Review of Front and Center, by Catherine Gilbert Murdock

Front and Center

by Catherine Gilbert Murdock

Houghton Mifflin, 2009. 256 pages.
Starred Review

This book was a lovely end to the Dairy Queen trilogy. I was disappointed the library didn’t have this one on CD, but that was a cool excuse to purchase the book at get it signed by Catherine Gilbert Murdock when I got to hear her speak.

DJ’s back to school, and hopes to just melt into the woodwork, but she finds herself the center of attention. She’s trying to figure out where to go to college, trying to improve her basketball game, and trying to forget Brian Nelson. But then Brian starts acting differently, actually willing to be seen with her, while her good friend Beaner wants something more than friendship. DJ’s got life and college and romance to figure out, and it all makes a lovely conclusion to the trilogy.

I don’t really need to say a lot about this book, because those who have come through the first two books with DJ will definitely want to know what happens next. I promise you’ll enjoy the final installment!

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Source: This review is based on a book I purchased and had signed by the author.

Review of Another Brother, by Matthew Cordell

Another Brother

by Matthew Cordell

Feiwel and Friends, New York, 2012. 36 pages.

At last! A picture book that features a family with 13 children! Okay, they’re sheep, but still, it’s a gap that needed filling.

If a human child thinks he has it bad when he loses his parents’ focus, he can imagine what it’s like for Davy. “For four glorious years, Davy had Mom and Dad all to himself.” But then Davy gets a brother, then another and another, until finally he has twelve little brothers.

Now, I do have a big peeve with this book. The brothers are specifically mentioned as coming one at a time — but they are all pictured as the same age, and going through the same stages at the same time. Um, that’s NOT how big families work.

But that’s not really the point. The point is Davy’s got twelve little brothers, all mimicking him and getting in his way and being annoying.

“It’s only a phase, Davy,” Mom said. “Because you’re the oldest, your brothers look up to you.”

“When they get old enough,” said Dad, “your brothers will have their own interests. Then they won’t copy you.”

The book isn’t meant to be realistic. It takes a sibling problem and makes it hilarious by taking it to the extreme and illustrating it with completely silly pictures.

So if a child thinks he’s got it bad with an annoying little brother or sister, he can just imagine what it’s like for Davy. I guarantee that if you do find a kid who has twelve younger brothers like Davy, he will be far too old for this book, so Davy’s problems will definitely look extreme. Nothing like a bit of perspective!

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Source: This review is based on a library book from the Fairfax County Public Library.

Top 100 Children’s Novelists – #3 Lois Lowry

Top 100 Children’s Novelists: #3, Lois Lowry, 327 votes

Here’s another living author in the coveted #3 Top Children’s Author slot. (By my count, only half of the authors in the Top 10 Children’s Novelists are still alive.) Lois Lowry showed real depth with one book in the Top 10, another in the Top 100, and six different books appearing in the poll.

Here are Betsy’s posts about Lois Lowry’s books in the Top 100:

#4, The Giver, 260 points

#50, Number the Stars, 42 points

The other books which received votes, with comments where they were given, were:

Anastasia Krupnik, 17 points

“(This book is, I know, a longshot for making the top 100, but I love it, so I’m giving it a big bump by putting it at the top of my list. Anastasia was exactly who I wanted to be and who I wanted to be friends with when I was 10. I had a green notebook and still to this day keep a list of words that I think would make an f-is-for-fabulous sound poem.)” — Dana Chidiac

“I loved Anastasia because she was a normal girl with normal problems (glasses, acne, cool-but-embarrassing parents, annoying little brothers, etc). She was also smart and funny, and I envied her hiking boots with red laces (and later her tower bedroom).” — The Sauls Family

Gossamer, 4 points

“Stays with you long after the story is over – beautifully written” — Cheryl Phillips

A Summer to Die, 2 points

The Willoughbys, 2 points

I find I haven’t reviewed any of the books above, though I read most of them when I was an adult but before I became a librarian. Just for fun, and to show some of the scope of Lois Lowry’s writing, here are her books which I have reviewed:

Gooney Bird Greene
Gooney Bird and the Room Mother
The Birthday Ball

And here is Lois Lowry’s own site.

