Posted in awards, Cybils

CYBILS 2016 Winners Announced!

The CYBILS winners were announced today! I had a great time being one of the Middle Grade Speculative Fiction second round judges, and I’m super-excited that Shadow Magic, by Joshua Khan, is the winner in that category. Every book was good; it was a solid group of finalists and it was tough to pick one winner.

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Add these books to your TBR;  there are some great books here. I can’t believe, out of all the books I read in a given year, that I’ve only read two of these winners (Shadow Magic and CityBlock) – talk about developing a complex.

Congratulations to all the winners, congratulations to all the finalists, and thank you to the CYBILS fearless leaders that allowed me the opportunity to be part of the panel again this year. Go read books!

Posted in Fantasy, Fiction, Fiction, Middle Grade, Science Fiction, Tween Reads

I’m a CYBILS Judge!

cybils

I can finally talk about it! I’m thrilled to be a CYBILS judge again, returning to the Middle Grade Speculative Fiction category. There have been SO many great books published, and I’ll be diving into the finalists this time around, as a second round judge. Wanna see who’s up for the award? Take a look, and adjust your TBRs accordingly.

grace-lin

When the Sea Turned to Silver, by Grace Lin, (Oct. 2016, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers), $18.99, ISBN: 978-0316125925

Inspired by Chinese folklore, this companion to the Newbery Honor Winner, Where the Mountain Meets the Moon, is the story of a girl on a mission to save her kidnapped grandmother.

voyage-to-magical-north

The Voyage to Magical North, by Claire Fayers, (July 2016, Henry Holt & Co.), $16.99, ISBN: 978-1627794206

An orphan keeps house for an irritable magician and his equally obnoxious apprentice, and ends up accidentally becoming a pirate.

smallbone

The Evil Wizard Smallbone, by Delia Sherman, (Sept. 2016, Candlewick), $17.99, ISBN: 978-0763688059

A boy runs away from his uncle’s home, discovers a bookstore run by a self-proclaimed Evil Wizard who won’t let him leave, but calls him his apprentice.

shadow-magic

Shadow Magic, by Joshua Khan, (April 2016, Disney-Hyperion), $16.99, ISBN: 978-1484732724

An outlaw’s son is sold into slavery. A girl is the last surviving member of her family, a line of dark sorcerers. Together, they’ll break the rules.

memory-thief

The Memory Thief, by Bryce Moore, (Sept. 2016, Adaptive Books), $16.99, ISBN: 9781945293030

This was published as a Barnes & Noble exclusive in 2016, but is being published in wide release this March.

Twins wander off at a county fair; Benji, the brother, wanders into a tent where he meets an old man who collects memories. He asks to train as a Memory Thief and ends up on an adventure.

goblin-puzzle

The Goblin’s Puzzle: Being the Adventures of a Boy with No Name and Two Girls Called Alice, by Andrew Chilton, (Jan. 2016, Knopf Books for Young Readers), $16.99, ISBN: 978-0553520705

A fantasy adventure filled with dragons, goblins, and puzzles.

firefly-code

The Firefly Code, by Megan Frazer Blakemore, (May 2016, Bloomsbury USA), $16.99, ISBN: 978-1619636361

When a new girl moves to Firefly Lane, a girl and her friends start questioning everything they’ve known.

 

I’ll recap after we select a winner!

 

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized

CYBILS Judges Announced!

The CYBILS judges for the 2016 awards have been announced, and I made the cut! I’ll be a second round judge for the Elementary/Middle-Grade Speculative Fiction category, and I’m thrilled! Go to the CYBILS main page for links to the judges in each category and discover some great blogs.

Your turn is coming! Nominations open on October 1, and we want to know what you think are the best children’s and YA books you’ve read this year! Rules for nominating are here.

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2016 Elementary/Middle-Grade Speculative Fiction Judges: 

First Round

Sherry Early
Semicolon http://www.semicolonblog.com

Kristen Harvey
The Book Monsters thebookmonsters.com

Brandy Painter
Random Musings of a Bibliophile http://randommusingsofabibliophile.blogspot.com/

Charlotte Taylor
Charlotte’s Library http://charlotteslibrary.blogspot.com

Brenda Tjaden
Log Cabin Library http://logcabinlibrary.blogspot.com
Second Round

Mark Buxton
Say What? http://buxfantasy.blogspot.com

Monica Edinger
Educating Alice http://medinger.wordpress.com

Heidi Grange
Geo Librarian http://geolibrarian.blogspot.com

Rosemary Kiladitis
MomReadIt https://momreadit.wordpress.com

Tasha Saecker
Waking Brain Cells wakingbraincells.com

Posted in Fiction, Fiction, Middle Grade, Middle School, Tween Reads

Cybils Finalists Announced!

I’m sorry to be a bit late on the news, I’ve been in bed with an awful head cold. But the great news is that the 2014 Cybils Finalists have been announced!

cybils-logo-2014-round-lg-300x300You can find the full list of finalists, across all categories, here.

