Unfortunately I fell asleep about half an hour before these were posted at the Cybils website. So a lot of you probably already know them.

Middle Grade Fiction: I was on the panel for this one, and we do have a rather long shortlist, but it was really hard to narrow down! We had some fantastic titles to choose from, and finding some that everyone could agree rocked enough to be on the shortlist was hard. So, without further ado, here are our eight finalists:

21npotazicl_aa_sl160_ A Crooked Kind of Perfect
by Linda Urban
Harcourt
Buy from Amazon | Buy from BookSense

“I teach middle school, and sometimes I find that I have more choices for my readers who like edgy YA stories than I do for those kids who read well but aren’t quite ready for teenager issues. A Crooked Kind of Perfect is a perfect kind of book for those readers.”
Kate: Read her review

I want to talk about A Crooked Kind Of Perfect a little here. Kate’s review is right on. This really is a fantastic book. It wasn’t my very, very favorite–I don’t remember if it was anyone’s very favorite–but the thing about it was that all of us loved it, and finding a book that six different readers can agree is awesome is something really special.

21he6x6s4rl_aa_sl160__2 Cracker: The Best Dog In Vietnam
by Cynthia Kadohata
Atheneum
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“It’s a war story about a seventeen-year-old named Rick Hanski and his experiences as a dog handler toward the end of American involvement in Vietnam’s civil war. As he stumbles into the army, then into dog handling, then over to Vietnam, Rick grows into a man of integrity and purpose.”
Sherry, Semicolon: Read her review

21juvxxlhl_aa_sl160_ Emma Jean Lazarus Fell Out of a Tree
by Lauren Tarshis
Dial
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“This was a very refreshing book and one I really feel middle school students can and will enjoy. It is great to read books that are written about abnormal children or kids that simply do not blend in with everyone else, yet are perfectly fine with that fact. So many stories are written about wanting to fit in and needing to gain social acceptance, yet this, shows the reader that being different can be perfect.”
Amanda, A Patchwork of Books:  http://apatchworkofbooks.blogspot.com/2007/11/emma-jean-lazarus-fell-out-of-tree.html

217qxm9880l_aa_sl160_ Leap of Faith
by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
Dial
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“The writing in Leap of Faith was good; the plot always moved along smoothly and compelled me to keep reading. I needed to know that Abby was going to pull through and be okay. Leap of Faith was a  sweet, hopeful story that I’m very glad to have read.”
Miss Erin: Read her review

21keeve8bl_aa_sl160_ Leepike Ridge
by Nathan D. Wilson
Random House
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“Leepike Ridge is a book for every kid (and every grown kid) who played in refrigerator boxes, caught critters in the woods, and floated down creeks on homemade rafts. It’s a fantastic story with a grand adventure, a heroic boy, bad guys that you love to hate, a loyal dog, and a hidden treasure. The fact that it’s beautifully written with magical, transporting descriptions is gravy.”
Kate: Read her review

I’m really sad I didn’t get to read Leepike Ridge! Everyone who did loved it.

21dz4uwqtcl_aa_sl160_ Louisiana’s Song
by Kerry Madden
Viking
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“In Gentle’s Holler, Kerry Madden introduced young readers to Olivia (better known as Livy Two) Weems, a twelve-year-old with a passion for books and music. Livy has eight siblings of various ages and temperaments, a sweet mama, and a starry-eyed daddy. Money’s tight — Daddy’s music fills the heart and ears more than it fills the pocketbook — but the Weems make do, and their household is always bursting with family, love, and music. Louisiana’s Song is a worthy sequel to Gentle’s Holler, and, unlike many middle books in trilogies, can stand on its own two feet. When Louise learns to do the same, Livy Two will cheer her on, and so will readers.”
Little Willow: Read her review

Louisiana’s Song is really fantastic, just like Gentle’s Holler. Kerry Madden is an amazing writer, capturing her characters and her setting beautifully.

