The 2009 Cybils Winners

The winners are probably old news by now but, even though I’m announcing late, I still want to give recognition to the awesome winners of the 2009 Cybils awards. Below are the winners in the Young Adult categories:


The Frog Scientist
by Pamela S. Turner; illustrated by Andy Comins
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Nominated by: Laurie Thompson

The Frog Scientist covers the ongoing research of biologist Tyrone Hayes into the effects of atrazine on frogs. Atrazine is the most commonly used pesticide in the United States, but Hays has discovered that exposure to atrazine causes “some of the male frogs to develop into bizarre half-male, half-female frogs.” His careful development, both in the lab and the wild, of experiments researching diminishing frog populations is an example of science at its best.

Author Pamela S. Turner shows the control Hayes and his assistants exert over their experiments so there can be no questions when their results are determined. For this real-world example of textbook standards alone, The Frog Scientist would be a winner. That Turner makes the biologist’s very compelling personal story key to the book’s narrative raises it above similar titles in the field. Teens will find the heavily illustrated volume visually appealing but more significantly be intrigued by this powerful example of significant science at work. It’s nonfiction writing (and photography) at its best, and incredibly inspirational to boot.

Graphic Novel

Gunnerkrigg Court: Orientation
by Tom Siddell
Archaia Press
Nominated by: Paradox

Strange happenings at a mysterious British boarding school involving magic. A talented student who seems to have unique and special abilities. And the dark past of the characters’ parents has come back to haunt them all. These elements, which may on the surface seem so familiar, are brought together in fresh and inventive ways in Gunnerkrigg Court. Tom Siddell has published nearly 300 pages of his webcomic in this first collection, and the length really allows for the reader to absorb the entire spectrum of adventures presented here: protagonist Antimony Carver and her growing assortment of friends have humorous, creepy, action-packed and mysterious storylines, all of which allow us to see the different facets of Annie’s complex and fascinating world. It also puts lots of meat on the bones of those seemingly overly familiar story elements, to tell tales both unexpected and new.

Fantasy & Science Fiction

by Kristin Cashore
Nominated by: Jenny Moss

As her homeland of the Dells descends into civil war, Fire struggles with changing relationships and her own dangerous powers. If she misuses her gifts, she runs the risk of turning into her psychotic and amoral father. But if she doesn’t use them at all, her beloved kingdom and the royal family she has come to love may be lost forever. Nobody combines the fantasy and romance genres like Kristin Cashore. With preternaturally beautiful monsters and unruly children, psychic powers and very human power struggles, her masterfully crafted worlds are close enough to ours to make sense and different enough to captivate.

Fire herself is a dynamic character, a mix of vulnerability and strength, and she is surrounded by others who challenge and support her, especially in the character of Brigan, one of the few who sees beyond her stunning beauty to the complex young woman beneath. Throughout the book, Fire learns to see the people she loves in shades of grey, and in the process learns to accept her own virtues and flaws. Out of all the books we read, this is the one at the top of everybody’s list. It’s great, start to finish, with appeal for both boys and girls, and the moment you finish it you’ll want to read it again.

Young Adult Fiction

Cracked Up to Be
by Courtney Summers
Nominated by: Robin Prehn

Cracked Up to Be, Courtney Summers’s debut novel, is a page turner that is sure to please. Once a model student and cheerleader, Parker Fadley has given up that life and turned instead to drinking and failing classes. But what could have caused this sudden change? Spare writing, carefully placed flashbacks, and strong character development create an intense and fascinating read, while the mystery unfolds. Whether or not you fall in love with Parker, her story will not soon be forgotten.

A list of all winners, including those in the children’s and middle grade categories, can be found here.

Thank you to all the hard working panelists and judges.  I know I really enjoyed the opportunity to judge for the graphic novel category and I’m looking forward the book offerings of 2010.

Derby Girl and the Inactives List

RollerDerbyIn my last post I linked the movie trailer for the upcoming flick Whip It and confessed my new love of roller derby.  First I should probably give you a bit of background on my roller derby love.  Up until about a month ago I had only a vague idea of what exactly roller derby was.  A coworker is on the local derby team, the Cincinnati Rollergirls, and asked for people to come to the last home bout of the season which was also going to be her last home bout ever since she is retiring at the end of the season.  I went with a couple of other coworkers and spent the first bout completely confused as to what was going on.  If you have absolutely no knowledge of roller derby and you go to a bout all it looks like is a bunch of girls skating in a circle for about two minutes with people randomly cheering.  I’m sure I had a perpetual question mark on my face for about an hour, not that anyone could see because it gets pretty dark in there.  After that first bout, though, things started to make sense.  I began to be able to distinguish the different players positions and their jobs, got a vague handle on how points were scored, and even could determine a little bit of strategy.  After that, I was hooked.  This sport was made for me to watch.  Normally I go to sporting events and my mind wanders.  I end up people watching more than watching the game and I usually miss all of the major action.  A huge cheer will go up and I’ll turn to my husband and ask what happened.  He gets tired of explaining it to me and tells me I need to pay attention. :)  In roller derby, at least the bouts I saw, there are two 30 minute halves but within each half are 2 minute bouts.  A set of girls line up and have up to 2 minutes to fight each other for points.  If you blink, you will miss something, so I don’t blink and I don’t have time for my mind to wander because just as soon as something shiny catches my eye in the audience a new bout begins, a new fight, a new chance for the my team to come out ahead and score, and I’m hooked again.  So, as you can tell, I am now a roller derby evangelist even though I have only attended one event and have only seen two bouts.  Now I will stop talking about my love of derby, but if you’re interested in learning more about it, Wikipedia actually has an excellent and (surprisingly) well referenced article on roller deby.  One last thing, if you live anywhere close to a biggish city, I bet you may have a roller derby team near you.  If you do, I highly recommend you check it out at least once.

