Geisel 2016 Award and Honors

For more information about the Geisel Award, visit the Theodor Seuss Geisel Award homepage.

Winner: Don’t Throw It to Mo! by David Adler

Mo loves playing football for the Robins. He’s one of the youngest (and smallest) players on his team. When the bigger team — the Jays — notices how small Mo is and how he isn’t playing, Mo’s coach makes a plan for the Robins to win: Don’t throw to Mo! But can Mo catch the ball when coach does decide to throw it to Mo?

This Penguin Young Readers Level 2 book is a perfect match for sports fans and beginning readers. The text is big and easy-to-read while the illustrations support the story in bright colors. I absolutely fell in love with the illustrations in this book. The tiny details (sweat coming off of Mo doing chin-ups, dirt stains on the uniforms, the lines indicating the ball’s movement, I could go on) really enhance and support the text.

A second volume to the Mo Jackson series — Get a Hit, Mo! is scheduled to release this February! I know I’ll be eagerly snapping several copies up for the library.


Honor: A Pig, A Fox, and a Box by Jonathan Fenske

Fox tries to trick his friend Pig by hiding in a box. But when Pig accidentally sits on the box, Fox is flattened. Can Fox hide again and surprise Pig? This beginning reader uses cartoon dialog bubbles to show which character is speaking. The rhyming words of fox/box and pig/wig will be great for beginning readers.

Honor: Waiting by Kevin Henkes

Five friends sit on a windowsill and wait for many things: the moon, the rain, the wind, and the snow. This picture book from Caldecott medalist Kevin Henkes works well for beginning readers — the text takes up a majority of the page and there’s a wonderful amount of repeated vocabulary. The book also allows readers to form and answer questions of their own about the storyline.

Honor: Supertruck by Stephen Savage

All of the trucks have jobs in the city. But when a snowstorm stops them from doing their work, who will rescue them? Leave it to SUPERTRUCK! This story of an “underdog” garbage truck who manages to save the day will work both for beginning readers and as a great toddler storytime book. The clean illustrations are very pleasing to the eye and the text is predictable for beginning readers.

Geisel 2006 Award & Honors

For more information about the Geisel Award, visit the Theodor Seuss Geisel Award homepage.

Winner: Henry and Mudge and the Great Grandpas by Cynthia Rylant

Henry and Mudge are off to visit Henry’s great-grandpa. He lives in a house with lots of other grandpas. The grandpas love it when Henry and Mudge visit. Henry and Mudge bring gifts and also give lots of love. After a swim in the pond by the grandpas’ house, everyone returns home for a big pot of spaghetti.

This four chapter beginning reader will allow readers to take breaks in between chapters if they need it. Some of the vocabulary is harder than most beginning readers (skivvies for example), but it’s immediately defined for Henry and subsequently for beginning readers as well. Lots of pictures supports the text and there’s still enough white space/non-text space for readers.

“Henry and Mudge and the Great Grandpas” is the twenty-sixth adventure of the pair and I have no doubt that the series has more volumes in it to come.


Honor: Hi! Fly Guy by Tedd Arnold

The first book in the Fly Guy series introduces both characters: Fly Guy and Buzz. Fly Guy meets Buzz one day and Buzz keeps Fly Guy as a pet since Fly Guy knows his name. This fun and humorous series is a great step-up for readers after they’ve finished Elephant and Piggie but continue to want funny stories.

Honor: A Splendid Friend, Indeed by Suzanne Bloom

When Bear meets Goose, he isn’t sure this is his kind of friend. Goose asks way too many questions when Bear is doing quiet activities. But when Goose brings back a note about how Bear is his ‘splendid friend’, Bear can’t resist tearing up. This is a wonderful picture book that definitely supports a beginning reader.

