I had so much fun reading the five finalists from the 2008 Cybils Easy Readers category. There were clear favorites (two five star reviews) and a clear least favorite (the lone three star review). It was quite difficult for me to choose a winner. I truly loved both I Will Surprise My Friend! and Mercy Watson Thinks Like a Pig. It's hard to compare and contrast because they're at wildly different reading levels to be considered in the same category. According to School Library Journal, I Will Surprise My Friend! is appropriate for kindergartners through second graders, and Mercy Watson is appropriate for grades 2-4. Perhaps I only hang out with advanced readers, but both of those ranges seem a little high to me. While elementary students may well enjoy I Will Surprise My Friend!, it seems to me to be more of a preschool and kindergarten book. I understand most children may not learn to read before first grade, and thus the easy reader definition for the Cybils works. Regardless, if the reader is the child, and the level is easy, these books are still rather disparate in reading level.
I'm glad I wasn't a voter for this round in the real Cybils (although I would love to serve on a future panel!), but if I were, I would have voted for I Will Surprise My Friend! by Mo Willems. The panel selected I Love My New Toy! by Mo Willems. We clearly agree on the talent of Mo Willems. Congratulations Mo!