Reviews of the 2020 Geisel Award winners

Winner

Stop! Bot!
by James Yang; illus. by the author
Preschool    Viking    40 pp.    g
7/19    978-0-42528-881-8    $17.99

After a child's remote-control robot flies away in front of an apartment building, the building's residents try to help retrieve it ("My broom may reach that bot!"). The book's tall trim size reflects the building's narrow verticality. Yang's blocky, mid-century modern art aesthetically complements this dynamic, easy-to-read story that's half wonderfully wacky caper and half salute to community. NELL BERAM

From the Guide/Reviews Database.

 

Honor Books

Chick and Brain: Smell My Foot!
by Cece Bell; illus. by the author
Primary    Candlewick    70 pp.    g
3/19    978-0-7636-7936-1    $12.99

Gone are the days of Dick and Jane easy readers, with their boring characters and their notably unthreatening dog. Bell’s (El Deafo, rev. 11/14; the Rabbit & Robot books) latest book for emerging readers ushers in Chick and Brain (get it?) and their very hungry new acquaintance, Spot, for a subversive lesson in manners and a silly but perilous adventure. Chick, a small yellow bird, persistently provides etiquette guidance to Brain, a humanlike figure sporting boxers and a gumball-machine-shaped head, who, Chick says, may not even be as smart as he looks. Exhorted to smell Brain’s foot, the ever-proper Chick responds: “Maybe your foot smells good. Maybe your foot smells great. But I will not smell your foot until you say PLEASE.” Coming onto the scene, Spot is much more interested in sniffing Chick’s foot than Brain’s (apparently, it smells like chicken), and an invitation to lunch spells trouble for an unwitting Chick (now who’s not smart?). This easy reader’s panels and word bubbles provide comedic timing while parsing the text into digestible parts, which thoughtfully assists children new to both independent reading and the comics form. Bold outlines and exaggerated features in the watercolor and ink illustrations accentuate the playful absurdity of the narrative in this four-chapter comedy of errors. GRACE MCKINNEY

From the September/October 2019 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

 

Flubby Is Not a Good Pet!
by J. E. Morris; illus. by the author
Primary    Penguin Workshop    32 pp.    g
4/19    978-1-5247-8776-9    $9.99

Flubby the cat won’t do any tricks, no matter how much his owner Kami tries. Increasingly frustrated, Kami declares: “Flubby is NOT a good pet!” But when a thunderstorm begins, Flubby and Kami realize they need each other. The short, repetitive sentences are clearly designed for new readers. Minimalist illustrations humorously feature other animals doing tricks for their humans, while Flubby only says meow and falls asleep. MIRIAM STEINBERG-EGETH

From the Guide/Reviews Database.

 

The Book Hog
by Greg Pizzoli; illus. by the author
Preschool    Disney-Hyperion    48 pp.
3/19    978-1-368-03689-4    $16.99

In this celebration of books and reading, the titular pig owns many books, which he loves for their smell, texture, and pictures. It's therefore surprising to learn that he's illiterate. His discovery of library storytimes and eventual acquisition of literacy, with help from the elephant librarian, resolve his dilemma. Pizzoli's concise sentences and humorous, ingeniously detailed cartoon illustrations have great read-aloud appeal. CYNTHIA K. RITTER

From the Guide/Reviews Database.

 

For more, click on the tag ALA Midwinter 2020.

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