Honor: Cowgirl Kate and Cocoa by Erica Silverman

Cowgirl Kate and Cocoa spent the day together. They tell stories, surprise each other with gifts, count cows, and spend the night together in the barn. They are the best of friends and a really great team. This upper level beginning reader will attract horse lovers and readers almost ready to move on to chapter books.

Honor: Amanda Pig and the Really Hot Day by Jean Van Leeuwen

Amanda Pig is having a really hot day. Every part of Amanda is hot, even her hair ribbons! Amanda tries to find a variety of ways to cool down: sitting under a tree, drinking and selling lemonade, and waiting for a cool breeze. This beginning reader series will appeal to all, but especially siblings because of the dynamics between Amanda and Oliver.

Geisel 2007 Award & Honors

For more information about the Geisel Award, visit the Theodor Seuss Geisel Award homepage.

Winner: Zelda and Ivy: The Runaways by Laura McGee Kvasnosky

Two sisters named Zelda and Ivy are off on several adventures in this three chapter beginning reader. First the sisters run away from home when their parents make cucumber sandwiches again, then they make a time capsule, and finally each sister embarks on their own creation adventure.

This book is definitely an upper level beginning reader. It reads very much like “Frog and Toad” or “Ling & Ting” books. I really enjoyed the camaraderie between the sisters — it definitely reminded me of my childhood adventures with my sister so I imagine young readers will relate to the book. The text is supported with boxed illustrations on most pages with a few integrated images on others.

Great for fans of “Cowgirl Kate and Cocoa”, this book (and series) is all about friendship in the end.


Honor: Mercy Watson Goes for a Ride by Kate DiCamillo

Mercy Watson is back in this second book in the series. Every Saturday, she and Mr. Watson go for a ride in his pink convertible. But one Saturday turns into a grand adventure when Mercy inadvertently gets behind the wheel. This fabulous early chapter book will delight readers everywhere.

Honor: Move Over, Rover! by Karen Beaumont

Rover’s doghouse becomes a safe haven for all the forest animals when it starts to rain. But there’s one animal who can chase them out — skunk! This picture book is told in rhyme as a cumulative story and is excellent for beginning readers to hear read aloud or to read on their own.

Honor: Not a Box by Antoinette Portis

Rabbit has a box…or does he? Rabbit’s imagination drives this story that will resonate with children who love the box more than the toy inside of it. Another picture book awarded a Geisel Honor, this book works wonderfully in storytime and will have beginning readers shouting along: “It’s not a box!”

Geisel 2008 Award & Honors

For more information about the Geisel Award, visit the Theodor Seuss Geisel Award homepage.

Winner: There is a Bird on Your Head by Mo Willems

Gerald is minding his own business when suddenly a bird lands on his head. Then another bird! Then a nest! Then three eggs! Piggie stands by Gerald and tells him what is happening since he can’t see the top of his head. This humorous story works so well as a beginning reader.

I have to admit that even though I’ve read this book countless times, I still laugh every time at the end of the story. The way that the two best friends work together to solve their problem and discover the simple sweet solution perfectly sets up the punchline at the end. All of the characterizations are wonderful. Gerald’s fear and anxiousness regarding the whole situation are apparent in his eyes and body language. Piggie’s optimism and endless smile only makes the ending that much funnier.

This is one of the very first Elephant and Piggie books and I hope that the Geisel Award only helped call attention to these wonderful books and ensure that quality beginning readers are written and promoted for a long, long time.


Honor: First the Egg by Laura Vaccaro Seeger

A deceptively simple picture book explains basic first/then concepts to preschoolers. Filled with Seeger’s beautiful page cut-outs, this book will delight beginning readers. Most likely shelved in picture book because of the trade-size, parents with beginning readers should seek this title out.

Honor: Hello, Bumblebee Bat by Darrin Lunde

This non-fiction title teaches readers about the bumblebee bat in a question/answer format. The familiar form of question/answer will prove to be beneficial to beginning readers. While there are a lot of words per page, this is a title that doesn’t need to be read straight through and can be worked on page-by-page.

