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The 2007 Children's and YA Bloggers' Literary Awards. Nominations are open in eight genres from Oct. 1 to Nov. 21; only books published in 2007 are eligible. Anyone may nominate a book, so come join us, suggest a book and read selected reviews from around the kidlitosphere. Short lists announced Jan. 15, 2008 and winners announced on Feb. 14, 2008.
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1. The Cybils Are Coming!

Exciting things are happening in the Cybils world, and we're gearing up for our 2014 season! The call for judges opens August 18, so if you're interested in judging this year, please be sure to check back and apply between August 18 and September 5. We also have a shiny new website coming soon!

Nominations will be open from October 1-15, as usual, so start making your lists!

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2. Diverse Book Recommendations for #WeNeedDiverseBooks

If you're not already aware, there's a wonderful thing happening in the book world these past few days. A campaign called #WeNeedDiverseBooks (link is here) is trying to bring together likeminded folks to push for change in the publishing industry. We all envision lists that include more books for people of every color, ethnicity, faith, sexuality, and ability level.

I found myself tweeting between classes at my school, enlisting the aid of students to take my photo, and talking it up non-stop. But my tiny contributions are dwarfed by the great idea from Cybils' volunteers to post suggestions for diverse reading from our very own finalists.

Cybils has long sought out diversity in both our judges and nominations. We decided nearly at our inception not to simply wait to see who showed up or what got nominated. We make the effort, year after year, to ensure that we're not missing out on great stories and a variety of perspectives.

Below is a highly incomplete list of the many diverse titles and authors we've helped uncover and reward since 2006. Most of us are on hiatus now, and so I'm posting only what a handful of category organizers could whip up from their own categories on short notice. Missing is the YA fiction and graphic novel lists, for example, both of which have scores of books with characters of different races and cultures. Feel free to browse our lists of finalists from the menu above for more recommendations.

--Anne Boles Levy, Cybils Co-Founder


Requiem: Poems of the Terezin Ghetto
by Paul B. Janeczko
Candlewick Press

written by Naomi Shihab Nye
Easy Reader/Early Chapter Books

Have Fun, Anna Hibiscus!
by Atinuke
Kane/Miller Book Pub

Anna Hibiscus
by Atinuke
Kane/Miller Book Pub

Zapato Power: Freddie Ramos Takes Off
by Jacqueline Jules
Albert Whitman & Company

How Oliver Olson Changed the World
by Claudia Mills
Farrar, Straus & Giroux

YA Speculative Fiction
Sarah Beth Durst
Walker Books for Young Readers
Pantomime (Strange Chemistry)
Laura Lam
Strange Chemistry
The Summer Prince
Alaya Dawn Johnson
Arthur A Levine
Every Day
by David Levithan
Knopf Books for Young Readers
Planesrunner (Everness, Book One)
by Ian McDonald
The Drowned Cities
by Paolo Bacigalupi
Little, Brown
Angelfall (Penryn & the End of Days, Book 1)
by Susan Ee
Feral Dream
The Girl of Fire and Thorns
by Rae Carson
Greenwillow Books
The Shattering
by Karen Healey
Little, Brown
Guardian of the Dead
by Karen Healey
Little, Brown
Rot & Ruin
by Jonathan Maberry
Simon & Schuster
Ship Breaker
by Paolo Bacigalupi
Little, Brown
Elementary/Picture Book Nonfiction
Wangari’s Trees of Peace: A True Story from Africa written and illustrated by Jeanette Winter 
14 Cows for America written by Carmen Agra Deedy with Wilson Kimeli Naiyomah; illus. by Thomas Gonzalez
Faith (Global Fund for Children Books) by Maya Ajmera, Magde Nakassis, and Cynthia Pon
Henry Aaron’s Dream by Matt Tavares
Sit-In: How Four Friends Stood Up by Sitting Down by Andrea Pinkney; illus. by Brian Pinkney
Skit-Scat Raggedy Cat: Ella Fitzgerald by Roxane Orgill; illus. Sean Qualls
Anubis Speaks!: A Guide to the Afterlife by the Egyptian God of the Dead (Secrets of the Ancient Gods) by Vicky Alvear Shecter
Barbed Wire Baseball by Marissa Moss
Middle Grade Speculative Fiction
Jinx, by Sage Blackwood
The Water Castle, by Megan Frazer Blakemore
Breadcrumbs, by Anne Ursu
Ninth Ward, by Jewell Parker Rhodes
The Prince of Fenway Park, by Julianna Baggott
Where the Mountain Meets the Moon, by Grace Lin
Fiction Picture Books
Infinity and Me, by Kate Hosford

Blackout, by John Rocco

A Beach Tail,by Karen Lynn William

Chalk, by Bill Thompson

All the World, by Liz Garlon Scanlon

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3. Cybils Judges and Authors on Women's History

It's Women's History Month, and in honor of that, two of our longtime Cybils judges, Kelly Jensen and Kimberly Francisco of the blog STACKED, invited 10 female YA authors (ahem, including your temporary blog editor) to write about either female YA authors, female YA characters, or broader topics about girls in YA.

I had a lot of fun talking about some of my favorite characters in fiction; others deal with more serious topics; but all of the posts are going to be GREAT. The series kicks off this week, so go check it out!

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4. Twitter Love for Cybils 2014

As if we weren't excited enough simply to announce this year's fantastic winning titles, we're also running high on the lovely things people have been saying in reaction to the winners announcement. It makes us so thrilled to be able to spread some love to deserving authors and illustrators (and their publishers, too), and here's what some of them had to say on Twitter this weekend:

Scholastic Books, @Scholastic: Great news: @alayadj's THE SUMMER PRINCE was named YA Speculative Fiction book of 2013 in the @cybils Awards! #proud

Alaya Dawn Johnson, @alayadj: Wheeeeeeee!!!! My first award! I shall hold it close always!

And, from shortlisted author Laura Lam, @LR_Lam: Congratulations to The Summer Prince for winning the Cybils Speculative Fiction YA category! It was an honour to be shortlisted :-)

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, @HMHKids: Congrats!! RT @ehardingnyc: Congrats to @amylvpoemfarm on her Cybil poetry award for FOREST HAS A SONG!

Albert Whitman & Co., @AlbertWhitman: Congratulations to author illustrator #DoshArcher Urgency Emergency: Big Bad Wolf is a Cybil award winner! http://bit.ly/1nyavn9 #awhitman

Scholastic Canada, @scholasticCDA: Congratulations to @Writerunrepeat! Ultra is the 2013 @cybils Middle Grade Fiction winner!

David Carroll, @Writerunrepeat: Thanks Michal! @mkapral: Ultra-great book by @Writerunrepeat: MT @MsYingling: Ultra is @Cybils Middle Grade WINNER!

Disney Hyperion, @DisneyHyperion: Hooray for @JonathanAStroud and THE SCREAMING STAIRCASE! @cybils http://bit.ly/1nyavn9

Jonathan Stroud, @JonathanAStroud: THRILLED to hear that The Screaming Staircase has won a 2013 Cybils award! Thank you! @cybils http://bit.ly/1lOo039 #Lockwood

Little, Brown School, @lbschool: @lbkids @itspeterbrown @cybils ♫ I got the eye of the tiger... Cause I am a champion, and you’re gonna hear me ROAR! ♫

Little, Brown Kids, @lbkids: ROAR! Congratulations @itspeterbrown's MR. TIGER GOES WILD, the 2013 @cybils winner for Fiction Picture Book! http://ow.ly/i/4BhGX

Peter Brown, @itspeterbrown: @lbkids @cybils Woohoo!!! Fist pump!!!

Helaine Becker, @helainebecker: Cybils: Best STEM Children’s Books of 2013 http://bit.ly/1nyIqw1 #kidlit #science #publishing #learn

From finalist John David Anderson, @anderson_author: Thanks to the blogger-readers for making SIDEKICKED a @cybils Award finalist, and thanks to @celialarsen for the nom!

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5. The 2013 Cybils Awards

Thanks to the many volunteers who made for another successful Cybils contest. Our judges, panelists and -- most especially -- our organizers gave up their so-called free time to spend with us. You can thank them by passing along the good word about what we do here!

Without further fuss, here are this year's winners of a Cybils Award:  

Elementary & Middle Grade

Book Apps

Written by Disney
Developed by Disney and Touch Press
Nominated by Shannon Miller

Disney Animated brings to life the outstanding animation heritage of Disney Studios through the expertise of Touch Press, one of the most exacting and innovative developers in the app space today. Appealing to the entire family, Disney Animated meets all the criteria we seek in outstanding interactive media. The technical elements are impeccably rendered, the interactive elements are directly linked to the content, and the narrative content is endlessly fascinating. From stills to studies, animated shorts, soundtracks, interviews, and games that illustrate the points being made, this app is one you'll have trouble putting down.

Like any good non-fiction book, you can read this app in linear or non-linear fashion. Interactive workshops built into the app not only give hands-on explanations of how animation works, they challenge our understanding of physics in a game-like way. The app makes every use of the medium, animating just about everything, even the text. You can pinch, enlarge, move, examine and share just about everything in this app. With Disney Animated, Touch Press models what the digital environment is capable of and what a truly great book app can be.


Fiction Picture Books

Peter Brown
Little, Brown and Co.

Mr. Tiger Goes Wild opens to muted tones of a proper Victorian society of well-mannered animals, living in houses and walking on two legs. Surrounded by an abundance of subdued suits, ties, dresses and tea, the daily hum-drum pushes Mr. Tiger outside the city limits to a place where he can ROAR! But first he undergoes the drama and surprising silliness of life on four legs, a swim in the water fountain and *gasp* a view of his magnificent, naked self. Confident artistic elements start on the decorative endpapers, capitalize on the freedom of double page illustrations, built intensity with the color palette, and combine seamlessly with the lean text of most carefully selected words. With great comedic timing and a light-handed touch on message, Peter Brown has written a clever, compelling invitation to self-discovery.  


