It’s the Cybils Finalists!

This was my first year doing YA (speculative fiction, of course) and I honestly didn’t know how it would go. I’ve kind of suspected for a long time that I’ve got a middle grade reading sensibility, so was I going to be “cool” enough for the YA Crowd? But I had seemed to gravitate more toward YA this past year, and they needed help, so I thought I’d give it a try.

And it went really well. We had a great set of panelists, that — even when we disagreed with each other, we were able to have great discussions and talk about the books rather than just our reactions to them. It was lovely. And in the end, we came up with a shortlist that I (at least, though I suspect all of us) can be proud of.

Summer of Salt
Dread Nation
Tess of the Road
Pitch Dark
Not Even Bones
This Mortal Coil

Go check out all of the other great shortlists at the Cybils website!

The Cybils are Back!

I have to admit, that since I took over as co-blogger for the Cybils, I forget to announce that the application for Judges is open on my own blog.

Shame on me.

If you have anything to do with blogging about kidlit on a regular basis (like once a month or so), and you’d like to be a part of a really neat group of people who are passionate about kidlit and are really fun to talk to (though mostly it’s just through group chat and email), then you should consider being a Cybils judge. I’ve been doing this for 11 years now, and some years I put in more time than others, but I’ve never been disappointed with the end product. I’ve met some really wonderful people through my involvement, and I’ve always had a great time. On top of it all,  I think there’s a really solid group of organizers this year, so it should be a fun one.

All we’re missing is you.

You won’t regret applying!


Cybils Finalists Are Live!

The shortlists are live! (YAY!)

I was a first-round panelist for the first time in several years, and I remembered why I needed to back off from that… it’s SO very time consuming. I was lucky enough to be on a panel with some fantastic readers, who read a lot faster than me, and so I managed okay. I am really proud of the shortlist we came up with, and it was relatively painless as well. There were a lot of good books to choose from, and I’m happy with the list we came up with.

Here’s our books:

Click through to see what everyone else chose. (I even have a few nominations in the finalists, though I’m most happy about Escargot!)


It’s Cybils Day!

I’ve had a super busy fall, so I haven’t been as involved in the Cybils as I would have liked, but it’s been going on.  The shortlists were just announced and there’s a LOT of really great books on them (I even manged to nominate one that made it!). Some of my favorites, many I haven’t read. Do check all the lists out!

As for me, I volunteered to be on round 2 of the new category, Audiobooks. This is what I get to listen to over the next 6 weeks, and I couldn’t be happier! As always, check back on February 14th to see what we’ve picked as our winner!

Out of Abaton, Book 1 (Library Edition): The Wooden Prince
by John Claude Bemis
Oasis Audio
Nominated by: Lauren Snell

This surprising & original retelling of Pinocchio takes place in a magical steampunk version of 15th century Italy. The title character is an “automa,” a wooden robot powered by alchemy. He seeks to be reunited with Geppetto & the musical cricket Maestro as they all race to save Prestor John, ruler of the Magical Kingdom of Abaton, from the wicked Doge of Venice. Pinocchio’s discoveries about family, friendship, and free will are deftly woven in with episodes of high adventure. The audiobook is truly a movie for your mind, with a full sound track that includes music & sound effects.

Jeanene Johnson, Got My Book

Raymie Nightingale
by Kate DiCamillo
Listening Library
Nominated by: Sondra Eklund

Raymie Nightingale by Kate DiCamillo. Narrated by Jenna Lamia. Listening library. 2016
Raymie Nightingale has one goal, to win the 1975 Little Miss Central Florida Tire competition. Her father left town with the local dental hygienist and Raymie’s plan is for him to read about her win in the paper and to come home to her. While preparing for the competition, she befriends Louisiana Elefante and Beverly Tapinski as they all take baton twirling lessons from Ida Nee, the town expert. The Three Rancheros, as they call themselves, help each other to solve the problems they are facing. While Raymie wants to win back her father, Beverly is determined to sabotage the pageant and Louisiana hopes to get her cat Archie back. These underlying motivations lead to some unlikely and amusing adventures for the quirky friends.
Lamia effectively conveys the emotions and personality of three distinctly different characters; single-minded, yet sensitive Raymie, ethereal and swooning Louisiana, and the tough and ardent Beverly. Lamia’s expert storytelling brings this this poignant tale of love and loss to life.

