I served as a Cybils Awards round one judge for the second time this year! In 2018 I served on the Easy Reader/Early Chapter Book committee and this year I served on the Elementary/Middle Grade Speculative Fiction committee. It turns out middle grade novels are WAY LONGER than easy readers! Of course, I knew that going in! It was a pleasure to work with amazing bloggers putting together a list of books we all loved! Check it out:
Anne Ursu’s The Lost Girl (2019) is a haunting middle-grade novel that dabbles in the fantastic, but it is real-world drama that drives the story-line. The novel is about two twin sisters, Iris and Lark, who mirror each other physically while having distinct personalities. The twins live with their mother and father, but (as is requisite for middle-grade fiction) the father is absent. He is in London on a six-month long business trip and is only introduced in the text through Skype. The story is really about the girls’ relationship with each other and their discovery of their uniqueness through a forced separation at school. The two had always been in the same class but start the new school year with separate teachers. This does allow them to experience individual challenges while learning that they can have separate experiences and still share a deep bond. Continue reading →
I’m excited to announce I am participating in the Cybils Awards again this year. This time as a Round One Judge in the Elementary/Middle Grade Speculative Fiction category!
Cybils Awards Mission
The Cybils Awards aims to recognize the children’s and young adult authors and illustrators whose books combine the highest literary merit and popular appeal. If some la-di-dah awards can be compared to brussels sprouts, and other, more populist ones to gummy bears, we’re thinking more like organic chicken nuggets. We’re yummy and nutritious.
Check back for reviews after October 1st when book nominations start pouring in! In fact, you should prepare to nominate your favorites! I know I will. Find out how.
Big Foot and Little Foot and Axel and Beast are two new series for confident young readers comfortable with early chapter books. Both series introduce emotionally engaging boy protagonists and their beastly besties. Continue reading →
Terry Lynn Johnson’s Lost! is the first book in the Survivor Diaries series. Two recently introduced children vacationing with their families at a resort in Costa Rica get lost in the rainforest. They survive through will, wit, and a little luck.
In the first chapter, one of the two protagonists, Carter, a young African American boy, is interviewed by a reporter about surviving being lost in the Costa Rican rainforest. We learn that his friend and fellow survivor, Anna, a white girl who is older, taller, and stronger than him, will be interviewed the next day. Knowing the children survive alleviates a sense of doom in the chapters that follow, which pull us back in time six weeks to when Carter and Anna disappeared into the rainforest. Continue reading →
This Makes Me Sad, written by Courtney Carbone and illustrated by Hilli Kushnir, is one of several books in Rodale Kids’ Dealing with Feelings series. This easy reader does a great job teaching emotional literacy through simple sentences that build an accessible and engaging story about a boy and his lost dog.
The story is told in the first-person by a little boy who accidentally left the gate on his fence open, which allowed his dog, Kit, to escape. His parents try to reassure him that everything will be okay, but he is anxious and sad. Continue reading →
Shannon and Dean Hale’s The Princess in Black and the Science Fair Scare is delightfully and generously illustrated by LeUyen Pham whose many images are sure to encourage young readers’ transition from early readers to easy chapter books. The story strains against traditional fairytale conventions by engaging contemporary ideas and empowering its diverse princesses. Continue reading →