Everyone else is doing it, so I thought I'd post my five reasons why you should apply to be a Cybils Awards judge.
As you would expect, there's a lot of overlap with other people's reasons, but I'll add my own spin on them, and with an emphasis on my category, Young Adult Speculative Fiction. For those who don't know what speculative fiction
is, it includes fantasy, science fiction, horror, dystopian, steampunk, and basically anything else with supernatural, fantastical, or futuristic elements.1. Read and discuss good books.
Hopefully you don't need an excuse to read, but it doesn't hurt to be able to say, "Sorry, I can't do the dishes, I have to finish this Cybils book." Cybils judges engage in intense reading - and for Round 1, a LOT of reading - and intense discussions with a small group of people who share your book passion.
In YA Spec Fic, we've sometimes had upwards of 200 nominated books in Round 1, and while you don't have to read them all, Round 1 judges in YA SF can expect to have to read at least 40 books over a 3 month period. (Presumably, you'll already have read some of the category nominations). It's crazy intense, but so much fun! Round 2 judges have to read 5 to 7 books in a little under 6 weeks, but they get to read "the best of the best" and choose a winner.2. Make lifelong friends.
Those intense discussions with like-minded people? Turns out they're a great basis for a friendship. I've made lifelong friends from serving together on a Cybils panel. (And KidLitCon
is a great place to meet up with them in person!)3. Influence the books available for children/teen reading.
Yup, awards do have an influence. And while the Cybils don't get as much media as, say, the ALA awards, we have a pretty big and dedicated following that includes teachers, librarians, and booksellers. The books you choose may end up on reading lists, getting purchased by a library, or in bookstore displays. Books that win awards and get that attention may be more likely to be reprinted or have a sequel or other books by the author published.4. Get your blog better known.
Did I mention we have a following? Round 1 judges are encouraged to blog about the books you read, and while Round 2 judges can't blog the finalists during the round, they can post reviews after the winners are announced. Throughout the Cybils season, we post review excerpts with links to reviews by both Round 1 and Round 2 judges to the Cybils blog, thus further aiding discovery of judges' blogs. During the summer, you can contribute themed book lists for posting on the Cybils blog. Being a Cybils judge can bring greater visibility to your blog, increase your traffic, and give you greater credibility with publishers.5. Learn a lot.
I mean, a lot. I sometimes think I know a lot about YA SF, but every year I'm blown away by the knowledge and expertise of my fellow judges, and every year I learn more from them.
What I'm looking for
As Category Chair for YA Speculative Fiction, I have the responsibility to choose the judges for my category. It's my least favorite part of the Cybils: I hate having to choose one person over another, but unfortunately we usually don't have room for everyone.
Here are some of the things that I look for:1. A passion for speculative fiction.
If your "about" on your blog says that you don't really like most spec fic, then I'll most likely pass. If you don't post about SF much, I'll think long and hard before choosing you.2. Knowledge of spec fiction and its subgenres.
Speculative Fiction is a very diverse genre. One day you might be reading a scary ghost story, and the next a futuristic dystopian. I look for people who have read broadly within the genre and can discuss the various aspects, literary elements, and tropes of the genre.3. Critical thinking skills.
I have to know that you can think critically about books and analyze the literary elements and readability of a book. Reviews are a great way to demonstrate this, but if you don't review books, hopefully you can submit other blog posts that demonstrate your critical thinking skills.4. Open to diverse perspectives.
I want to see that you have a demonstrated interest in diversity, and a tolerance for worldviews different from your own.5. Diverse backgrounds.
I mean this in two ways. First, I look for people who can bring expertise or experience with one or more under-represented groups, in what we usually mean when we say diversity. For example, do you blog about people of color, LGBTQA+ characters, differently-abled characters, different religious or worldviews, etc.? Second, I look for a variety of personal and work experience, so that the panel is hopefully made up of a good mix of librarians, teachers, parents, booksellers, authors, etc.
So I have I scared you off yet? Oops, I was supposed to be convincing you why you should apply! Please do apply,
and if YA Speculative Fiction isn't your thing, we have plenty of other categories ranging from Easy Readers to Young Adult. We even have a book apps category!Here's the information on how to apply!
