Thursday, February 15, 2007

The Cybils Have Landed!

Yes, indeed. For those of you who have been reading this blog (or any other kidlit blog, for that matter), the first annual Cybils -- youth literature awards betstowed by the blogging community -- were announced yesterday afternoon. I was lucky enough to be on the judging committee for the Middle Grade Fiction category, and enjoyed it immensely.

I'll talk more about the Amusing Judging Experience tomorrow. For now, let's bring on the winners (or, as I term them, the "Cyblings").

Winner of the Fantasy/Sci-Fi Category:
Bartimaeus Trilogy #03: Ptolemy's Gate by Jonathan Stroud

I've only read the first in this trilogy, and it was under Extremely Awful Reading Conditions -- in a dimly lit car, with a migraine -- and my experience was therefore sullied (i.e. I really hate remembering this book). But here's the lowdown: Stroud creates a world in which magic is used the way we might expect in reality: full of snobs, beaurocrats, and back-stabbing politics. Add to this mix a plucky-yet-sallow young wizard Nathaniel and the hard-rockin' all-powerful trickster djinn Bartimaeus, and you have a rip-roarin' good story. Start with the Amulet of Samarkand and strap yourself in for a good ride.

Winner of the Fiction Picture Book Category:
Scaredy Squirrel by Melanie Watt

Aw, shucks -- I can't help but feel a twinge of disappointment that this book was the winner, simply because my favorite picture book of 2006 -- Emily's Balloon -- was one of the other finalists for the prize. Well, win some, loose some. Scaredy Squirrel is simply hilarious; this tale of a paranoid critter on an unexpected path to self-discovery is guaranteed to be a staple of storytimes everywhere. Probably the only picture book in existence that uses the phrase "antibacterial soap" to good effect.

Winner of the 12-and-Under Graphic Novels Category:
Amelia Rules! Vol 3: Superheroes by Jim Gownley

Hum. I haven't seen this book anywhere, and chances are you'll have a hard time finding it as well. But the everyday neighborhood antics of Amelia and her friends look simply charming. If you haven't stumbled upon the world of graphic novels for kids, you're missing out.

Winner of the 13-and-Up Graphic Novels Category:
American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang

This also won the Printz Award -- the ALA's prize for young adult fiction -- so it comes as no suprise that it showed up here. This tale combines Chinese folklore with contemporary race and identity issues in a story that is simply stunning. And would you believe it started as a web comic? Ladies and gentlemen, we've come full circle.

Winner of the Middle Grade Fiction Category:
A Drowned Maiden's Hair by Laura Amy Schlitz

Yay! The one I helped win! I wrote the blurb about this book that currently resides on the Cybils website, so it's kinda hard to write something new. Hey, I know! Go here and read my original spiel; that way I can preserve my brain power for Higher Things like . . . er. . . quoting The Simpsons ad infinitum. You know. Stuff.

Winner of the Non-Fiction Category:
Freedom Walkers: The Story of the Montgomery Bus Boycott by Russell Freeman

Freedman won the Newbery Medal some years ago for his stellar Lincoln: a Photobiography, so you can pretty much know what to expect here. Stellar, clear and concise writing plus scads of interesting photographs. Anything that breathes new life into the story of the Montgomery Bus Boycott will be welcomed by teachers and schoolchildren everywhere.

Winner of the Non-Fiction Picture Book Category:
An Egg is Quiet by by Dianna Aston; illustrated by Sylvia Long

Quite frankly, one of the most beautiful non-fiction books out there. This collection of facts and stories about all kinds of eggs is paired with delicately colored watercolors and calligraphy -- it looks like pages dropped from a 19th-century naturalist's sketchbook. Perfect for slowly perusing while nestled in some woodsy thicket.

Winner of the Poetry Category:
Butterfly Eyes and Other Secrets of the Meadow by Joyce Sidman, illustrated by Beth Krommes

This is the sequel to last year's Caldecott Honor book, Song of the Water Boatman & Other Pond Poems, which was illustrated by Beckie Prange. Both books feature mind-bogglingly gorgeous hand-colored woocut illustrations and whimsical poems that function as nature riddles. Pair this lil' beauty with An Egg is Quiet and you have a perfect set of books for camping, hiking, and backyard safaris.

Winner of the Young Adult Fiction Category:
Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan

A whirling, sexy he said/she said It Happened One Night with about a million music references. It seriously rocked my world when I read it last summer. Here's the thing: I really, really wish it had been written about twenty years ago, beacause this would have made the purr-fect pre-sellout John Hughes movie. You know: prep-rock Molly Ringwald as Norah and a punked-up John Cusack for Nick. Shut up, don't you even TRY to tell me that wouldn't be awesome.


Jen Robinson said...

OK, I'm with you. The John Cusak/Molly Ringwald thing would have been awesome. Oh, if only there were time travel. But I still think N&N would make a great movie. Think of the sound track.

Anyway, thanks for the excellent write-ups! It was a pleasure working with you.

jules (a.k.a. Mimal, today's word verification) said...

YOU wrote that Drowned Maiden's Hair blurb! Woo hoo. I actually left a comment at the Cybils site and asked who wrote that little masterpiece (and someone may have answered me, but I haven't looked yet). Eisha and I just read it and are planning a co-review, and I put in the intro to our review, which we started writing the day the Cybils were announced, that after reading that slammin' little blurb, I feel daunted about reviewing it now. 'Cause you nailed it. Duuuude, good job.

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