Review of Lucky for Good, by Susan Patron

Lucky for Good

by Susan Patron
read by Cassandra Campbell

Random House, Listening Library, 2011. 5 hours, 30 minutes on 5 CDs.

I was very happy when a third book about Lucky Trimble came out. And this time, I was able to listen to it, as I did the first book, the Newbery-winning The Higher Power of Lucky. Cassandra Campbell does a wonderful job reading it, with a particularly good French accent for Lucky’s Mom, Brigitte.

I enjoyed this book, since they were characters I already love. I like the way Lucky thinks about quirky things, and we go off in tangents along with her thoughts.

I’m afraid I would have liked this book better, though, if it had ended with the third CD. There’s a big climactic scene, an excellent one with danger and luck and humor. When I put that CD away, I remember wondering what was left to happen.

Then today I listened to the last two CDs, and I’m afraid nothing much did happen. There was a plot arc going for the first half of the book, but then it fizzled out. I really think pretty much everything that happened in the last two CDs could have been moved to before the big climactic scene, and it would have given the book a more unified whole.

Miles’ mother returns, and that’s a big part of the book. Lucky’s afraid she’ll take Miles away from Hard Pan, and I do like the resolution given to that worry. However, in the last part of the book, we learn that Miles’ mother Justine is kind of a religious nut. She won’t let Miles read books she doesn’t agree with, and is talking about home schooling him. That is never really resolved. And Miles is very unhappy with the new beliefs he feels he has to adopt. I didn’t like that part. I’m a Christian, but my beliefs are a lot closer to Lucky’s than they are to Justine’s, and I still didn’t like seeing Justine as a straw figure, a caricature of someone who believes things that are completely opposed to science. Lucky and Lincoln talk with Miles about it, but I really don’t like to see them talking about caricatured beliefs. I feel like they’re saying that Christianity is simply not scientific, without actually showing the views of Christian scientists at all.

Okay, I know there really are people like Justine out there. And I do like the way Lucky relates to her. And I like it that they acknowledge that knowing Jesus saved Justine from addiction. But I wasn’t crazy about that part of the story.

Several other things at the end didn’t feel right to me. Something big happens with her father, quite out of the blue. I wish things had built up to that a little. Especially since Lucky was thinking a lot about her father, and thinking a lot about big things happening to people she loves. If it all had been connected a little more, this would have felt like part of the story arc, rather than a random sad happening.

In the beginning, Lucky gets a very interesting assignment as a punishment. Lucky’s working on it a lot — right up until that climactic scene in the middle. Then it’s not mentioned again until the end. Did the principal really accept it at the end of the summer? Why wasn’t it mentioned when they were still in the school year? And how in the world did Lucky find out her ancestors on her mother’s side, when all she knew (last we heard) was her mother’s first name and where she was born?

In the beginning, Lucky also meets an interesting but hostile 8th-grader. That is also pretty much dropped after the big climactic scene in the middle.

And Lincoln heads off to Knot Camp. So he’s not even in the last part of the book. It might have been nice to either end it when he leaves, or, if the summer is only going to be a small part of the book, have him come back right before the end.

However, did I mention how good that big climactic scene in the middle was? Beautiful! A perfect comedy of errors, a lovely play on the quirky people of Hard Pan whom we’ve come to know and love.

The problem the book starts out with is compelling. Brigitte’s Cafe is violating Ordinance 1849! The way the book deals with it is compelling. I just wish that had been the main story arc of the entire book.

Anyway, I loved the first three CDs, and still enjoyed (if not quite as much) the last two. And anyone who’s already come to know Lucky and the delightful people of Hard Pan, California, will definitely want to read this last adventure. (Oh, that’s another thing. The subtitle said this is the final installment of the Hard Pan Trilogy. Why? What is it about Lucky starting junior high that means we won’t get to read about her any more? I think she’ll get even more interesting the older she gets. Still, I guess if the author wants to move on to other characters and other stories, I won’t complain. But I hope she won’t rule out the idea of ever writing more about Lucky.)

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Source: This review is based on a library audiobook from the Fairfax County Public Library.

Catching Up!