Also, see the following posts for more reasons to apply!
If you haven't been over to the Cybils blog in a while, you're missing out--there's been regularly posted content, including book reviews, featured bloggers, and interviews with this year's award winners. AND, there is a new, fun recurring feature:... Read the rest of this post
Summary: Horror fans take note: if you're a fan of, say, Holly Black, Neil Gaiman, Edgar Allan Poe--you will not want to miss this graphic novel compilation of spooky tales by webcomic artist Emily Carroll. It's beautiful, and frightening, and... Read the rest of this post
As you know, I was a second-round Cybils judge this year in YA Nonfiction. To help me prepare, and to have fun arm-chairing the first-round panelists, I read several of the nominations when the first-round was reading them, too.
And, while I was reading, I knit a scarf.
It is warm and cozy and can also be worn as a loose hood to keep my ears warm while not messing up my hair.
It also can cover large portions of my face when the weather requires!
The pattern isn't 100% exact, but if you want to knit one too, here's the general recipe. The actual knitting is pretty easy, but you have to be able to do it while reading. (Knitting while reading is my superpower. It got me through college--the knitting kept me awake while reading boring articles, and if that wasn't enough, I could randomly stab myself with a needle to help me perk up.)
Gather a few colors of yarn in a similar weight.
For this scarf, I used a KnitPicks lace sampler that had been sitting in my stash forever. It's a mix of their various lace-weight yarns, a total of 5 colors.
Find a gauge that gives a nice drape, but is tight enough to still be warm
For me, that was 5 stitches/inch on a size 3 needle.
Cast on 60 inches worth of stitches
So... 300 for me. BUT I did not take into account that, when worn, the weight would stretch it, so it's a lot longer than I intended, so I can loop it 3 times instead of 2.
Join round, being careful not to twist stitches, mark beginning of round
I totally twisted my stitches. :(
Knit in the round while reading your first book
Yes, you have to read and knit at the same time.
When you finish your book, break yarn, join next color
Don't worry about finishing the round. I used a split splice so I wouldn't have to weave in any ends. As you're striping, you can't really tell where the yarns overlap in the finished project.
Purl in the round (reverse stockinette stitch) in the round while reading your next book
Repeat in this way until you've read all your books or are running out of yarn.
I ran out of yarn. Some books were read more than once (especially on the short list) so they have multiple stripes.
Finish final round, bind off in pattern
Lightly steam block
One of the things that makes it so cozy is that the changing between stockinette and reverse stockinette make it bunch up, so it's even more extra warm!
Here's a close up of my striping pattern:
One stripe is not a full round long. Nonfiction lends itself to this, as the books tend to be a size where they stay open nicely on their own. A stapler across the top of the pages also works well to hold it open. If you're working with longer books, you can also switch every chapter or reading/knitting session. I kinda want to do one that is smaller (so it'll just be a cowl, no looping) in shades of dark gray/black with the stories in one of the City Noir books.
Also, just to brag, here's the vintage WWI poster you can see in the edge of the frame:
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This book is a 2015 Cybils Award YA Speculative Fiction Finalist. This is a review by a finalist judge, so will focus more directly on summary. We hope you pick up this Cybil nominee, read, and enjoy! Summary: Sixteen-year-old Ava is a dichotomy -... Read the rest of this post
This book is a 2015 Cybils Award YA Speculative Fiction Finalist. This is a review by a finalist judge, so will focus solely on summary and leave out most additional editorializing and discussion. We hope you pick up this Cybil nominee, read, and... Read the rest of this post
I'd previously only read this author's middle-grade novels. Her debut with THE CABINET OF WONDERS, was a Cybs contender awhile back, and pretty amazing in terms of detail and overall WOW factor of new-things-per-page. I LOVED that novel, so when I... Read the rest of this post
As I've mentioned before, I had the great honor and opportunity to serve again as a second round judge on the Elementary/Middle Grade Nonfiction book award panel for the Cybils Awards. If you're not familiar with the Cybils awards, they are the Children and Young Adult Bloggers' Literary Awards.
