He might appear to be a tyrant of a character, making stringent demands on his exhausted parents, but “Boss Baby” stole the hearts of young readers and had them laughing all the way to the polls.

Marla Frazee’s picture book received the most overall votes in all three Book Buzz categories, Youngest, Middle and Oldest Picks.

“Boss Baby” was the Youngest Pick for October 2010, and is about an irksome infant who keeps his mom and dad hopping. Boss Baby operates his life in executive overload, much to his family’s dismay.

“Boss Baby” nosed out “Pop! The Invention of Bubble Gum,” by Meghan McCarthy, a Middle Pick, and “Old Yeller,” by Fred Gipson, a book that placed third in overall votes received in the Book Buzz Book of the Year voting.

No one could be happier about winning the Golden Hive Award than Frazee, who hails from sunny California. She has visited Washington four times and is the first author/illustrator to come to our area after the Book Buzz literacy project was launched in The Missourian in 2002.

“The Boss Baby is so happy to be voted the Book Buzz Book of the Year that he’s driving me crazy,” Frazee said. “He’s dancing his bossy dance around the house and buzzing about like a bee in his chair on wheels. He needs a black and yellow striped suit now, just like the one Newsbee wears.”

Leave it to Frazee to pepper her acceptance speech with her signature humor. In all seriousness, Frazee said she’s “incredibly honored” that “Boss Baby” is the Book of the Year.

“Because I know that your community reads a ton of books, and I know how very discerning they are about them, and about how passionate all connected with Book Buzz are about supporting literacy,” Frazee said.

“Those are some of the many reasons I am proud to consider myself an adopted member of your community, from way out here in California. I love Washington, Mo., and can’t wait to see you all again.”

And that may be a possibility. Come fall 2012, Frazee is releasing her her next picture book with Beach Lane Books, an imprint of Simon and Schuster. “Boot and Shoe,” illustrated and written by Frazee, “is the story of two dogs, the house they live in and a squirrel that causes some trouble,” Frazee said.

Until it publishes, young readers, and all who adore Frazee’s marvelous stories, can check out “Stars,” the Youngest Book Buzz Pick for December. This poetic picture book published in October is written by Mary Lyn Ray and illustrated by Frazee.

About the Poll

Annually, young readers have the opportunity to cast votes for the Book Buzz Books recommended from September through August, a total of 36 books in three age categories. The ballots are sent to area schools, and students vote for the Book Buzz books they’ve read in their age division.

Ballots also are published in The Missourian and posted on its website, emissourian.com.

A winning title is chosen in each age category, Youngest, Middle and Oldest Pick, with the Golden Hive Award going to the book that receives the most votes overall.

“It was especially delightful this year to see ‘Boss Baby’ receive top honors. Marla’s picture books are enduring works of art. She writes and illustrates classics with staying power that appeal to readers of all ages,” said Chris Stuckenschneider, who coordinates Book Buzz with Dawn Kitchell, The Missourian’s educational services director.

Kitchell said that students choosing a Book Buzz Pick from a year ago underscored the impact a good book has on young readers.

“One of our goals in the Book Buzz project is making sure our Picks are quality stories with great illustrations, and the selection of ‘Boss Baby’ proves how important that is to children.”

But personal experience may be a factor in the results as well, she said.

“Marla has been to our community a number of times over the past decade, and that means an entire Book Buzz generation knows her, either through personal presentations or through stories we’ve written about her,” Kitchell said. “I’ve seen these pages from newspaper laminated and hanging in our school libraries over the years, giving young readers a connection to Marla.”

Synopsis of the Winning Picks

“Boss Baby” is witty in pure Frazee style. Clad in business attire, striped tie and suit, baby arrives and rocks his parents’ world. “He put Mom and Dad on a round-the-clock schedule, with no time off.”

The harried parents have to cater to Boss Baby’s every need, 24-7. Attention must be lavished, drinks and baths of spa-quality provided, as well as the most modern of toys. It’s enough to exhaust any dedicated caretaker.

Until one day when a crash occurs. Despite Boss Baby’s urgent cries, his parents don’t respond — they’re simply too pooped to pop. The end result makes for hilarious fun in a Pick adorned with Marla’s art.

The most popular Middle Pick from last year is another Book Buzz favorite writer, who has penned numerous titles, Meghan McCarthy, author of “Pop! The Invention of Bubble Gum.”

“Pop” was a Book Buzz Pick in September 2010. Making nonfiction fun and informative is McCarthy’s calling card, and she displays that talent in “Pop.”

The picture book is set in the 1920s, when Walter Diemer was a mere accountant in a factory where gum and candy were made. He had an ordinary job, but his office was located next to a lab where pots were brewing — concoctions being mixed to develop a gum that would enable people to blow bubbles.

Gum had already been around for a while, but all folks could do was chew it. Walt changed all that by adding a bit of this and a bit of that to a mixture everyone else had given up on.

Once again, a little man with a big dream won out because he set his sights on grand discoveries, and didn’t throw in the towel—which would have been a sticky mess.

The end result of Walter’s winning mixture was a batch of pink “Dubble Bubble.” Comic illustrations detail Walter’s quest for the best.

Older readers felt the classic “Old Yeller” was the best of the best. Written by Fred Gipson, “Old Yeller” was the Oldest Book Buzz Pick in August 2011.

The novel is set in Texas just after the Civil War. The Coates family isn’t lacking anything, except cash, and that’s the reason Pa leaves his wife and two sons to take part in a cattle drive from Texas to Kansas.

While he’s away, Pa tells Travis he’ll act as the man of the family, take care of all responsibilities and watch over Mama and Arliss, his 5-year-old brother. If things go well, Travis is hoping Pa will get him a horse, but Pa says what Travis really needs is a good dog.

Travis isn’t sure — but he knows the last dog he wants is a yellow stray that shows up. The dog isn’t anything to look at, and he steals the family’s meat, so Travis wants to run him off, but Arliss won’t hear of it, and Mama always sides with Arliss.

That’s how Old Yeller comes to live with the Coateses and so begins the adventures involving the dog and family — a loyal pet that Travis comes to love, a hound brave enough to fight off bears, wolves and wild pigs — a dog bent on defending the family he comes to love.

Here’s a book you might wish to share with your parents and grandparents, but have a box of Kleenex ready — “Old Yeller” will leave his paw prints on your heart.