Annette LeBlanc Cate
Candlewick Press
Nominated by: lwad

Budding ornithologists won’t be the only ones to delight in this jam-packed introduction to the joys of bird-watching. Annette LeBlanc Cate's enthusiasm for her subject shines through her humorous yet informative text and in her inviting pen-and-ink illustrations of birds, birds, and more birds. Cate recommends that you begin by looking for birds in your own backyard because “you don’t have to go anywhere fancy to watch birds, nor do you need to know their fancy Latin names".  A useful list of bird-watching dos and don’ts, should-haves and don’t-needs (binoculars!) introduces the text.  In subsequent chapters, Cate explains how to identify birds by color, shape, behavior, and other characteristics. Along with charts, sidebars, and a bibliography, the book features an engaging cast of cartoon bird characters. Sassy and opinionated, they help to spread Cate’s message: “Bird-watching is fun!”  Look Up! isn’t just a title—it’s an invitation to a new way of looking at the avian world.

Easy Readers


Dosh Archer
Albert Whitman & Company
Nominated by: Terry Doherty

It’s a busy day at City Hospital where Doctor Glenda and Nurse Percy have their hands full assisting a little girl in a red coat who lost her grandmother.  The excitement of the day only increases when Pengamedics wheel in a choking wolf.  Can Nurse Percy put aside his fear of wolves in order to assist Doctor Glenda? And what is that something or someone stuck in the wolf’s throat? With dogged determination, Doctor Glenda and her team work to save the choking wolf and rescue whoever is stuck.   

Dosh Archer brings a new twist to a classic favorite in Urgency Emergency! Big Bad Wolf.  Archer delivers up a fast-paced adventure to delight both beginning readers and the adults who read alongside them. Though the text is accessible to developing readers, children will discover some new connections with multiple read-throughs with this book.  In the end, Archer provides children with an opportunity to celebrate alongside Doctor Glenda and her team for a job well done.

Early Chapter Books

James Preller
Feiwel & Friends
Nominated by: Jennifer Wharton

Bloody Mary, Bloody Mary, Bloody Mary!

Liam Finn and his sister just moved into the old Cropsey house. Their father has transplanted his family from Hopeville to Upstate New York. Liam and Kelley are both opposed to the move, but since the death of their mother eighteen months earlier, the family is struggling to survive. Upon moving into the house, Liam begins to hear strange noises and even receives a threatening message in a mirror.  When Kelley’s friend, Mitali, comes for a visit and summons “Bloody Mary”, the tale quickly escalates to a spine-tingling conclusion.

Preller takes an urban myth and creates an enjoyable tale of horror that will appeal to the lower grade students. Bruno’s illustrations insert an appropriate amount of creepiness that adds to the ambiance of the tale. Younger readers will appreciate this scary tale without the graphic and gory details of older horror reads. This little page turner could become a campfire classic!


Amy Ludwig VanDerwater
Clarion Books
Nominated by: Laura Purdie Salas

Amy Ludwig VanDerwater invites young readers to explore the beauty and wonder of the forest through poems at once lyrical and seemingly effortless. The gentle watercolor illustrations by Robbin Gourley introduce readers to woodland residents like tree frogs and fiddlehead ferns. From the endpapers to the font, the book's design beautifully showcases the poems.

As the book's arc moves readers through the seasons, the poems pay close attention to tiny details, like an oak “throwing acorns” and moss one can “squish across”. VanDerwater's distinct voice demonstrates a playfulness and musicality in poems such as “The Spider": "A never-tangling dangling spinner / knitting angles, trapping dinner".

The variety of forms and subject matter make this book a wonderful choice for teachers to use as a mentor text for nature observations and poetry appreciation. The poems are perfectly suited for the picture book audience and may even have the power to entice children away from their screens and into the world of nature where “Melody / is everywhere”.

Graphic Novels


Barry Deutsch
Nominated by: Robin

Mirka’s boredom and curiosity lead her back to the troll she defeated in the first book, so she can reclaim her sword. When he accidentally summons a meteor that will crush Hereville, the witch transforms it into a Mirka lookalike. Can Mirka prove to be the better real girl, or will she be banished from her home forever?

Deutsch masterfully crafted a story with a unique perspective. How many stories celebrate an Orthodox Jewish family without making religion the central story problem? Mirka’s restless energy, boundless imagination, and flawed, fierce, relatable personality will connect with kids. The characters that share her journey are fleshed out enough that you get a real feel for their personality. The panels and art are engaging and easy to follow, and even the color scheme helps support the narrative. All of these features make Hereville: How Mirka Met a Meteorite a perfect match for middle grade readers.

Speculative Fiction

Jonathan Stroud
Disney Hyperion
Nominated by: lwad

Set in an alternate England where ghosts stalk to kill, Lockwood & Co.: The Screaming Staircase follows Lucy Carlyle, who has recently joined the smallest Psychic Investigative Agency in London. Run by the dynamic Anthony Lockwood, with help from the abrasive George Cubbins, they operate without adult supervision, and they all have the Talent of being sensitive to ghosts. When Lucy inadvertently burns down a client's house while investigating the case of an angry ghost, Lockwood & Co. need to make money quickly to pay for damages. So when they're offered the chance to investigate the most haunted house in England, home of the famous "screaming staircase," they can't pass it up.

This book oozes kid appeal, giving us adventure, suspense, mystery, humor, ghosts, and even swordplay. The Screaming Staircase will engage readers until the very last page.

Middle Grade Fiction

David Carroll
Scholastic Canada
Publisher/ Author Submission

Quinn, a new teenager, is an ultra-marathon runner, who started running at an early with his Dad. They soon found out that he had a larger than normal heart, and his body doesn’t produce much lactic acid, so he doesn’t get tired as easily as the rest of us.  David Carroll, the author of Ultra, uses a television interview and flashbacks to tell this gripping story. Throughout the 24-hour, 100-mile race, we learn about the relationships he has with his mom, younger brother, and best friend.  We find out the hardship of the war in Afghanistan. Most importantly, judges couldn’t put the book down.

Young adult

Graphic Novels

Jordan Mechner
First Second Books
Nominated by: Compass Book Ratings

Jordan Mechner's take on popular Knights of Templar uses imagined characters focusing on a small band of renegade knights, and includes an unfinished love story. Lush illustrations by husband-and-wife team LeUyen Pham and Alex Puvilland work in tandem with Mechner to create fully developed characters, conveying not just 14th century France, but the emotions and distinct personalities of each individual.

This graphic novel is a perfectly paced page-turner that alternates with action centered on post-Crusades France, as the Templar knights are tried for heresy by the king. The story develops the relationships of the band of outlaw knights as they struggle to learn the whereabouts of the treasure while staying one step ahead of their pursuers. In outwitting the King's men and his villainous advisor, Nogaret, Mechner's band captures the hearts and imaginations of the reader as the enormnity of their task is revealed. They are noble pawns in a timeless game of politics, power, and money.

The Templar story has been widely and successful told in other genres, but Mechner, Pham and Puvilland have created a compelling version that will bring a new audience to this captivating period of history.


Martin W. Sandler
Walker Books for Young Readers

Extensively researched and documented using oral histories of actual detainees, Sandler's examination of Japanese-American relocation during World War II is compelling and personal—difficult to do with such a broad topic—and offers satisfying context, historical as well as present day. The appealing design and vintage images enhance the author's insightful analysis of this dark episode in our nation's history, how it was allowed to happen, and how it could happen again if we're not vigilant to protect the freedoms of all Americans, regardless of ethnic heritage.

Speculative Fiction

Alaya Dawn Johnson
Arthur A Levine
Nominated by: thereadingzone

The Summer Prince is a sophisticated and unique story that stuck with judges long after we had turned the last page. We were impressed by the complex and challenging world-building, which unfurls slowly and naturally over the course of the story. The future Brazil of Palmares Tres, with its matriarchal political structure, fascinating technology, and bloody ritual sacrifice, is creative and wholly new. Similarly impressive are the characters who inhabit it - artistic and passionate June, rebellious Enki, and thoughtful Gil, whose relationships with each other defied our expectations. Character and setting are buoyed by beautiful writing and a story structure that encourages discovery. The book also stood out for its large cast of people of color and healthy depiction of bisexuality, both of which are underrepresented in YA.

Johnson packs so much into her novel: love, friendship, family, the conflict between generations and genders, class and privilege, the transgressive power of art. While Palmares Tres and its culture may seem strange to readers, these themes are universal. The end result is a multi-layered story that will resonate with many teens.

YA Fiction

Meg Medina
Candlewick Press
Nominated by: Madelyn Rosenberg

The weight keeps piling up on Piddy Sanchez: her best friend has left the city for the suburbs, her mom decides to move and Piddy must switch schools in the middle of the year, and she's recently learned that Yaqui Delgado wants to kick her ass. Piddy cannot figure out why this stranger has decided to target her, nor can she remove herself from the situation. As it continues to escalate, Piddy finds herself struggling with her schoolwork, her social life, and her mother. Piddy must bow to the situation--or grow stronger than she was before.

As heartbreaking as it is heartwarming, Piddy and her story gives a whole new meaning to the word "underdog." While the protagonist is forced to cope with mounting stress that ratchets tension to the fraying point, Piddy and her world are vibrant and fully developed; the rich setting and characterization never gets lost under the weight of the plot. Medina turns this story of bullying into a universal coming of age tale. Teens will find a friend and ally in Piddy.

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6. The 2013 Cybils Winners Are Coming...