Maren Ostergard, King County Library System

The Best Man
by Richard Peck; narrated by Michael Crouch
Listening Library
Publisher/ Author Submission

A classic Peck tale, this is the story of Archer and his grandfather, uncle, and teacher. Told through his years as a fourth, fifth, and sixth grade student, we see the influence these individuals and others have had on his life during this bildungsroman story. Crouch strikes a balance between Archer aging through the grades, bring a sense of wisdom to the grandfather, and a general relatability to all the characters portrayed. Balancing both humor and touching moments, this audiobook is a fit for families and middle graders alike.

Stephanie Charlefour, Love. Life. Read.

The Inquisitor’s Tale: Or, the Three Magical Children and Their Holy Dog
by Adam Gidwitz
Listening Library
Nominated by: Katy Kramp

On a dark night in 1242, a group of travellers gathers in an inn in France to exchange stories of three remarkable children: Jacob, Jeanne, and William. With flavors of The Canturbury Tales, each tale teller adds a unique slant to the collection, slowly building on each others’ version to build a complete picture. This is a book that’s perfectly done as a full cast production, as each narrator gives a spin to their section that makes the characters come to life. With plenty of topics that middle grade readers will relate to today, this is a historical book with just the right amount of humor and magical realism to give it a wide audience appeal.

Alyssa Feller, The Shady Glade

When the Sea Turned to Silver
by Grace Lin
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Nominated by: Jennie

Traditional Chinese tales are interwoven with an adventure story in this book that follows the pattern of Lin’s award-winning books Where the Mountain Meets the Moon and Starry River of the Sky. There are some characters in common with the earlier two books, but readers stepping in for the first time won’t feel out of place. Young Pinmei has grown up with her grandmother, the Storyteller, on a remote mountain. But one year when the winter has gone on far longer than it should, her grandmother is kidnapped by a threatening stranger Pinmei can tell is only disguised as a common soldier. She and Yishan, the boy who lives alone up the mountain, set out to rescue her. Kim Mai Guest’s narration portrays Pinmei’s journey to confidence, as well as the full cast of characters. The audio format highlights the interconnected details and the poetic language in this book that’s destined to be a classic.

Katy Kramp, a library mama

The Cybils and KitlitCon

Cybils-Logo-2016-Round-Sm I’ve been blogging for nearly 12 (!) years, and in that time, I have realized that the thing I enjoy most about blogging is not the actual putting of words on (electronic) page (though I have liked that I’ve — sort of — kept up with my writing). It’s the community. And, true, in those 12 years, I’ve seen blogging go from a little tiny community to a HUGE number of people. It’s dwindling, now, with the advent of so many different social media platforms and ways to connect with people.

That said, there are still two ways for people who love children’s literature to connect with other people who love children’s literature. The first, is our award: The Cybils. If you blog, even a little bit, about children’s books, please consider applying to be a judge. I’ve been doing it for eight years, and it’s a fantastic way to feel a part of something bigger. You’re exposed to a TON of books, and the process of selecting a short list (or a winner), is — to be completely honest — fun. Yes, it’s work, but it’s fun. And, whether you’ve participated before or not, you should give it a shot this year.

KidlitconLogo2016-SquareThe other way hits a bit closer to home this year: KitlitCon. I know it’s here in Wichita, which means it’s not really readily accessible to a lot of people (we’re kind of equally far from everything here). But, please consider coming. It’s a smaller conference, and one run by introverts, so we try to give everyone space to connect when they want and retreat when they need to. Charlotte has put together a fantastic program, with some interesting panels and good conversations planned.

Here’s the link to register to come. It will (I hope) be worth your time!

The 2015 Cybils EMGSF Panel: The Ones That Got Away

One of the best things about the Cybils is that we have to agree on a shortlist. Sometimes this comes easily — like it did for our panel this year — sometimes, not so much. Even so, there are always ones that we really like (both individually and collectively) that don’t quite make it on to the list.

Here are five books that I really loved but that didn’t make the cut:


Circus Mirandus


Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer


The Forgotten Sisters

The Hollow Boy

The Hollow Boy