The winners of the 2014 Cybils Awards were announced today. There are 12 fabulous books and one book app, spanning the gamut of children's and young adult literature, from fiction picture books to young adult graphic novels.
The Cybils Awards represent the culmination of many hours of work by more than 100 bloggers. First the Round 1 panelists read and read and read, going through more than 1300 eligible nominated titles to create shortlists of 5 to 7 titles in each category. Next, the Round 2 panelists read and analyze and discuss each shortlist title, to come up with the winners. The results offer well-written, kid-friendly, blogger-approved titles for readers with all sorts of interests.
I am especially excited about two of the winning titles this year. I was a Round 1 panelist in Fiction Picture Books, and am thrilled with the winner, Chris Haughton's Shh! We Have a Plan. Here's what the Round 2 panel said about this title (official blurb from the Cybils blog):
"Four friends creep across the title page of Shh! We Have a Plan and readers have no choice but to turn the page. Where are they going and what is the plan? Chris Haughton has set the stage for this visually humorous story of friends in search of prey. An homage to Tomi Ungerer’s Three Robbers, Shh! We Have a Plan gives readers the foil they want in a fourth robber who is more interested in making friends than capturing them. With repeated verse and anticipated outcomes, this story will have young readers chiming in on the refrain and laughing at the outcome. In a spare 103 words, this tale is told mainly through the images, which enhance the humor with their bold and vibrant colors and graphic style. Haughton’s use of a limited palate for the setting and characters leaves room for the arrival of multi-colored birds. Shh! We Have a Plan is sure to be a read-aloud staple."
And here's a snippet from my own review, published in October:
"Shh! We Have A Plan, with its muted colors and mostly whispered text, would make a wonderful bedtime book, though there is some risk of a late-evening attack of the giggles. There's a subtle message for readers about reaching out with kindness instead of stealth, but the three bigger guys never do learn this lesson (to continued giggles). Though perhaps a bit simple for first and second graders, Shh! We Have A Plan is perfect for the preschool and K set. Highly recommended!"
I'm also thrilled to report that a book that I nominated was the winner in Young Adult Speculative Fiction: The Living by Matt de la Pena. Here's the (brilliant) official blurb:
"As Valkyries choose heroes in battle so, too, do the Cybils Round Two battle teams judge the fate of young adult speculative fiction. Brought together by our love of all things literary, the Round Two judges of the Cybils YA Speculative Fiction team strapped on our armor and gorged on seven books in as many weeks. The task was not easy; as Round One judges had offered up seven glorious examples of some of the best Speculative Fiction in the Young Adult genre. The titles offered for judging were: Salvage, by Alexandra Duncan; While We Run, by Karen Healey; Glory O’Brien’s History of the Future, by A.S. King;Death Sworn, by Leah Cypess; The Living, by Matt De La Peña and Noggin, by John Corey Whaley. Our heroes and heroines were rich and poor, devious and innocent; assassins, space ship pilots, terminally ill patients, wealthy soldiers, and teens with extraordinary mental abilities. Who would persevere?
Would we rally against the patriarchal society of Salvage or swear our allegiance, as faithful assasins, to the Master as inDeath Sworn? Could the mantra of Glory O’Brien’s History of the Future, “free yourself, have the courage,” save Tegan and Abdi as they ran? Could cryogenics really be the future of politics and medicine? Do we love more fiercely with our Noggins or our hearts? Do The Living provide a link to survival forged by friendship, loyalty, and diversity?
While we all loved Glory O’Brien as a batty visionary whose version of tomorrow made her drink deep of life and make bold choices today, more of us felt that with the novel’s fragmented plot it would not have as strong appeal for readers across the board. Noggin‘s beleaguered, beheaded teen touched our hearts — but though its realistic voice made it a firm favorite, the romantic subplot overshadowed our real interest: disembodied heads. As we rallied around our Brunhilde, a lively plot, vivid, pragmatic voice, and an action-packed and horribly realistic plot proved Matt De La Peña’s The Living to be victorious.
The battle was not easy and our fallen soldiers, the books that did not finish, are heroes in their own right. They are strong, good, and interesting reads, and we urge you all to pick them up. But in the end, we dismount and bow to the winner, The Living, by Matt de la Peña, for bringing us both a spine-tinglingly suspenseful story, as well as an important exploration of class, loyalty, technology, love, and diversity; something for everyone.
We, your Cybils judges, now return to our former lives, our conscription complete, our valor shared."
And here's a snippet from my own review, published in January of last year:
"The Living by Matt De La Peña has it all. It's a high stakes survival drama, with a mysterious conspiracy, containing the seeds of a possible apocalypse. There are also teen interactions that include racial and socioeconomic conflicts. I read The Living in less than a day, simply unable to stop, regardless of what was going on around me. And as soon as I closed the book I said to my husband "You have GOT to read this" (something I reserve for only a select few titles each year)."
So, if you are looking for a great picture book, or a "can't put it down" novel, these are my current top two recommendations. Check out the full list of Cybils winners for titles in other categories.
© 2015 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook. This site is an Amazon affiliate, and purchases made through affiliate links (including linked book covers) may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).