Honor: Jazz Baby by Lisa Wheeler

This fabulous picture book using jazz rhymes and sounds to create a book sure to please anyone learning to read. Lots of repetitive words (up/down/baby, etc.) and great rhymes like snap clap, etc. An excellent title to give to beginning reader and it works in storytime too!

Honor: Vulture View by April Pulley Sayre

Another non-fiction title with amazing repetitive language. Sayre certainly has a way with words as she explains to readers how vultures find their food. The book is illustrated by Steve Jenkins and would be a fine addition to any library’s non-fiction section.

Geisel 2009 Award & Honors

For more information about the Geisel Award, visit the Theodor Seuss Geisel Award homepage.

Winner: Are You Ready to Play Outside? by Mo Willems

Gerald and Piggie have big plans to play outside. They are going to run and skip and jump and it will be wonderful. But when it starts to rain, Piggie is so upset. She hates the rain! How will they play outside in the rain? Luckily two little worms come out and show that the rain is not all that bad to play in.

This is a classic Elephant and Piggie story. A problem is presented and the two friends work it out by the end of the book. These books have simple vocabulary, make great use of white space, and the characters convey emotions remarkably. It’s no surprise to anyone that Mo Willems has collected as many Geisel Awards and Honors as he has.

“Are You Ready to Play Outside?” is an early core Elephant and Piggie book and no library should be without it. Great for beginning readers, read-alouds, and anyone who likes to laugh.


Honor: Chicken Said, “Cluck!” by Judyann Ackerman Grant

Earl and Pearl are planting pumpkins and chicken is in the way. But when grasshoppers threaten Earl and Pearl’s pumpkins, who can help chase them away? A fantastic beginning reader book with lots of repetition and simple vocabulary. Most of the complex words (pumpkins, grasshoppers) are clearly supported by the text. Another of note: diverse characters in everyday situations!

Honor: One Boy by Laura Vaccaro Seeger

One boy counts his way through the paintings that are on his wall. What appears to be a simple counting book is made all the more complex by Vaccaro Seeger’s imaginative and delightful cut-outs. A great source of vocabulary and a chance for children to practice making predictions about what will happen after the page turn.

Honor: Stinky by Eleanor Davis

Stinky knows that all children love to take baths, eat cake and apples, and do not like mucky mud, slimy slugs, or smelly monsters like him. But when Nick — a child — wanders in Stinky’s swamp, Stinky has a plan to get him out! Nick and Stinky are clearly friends in the making and beginning readers will definitely follow their journey to the end. “Stinky” is told in a comic book style with panels and dialog bubbles. This will absolutely help beginning readers.

Honor: Wolfsnail: A Backyard Predator by Sarah C. Campbell

A non-fiction title honor book tells the tale of a wolfsnail (who eats other slugs and snails) as he searches for his prey. Simple sentences work well with the photographs to tell the story. Definitely a great beginning reader for those who are interested in non-fiction and science!

Geisel 2010 Award & Honors

For more information about the Geisel Award, visit the Theodor Seuss Geisel Award homepage.

Winner: Benny and Penny in the Big No-No by Geoffrey Hayes

This is not the first graphic novel to garner the attention of the Geisel Award committee, but it is the first graphic novel to take home the gold medal!

Benny and Penny are playing outside when Benny discovers his pail is missing. He thinks the new neighbor might have taken it and travels into their yard — a big no-no — to try and find it.

This is an excellent beginning reader. The action of the story is familiar to most young children (playing, sharing, crying, etc.) and will be easily understood. I love the expressive pictures that will help struggling readers follow along. But my favorite part of the book is actually the back matter which explains to parents how the “Toon Into Reading” program can help young readers. These five tips are great to give to parents just starting to navigate the waters of beginning readers.

A fun and humorous story that children of all ages can relate to.


