Here, later than expected due to running a long program at the library on Saturday, and epic cold and snow here at home.
The Cybils shortlists were announced January first. To be honest, my first reaction looking at the lists that so many panelists worked so hard on was disappointment at how few I’d read. Here’s what I’ve read of Cybils-nominated books for the Armchair Cybils so far:
26 Picture Books
19 MG Speculative Fiction
10 YA Speculative Fiction
1 YA Fiction
1 Easy Reader
Deep breaths – and then I realized that the chances of my picking the right 6 or 7 books from each list out of the hundreds of nominations was pretty slim, especially when I hadn’t volunteered to be a panelist because I knew I couldn’t read that much this year. I read and loved a couple of books that ended up on the shortlists in each of the categories I was looking at. And now I have lists of really great books to turn to for reading in the next couple of weeks (or maybe months, to be a bit more realistic!)
Here’s the category breakdown:
Middle Grade Speculative Fiction Shortlist:
Jinx by Sage Blackwood – read and loved. I’m very happy it got so far!
Lockwood & Co.: the Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud – on hold for, and not surprised it’s on the shortlist.
Rose by Holly Webb – currently checked out, but not yet read – I’d had to request that my library purchase it so I could read it. Also not a surprise.
Sidekicked by John David Anderson – Heard of, but hadn’t quite made it to my own reading list until now.
The Rithmatist by Brian Sanderson – I read and loved this one, too!
The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp by Kathi Appelt – the title was familiar, but it’s only now that it’s on the shortlist that I’m reading enough about it to want to read it, even though it’s an animal fantasy, which isn’t usually my thing.
The Water Castle by Megan Frazer Blakemore – I’d remembered this as a rare fantasy with a person of color on the cover, but I’m sorry to say that’s as far as I’d gotten with it. Will have to fix this!
Fiction Picture Books
Count the Monkeys by Mac Barnett – I’d just brought this home. My daughter is loving it, and especially wants my son to read it to her (when she’s not reading through it herself. Clever and funny and a big hit here!
This was the only one I’d read with my kids, though I read Sophie’s Squash to myself in the bookstore. All the other books sound great – I think I’d heard most about If You Want to See a Whale and Mr. Tiger Goes Wild. But at least picture books are easy to catch up with!
Middle Grade Graphic Novels
This category went slowly for me, even though there weren’t that many nominated titles, because I was trying to read them all aloud to my son. That makes otherwise quick-reading books go very slowly! So, the only one I’d read was March – definitely well worth the nomination! I was also happy to see the latest volume of Hereville on the list – I loved the first one, and should take this as a nudge to catch up with the series.
I’m sorry, though, that Astronaut Academy: Re-Entry didn’t make the list – we’re in the middle of this right now, and loving it. I’d been seeing Battling Boy on a lot of Best of 2013 lists, and while my son enjoyed it, I have to say that I was underwhelmed. Kudos to the committee for not falling for all the hype around it!
Young Adult Graphic Novels
Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant by Tony Cliff was great! And I would have been shocked if Boxers and Saints hadn’t made the list, even though I haven’t read it yet. The others look pretty evenly split between fun and depressing to horrific– I’d be most interested to read Bad Machinery and Captain Marvel.
Young Adult Speculative Fiction
Dark Triumph by Robin LaFevers – I’ve been loving this series, and this one was even better than the first one. I’m very glad to see it on this list!
Shadows by Robin McKinley – I’m not sure I’m rational about McKinley, but she’s been a favorite for years. I started reading my Christmas copy of this right away, even though I’d just read it from the library – and re-reading when I’ve got so many new books waiting to be read is a very good sign. I’m glad other people are loving it, too!
William Shakespeare’s Star Wars by Ian Doescher – We have this in adult fiction and I’d bought it for the adult humor collection at my library, so I was a little surprised to see it here. I read just a little of it over my lunch break when it first came in, and have to agree that it’s really well done. Probably even worth checking out properly to finish it!
Those were the only three that I had read at all, leaving me to catch up with Conjured, Pantomime, and The Summer Prince. I think I’ll skip The Waking Dark even if it is fabulous, because horror is just not my thing.
Random Other Categories
Well, ok, I found several books in other categories that I want to read – but I think this post has gone on long enough now, so maybe I’ll save talking about them for a later date.
I feel a bit stupid. What is speculative fiction and what makes a novel speculative?
Also, your son liked Nick and Tesla and I would like to invite him to write the review, if he would like. Only the “how I liked it and why” part. I have illustrations and such. Let me know. I would love to have a kid review on my kids book site.
“Speculative fiction” is a new term for “science fiction and fantasy” and you’re not stupid – I’ve met many librarians who aren’t familiar with it, either. I think it’s speculative as in both SF and Fantasy are asking “What if the world worked this way?” kind of questions.
Thank you very much for the offer for my son to review Nick and Tesla! I will pass it on to him (and sorry for being slow – things have been crazy with the cold and snow around here.)
It’s always neat to read posts that cover so many genres that I never read–namely, the graphic novel category and the speculative fiction, though this time several of these did pique my curiosity. I’m like you, though–I’d read so few of the shortlisted titles!
I’m so glad you’re still playing along!
Thank you for visiting and being so welcoming, Amy! I’m also really enjoying reading about books that I haven’t read, either.
I thought it would be easy to catch up with at least the shortlisted picture books by the 15th, but they are all checked out at my library, so we shall see. I might have better luck with the Middle Grade Speculative Fiction.
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