From the blog:
The 2009 Cybils Winners
I Love My New Toy
written by Mo Willems
I Love My New Toy is a perfect example of an early reader book. Using simple, repetitive text and charming illustrations, Mo Willems gives the youngest reader a title full of emotion, humor, and action. Children can easily relate to this wonderful story of friendship at its worst and its best.
Fantasy & Science Fiction
The Graveyard Book
written by Neil Gaiman
Transcendent writing and wry bits of humor brought The Graveyard Book to the top of a strong field of contenders. Gaiman pulls off the trifecta of a ripping plot, nuanced characters and sublime prose. He submerges the reader into standard horror subject matter but freshens and modernizes it, never being predictable. The orphaned Nobody Owens, or Bod to his other-worldly friends, is being raised in a cemetery, where he masters a few tricks of the ghostly trade. His guardians have to hope it’s enough to protect him from the assassin who killed Bod’s family, and who lurks somewhere beyond the graveyard gates. This riff on the Jungle Book balances humor, heart and darkness, creating a winning read.
The Hunger Games
written by Suzanne Collins
The Hunger Games wins for its broad crossover appeal, complicated moral issues, and sociopolitical satire. In a richly imaginative twist on a familiar dystopian landscape, Suzanne Collins creates a deadly game using child combatants to explore the dehumanizing effects of war and violence. Katniss struggles against overwhelming odds while being groomed and polished for what could be her televised fight to the death. At each agonizing choice or fearful alliance, the reader is confronted with the same questions Katniss faces. How far would you go to save yourself? Can you meet violence with violence, yet preserve your humanity?
Fiction Picture Books
How to Heal a Broken Wing
written and illustrated by Bob Graham
This deceptively simple book achieves so much more than telling the story of a boy who notices a wounded bird in a busy city. By alternating single and double-page spreads with clusters of small panels, Graham creates almost a film strip of time passing. The artistic technique lends both intimacy and urgency to the boy and his family’s precarious mission to save the injured pigeon. The text is commendably lean, supporting the strong visual narrative and keeping a lighter touch to the theme. The cartoon-style, watercolor illustrations provide the perfect tone, and the accessible story offers connections for picture book readers of all ages. For all of these reasons, How to Heal a Broken Wing distinguishes itself as the rare picture book that speaks quietly, yet has volumes to say about courage, kindness, and hope.
written by Shannon Hale and Dean Hale
illustrated by Nathan Hale
“What made this book stand out to the judges was that it takes a well-known story and does something recognizable, but unique, creating an adventure which readers of both sexes can enjoy. Those readers will get swept up in the rawness of the emotions presented. The art is bright and leaps from the pages, but the images don’t overshadow the story or mask weaknesses in the plot. The story and images carried the weight equally, were well-paced, engaging, and generally solid.”
written by Mariko Tamaki
illustrated by Steve Ralston
“This title rises above a traditional outsider/teen angst tale because of its protagonist’s interest in her local performance artists, a subject that hasn’t been done to death in YA. The story is also novel simply because it’s about a teen exploring art and find how it can change you. Ralston’s art is an important aspect of the story, working in tandem with Tamaki’s unique story.”
The London Eye Mystery
written by Siobhan Dowd
David Fickling Books
Brother and sister, Ted and Kat, take their cousin Salim to see the London Eye, the city’s gigantic Ferris wheel. While Ted and Kat watch, Salim gets into one of the glass pods, but thirty minutes later he doesn’t get off. So the siblings set out to find their cousin. Complicating the situation, Ted’s brain “runs on a different operating system” from other people’s, which makes him a lot better at facts and figures than he is at reading people. Narrated in Ted’s voice, this is a page-turner that brings London to life and takes readers inside a powerfully rational mind. The London Eye Mystery shows off kids’ natural ingenuity and proves that difference can be a strength, as Ted and Kat work to solve the irresistible riddle of their cousin’s disappearance.
Non-Fiction Picture Books
Nic Bishop Frogs
written and illustrated by Nic Bishop
Nic Bishop is known for his jaw-dropping nature photography. Open a book cover with his name on it and you’ll be greeted with stunning action shots, exquisite attention to detail, and sharp, sharp close-ups that inspire awe. Couple that with Bishop’s equally crisp, up-close and personal writing in Nic Bishop Frogs, and you’ve got an award-winning combination of text and illustration that captures a child-like wonder about a topic that is anything but new. That’s quite a feat. Bishop’s language is interesting and playful, and his analogies and references are right on, squarely aimed at where kids’ heads are at. Simple word choices never talk down, but will allow newish readers to find success easily. The book flows logically, covering life cycle, defense, diet, habitat, and other essentials you’d expect to find in an animal book, but the organization is refreshingly kid-friendly, meandering through the topics as though Bishop and the reader were having a conversation while sitting in a marsh waiting for a frog. It’s intimate and personal and accessible—frogs as you’ve never seen them before. Fascinating process notes are sure to inspire young photographers.
written by Naomi Shihab Nye
Honeybee is a hybrid of delicious poetry and lyrical prose poems on wide-ranging themes blending science and observation alongside personal memoir and political challenge. There are ideas buzzing here that young people have probably felt in their gut, but may not have verbalized. Isn’t this what poetry is supposed to do?
Young Adult Fiction
Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks, The
written by E Lockhart
It’s a setting we know. It’s a theme we’re familiar with. But with The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks, E. Lockhart takes common features of teen fiction and turns them into a smart, fun, multi-layered, action-filled, coming-of-age story with a unique treatment and fresh voice. Frankie’s feminist-fueled and P.G. Wodehouse-inspired antics at boarding school are hilarious, but also tinged with the sometimes-harsh truths of growing up. A book complex and clever enough that wildly diverse readers will each take, and love, something different out of the narrative.