's Part 1 of my 2008 Cybils Reading List:

Easy readers. This is a new category for the Cybils this year. Of the five finalists, I've read one: Houndsley and Catina and the Quiet Time by James Howe; illustrated by Marie-Louise Gay (Candlewick). I liked it; true to its title, it's a quiet book, beautifully illustrated in watercolors. I was surprised to see that two of Mo Willems's Elephant and Piggie books made it to the shortlist (I Love My New Toy! and I Will Surprise My Friend! ). I like Mo Willems as much as the next person (which is to say a lot), but I prefer his picture books to this series. And I'm not Mercy Watson's biggest fan, either. That leaves Maybelle Goes to Tea by Katie Speck; illustrated by Paul Ratz de Tagyos (Henry Holt).

Can you tell I'm still bitter that Dick King-Smith's The Twin Giants, illustrated by Mini Grey (Candlewick) wasn't eligible this year? Moving on.

Fiction Picture Books. There are eight finalists in this category, of which I've read four. I should probably write a separate post about all of them once I've read the rest. First up is Abe Lincoln Crosses a Creek: A Tall Thin Tale (Introducing His Forgotten Frontier Friend) by Deborah Hopkinson; illustrated by John Hendrix (Schwartz and Wade). Hopkinson's Apples to Oregon (it has an even longer subtitle) is a recent read-aloud at our house; I have high hopes for Abe.

Nonfiction Picture Books. I've only read one of the seven finalists in this category; that was Wanda Gag: The Girl Who Lived to Draw by Deborah Kogan Ray (Viking). I don't have strong feelings about any of the other finalists, although they all look interesting. Any suggestions?

Poetry. I abandoned one of the five poetry finalists (Naomi Shihab Nye's Honeybee) last year; fortunately I read another (David Elliot's On the Farm; illustrated by Holly Meade) with Milly just this morning and loved it. I'm also planning to read Imaginary Menagerie: A Book of Curious Creatures by Julie Larios, illustrated by Julie Paschkis (Harcourt); it looks gorgeous, like a modern bestiary.

I'll be back on Friday with the rest of my Cybils reading list, including Fantasy and Science Fiction, Graphic Novels, Middle Grade and Young Adult books. I'd love some recommendations, too. Thanks!