Goodreads Choice Awards 2020 – Picture books category

Two days ago Goodreads announced the winners of the Goodreads Choice Awards 2020. For whose of you who don’t know this, Goodreads is the world’s largest site for book readers and reccomendations. It’s ok if you haven’t heard of it by now, until 5 or 6 years ago I didn’t knew either.

In the “Picture book” category the winner was Antiracist Baby by Ibram X. Kendi, author who also won the Nonfiction category this year. The illustration is signed by Ashley Lukashevsky. The book is said to introduce young readers and the grown-ups in their lives to the concepts of power, just society and antiracism. I didn’t bought the book, nor read it. But not because I think racism is not a very toxic poison of our modern society. It is a very toxic one, along with etnic and territorial discrimination, emigration status or disregard of everyone who is not “like us” or within our “class”.

I find the times we live in, most alarmant the life our kids live in, very racist and mean and disrespectful. And, it is in our power, as parents, educators, leaders of all sorts to try and change that. Little by little, action by action and more important, reaction by reaction. If we are with our kids and someone does something innapropriate or disrespectful or mean, we should say or do something. Or at least take our kids aside or later, at home, and explain them what was wrong and how to protect themselves in the future or not tolerate that sort of behaviour. And most important, not imitate it. Because a bully is not born a bully and an aggressor is not born one either. They became like that by repeat exposure to those behaviors.

But let’s get back to our awards…

What I found very interesting among this category nominees was the number of public figures and celebrities who had wrote picture books that were published this year: the Dalai Lama, Hillary Rodham Clinton, Dan Brown, Jimmy Kimmel, Kristen Bell, Guns N’Roses. Guns N’Roses guys? Comme on! I really should buy this book because I don’t know if I would ever be able to get to one of their concerts. And also to have a book to present my daughter along with all the Rock and Roll music they wrote over the years. I will also like to read “Grandma’s Garden” by Hillary Rodham Clinton to my daughter, as sort of generational bond between the girls in my family and their gardens: my grandma’s, my mother’s garden and perhaps, someday, my daughter’s garden. Well, she has one already, but is a small indoor one and I don’t think it’s count for a real one…

And, of course, the Dalai Lama book, “The seed of compasion”, it would be an honour to read the teaching of his Holiness.

Until these books will arrived, I bought and read the “Wild symphony” by Dan Brown, with illustration by Susan Batori, the book that came last in the top, with the fewest number of votes. Since The Da Vinci Code was so famous years ago, it was only natural that Dan Brown’s first book for children would be very soon noticed and well promoted. I found the version that was translated in Romanian, our native tongue, so I cannot speak about the quality of the original text. That is all in lyrics, written and recorded on a tape called Synthanimals in 1989 by Brown himself. The book comes along with an app that you can install and listen to the “music” of each animal. The music from the book, that you can hear on the app , was interpretated by Zagreb Festival Orchestra.

The author himself was introduced at an early age to the beauty of music, both his parents being musicians and teachers. And he says that a story can have it’s own music and if you close your eyes you can hear it. And the book and all the animals in it are a sort of a code to help us make the connection between the two arts: words and music. And that maybe, at the end of the book, the kids will be able to hear and noticed the “music” of each animal. And also, every animal in the book has a “secret” wisdom to tell the kids and they try to get them to always look at the things from a different perspective. Because, even in the darkest, scariest place there is a beauty to be found.

In my opinion is a gentile book, with lyrics well written. The illustrations are very nice and the design, made in a Disney’s Lion King type, was realised on Photoshop.

The book leaves you with a sense of joy and brightness after you turn the last page. And the music segments are also remarkable and is a very original idea to actualy “hear” a book in the same time you read it’s words.

I really don’t know why it got so few votes, to me it seems a very good choice to read with the kids, age 3+ ( in my opinion).

If you have read other nominated books, I would be very happy to hear your opion on them.

Wild Symphony, illustrations by Susan Batori
Wild Symphony, illustrations by Susan Batori

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