Honor: I Spy Fly Guy! by Tedd Arnold

Another wonderful addition to this series. In this one, Buzz and Fly Guy and playing hide-and-seek. When Fly Guy flies into a garbage can and gets taken away by the garbageman, Buzz stops at nothing to find his friend. This story has lots of repetitive words and is clearly supported by the illustrations. A great beginning reader for kids looking for friendship stories.

Honor: Little Mouse Gets Ready by Jeff Smith

Little Mouse’s mama wants him to get ready so that they can go to the barn. Little Mouse spends all his time putting on his clothes piece by piece until mama reminds him that mice don’t wear clothes! Word bubbles help kids figure out who is doing the talking in this book and the illustrations are done in a cartoon style. Excellent punch line at the end.

Honor: Mouse and Mole: Fine Feathered Friends by Wong Herbert Yee

Mouse and Mole are two friends who both want to observe the birds to make bird books. But the birds are scared of them and their noises. But these fine feathered friends come up with a plan to see the birds and to make the best possible bird book. Told in four chapters, this is a beginning reader for older readers. Give it to kids who enjoyed Frog & Toad or any of the Rylant series.

Honor: Pearl and Wagner: One Funny Day by Kate McMullan

Wagner is being tricked left and right on April Fool’s Day. Everyone thinks the jokes are funny except for Wagner. That is until he comes up with his own joke! Told in three chapters, this beginning reader will have readers laughing along as poor Wagner navigates his funny day.

Geisel 2011 Award & Honors

For more information about the Geisel Award, visit the Theodor Seuss Geisel Award homepage.

Winner: Bink and Gollie by Kate DiCamillo & Alison McGhee, illustrated by Tony Fucile

This is where knowing about the award criteria comes in handy. Bink and Gollie may look more like a chapter book, but since it is directed towards the beginning reader audience (Pre-K through 2nd grade), it is eligible for the Geisel.

These two best friends go on three adventures in three short chapters: one to find a new pair of socks, one on an imaginary trips to the Andes Mountains, and one to find a marvelous companion.

There are a ton of vocabulary words in this text. The illustrations fully support the story and give the readers context clues as to what’s going on. But the words — the words are so rich and it is absolutely delightful to see a beginning reader text that doesn’t shy away from using three syllable words.

I do however think that libraries tend to shelve this one in Early Chapter/Juv Novels. Make sure to remember it for your older beginning readers or for third/fourth grade struggling readers since it looks novel size.


Honor: Ling & Ting: Not Exactly the Same by Grace Lin

A wonderful diverse story about twins Ling and Ting. Ling and Ting are often mixed up for one another, but they are not exactly the same. Ting has a funny haircut; Ling cannot use chopsticks. A great book series for twins to read. Also, a great selection for all libraries.

Honor: We Are in a Book! by Mo Willems

Piggie and Gerald get more than a little meta in this installment of the Elephant and Piggie series. My favorite book of the series and one that will have all the kids laughing at any mention of the word “banana”.

Geisel 2012 Award & Honors

For more information about the Geisel Award, visit the Theodor Seuss Geisel Award homepage.

Winner: Tales for Very Picky Eaters by Josh Schneider

In this beginning reader, there are five stories all about how James’s father tries to convince him to try five new foods. He comes up with creative solutions that eventually convince James to try the food in front of him. In the last story, James decides to try a food just in case he might like it.

What a familiar story for so many parents out there! I remember one time my parents promised me a Skip-It to try fishsticks — the one food I put my food down no matter how many times my parents served it. They might have learned something from James’s father!

Lots of text and new vocabulary words are presented in this text perfect for more advanced beginning readers.


Honor: I Broke My Trunk! by Mo Willems

Gerald broke his trunk and it is a very long story. Piggie waits patiently to hear all of Gerald’s crazy, long story and winds up with a story of his own to tell. A humorous and imaginative addition to the Elephant and Piggie series.