Cybils2013SmallThe winners of the 2013 Cybils Awards will be announced next Friday, on Valentine's Day. Our Round 2 panelists are hard at work. Each panel will select what they believe is the best-written, most kid-friendly title out of the choices on their shortlist. For your reference, here are links to the full shortlists:

Elementary & Middle Grade

Book Apps

Fiction Picture Books


Easy Readers

Early Chapter Books


Graphic Novels

Speculative Fiction

Middle Grade Fiction

Young Adult

Graphic Novels


Speculative Fiction

YA Fiction

Stay tuned for the winners! Thanks for reading!

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7. More Author/Publisher Reactions from Cybils Finalists

Here are a few more reactions from the authors and publishers who were named 2013 Cybils finalists on January 1st. Extra points to Andrew Karre for using the word "galavanting". See others in this post

Ursula Vernon, author of Dragonbreath, responded in a blog comment: "Oh, wow! That is so cool–thank you for letting me know!" 

Macmillan Kids | @MacKidsBooks: The 2013 Cybils Finalists are here! Congratulations to all of our finalists, including BREAKFAST ON MARS. http://ow.ly/sfz7K  (link)

Macmillan Kids | @MacKidsBooks: The 2013 Cybils Finalists are here! Congratulations to all of our finalists, including DELILAH DIRK AND THE TURKISH LIEUTENANT.... (link)

Macmillan Kids | @MacKidsBooks: The 2013 Cybils Finalists are here! Congratulations to all of our finalists, including IF YOU WANT TO SEE A WHALE. http://ow.ly/sfyl7  (link)

Greg Ruth | @GregRuth: Yippie! THE LOST BOY has made the finals for the 2013 Cybils! http://www.cybils.com/2013-finalists-graphic-novels-elementary-middle-grade.html … (link)

Arthur A. Levine Books | @AALBooks: Congrats to @gregpincus, whose THE 14 FIBS OF GREGORY K is a @cybils middle-grade fiction finalist! http://www.cybils.com/2013-finalists-middle-grade-fiction.html … (link)

Arthur A. Levine Books | @AALBooks: THE SUMMER PRINCE by @alayadj is a @cybils finalist for YA speculative fiction! http://www.cybils.com/2013-finalists-speculative-fiction-young-adult.html … (link)

Sage Blackwood | @urwalder: @LizaDawsonAssoc @cybils It is, and I am positively kvelling! (responding to a Tweet saying: "JINX by Sage Blackwood (@urwalder) is a speculative middle grade fiction finalist for the @cybils awards" (link)

Charlesbridge | @Charlesbridge: VOLCANO RISING by Elizabeth Rusch, illustrated by Susan Swan, is a Cybils Awards finalist in the Elementary &... http://fb.me/2Syo2CywE  (link)

Andrew Karre | AndrewKarre: @cybils My actual reaction was loud whooping and galavanting around the living room. Tweeting came later (link)

And a blog post from Robin McKinley, calling for Drums and trumpets... 

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8. Author and Publisher Reactions to Being Cybils Finalists

We're seen a LOT of enthusiasm about the Cybils shortlists on blogs, Twitter, and Facebook over the past couple of days. Thank you so much to everyone who has helped to spread the word about our wonderful finalists. Here, we've selected some author and publisher reactions on Twitter and Facebook:

And here are a few blog posts:

If you have others, please share the links in the comments, and we'll start another post. Thanks!

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9. The Ones that Got Away: Favorites that Didn't Make the Shortlists

Cybils2013SmallOur 2013 shortlists are fabulous. But, as is the case every year, some of our Round 1 panelists mourn the ones that got away. These are the titles that they loved, but that for one reason or another didn't make it onto the shortlists. So, if the finalists don't offer a sufficient number of reading suggestions for you, try these posts: 

If we missed your post, please add it in the comments. We'll do another post like this next week, as further links arise.

Also, we wanted to share this endeavor by Stephanie at Love,Life,Read. Stephanie, one of our Round 1 panelists, has listed all 77 Cybils finalists, and highlighted the ones that she has read. Her goal is to read all of the finalists in the coming year. She would love for you to join her! 

What do you think about the Cybils shortlists? What titles did our panelists give the nod to that made you jump up and down? For what titles were you devastated, when they didn't make the cut? Share them in the comments, or share them on your own blog and share the link with us. The Cybils, after all, are a book award from bloggers. We are people who love books, and love to talk about them. Just like you. 

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10. The 2013 Finalists

Happy Cybils New Year! Really, when all the confetti is swept up, the champagne bottles put in recycling, and your hangover nursed back to a semblance of sobriety, what else is there? Us, that's what!

We're back again with another list of books that kept our panelists riveted through the holiday season. We sifted through more than 1,300 books and apps this year. Phew! We have this down to a science by now, but even so, there have been a few changes.

Book Apps continue to grow in both number and sophistication, with many apps reaching out to middle- and high-schoolers, as well as the little kiddos. We changed the name of Science Fiction and Fantasy to Speculative Fiction, reflecting the trend in the industry itself to include genre-bending tropes. Dystopias in particular are still running strong, perhaps owing to the continued success of Hunger Games, a Cybils winner long before the rest of the world got Katniss fever.