Woo-hoo! I just finished writing reviews of all the books I’ve read and meant to review! Woo-hoo!

This is a momentous week, because yesterday was one year since the day when I had my stroke. I’m pretty certain I’ve been pretty seriously behind on writing reviews since that day. Because when you’re spending a lot of time in the hospital or in bed, you do have time to read, but you don’t have so much time to review what you’ve read.

Today also marks the day when I’ve worked two consecutive pay periods without taking ANY time off — neither sick leave nor annual leave. (And even better, the last time off I took was for annual leave, not sick leave.) Back last January, I promised myself that when I managed to go two pay periods without taking leave, I would then need to seriously look for a way to get back to working in Youth Services — and tomorrow I have an interview!

In fact, I’ve applied for not one but two Youth Services Manager positions. One is at my current branch, and one is in the neighboring county. I will be very happy if I am offered either one of them, and that they are coming right when I feel I’m truly recovered from the stroke and right when I promised myself I’d look for a Youth Services position is such a lovely touch.

Of course, I can’t really say I’m caught up on reviews — because now I have 73 drafts ready to post!

But I’ve written them!

You may well ask, why don’t I just schedule them to post every day for the next 73 days? Well, I’ve kind of written myself into a corner. Yes, I post all my reviews on this blog, but I also post all the reviews on the main Sonderbooks site, by type of review. So when I post a review on the blog, I also post it on the main site, and I like to do that together. But now that I’m caught up on actually writing them, I can shoot for posting one or two reviews every evening. And I can make a goal of, on my day off, making sure I’ve written reviews of all the books I finished the past week, in hopes I’ll never get so frightfully behind again.

I’m also having some fun choosing which reviews to post. I’m trying to keep variety. And I decided to pull from the end and from the beginning. So I’ll look at the reviews I wrote the longest time ago and post one of those, and then I’ll post a review I’ve written recently (preferably a recently published book). So the poor books in the middle are languishing, but I’ll have to hold some kind of big celebration when I finally really catch up. It almost makes me want to slow down my reading!

Mind you, in addition I’m now running six blog series: Top 100 Writers and Illustrators, Sonderling Sunday, Conference Corner, Librarians Help, Sondy’s Selections, and Prime Factorization Fun. So I’m getting where I like to alternate reviews with one of these series.

So much blogging, so little time. But for tonight, I’ve caught up on writing reviews! Huzzah!

Sonderling Sunday – Chapter 9 – Der Orden der Seltsamen Sonderlinge at Last!

It’s time again for Sonderling Sunday! That time when I play with language by looking at James Kennedy‘s choice turns of phrase in The Order of Odd-Fish and how they are translated into German in Der Orden der Seltsamen Sonderlinge. We look at all the things you’d really like to be able to say in German!

Today I’m part way into Chapter 9, when Jo finally meets The Order of Odd-Fish. I’m on page 82 in English, and Seite 105 auf Deutsch.

We start off with a handy-dandy phrase that’s actually shorter in German, for once!
“dressed in tails” = im Frack

“unkempt” = ungebärdigen

“alarmingly tiny teeth” = beunruhigend winzige Zähne (unrestfully tiny teeth)

Here’s a good one, and candidate for longest word, at 18 letters:
“blare of trumpets” = Fanfarengeschmetter

And I love this one we’ve already seen:
“great shout” = Jubelschrei

“a bejeweled bib” sounds less silly in German: einer juwelenbesetzten Krawatte

Another one that gains a little dignity in translation:
“a trailing cape that looked like a doily gone berserk for seven feet” = ein Häkeldeckchen grö?enwahnsinnig geworden und hätte sich auf zwei Meter ausgedehnt (“a crocheted blanket gone hugely insane and extending behind them for two meters”)

I always like alliteration:
“clinking and jangling” = klingelten und klapperten

More about the trumpets, including an even longer word:
“The trumpets died down” = Die Trompetengeschmetter verstummte

“a multitiered mountain of buttons and bows and collars and jewelry and bustles” = einem vielschichtigen Werk aus Knöpfen, Schleifen, Kragen, Schmuck, Tournüren

“a billowing, flapping, teetering mass of crepe and silk and velvet” = einem wogenden, wehenden, schwankenden Berg aus Krepp, Seide und Samt

“imprisoned in a gigantic, nightmarish wedding cake” = in einen gigantischen, albtraumhaften Hochzeitskuchen eingesperrt

(Come on, doesn’t that just make you want to read the book?)