21i3zcpybjl_aa_sl160_ Miss Spitfire
by Sarah Miller
Atheneum
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“This book is the story of Helen Keller’s teacher, Annie Sullivan, as she struggles to teach a girl who can neither hear, see, nor speak. She displays incredible strength and determination as she sacrifices herself completely for Helen. Almost everyone knows this story, but hearing it from the teacher’s point of view is a really unique insight. This delightful debut novel will keep you rooting for teacher and student right up until its triumphant ending.”
Miss Erin: Read her review

217i2v1xgl_aa_sl160_ Wild Girls
by Pat Murphy
Viking
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“Pat Murphy tells the story of two girls — the rule-following Joan (a.k.a. “Newt”), who just moved to California from Connecticut and has always written the kinds of stories she thought her teacher would like, and Sarah (a.k.a. “Fox”), who hangs out throwing rocks in the woods near the run-down house where she lives with her dad, a motorcycle-writer-guy who doesn’t fit the image of any dad Joan has ever known. Fox and Newt form the kind of bond that can only be forged in secret clearings and treehouses, and together, they weather the storms of family trauma and trying (or not) to fit in among their peers. More than anything, though, they learn about writing and about the power of story to help us see truth — especially when truth is different from the story that the grownups are dishing out.”
Kate: Read her review

Those books are all awesome (well, I didn’t get to read them all, but I trust my fellow panelists here). I can’t wait to see which one wins!

Many of you that are interested in my blog will probably also be interested in the Science Fiction and Fantasy shortlist. Their list is actually two lists of five, one for teen readers and one for middle grade readers. Here it is:

Teen/Young Adult:

21sig5vknl_aa_sl160_ Book of a Thousand Days
by Shannon Hale
Bloomsbury USA Children’s Books
On her first day as a Lady’s maid, Dashti finds herself sealed in a tower for seven years with her Lady, who is being punished for
refusing to marry the Lord of a neighboring land. Tight plotting,
beautiful use of language and metaphor, and an engaging main
character make this book a standout.

Buy from Amazon | Buy from Booksense

21s4hjsydxl_aa_sl160_ Incarceron
by Catherine Fisher
Hodder Children’s Books (UK)
No one has been in or out of Incarceron for over 150 years.  Now, a young man on the Inside thinks he’s found the way Out–and a young woman on the Outside thinks she may have found the way In.
Success will require going up against the Warden–and Incarceron
itself.  The strong writing and characterization, suspenseful
narrative, and creative world building brought this book to the top
of the pack.

Buy from Amazon UK | Buy from Booksense

21gcra7bl_aa_sl160_ Northlander (Tales of the Borderlands)
by Meg Burden
Brown Barn Books
Northlander is an engaging tale which shows how hatred is only
ignorance of the unknown.  Though Ellin’s gift of healing saves the Northlander king, she is  feared and imprisoned. This gripping tale is both emotionally moving and thought-provoking.

Buy from Amazon | Buy from Booksense (your local independent)

21eipplnmpl_aa_sl160_ Repossessed
by A. M. Jenkins
HarperCollins
Fast-paced and sharply funny, A.M. Jenkins’ story of Kiriel–the fallen angel whose name means “mirror of souls”–takes readers on a week-long ride in the body of an ordinary human boy. Philosophical in a religious sense, yet untethered from any churchy elements, this novel’s quirky appreciation of the mundane combines with a wisecracking, personable narrative voice to create a funny yet thought-provoking novel. (For mature readers)

Buy from Amazon | Buy from Booksense

21mtp6rhlml_aa_sl160_ Skin Hunger
by Kathleen Duey
Simon & Schuster/Atheneum
Take two divergent story threads and weave them into one of the year’s darkest novels. Add vivid characterization, a quest for knowledge beyond any cost, and magic that is repulsive but intriguing and you have Skin Hunger.

Buy from Amazon | Buy from Booksense

Elementary/Middle Grade:

21l6lxcxzil_aa_sl160_ The Chaos King
by Laura Ruby
HarperCollins/Eos
The Richest Girl in the World and the son of gangster Sweetcheeks Grabowski have to find their way back to friendship, as compelling weirdness enters their lives again in the form of a giant squid, a super-annoying hotel heiress, an animated stone lion, and The Chaos King–a “Sid” punk with a serious art fetish. This fast-paced, stand-alone sequel is accessible to both middle grade and teen readers and is both funny and endearing.