The Young Adult Fiction folks report a rather unusual spate of sex, violence, and therapists this year. I tend to think it's related to Spec Fic's dystopias -- our economy limps along, and the teens reading these books know that college costs are soaring even as admissions remain ruthlessly competitive. What does their future hold? The odds are not ever in their favor, and perhaps these dystopias and dysfunctions are the postmodern answer to escapism. Grandma had her Shirley Temple movies and the Good Ship Lollipop to steer her through the Great Depression. Kids today have wicked high tech or a sympathetic shrink.

Or, as early 20th Century fantasist and philosopher G.K. Chesterton put it, "Fairy tales are more than true — not because they tell us dragons exist, but because they tell us dragons can be beaten."

Here's to another year of helping kids face their dragons.

--Anne Levy, Cybils Editor-in-Chief

The 2013 Cybils Finalists

Click on each link to take you to the full listing of finalists and the panelists' blurbs.

Elementary & Middle Grade

Book Apps

Fiction Picture Books


Easy Readers

Early Chapter Books


Graphic Novels

Speculative Fiction

Middle Grade Fiction

Young Adult

Graphic Novels


Speculative Fiction

YA Fiction



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11. The Cybils Finalists Are Coming!

Cybils2013SmallGood news! The Cybils shortlists will be announced the day after tomorrow, on New Year's Day! The shortlists are blogger-vetted, kid-friendly, well-written lists of 5 to 7 titles in all 11 categories (some with sub-categories). That means that a whole host of great book and app recommendations will be coming your way to start the new year. 

In the meantime, you can follow the links below to see our updated nomination lists in each category, with links to reviews by our wonderful panelists. 

Stay tuned! The finalists will be coming your way soon. Buying or borrowing them is a great way to start the new year! Wishing you all a safe and happy New Year's Eve in the meantime. 

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12. REVIEW: Dragonbreath #9 by Ursula Vernon

Today's featured review comes from Laura Purdie Salas, a Round 1 judge for Easy Readers and Early Chapter Books. Besides being a past Cybil-ite, she's an author herself--and, in fact, a Cybils winner in 2012 for her poetry collection Bookspeak. So she knows whereof she speaks, when it comes to kids' books.

Dragonbreath9Last week, Laura reviewed Early Chapter Books nominee Dragonbreath #9: The Case of the Toxic Mutants by Ursula Vernon. Besides having a fun title sure to intrigue kids whether or not they've read the earlier books in the series, this hybrid comic book continues the adventures of Detective Danny Dragonbreath. As Laura put it in her review, it's also a good choice for kids who are starting to read at a more advanced level:

It’s a bit longer and more complex than many early chapter books, so it’s great for those kids who aren’t quite ready for middle-grade novels but who are complaining that the standard chapter books are too easy.

Click here for the full review.

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13. REVIEW: Orleans by Sherri L. Smith

Sherry Early of the long-running Semicolon blog is today's featured reviewer. She's a longtime Cybils supporter and participant and writes excellent, in-depth reviews of titles ranging from picture books to adult fiction. This year she's a Round 1 judge for YA Nonfiction, but she reviews a wide variety of genres, as evidenced by today's review.

OrleansEarlier this year Sherry reviewed YA Speculative Fiction nominee Orleans by Sherri L. Smith, an ominous, all-too-plausible story of a near future wracked by illness and extreme weather. In her review, Sherry compares this book to the acclaimed Shipbreaker:

I have to use the H-word in explanation and say that although it deserves the moniker “dystopian”, Orleans is ultimately just more hopeful than Bacigalupi’s series. And I do like a dose of hope.

Read the full review here.

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14. REVIEW: Once Upon a Northern Night

Dawn Mooney of 5 Minutes for Books is a Cybils regular, and this year she brings us her expertise as a Round 1 panelist for Fiction Picture Books. Whether she's looking at books for older readers or younger ones, she brings her own voice to a wonderful group blog that reviews books for everyone from babies to adults.

OnceUponaNorthernNightA couple of weeks ago, Dawn posted about "quieter" nominated titles for Cybils this year--picture books that aren't necessarily boisterous or active, but foster quiet thinking and are no less absorbing. One of those titles is perfect for the upcoming winter season: Once Upon a Northern Night, by Jean E. Pendziwol and illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault. In her review, Dawn says,

The poem evokes that feeling that descends with the freshly falling snow, and I can’t help but want to pull my children onto my lap underneath a warm fuzzy blanket to read this one.

Click here to read the rest of the review, plus reviews of four more Cybils nominees.

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15. REVIEW: How to Fake a Moon Landing

Not only is Lyn Miller-Lachman one of our Round 1 panelists this year for Graphic Novels, she's also a writer in her own right (author of Gringolandia) and blogger at The Pirate Tree, which is described as "a collective of children’s and young adult writers interested in children’s literature and social justice issues." They review and discuss books for kids and young adults that deal with themes of social justice, and talk about writers and literature that challenges the cultural status quo.