“firmly” = unerschütterlich

“Jo was starving” = Jo hatte einen Mordshunger (“Jo had a death-hunger.” I like that! Means the same thing, but a fresh take on it, nicht?)

“with a mild pork-plum flavor” = Sie schmeckte ein bisschen nach Schwein und Pflaumen (Well, usually German takes a few more words, I must admit.)

“wrinkles” = einige Falten aus ihrem Gesicht (“some folds on her face”)

“It is a pleasantly futile task.” = Es ist eine höchst erfreulich vergebliche Aufgabe.

“accuracy” = Genauigkeit

“to dither about” = herumzutändeln (I’m so glad I know how to translate that!)

“charter” = Gründungsurkunde (“founding certificate”)

Oh, and here’s a good sentence to say:
“The bit about dithering is the most important.” = Der Teil mit dem Tändeln ist der wichtigste.

“a society of ditherers” = eine Gesellschaft von Tändlern

Oh, and the response is worth quoting the full paragraph:

“You know — fiddling about, puttering, loafing. The Order of Odd-Fish has a long and distinguished history of dithering. Sir Oliver is the world’s foremost authority.”

Auf Deutsch:

»Ihr wisst schon, herumtrödeln, faulenzen, Zeit verbummeln. Der Orden der Seltsamen Sonderlinge hat eine lange und würdevolle Geschichte des Tändelns. Sir Oliver ist tändeltechnisch die führende Autorität weltweit.«

Now, you have to wonder if the word tändeltechnisch has ever been used before. It’s basically saying that on the technicalities of dithering, Sir Oliver is the foremost authority worldwide.

Breaking down the other key phrases, we have, of course:
“fiddling about” = herumtrödeln
“puttering” = faulenzen
“loafing” = Zeit verbummeln (“time idling away”)

Oh, and the title of Sir Oliver’s book provides us yet more:
Puttering, Muddling, and Mucking About: An Inquiry into Idleness” becomes Tändeln, Bummeln und Herumtrödeln: eine Untersuchung über den Mü?iggang

Now, they’re clearly using some of the same German words for different English ones. Perhaps they don’t have as many different words for dithering as English does? Knowing the German character of industry, I wouldn’t be surprised. But you definitely get the idea!

Speaking of Zeit verbummeln, my timer informs me I’ve already been at this an hour. There is much much delightful frippery left in the chapter, but I must stop for today.

Summing up, I hope this installment has given you insight into tändeltechnisch.

Longest word: Trompetengeschmetter
Shorter in German: im Frack
Most useful: einen Mordshunger

And of course summing up today’s entire discussion: Der Teil mit dem Tändeln ist der wichtigste.

May your herumzutändeln cause you a great Jubelschrei!

Bis zum nächsten Mal!

Review of Temple Grandin, by Sy Montgomery

Temple Grandin

How the Girl Who Loved Cows Embraced Autism and Changed the World

by Sy Montgomery

Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, Boston, 2012.
Starred Review

Years ago, I read Temple Grandin’s book for adults, Animals in Translation, and named it a 2005 Sonderbooks Stand-out. In that book, she described how being autistic has given her extra insight into how animals think, and touched off her amazing career.

This book, written for children, tells more about that amazing career. She talks about what it was like growing up autistic, and how different she was from other kids. There are plenty of pictures, including some of her drawings of ways to make slaughterhouse systems more humane.

The overall message of Temple’s life is that the things that made her different from other people were the things that made her work so notable and so needed. This book is phrased to fascinate people interested in Temple Grandin’s life and achievements, but also to inspire kids who feel like no one understands them. Maybe their differences are the keys to their strengths.

