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2nd National Children's Book Awards
28 July 2012


1. Ay Naku!

Ilaw ng Tahanan - Publisher
reni roxas - Author
Sergio Bumatay III - Illustrator

The thing that strikes you when you pick up this book is the sparseness of the text and the movement in the illustrations, and you know that it was planned that way. This is a book that pulls it off.

Ay naku. Botbot is a walking disaster, and the single verbs and adjectives that accompany him only accentuate that. He wears his clothes inside out, falls down the stairs, bumps into objects, breaks the fishbowl. He hides under the sofa while his family cleans up after him. Ay naku. Lucky for Botbot, there's a tolerance we reserve for our bunsos, our youngests, and we always love them anyway.


2. Ang Sampung Bukitkit!

LG & M Corporation - Publisher
Eugene Y. Evasco - Author
Ibarra C. Crisostomo - Illustrator

And it doesn't even matter that you don't know what a bukitkit is. This book is a friend, a quiet friend that holds your hand and lets you be. There's a hidden rhythm to the words that flow in the wind that takes the puffballs away. The drawings are executed in colored pencil, so they're accessible, but they dance, and they shift your perspective in very subtle ways. The layout is loose, and you never get the feeling that you are confined to the pages that you hold in your hand.

This counting book doesn't condescend. It is playful but never silly. We need more books like this.


3. Doll Eyes!

CANVAS - Publisher
Eline Santos - Author
Augie rivera - Translator
Joy Mallari - Illustrator

In the crowded streets of Quiapo, things happen, like thievery, or strange magic. When a street child goes missing, hardly anyone notices. But Ella is lucky to have a loyal friend in Tin, who senses that something is amiss. Tin follows where her heart leads, with nothing but a stranger and a plastic gun to aid her. And then, when most in need, a miracle happens.

Doll Eyes is a thrilling read, a thrilling ride, through the labyrinth that is Quiapo. The illustrations capture the mystique as well as the mess of the place, join together the marvelous with the everyday, and paint eerie portraits of a terrible dollmaker and her terrified and helpless dolls. This gripping horror story confirms our worst fears, withers our hopes, then restores us to the strength of friendship, reassuring us that help is just a prayer away.


4. Tall Story!

Cacho Publishing House, Inc. - Publisher
Candy Gourlay - Author
Yasmin S. Ong - Illustrator

Tall Story is the story of a boy with a gigantic identity crisis. Is his life cursed or is he the destined savior of his town in Montalban? He is torn between leaving his home and being one with his family in a foreign land. To get home, he will have to escape the wrath of a witch, a prophecy, and the desperate cry of his people. To survive these, Bernardo will have to ask, from which giant could he draw strength from? Could it be from Bernardo Carpio or from Michael Jordan?

Tall Story is the story of a girl who is on a field goal and is about to take the greatest three-point-shot of her life. Without warning, she loses possession. She then moves from being point guard to providing defense to a brother she has not seen in years. As Andi stands for the jump shot, she will need to ask herself, will she pass the ball to Bernardo or will she grab it to make the shot for herself?

This book is for children who expect an author to understand what it takes to be young at a time like this. (The author knows that we only need to show the young what is true and good without the dreariness of a lecture that hides behind literature.) It is for those who appreciate that myth and magic can be woven into tales of identity and acceptance. This book can guide those who struggle with letting go of what is safe and secure to find one's true home.

The author makes the reading of her story an engaging and entertaining experience. She effectively shifts between perspectives, languages, and cultures. She kept the pace steady as the story built itself up and then accelerated it by several notches as it reached its conclusion. At the very least, the book is a page turner that readers would want to be haunted by. Candy Gourlay won the National Children's Book Award because it honored children and readers with a story that deserves to be read over and over again.


5. The Great Duck and Crocodile Race!

OMF Literature, Inc. - Publisher
Robert Magnuson - Author and Illustrator

Choosing this book was a brave decision on my part. I thought I'd be looked on as a fool picking this book. It was so simple and juvenile - but I loved the book.

Apparently, I wasn't the only judge who loved the book. Everyone did. It was a clear unanimous decision to pick "The Great Duck and Crocodile race" as one of the top children's books of 2010 -2011. The story is delightful and the illustrations are wonderful. It is everything that will make a child want to fall in love with reading.

Congratulations to robert Magnuson, author and illustrator, OMF Literature Inc. and the rest of the team who brought this book to reality!


6. The Secret is in the Soil!

Conquest for Christ Foundation, Inc. - Publisher
Gidget Roceles Jimenez - Author
Flor Gozon Tarriela - Author
Liza Flores - Illustrator

If we ask children today "How can you SAVE our earth, its air and its oceans?" taglines, slogans, quotes easily flow from their mouths. When you ask what YOU DO on a daily basis to save the earth, its air and its oceans, there is a tangible pause in their thinking and paucity in their concrete actions. In leading discussions with children, they seem to know our atmosphere is polluted, our oceans are polluted, and mountains of garbage are clearly visible - yet there seems to be a disconnect between their personal actions and what they observe in their environment.

Loosely paraphrasing an advertisement, "We do not own the earth, we merely take care of it for the next generation"; or borrowing a Native American proverb, "we do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children" - we are moved to begin translating the wisdom of these words into actions that involve both adults (hopefully, parents) and children.

In the book, The Secret is in the Soil, there is an excellent mix of the needed science background for the intended age group, tips to initiate AND sustain an action plan, appetizing yet healthful recipes that can be tried even before the garden bears its fruits, appropriately placed photos and well-captioned illustrations. It is easy to imagine a motivated child using this book as a resource for a project he or she wishes to embark on. It is also easy to envision a wholesome family project that will lead to - who knows, an organic farming industry? By focusing on creating healthier and wealthier soil (rich in nutrients and micro-organisms) as the producer of life-giving foods, children will begin to overcome learned responses that dirt is dirty, worms are gross or, sadly, creatures to be halved, mud is not to be stepped on, and garbage will soon stink up and therefore banished immediately from the kitchen.

There is something innate in children that make them intensely curious about living creatures and the outdoors. We believe that this book could be the effective vehicle to develop this curiosity - most naturally. Many successes begin with a germ of a seed. Without a child feeling that they have to solve all the earth's problems spawned (by adults) through the decades, by starting in one's own backyard, "The Secret is in the Soil" can inspire anyone who wishes to put teeth into their answer when asked, "What do YOU do to the save the Earth?"

I conceive that the land belongs to a vast family of which many are dead, few are living, and countless numbers are still unborn. - Author Unknown

When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world. - John Muir

Man must feel the earth to know himself and recognize his values.... God made life simple. It is man who complicates it.- Charles A. Lindbergh, reader's Digest, July 1972.