HowtoFakeMoonLandingOne of our YA graphic novel nominees this year does just that, and Lyn posted a review of it earlier this month: How to Fake a Moon Landing: Exposing the Myths of Science Denial by Darryl Cunningham, a series of graphic-novel essays. As the title implies, the author takes on several scientific controversies that have been prominent over the years. In her review, Lyn says:

[T]he book...broaden[s] readers’ focus to hotly debated issues as they affect people not only in the U.S. but throughout the world as well. The greatest strength of Cunningham’s graphic essays, though, is not in their treatment of the individual issue but in their exploration of how science works and why the scientific method is more useful than blind faith and conspiracy theories.

Read more in her review, here.

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16. REVIEW: Alvin Ho: Allergic to Babies, Burglars, and Other Bumps in the Night

Today's featured blog review comes from Geo Librarian--aka Heidi Grange, who is a Round 1 judge this year for Middle Grade Fiction and a regular participant in Marvelous Middle Grade Monday. Her very active blog features giveaways, blog tours, and other fun stuff in addition to numerous book reviews.

AlvinHo5One of her reviews earlier this year covered MG Fiction Nominee Alvin Ho: Allergic to Babies, Burglars, and Other Bumps in the Night, written by Lenore Look and illustrated by LeUyen Pham. This ongoing middle grade series is heartwarming AND hilarious, and also features wonderfully funny illustrations of the continuing tribulations of Alvin Ho. About this latest volume, Heidi says:

Getting a new sibling is a pretty common theme in children's literature. Undoubtedly because for many children it is a big deal.  But I doubt many books with that theme are as funny as this one. 

Read the full review here.

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17. Shop Cybils for Black Friday!

Well, okay, you can shop Cybils any time. We don't mind. But if you're already doing some online shopping, why not earn the Cybils a teensy bit of affiliate income by clicking on ANY of our book links to Amazon? As long as you start your shopping by clicking here, you can buy books, appliances, TVs, luxury cars, whatever you like, and Cybils will earn a percentage. All proceeds go towards purchasing lovely, non-cheesy prizes for our winners every year.

Or, you can also help us out by buying Cybils-themed swag from our CafePress shop (tote bags! mouse pads! buttons!), or simply by clicking that donate button in the upper right. Because, of course, we will never complain if you simply want to THROW money at us.

Happy Thanksgiving weekend!

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18. REVIEW: Frog Song

Our Elementary/Middle Grade Nonfiction review of the day comes from panelist Carol Wilcox, who blogs at Carol's Corner and has been a Cybils regular for many years now. She's a mom and educator, and posts thoughtful reviews of picture books, chapter books, poetry, and more.

FrogSongRecently, she reviewed Cybils nominee Frog Song, written by Brenda Z. Guiberson and illustrated by the amazing Gennady Spirin. How could any nature-loving kid (or adult) not be fascinated by a book about unusual frogs from around the world? Carol said in her review:

FROG SONG could be used in a unit on animals, or adaptation, or protecting the earth. It could be used in a nonfiction study of  text structure. Or in writing for voice.

Or it could simply be read and reread and enjoyed, because it's wonderful!

Click here for the full review.

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19. REVIEW: Bad Girls

Jessica Tackett MacDonald blogs at Her Life With Books, and this year she's a Round 1 panelist for Young Adult Nonfiction. By day, she's a librarian who posts reviews and booklists of children's and YA literature as well as posts about library life, cat pictures, and other random fun things.

BadgirlsLast week, Jessica posted about a few of this year's YA Nonfiction Cybils nominees, including Bad Girls by Jane Yolen and Heidi E.Y. Stemple, illustrated by Rebecca Guay. The book's subtitle is Sirens, Jezebels, Murderesses, Thieves & Other Female Villains, and that just about covers it--these were real-life bad girls, and here you can learn a bit about each one, enough to intrigue you to learn more.  In her review, Jessica says:

I thought the short-form biography was particularly suited for this collections – so many of these questionable ladies were known only for their crimes, and so many of those crimes were just purported.

Read the full review here, along with reviews of a few other nominees.

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20. REVIEW: When Thunder Comes: Poems for Civil Rights Leaders

Today's featured review, in the Poetry category, comes from Round 1 Poetry panelist and longtime Cybils veteran Kelly Fineman of Writing and Ruminating. Kelly is a poet herself, so she knows whereof she speaks--she's the author of the lovely picture book At the Boardwalk.

WhenThunderComesEarlier this year, she reviewed Cybils Poetry nominee When Thunder Comes: Poems for Civil Rights Leaders by J. Patrick Lewis (and illustrated by five artists: Jim Burke, R. Gregory Christie, Tonya Engel, John Parra, and Meilo So). The book profiles seventeen civil rights leaders, famous and not-so-famous. Each poem has a two-page spread with gorgeous artwork. In her review, Kelly says:

This book is perfect for discussion during February, which is African American History Month, or March, which is Women's History Month, but truly, it's perfect for reading year-round, and a must-buy for middle school libraries everywhere (in my opinion, of course).