Honor: I Want My Hat Back! by Jon Klassen

A bear is looking for his hat. He asks several animals before realizing that he has seen his hat! This twisty ending will have preschoolers and beginning readers laughing at bear’s sense of justice.

Honor: See Me Run by Paul Meisel

Dogs go throughout their day, running and digging, etc. When the dogs dig up a set of dinosaur bones, they have a surprise of their own. This selection from the I Like to Read! brand is a winner as a picture book and a beginning reader.

Geisel 2013 Award & Honors

For more information about the Geisel Award, visit the Theodor Seuss Geisel Award homepage.

Winner: Up! Tall! And High! by Ethan Long

Nine birds explore what the words up, tall, and high mean in this basic concepts book for beginning readers. The book is broken into three sections/stories in which birds compete with one another.

This is an amazing young reader. With only 34 words, very young readers will be able to read this easily without a grown-up helping them. The books also includes lift-the-flaps which help illustrate the differences between tall/high/up/down. The text is nearly always in speeches bubbles with the exception of the title pages of each story and sound effects (sigh, poof, flap).

I really like that each section tells a complete story. Struggling readers can make it through one story and feel accomplished without being daunted by finishing the whole book in one sitting.


Honor: Let’s Go for a Drive! by Mo Willems

Piggie and Gerald have grand plans to go for a drive. They begin collecting all the things they will need for the drive, but they might be missing one crucial piece for a drive… Piggie and Gerald’s emotions will keep the readers involved until the end.

Honor: Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons by Eric Litwin & James Dean

Pete the Cat is back in this third installment. This time Pete’s singing about his four buttons. But when they start to pop off, will Pete worry? Goodness, no! A great storytime read to teach counting and a great beginning reader.

Honor: Rabbit and Robot: The Sleepover by Cece Bell

A pair of friends have different expectations for their sleepover. Will they find a way to have fun together? An older beginning reader that’s perfect for more proficient readers.

Geisel 2014 Award & Honors

For more information about the Geisel Award, visit the Theodor Seuss Geisel Award homepage.

Winner: The Watermelon Seed by Greg Pizzoli

It’s a classic childhood dilemma — when you love watermelon, you’ll eventually swallow a watermelon seed. The Watermelon Seed tells that exact story in simple words and sentences, creating a delightfully funny beginning reader.

The text is large and easily read; the book is illustrated using only four colors: green, pink, white, and black. The illustrations help readers with potentially confusing sentences like “growing in my guts” by showing an X-ray. Crocodile is wonderfully dynamic in his expression, cluing readers in to his panic after he realizes that he has swallowed a seed.

This is another book that was actually shelved and processed as a picture book before it won the Geisel Award. At my previous library, I put it in Stories/Pizzoli. At my current library, it was read and cataloged by the previous Early Literacy Librarian as Picture/Stories/Food/Pizzoli.

The hilarious conclusion — seriously, what kindergarten/preschool student doesn’t love a good burp joke? — will have kids rolling in the aisle.

The Watermelon Seed is currently on our state’s K-3rd grade reader’s choice list of nominations and it’s one of my favorites. Fingers crossed!


Honor: Ball by Mary Sullivan

A single word — ball — is all that a beginning reader needs to read this imaginative book about a ball-obsessed dog. A great book to work on punctuation and emotions. (Also reminds me of my sweet dog-nephew who is also ball-obsessed! I am playing ball with him as I write this!)

Honor: A Big Guy Took My Ball! by Mo Willems

A big guy has stole Piggie’s ball. When Gerald tries to get it back, he is surprised to see a bigger big guy than him — a whale — has the ball. Can they figure out how to play together? Another wonderful addition to the Elephant and Piggie series.

Honor: Penny and Her Marble by Kevin Henkes

When Penny finds a marble in Mrs. Goodwin’s yard, she picks it up and takes it home. Later that evening, she begins to wonder if Mrs. Goodwin is missing the marble. Another familiar childhood story for Penny and her fans.