In an early chapter, we read:

Along with these problems, people with autism often have amazing talents. It’s as if the brain makes up for deficits in one area with special gifts in others. “Autistic people have a really stellar ability to use the visual parts of the right side of the brain to compensate for problems with language processing,” Dr. Minshew says. Most children take a long time to find Waldo hidden in a detailed cartoon — but autistic children usually spot him right away. In situations like this, says Dr. Minshew, autism “may be a decided advantage!” And, these kids may be able to make friends with others who share their interests, such as art, music, computer programming, or writing.

“If I could snap my fingers and be nonautistic,” Temple says today, “I wouldn’t do it. It’s part of who I am.” One man who first heard Temple speak when he was a young soldier stationed in Denver, phoned a call-in radio show years later to talk to her. “Thank you so much,” he said, “for giving me the inspiration to say that my brain’s not broken. Just different.”

A fascinating book about a remarkable woman.

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Source: This review is based on an Advance Review Copy I got at an ALA Conference and checked against a library book from the Fairfax County Public Library.

Conference Corner – ALA Midwinter Meeting – John Green

I’m attempting to post my notes from the many conferences I’ve gone to this year. I think I’m going to work backwards and forwards both. Last time, I posted notes from the last session I attended. Now I’m going to post notes from where I left off — John Green’s talk at ALA Midwinter Meeting

I spotted his van the next day when walking back to my hotel:

I walked in late to the talk, since I had been at a committee meeting. But here are my notes. It turns out that this works as a Librarians Help post as well. John Green is definitely a supporter of libraries and librarians.

While he was writing, he was still tweeting and using youtube and tumblr. He uses those because he likes them. After all, he likes talking about stuff that matters with people he finds interesting.

“There’s no such thing any more as a non-social-media internet.”

Social media has a lot of similarities with real life connections.

There’s so much location-based social media, that’s fantastic for librarians. “People are building real life connections in real life places.”

Librarians have been good at raising the quality of discourse for hundreds of years.

It’s difficult to build space for thoughtfulness.

Librarians should infiltrate digital communities and raise the quality of discourse.

“Reading builds strong and deep connections between people.”

They are building productive communities online. Some examples are for Nerdfighters and and wells in Haiti through

Ultimately these are not opposite ideas: Reach out into the world and organize information to help people.

“The ultimate thing that librarians do is help people toward the answer to the overwhelming ultimate question of how to organize our lives.”

Then talking about teens: “Teens are having a lot of interesting things happen to them for the first time.”

His recommendations for reaching teens? Use Tumblr. Look for communities in your community that are active. Search the name of your community. Join the nerdfighters group in your area.

“Education exists for the benefit of the society, not the individual.”

Lead people to interesting places online.

Review of The Seven Towers, by Patricia C. Wrede

The Seven Towers

by Patricia C. Wrede

Firebird, 2008. Originally published in 1984. 324 pages.
Starred Review

Here’s another book I bought as soon as I heard about it, because I love the author and everything she writes. Then I didn’t get it read because it’s a library book and doesn’t have a due date. When I decided that really shouldn’t stop me from reading wonderful books, I finally got this read. I was not surprised to find it delightful.

The book begins with Jermain on the run. He falls off his horse and wakes up to find a very interesting woman named Amberglas. Then the Border Guard that has been chasing him rides up and asks the lady to step aside while they execute Jermain. But Captain Morenar doesn’t know who he’s dealing with:

“The woman looked critically down at Jermain, then back at the Captain. ‘Not at all,’ she said firmly. ‘He does not look in the least dangerous. I’m quite willing to believe he is extremely foolish, but a great many people are, and I have never heard of anyone being executed for it, though I couldn’t say for sure that it’s never happened. Of course, if he continues to run about with that wound bleeding all over everything and making such a mess, you won’t have to.’

“Morenar frowned and tried again. ‘Lady, we have been chasing this man for four hours; I assure you there is no mistake.’

“‘Well, it is certainly rude of you to contradict me, and I don’t believe you at all,’ the woman said flatly. ‘At least, I believe you have been chasing him, but not for four hours, and certainly he’s not a criminal. Though I can understand why you say so; it would probably be very awkward for you to explain. So many things are; awkward, I mean. Large kettles, for instance, and carrying three brooms at once, and those fat brown birds with the red wings whose names I can’t remember just at present. They waddle.'”

