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Cybils shortlists announced…

January 5, 2009
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… five days ago.

I assume most readers of this blog have already seen it, but I was on the panel, so I’m going to discuss the YA Fiction shortlist five days late anyway.

Audrey, Wait!
written by Robin Benway
Penguin USA

Audrey started it by breaking up with Evan, but when he releases a hit song about her things quickly spiral out of control in this fresh, funny novel by Robin Benway. Audrey’s distinct, snarky voice and her passion for music immediately sucked me in to the story. Lots of musical details and a cast of well-developed supporting characters flesh out the book. This is a fun read, but it also takes a look at the flip side of being a celebrity – maybe being famous isn’t all it’s cracked up to be!
–Abby, Abby (the) Librarian

Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks, The
written by E. Lockhart
Hyperion

The summer before her sophomore year, Frankie Landau-Banks blossomed. Upon her return to prep school, she finds that she is suddenly one of the most sought-after girls on campus. E. Lockhart has written a novel that is an utter joy to read. Not only is her prose delicious, playful, and lovely, but she created a completely irresistible character and a completely irresistible storyline, complete with a secret society, first love, and the discovery of the delights to be found in the novels of P.G. Wodehouse. Viva La Frankie!
–Leila, Bookshelves of Doom

I know It’s Over
written by C. K. Kelly Martin
Random House Children’s Books

Nick is sixteen and still in love with Sasha when she tells him she thinks they need a break, still in love with her weeks later when she tells him she’s pregnant. In her debut novel, C. K. Kelly Martin writes with precision and honesty about an emotional subject: first love. I Know It’s Over traces the arc of Nick’s relationship with Sasha from the beginning through the end. But this is not just another story about a guy in love or teen pregnancy; it’s a novel in which every detail feels so real and true that you could swear that Nick, Sasha, their family, and friends all actually exist.
–Trisha, The YA YA YAs

Jellicoe Road
written by Melina Marchetta
HarperCollins

“My father took one hundred and thirty-two minutes to die. I counted. It happened on the Jellicoe Road.” Thus begins the beautiful and haunting novel, Jellicoe Road, by Australian author Melina Marchetta. The narrative hooked me with the prologue and while I’ll be the first to admit that the novel had its challenging moments—it’s not a straightforward novel; it weaves two stories together—I never once considered abandoning it. It’s intricately and exquisitely written. It’s bittersweet, tragic, beautiful, and redemptive. A true must-read in my opinion.
–Becky, Becky’s Book Reviews

Sweethearts
written by Sara Zarr
Little, Brown

Jenna has left behind a painful childhood. With her mother’s remarriage and subsequent move, she’s reinvented herself. Then her grade-school friend, who Jenna thought was dead, shows up at her high school. This novel’s crisp focus on the relationship between Jenna and the ghost from her past gives this story heart and soul. It will have readers wondering how the traumas of their young childhoods affect who they are today—and how much any of us are capable of helping the people who have touched our lives the most.
–Kate, