The Gittle List is a book competition exclusively for self-published children’s picture books. Here are the winners of the 5th annual contest. They all make great gifts during the holiday season or anytime.
#1: Chase-Man: How My Brother Became a Real Superhero, written by Chisa Merriweather and Nicole White and illustrated by Cathy Reene, is the fictionalized story of Ms. Merriweather’s son, Chase, who came down with a rare blood infection at the tender age of three. The story is told from his older brother C.J.’s point of view. Chase and C.J. love playing superheroes. So when “Baxter Bacilli” threatens Chase, they use all their powers to thwart him. They win the fight, but Chase loses his hands and feet to the evil Baxter. The real life Chase, with the use of prosthetics, is like any other active little boy. (Learn more here.) The story is uplifting and readers will be inspired by the unstoppable real-life superhero nicknamed “Tank.” (As he knocks down any obstacle in his way.) Artist Cathy Reene (a 2014 Gittle List recipient) created illustrations that capture the drama of the story, yet have a watercolor softness to them. Just beautiful. Available in softcover.
#2: Greenbeard the Pirate Pig, written and illustrated by Andrea Torrey Balsara, is about a guinea pig who decides that a pirate pig he will be. With his lettuce beard (thus “Greenbeard”) and his carrot sword, he takes off for adventure. Greenbeard is hilarious. I read each entrant’s book out loud; this story required singing. A so-bad-it’s-so-good ditty about being a pirate. Even Greenbeard’s reluctant sidekick, a rat named Snug Rumkin (who looks suspiciously like Johnny Depp in Pirates of the Caribbean) sticks his fingers in his ears to reduce the pain of the guinea pig’s rousing song. Ms. Balsara’s page design is so well done. Greenbeard the Pirate Pig teaches children how some hard work and self-confidence can help them achieve their dreams — without ever saying those words. I love books that teach but don’t preach. In softcover or Kindle version.
#3: The Worry Tree Is Waiting, written by Rebekah Prince Bergeron and illustrated by Sandy McDermott, is not your typical children’s book. It is a “guided imagery script” meant to help children relax and go to sleep. In that sense, it is the ultimate bedtime story. I have to say I was skeptical when I heard the premise of the story. I’m not a fan of “message” books. The first time I read it, however, I fell in love with The Worry Tree and the guided imagery concept. I read each contest entrant’s story aloud so I know how it feels to read it to a child. I read The Worry Tree Is Waiting several times and found the rhythm of it lovely — and relaxing. Be sure to read the Forward before reading the book to your child. It helps to understand how the story came to be. Ms. McDermott’s illustrations have a calmness to them that is well-aligned with the text. Available in softcover.
#4: The Best You Can Be, written and illustrated by Bev Stone, is about a sheep who is told to “be the best he can be” as he leaves the farm to wander and roam for the very first time. Problem is, he doesn’t know what that means. So, he begins his journey seeking the answer to the question, “What does it mean to be your best?” He meets others who are being the best they can be, but it takes a fateful event for him to learn what his best is all about. Ms. Stone’s illustrations have a feathery quality to them with beautiful colors. Her books have landed on The Gittle List several times over the years. It is very difficult to write a whole children’s book in rhyme. Ms. Stone’s stories are so well written and a joy to read out loud. Available in softcover. See her other winning books: 2016, 2015, 2014.
#5: According to Corban, written by Marcy Pusey and illustrated by Daniela Sosa, is a story about the imagination of a little boy, Corban. It’s actually a series of stories told in the way a child would tell them. We gain entry into Corban’s imagination as he turns everyday situations into adventures. Throughout the day he does many exciting things including dining with a troll, saving a princess, and riding in a spaceship to the moon. Each adventure is followed by an illustration that shows Corban in the everyday activity that sparked his imagination. (Mom telling Corban and his sister to clean up their mess morphs into Mom turning into a dragon and he and his sister turning into firefighters.) It’s a fun, unique book with colorful illustrations that kids will enjoy. In softcover, hardcover, or Kindle version. Read for free with KindleUnlimited.
#6: Step One, Step Two, Step Three and Four, written by Maria Ashworth and illustrated by Andreea Chele is about a little girl whose mom is going to marry a man who has four boys. I love that the story is told from the girl’s perspective. Interestingly, the girl and the mom are never named. This allows any little girl to picture themselves in this situation. It deals with the serious issue of how to blend families while helping the children deal with sometimes sensitive feelings about the change to come. Ms. Ashworth does so in a light and fun way, that allows adults to talk to their child about their concerns. The illustrations are bold and bright with a Dr. Seuss quality to them. In softcover, hardcover, or Kindle version. Read for free with KindleUnlimited.
#7: Which is my dinner?, written and illustrated by Liza Fenech, is part of a series meant to help kids develop reasoning skills. (You’re not seeing double; the first book in the series earned the #10 spot.) The initial pages give the instructions for the rest of the wordless book. On the left side is an animal (or other creature) and on the right are three dinner options. The child selects the food item most likely to be enjoyed by the animal. The next page shows the animal enjoying their dinner. The puppy is totally out of control with the bones (which just cracked me up). It’s an educational opportunity, but it’s also a lot of fun. The blue bunny from Which is mine? has a cameo role with a lot of carrots. Visit Ms. Fenech’s Amazon Author Page to see all of the “Which is my…?” books. In softcover or Kindle version. Read for free with KindleUnlimited.
#8: Go To Sleep!, written by Marion Adams and illustrated by Sarah-Leigh Wills, is the story of Tansy the sheep who can’t sleep. And also is bit math-challenged. What unfolds is woolly mayhem as a sheep who can’t sleep — and can’t count — insists that one of the flock has gone missing. Just darn funny with sweet, fluffy illustrations by Ms. Wills. The best part of the story is Tansy speculating what may have happened to the missing sheep. Kids will enjoy the opportunity at the end of the story to properly count the sheep. In softcover or Kindle version. Read for free with KindleUnlimited.
#9: Meet Odie, written by D.S. Provance and illustrated by A. J. Stawarz, is about a rescue dog named Odie. The goal of the book is to help children better understand what dogs are about so that they may feel more comfortable being around them. Even this old dog learned a few things. Did you know that dogs can’t see red or green? Odie narrates his own story — not of his difficult past living on the street — but his present life with his loving human parents. The book is filled with Twitter-worthy photos of Odie enjoying his favorite activities. Such as playing in the snow and running on the beach (where the waves chase him.) There are resources for those interested in giving a rescue dog a forever home. The book includes a glossary that will put a smile on your face and help your child expand their vocabulary. (Bet you don’t know what a “bumpy” is.) Available in Kindle or softcover. Read for free with KindleUnlimited.
#10: Which is mine?, written and illustrated by Liza Fenech, is an adorably illustrated educational book for the toddler set. Each double-page spread shows a rabbit and one of his animal friends on the left and two pieces of clothing on the right. The child matches each piece of clothing to each animal then turns the page to see if they got it right. Each “answer” page is a double spread of the animals enjoying some activity wearing the “right” clothing. I love that other than the first page instruction of how to use the book, their is no text. In this way, you can have a discussion with your little one about sizes and shapes, what the animals are doing, etc. The activities Ms. Fenech selects for the animals are hilarious. Wait until you get to the socks. Ms. Fenech expanded the series to include dinnertime and bedtime. The 3-book series (which may expand further) is also available in Spanish. Visit her Amazon Author Page to see all of the books. In softcover or Kindle version. Read for free with KindleUnlimited.
Aviva Gittle hosts The Gittle List Book Competition. She publishes children’s picture books through her company, Gittle Publishing. Find all her books on Amazon.
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