Jermain was formerly the Chief Advisor to King Marreth of Sevrain, but after she saves him, he explains to Amberglas what went wrong:

“‘Terrel and His Royal Highness Prince Eltiron convinced Marreth that I was guilty of treason. As a result, Marreth stripped me of my lands and position and awarded them to Terrel. Isn’t that enough?’

“‘I do see that you might think so,’ Amberglas said. ‘Were you?’

“‘Was I what?’

“‘Were you guilty? Of treason, I mean; there are a great many other things you could be guilty of, but since you weren’t accused of any of them, they don’t really matter. Well, no, they do matter, certainly, but I’m not particularly interested in them at the moment, though if you happen to think of anything else you want to mention, it’s quite all right with me.’

“‘I am no traitor,’ Jermain said stiffly.

“‘I didn’t think so. But of course, you could still be guilty of treason. That’s why I asked about it,’ Amberglas said.

“‘No, I was not guilty,’ Jermain said after a moment. ‘Unless it’s treason to believe an old friend’s warning, and counsel that preparation be made.’ Absently, he fingered the place where the short scar on his left arm was hidden by his sleeve.

“‘That doesn’t sound much like treason,’ Amberglas said. “Of course, it would depend on the friend. And the warning. Telling someone that his dinner is burning isn’t treason, at least, not in most places, though I couldn’t say for certain about Navren. The King there has made such extremely peculiar laws that one never knows what is treason in Navren. Or what isn’t,’ she added thoughtfully, and looked at Jermain.”

Meanwhile, back in Sevrain, Prince Eltiron gets his father angry by mentioning Jermain. And his father insists he marry Princess Crystalorn. Then Princess Crystalorn shows up at Amberglas’s tower saying she does not want to marry this prince she knows nothing about.

There are plots and counterplots, treachery and the appearance of treachery. There’s also a looming magical danger over the land. Jermain and Eltiron and Crystalorn need to know who they can trust and how to stop the magic.

Seven kingdoms with seven towers are involved in the magic and the danger. This book has an intricate plot with suspense and danger and even some romance. Though there are many characters to keep track of, like Amberglas they are all distinct personalities, and that only makes it more interesting.

This is an interesting and entertaining fantasy tale from a true master of the form.

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#2 Picture Book Author and Illustrator – Mo Willems

Top 100 Picture Books Poll:
#2 Picture Book Author: Mo Willems, 520 points
#2 Picture Book Illustrator: Mo Willems, 501 points

This name isn’t surprising, for anyone who noticed that Mo Willems had two books in the Top 10 and four books in the Top 100. It is, however, astonishing. Mo is so young! And he beat DR. SEUSS!

Oh, yes, for those just coming in, I am reporting the results by author from Betsy Bird’s Top 100 Picture Books Poll on her School Library Journal Fuse #8 blog. The #2 Picture Book Author and #2 Picture Book Illustrator was Mo Willems.

Okay, I’m completely on the Mo Willems bandwagon. I’m convinced he’s a genius. You can tell, because I only review Picture Books that I especially like, and you can see below how many of his books I’ve chosen to review.

Here are Betsy’s posts about his books that hit the Top 100:

#3 Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus, 198 points
#7 Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale, 129 points
#26 We Are In a Book!, 59 points
#60 There Is a Bird on Your Head!, 31 points

These are his other books that received votes, with links to my reviews, when I have one:

Leonardo the Terrible Monster got four votes for a total of 19 points, and each voter commented.
Owen Gray said, Mo Willems is a modern master of the picture book and this follow up to his classic Knuffle Bunny is a perfect example of his genius. Willems’ use of humor mixed with simple line work that conveys the emotion in the story more clearly than any words ever could makes this a great read aloud as well as one that can be enjoyed quietly. My favorite page is when the character Sam is introduced and only takes up one tiny corner of a blank, two-page spread. He looks so lonely and scared the audience immediately identifies with him. Balance that page against his two-page, giant-font tirade that nearly knocks Leonardo over and one can easily see how Mo Willems has a wide emotional spectrum as well as perfect comic timing at his command. Some say he’s the modern Dr. Seuss, but in truth he has carved out his own niche in the picture book realm.
Natalie commented, Can’t imagine NOT reading this to Kindergarteners and hearing “Read it again!”
Aaron Zenz said, A main character with great personality. The use of space in the compositions is bold and brilliant. Flawless story beats and perfectly placed page turns.
And Mark Flowers contributed, I doubt that Knuffle Bunny or the Pigeon needs my vote, but this one might. From the very first joke–Leonardo is a “terrible” monster because he can’t scare anyone–to its brilliant design, this book absolutely belongs among the top tier of Willem’s triumphs.