I had the honor and privilege of being a first round judge in the Middle Grade Fiction category this year – and WOW, what an amazing experience that was! We had over 130 entries this year; 34 of which I ended up reading. And I was in the minority, which fills me with even more amazement and respect of my fellow children’s book bloggers/teachers/librarians/bibliophiles. Here’s hoping that next year, I’ll get to participate again, and I promise, I’ll get more of those books in. In the meantime, I’ve discovered so many new, exciting books that I can now handsell to the kids at all of my libraries and in my life. It’s a great feeling.

If you’d like to just go straight to the Middle Grade Fiction nominees, click here – I wrote the blurb for The Meaning of Maggie, a book which I hope everyone will read and find meaning in as I did.

More reviews to come in this New Year – and I resolve to get more picture book reviews in; I seem to have gone lacking in that area. If you have a book you think I’m missing out on, please let me know!

Have a very Happy and Healthy New Year!

 

Posted in Fiction, Middle Grade

Cybils Middle Grade At-a-Glance: The Meaning of Maggie & All Four Stars

I’ve been quiet lately, because I’ve been plowing through my Cybils middle grade fiction nominees. Here are some thoughts.

meaning of maggieThe Meaning of Maggie, by Megan Jean Sovern (2014, Chronicle Books) $16.99, ISBN: 978-1452110219

Recommended for ages 9-12

Set in the 1980s, Maggie’s an 11 year-old girl who wants to be president one day. She’s funny, quirky, and seemingly always at odds with her two older sisters. Her family is coping with her father’s increasingly worsening multiple sclerosis, the severity of which they try to shield from Maggie.

I enjoyed this book, in part because one of my childhood friends lost her mom to MS. Reading this book helped me, in a way, understand what my friend went through all those years ago, when we were all far too young to understand it. The author drew upon her own life to write this book, and for that, I’m thankful. Maggie is engaging and quirky, and as frustrating as I found her dad, in his ultimate quest to “be cool”, I saw his struggle to hang on when everything was falling apart around him.

all four stars coverAll Four Stars, by Tara Dairman (2014, Putnam Juvenile), $16.99, ISBN: 978-0399162527

Recommended for ages 9-12

An 11 year-old foodie raised by junk food junkies has to be one of the best story plots I’ve come across in a while!

Gladys LOVES cooking. It’s her passion. She has a cookbook collection, watches cooking shows with a passion her classmates reserve for video games… and her parents just don’t get it. They microwave everything that they don’t bring home in a greasy bag. How can a foodie live like this?

When Gladys enters an essay contest for the New York Standard newspaper, her essay ends up in the hands of the food editor – who thinks it’s a cover letter. Gladys finds herself with a freelance assignment – to test out a new dessert restaurant in Manhattan! How can she visit the restaurant and write her review without her parents catching on?

This book just made me happy. It’s a fun story, with an instantly likable main character. Even her antagonists are likable, if a bit clueless. The plot moves along at a great pace, and I found myself chuckling out loud at some of the situations Gladys found herself in while trying to keep her secret. This is a great book to put into kids’ hands, a welcome lift from the heaviness that seems to permeate middle grade realistic fiction these days. I can’t wait to read the sequel, The Stars of Summer, when it hits shelves this summer.

 

Posted in Fiction, Middle Grade, Realistic Fiction, Tween Reads

Abby Spencer Goes to Bollywood is SO MUCH FUN – can we get a series?

18378827Abby Spencer Goes to Bollywood, by Varsha Bajaj, (2014, Albert Whitman & Co.) $16.99, ISBN: 978-0807563632

Recommended for ages 9-14

Abby Spencer has been raised by a single mom for all over 13 years, and it’s been fine – until a health scare sends her to her mom, asking questions about her dad. She finds out that her father – a college romance of her mom’s – lives in Mumbai, India, and he’s a Bollywood heartthrob! When she finally gets in touch with her dad, he sends for her – for a kid who wanted some excitement out of life, even this may be over the top!

I LOVED this book from the first page. Told in the first person, I loved the way the author gave Abby her voice. She is a fun, excitable teen who loves her family and feels conflicted about her feelings for the father she only just met over Skype. I love the way the author gives readers an eye-opening view of India, from the overwhelming spectacle of Bollywood to the families that live in squalor. Her descriptions, told through a 13 year-old’s voice, were spot-on and evoked a range of reactions for me: joy, uncertainty, sympathy, even frustration. This is one of those books that I want to buy five copies of and hand them to kids in my library, yelling, “READ THIS AND TALK TO ME ABOUT IT!”

#WeNeedDiverseBooks? You’re darn right we do, and with a biracial lead character who heads to India to see her dad on a Bollywood set, we’ve got a great one, right here. Ms. Bajaj, PLEASE tell me we’re going to see more adventures with Abby, her family, and her friends!

This book is a Cybils Middle Grade Fiction first round nominee, and I’m thrilled to have shortlisted it.