Buy from Amazon | Buy from Booksense

21hqfv6szgl_aa_sl160_ Into the Wild
by Sarah Beth Durst
Penguin/Razorbill
A long time ago, all fairy-tale characters fled from their stories seeking refuge from “The Wild,” a tangled, evil forest. Since then, Rapunzel has kept the forest under control with the help of her daughter Julie, but when it gets too powerful she is forced to depend on Julie to set aside her fears and doubts and defeat The Wild. Julie’s strong character is an inspiring example of duty, survival, and love.

Buy from Amazon | Buy from Booksense

31byzmlpqhl_aa_sl160_ The Land of the Silver Apples
by Nancy Farmer
Simon & Schuster/Atheneum/Richard Jackson Books
Land of the Silver Apples has it all–adventure, fairies, old world gods, and an ancient world that is caught between belief in the Old Gods and Christianity. This stand-alone sequel will appeal to not only fans of Nancy Farmer but those who enjoy adventurous tales.

Buy from Amazon | Buy from Booksense

21npc41dl_aa_sl160_ Skulduggery Pleasant
by Derek Landy
HarperCollins
When twelve-year-old Stephanie Edgley’s mysterious uncle dies, he not only bequeaths her his house, but a sticky supernatural situation and a rather dashing skeleton detective named Skulduggery Pleasant. This smart novel is full of humor, action, and a real sense of danger–and has a sly wit that would appeal to a wide age range.
Buy from Amazon | Buy from Booksense

210k2xvdp1l_aa_sl160_ The True Meaning of Smekday
by Adam Rex
Disney/Hyperion
Nothing has been the same since the Boov invaded Earth and re-christened it Smekland. But things get even weirder when twelve-year-old Gratuity Tucci embarks on a journey to find her missing mother–accompanied by her cat (named Pig), a fugitive Boov (named J.Lo) and a slightly illegal hovercar–and realizes that there’s more at stake than just her mother’s whereabouts. A hilarious satire with a touching ending and spot-on illustrations by the author.

I’ve only read three of those (Book of a Thousand Days, Repossessed, and Into the Wild), and if the awesomeness of those titles is anything to go by, I really want to read the rest of that list!

I’ll also post the other shortlists released today, poetry and fiction picture books.

Poetry:

 Animal Poems
written by Valerie Worth, illustrated by Steve Jenkins
Good Masters! Sweet Ladies!: Voices from a Medieval Village
written by Laura Amy Schlitz, illustrated by Robert Byrd and Trina Schart Hyman
Here’s a Little Poem: A Very First Book of Poetry
edited by Jane Yolen, illustrated by Polly Dunbar
Poems in Black and White
written and illustrated by Kate Miller
This is Just to Say: Poems of Apology and Forgiveness
written by Joyce Sidman, illustrated by Pamela Zagarenski
Twist: Yoga Poems
written by Janet S. Wong, illustrated by Julie Paschkis

Your Own, Sylvia: A Verse Portrait of Sylvia Plath
written by Stephanie Hemphill

Not being a big poetry reader, I haven’t read any of those, though I do think I have Your Own, Syliva somewhere, so I might read that. Anyway, I don’t want to make this post too long, so check the Cybils website for more info on those titles and the fiction picture book titles.

Fiction Picture Books:

Pssst!
by Adam Rex
Go to Bed, Monster!
written by Natasha Wing; illustrated by Sylvie Kantorovitz
The Chicken-Chasing Queen of Lamar County
written by Janice N. Harrington; illustrated by Shelley Jackson
Leaves
by David Ezra Stein
Four Feet, Two Sandals
written by Karen Lynn William & Khadra Mohammad; illustrated by Doug Chayka
Knuffle Bunny Too
by Mo Willems

The Incredible Book-Eating Boy
by Oliver Jeffers No comments here, as I don’t read picture books, either.

Stay tuned for the next round of shortlists in a week, and then the winners on Valentine’s day!

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