Read the full review here.

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21. Review of Charm and Strange

Maureen E., a library assistant and aspiring writer, blogs at By Singing Light, where she participates in Picture Book Monday and has a great list of Historical Fantasies. This year, she is serving as a round one judge in Young Adult fiction and has listed all of her Cybils reviews here

Charm-strangeCharm and Strange, by Stephanie Kuehn, was nominated in the Young Adult Fiction Division, and Maureen has this to say about it:

"Charm & Strange is a book about hard things, but it’s a book that is full of heart and beautifully written. I never felt that the story was meant to shock; rather, it (like the narrator) hides its moments of trauma. The voice never falters, and there’s a wryness and distance that keeps it from becoming too emotionally charged.

I’ve heard that some readers have thought this was a SF title, but to me it’s abundantly clear that it’s not. The slow unfolding of Andrew/Win’s story may initially set up the idea that he’s right, but over the course of the book it becomes apparent that he is an unreliable narrator, hiding the truth even from himself.

The sentence level writing is also great. Subtle and restrained, Kuehn somehow manages to create a sense of something happening beneath the surface. This is a book that manages to be both engaging and styled, where the written-ness of the book is apparent, but where this did not appear as a flaw. Writing like this is really hard to do successfully, but Kuehn does."

To read more, visit By Singing Light.

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22. Review of Amelia and the Terror of the Night

Jill Goodman reviews book apps for Smart Apps for Kids, a website that has all sorts of information about book apps as well as lists of apps based on age and interest level. 

She has this review of Amelia and the Terror of the Night  posted.


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"OhNoo has created a masterpiece. The only book app that approaches this level of technical sophistication is Pedlar Lady, which I reviewed earlier this year. It's presently sitting on the front of the App Store Book page not as a flavor of the week New and Noteworthy app but as an Essential app for new iPad owners. So, trust me. Amelia is in

a class by itself and can be enjoyed by the entire family. It's a bit dark and creepy but really no more scary than Disney's Haunted Mansion. Since there's no line at the App Store, you have no excuse not to download Amelia now.

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23. Review of Dodsworth in Tokyo

Reshama works with several others to create the great blog, Stacking Books, that is meant to help parents and friends to motivate and inspire children to read. She is on the second round panel for Nonfiction/Elementary and Middle Grade, but posted a review on the  Easy Readers/Short Chapter Books nomination Dodsworth in Tokyo by Tim Egan.

Tokyo"This is a delightful series of chapter books by Tim Egan. His illustrations are colorful and engaging. Tim Egan has successfully crafted a series of adventures of the globetrotting duo, Dodsworth and his accident prone pet duck."

Head over to Stacking Books to read the rest of the review, see some of the great illustrations, and get other ideas of easy readers to share with the children in your life!



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24. Review of Ten Plants That Shook the World

Alice, a  part-time pediatrician and a full-time mom to two boys and a girl, blogs about a variety of books at Supratentorial. While she covers picture books as well as some middle grade stories, she is on the first round panel for Elementary and Middle Grade Nonfiction for the 2013 Cybils. Here is her review of Gillian Richardson's Ten Plants That Shool the World:

Ten plants""Talk about a title that grabs you. 10 Plants that Shook the World has to intrigue even those most entrenched in the idea that botany equals boring. You don’t think of plants as being great movers and shakers in history but Gillian Richardson is out to change their image.

As the title implies, Richardson doesn’t include the 10 most important plants or most unusual but rather 10 plants that had a major impact somehow on global history or economy. Papryus, cotton, rubber, tea, sugarcane, corn, potatoes, cacoa, pepper and cinchona (the plant that quinine, used to treat malaria, comes from) are the plants chosen for inclusion. Each chapter includes some bare facts (age, stats, native location) and short sidebar vignettes about the plant along with the primary text telling the story of how that plant was important in history. Some photographs are mixed in with stylized drawings by Kim Rosen. The overall feel is not unlike that of a nature journal or notebook stuffed full of observations and sketches about each plant."


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25. Review of Lincoln's Grave Robbers

Sherry Early is a reader and home school teacher from Texas who blogs at Semicolon. Here is her take on Steve Sheinkin's book, Lincoln's Grave Robbers, which has been nominated in the Young Adult Nonfiction division:

"I enjoyed Lincoln’s Grave Robbers mostly as look into history and the almost comical antics of both criminals and police in the post-Civil War time period. The politicians and journalists were somewhat hapless and disorganized as well. On the other hand, I hope that counterfeiters nowadays are not as successful as they back in the late 1800′s. Sheinkin notes that “by 1864 an astounding 50 percent of the paper money in circulation was fake.” And “the one and only task of the Secret Service was to stop the counterfeiters.”"

For more, and to look at her great blog, visit Semicolon.

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