Our judging panel chose the following as the 2014 Cybils Award winner for best Elementary/Middle Grade Nonfiction book:
The judging panel's description:
Using child-friendly similes, Feathers shows that there is both beauty and purpose in nature and that, although we do not fly, we have many things in common with birds, such as the need to be safe, attractive, industrious, communicative, and well-fed. The simple, large text is suitable for reading to very young children, while the inset boxes contain more details for school-aged kids. The scrapbook-style watercolor illustrations show each feather at life size, and provide a nice jumping-off point for individual projects. Science, art, and prose work together to make this the perfect book to share with budding young artists, painters, naturalists, and scientists, and it will be appreciated by parents, teachers, and kids.
Melissa Stewart's website offers teaching resources and activities to go along with Feathers.
Summary: Before writing up this post, I honestly didn't realize that El Deafo by Cece Bell had won the 2015 Newbery Award. Well, now it's also won a Cybils Award for 2014, in the Elementary and Middle Grade Graphic Novels category! And I'm thrilled... Read the rest of this post
I haven't been posting much lately, but it's not because I haven't been busy. Here's what I've been doing:
Angel Island: Gateway to Gold Mountainby Russell FreedmanClarion Books
I'm a Round 2 Judge for Nonfiction -Early & Middle Grades. The finalists are listed below. A winner will be announced on February 14, 2015. Stay tuned and check out the finalists in all the other categories on the Cybils
site. I can't discuss the books, but you are free to comment on your favorites.
Chasing Cheetahs: The Race to Save Africa’s Fastest Cat
by Sy Montgomery
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Feathers: Not Just for Flying
by Melissa Stewart
Handle With Care: An Unusual Butterfly Journey
by Loree Griffin Burns
Separate Is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez and Her Family’s Fight for Desegregation
by Duncan Tonatiuh
Harry N Abrams
The Case of the Vanishing Little Brown Bats: A Scientific Mystery
by Sandra Markle
When Lunch Fights Back: Wickedly Clever Animal Defenses
by Rebecca L. Johnson
I'm honored to be the 2015 Co-Chair of the ALA/ALSC Great Websites for Kids Committee. If you've never taken advantage of this great resource, I urge you to check it out at http://gws.ala.org/.
The site is continually updated with new sites added and outdated sites deleted. Suggestions and comments are always welcome. In December, we announced the seven newest sites to be added:
And last but not least,
This year will mark the fifth anniversary of the KidLit Celebrates Women's History Month celebration. Each year, fellow librarian, Margo Tanenbaum and I, gather writers, illustrators, librarians and bloggers to highlight and celebrate and raise awareness of great books for young people that focus on women’s history. This year's celebration kicks off in March. Please, stay in touch with us and support the inclusion of women's history in books for young readers! Follow our blog, KidLit Celebrates Women's History Month.
You can also find us on:
Below is a sneak preview of the authors and their books that will be featured this year.
See? I told you I've been busy! Have a great week! Let it start with a reminder from MLKDay.gov
"Life's most persistent question is: What are you doing for others?" Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
And, oh yeah, it's Nonfiction Monday
! Check it out.
This morning I am celebrating the range of diverse books (authors, illustrators, and subjects) and poetry present in the youth media award winners announced at the American Library Association (ALA) Midwinter Meeting in Chicago.
Newbery Honor Book
Coretta Scott King Author Book
Sibert Honor Book
John Newbery Medal Winner
Coretta Scott King Author Honor Book
Coretta Scott King Author Honor Book
written by Patricia Powell and illustrated by Christian Robinson
Sibert Honor Book
Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor Book
If you are a fan of poetry and haven't read these, be sure to add them to your TBR list.
Source: NAACPReaders, February is Black History Month. We've admittedly been a bit busy around here with Cybils reading and judging and whatnot, but while I was trying to settle on today's post topic, I thought it would be a great opportunity to... Read the rest of this post
Yesterday the Children's and Young Adult Bloggers' Literary Awards (CYBILS) announced the winners for 2014. The CYBILS recognizes books that have both literary merit and kid appeal.
Here's the link in case you missed the announcement of the winners.
Louise was a 2nd round judge in the Young Adult Nonfiction category.
The winner of the YA Nonfiction Award was The Family Romanov by