City Dog, Country Frog, illustrated by Jon J. Muth, 19 points.
Amy Miele aptly commented on this book, What an amazing book. When I first read about the subject matter of this book, I thought no way, its not going to work. I should have known better. Mo Willems can write about ANYTHING!! This book says so much about grief, and the phases of life. It proves along with Pink and Say that great literature can come in any form.

The Pigeon Finds a Hot Dog got three votes for a total of 17 points
Linda Westphal said, “Love the wise duck.”

Don’t Let the Pigeon Stay Up Late, one first place vote for 10 points.
That voter, Sharon Thackston, commented, A tough choice between this and Drive the Bus, but this one is my favorite.  It is arguably my favorite book to perform (and when I told Mr. Willems this at a book signing, he was delighted at my choice of the word “perform”).  Stay Up Late trumps Drive the Bus for me, because of awesomely big pigeon yawn, followed by innocent eyes and “I was stretching.”  Yeah-huh, Pigeon.  Whatever you say.

My Friend Is Sad got two votes for a total of 9 points, and both voters commented.
Amy Miele said, Can I really just pick one elephant and piggie book? If I may only have one, this must be the one. I love the pathos (or is it bathos, I am never sure) in Gerald’s face after every appearance of Piggie. I love the expression in Piggie’s face at the end when she realizes that Gerald didn’t know that his best friend was trying desperately to cheer him. What I really love is Mo’s ability to convey so much with line drawings, and few words. WOW! To be blessed with that genius.
And Sharon Thackston said, My favorite of the Elephant and Piggie early readers, because it’s a delight to perform. All of Piggie’s antics to cheer up Gerald, and all of Gerald’s hysteria in explaining his up and down day to Piggie are just priceless.

Today I Will Fly, 9 points
Amy Weir said, Speaking of truly excellent easy readers. Reading these aloud is like putting on a play, and it’s wonderful to alternate parts with my beginning reader. Also, so, so funny. More pure genius.
Stacy Dillon’s comment was short and sweet but right on: A game changer. Fun, fun, fun!

The Duckling Gets a Cookie!?, one fifth place vote for 6 points.
I’m with that voter, Geraldine Farmer-Morrison, but hadn’t read the book yet when the poll happened. She commented, I did hesitate about putting this new title on the list, but this is my favorite of Willems’ books.

The Pigeon Wants a Puppy, 6 points

I Am Invited to a Party got two votes for 5 points.
Melissa Fox commented, Again, another easy reader that I’m sneaking in to a picture book list… But my girls adore this one. I think it was the Heavy Medal Newbery blog that mentioned Elephant and Piggie were like mini-plays, and I can attest to that; they are so much fun to read (over and over and over again) and it gets to the point where you can dual-read with your 3-year-old (trust me, I did!) each taking a “part”. It’s enormous amounts of fun. While they’re all fun, I Am Invited to a Party is our favorite. Hands down.

I Broke My Trunk, 3 points

WHAT? No one voted my favorite Elephant and Piggie book, Are You Ready to Play Outside?!? What is wrong with you people?! I admit, I wasted my vote on Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus, along with the crowd. But I seriously considered for this ONE book voting for two books by the same author. I admit, I enjoyed writing a blog piece on this book that included some musings about life lessons from the book.

Here are my reviews of some other Mo Willems books that weren’t included above:

My review of Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus
I Will Surprise My Friend
The one I wish I could read to a Statistics class: Pigs Make Me Sneeze

There you have it! Just compiling that list has worn me out. It’s easy to see why so many of us consider Mo Willems the new genius of the picture book form.