For the sixteenth year, children have chosen the best read aloud picture books in Minnesota State University Moorhead’s Comstock-Gág Read Aloud Book Awards program.
The 2020 winner of the Wanda Gág Read Aloud Book Award asks a simple but profound question: “If you close your eyes, what shape do you see?” Circle written by Mac Barnett and illustrated by Jon Klassen, is the final book of the Shapes Trilogy. In a story that uses simple text and illustrations, readers engage in a discussion of complex ideas while using their imagination.
Two titles were named as Wanda Gág Honor Books. Hey, Dog written by Tony Johnston and illustrated by Jonathan Nelson, is a heartfelt story of a young boy who discovers an abandoned dog near his home. The illustrations effectively convey emotions and become lighter once the boy wins the dog’s trust. The second book is A Tiger Like Me written by Michael Engler, illustrated by Joëlle Tourlonias, and translated by Laura Watkinson. Imaginative play creates a frenzy of activity as a tiger-boy stalks his food, roars, growls, pounces on his unsuspecting father, and generally creates mayhem.
The 2020 winner of the Comstock Read Aloud Book Award is Sulwe written by Lupita Nyong’o and illustrated by Vashti Harrison. Based on Nyong’o’s personal experiences, this is the story of a young girl who is uncomfortable with the darkness of her skin. Through a blend of realism and mythology, Sulwe’s story reminds readers that beauty is based on a person’s nature and character, not on their appearance.
Two titles were named as Comstock Honor Books. Elvis Is King! written by Jonah Winter and illustrated by Red Nose Studio, is a picture book biography that teaches readers how singing eased the pain of Elvis’ young life. The second book is Sergeant Billy: The True Story of the Goat Who Went to War written by Mireille Messier and illustrated by Kass Reich. Set during World War I, this book tells the story of Billy the goat, who provides comfort for the young soldiers as they train for and go to war.