Derby GirlOn to the whole reason for this post, Shauna Cross’ book Derby Girl.  Friday I was working on our most current inactives list for teen fiction.  For nonlibrarians, inactives lists give you titles of items that have not been checked out for a specific amount of time, in my case, one year.  Guess what showed up on my inactives list?  That’s right, Derby Girl.  I honestly can’t say I was too surprised.  I had seen it languishing on the shelf but the cover is bright and eye-catching so I left it there just in case but now here’s the proof that maybe it should be weeded; it hadn’t circulated April 2008.  I was ready to weed it but with my new found love of roller derby I had to at least read the description first and, color me surprised when, what do you know, Derby Girl is Whip It!  This book that has already been weeded at a majority of branches across our library system is the source of the movie that has recently inspired a new bout of fangirldom in me.  Doret let me know that the book is being released in paperback by Macmillan this fall.  Macmillan’s description taught me that Derby Girl was a YALSA BBYA and Quick Pick as well as a NYPL Book for the Teen Age.  Why is this book on my inactives list?  Why was it on inactives lists across the 40 some branches of my library system?

Now that I’ve gotten this far, I should probably tell you what the book (and movie) is about, if you don’t know already, so you can help me ponder these questions.  Derby Girl stars Bliss Cavendar, an indie-rock chick who is stuck in small town Texas, obviously not a good match.  Trying to find her place in the world, she learns about and falls in love with roller derby and joins a team.  Bliss has the very typical teen problems with her too-traditional parents, friendships, boys, and identity.  To me, this sounds like it would be a decently popular book.  Again, my question: why is this on my inactives list?  It’s not that old!  Is it the cover, which isn’t my favorite but isn’t horrible?  Is it because people (i.e. teens) don’t know about roller derby?  Is it because they see skates and think “lame,” though I know some teens who are still avid skaters?  Or is it just one of those things?

Bottom line, I checked my branch’s copy out because I wanted to read it and save it from being sold at a Friend’s sale just yet.  I’m going to suggest that other teen librarians in our system to keep their copies at least until after the movie comes out because there might be a popularity surge depending on how well-received the movie is.  I will continue to ponder the “why isn’t this book being checked out but that piece of crap book over there goes out all time time” question.  And I will  remain a roller derby fangirl.

And the Winner is…

Disreputable History of Franki Landau-BanksThe Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart for the YA Fiction Category!

Check out all of the winners here.  There are some not surprising winners — The Graveyard Book and The Hunger Games for the Middle Grade and YA Fantasy categories respectively — and some titles I can’t wait to read, like the London Eye Mystery, MG Fiction winner, and The Year We Disappeared, Nonfiction MG/YA, whose story I just saw last night on 48 Hours (I think that’s the show’s name).

I had an awesome time participating in the Cybils this year.  Remember, if you are a fan of the Cybils and are interesting in purchasing one or more of the winners, use the links to Amazon on the Cybils page and some of the procedes of your purchase will help support the Cybils!

2009 Printz Winner and Honors

Today the 2009 ALA Youth Media Awards were announced including the Printz winner and honors.  Since the winner and one of the honors is up for a Cybil in the Young Adult Fiction category, of which I’m a judge, I must remain mum on my feelings regarding these titles so I thought that I would connect you to some other wonderful bloggers’ reviews of the books.  Without any further ado, the 2009 Printz titles are:


Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta (review by Trisha @ the Ya Ya Yas)


The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau Banks by E. Lockhart (review by Bookshelves of Doom)

Nation by Terry Pratchett (review from Guys Lit Wire)

Tender Morsels by Margo Lanagan (review by Reading Rants!)

The Astonishing Live of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, Volume II by M.T. Anderson (um, no review because I couldn’t find one on any of my normal channels — i.e. my trusted sources, so check it out on Amazon)

For a full list of all the Youth Media Award winners, click here.  My highlights — Yeah for Graveyard Book (Newbery winner) and Savvy (Newbery honor), neither of which I’ve read yet but both of which I’ve heard awesome things about and hope to convince the teachers of the fledgling middle school bookclub to choose as bookclub selections, and yeah Curse as Dark as Gold as the first Morris Award winner.

Morris Award Finalists

The Morris Award is a new award given to outstanding first-time YA authors.  Official wording and award info here.

Here are the five finalists:

  • Curse as Dark as Gold by Elizabeth Bunce
  • Graceling by Kristin Cashore
  • Absolute Brightness by James Lecesne
  • Madapple by Christine Meldrum
  • Me, the Missing, and the Dead by Jenny Valentine

I have only read Graceling but Madapple and Me, the Missing, and the Dead are on my to-read pile.  I’m not doing very well with reading award finalists or winners so far this year.

Teens' Top Ten

8,000 teens voted on their top ten books.  Here’s the list:

  1. Eclipse by Stephenie Meyer
  2. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J. K. Rowling
  3. Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney
  4. Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead
  5. Maximum Ride: Saving the World and Other Extreme Sports by James Patterson
  6. City of Bones by Cassandra Clare
  7. The Sweet Far Thing by Libba Bray
  8. Extras by Scott Westerfeld
  9. Before I Die by Jenny Downham
  10. Twisted by Laurie Halse Anderson

The first two aren’t surprising.  I thought Diary of a Wimpy Kid was for a younger audience but it is extremely popular so I guess I shouldn’t be too shocked to see it on the list.  I am happy to see Vampire Academy so high on the list.  It is my absolute favorite teen vampire series but I wasn’t sure it was as popular as some of the others that I don’t like as much, for example, the House of Night series.  I am also happy to see Before I Die on the list.  I, sadly, have not read it yet but I’ve heard great things about it.

For more information on Teens’ Top Ten, click here.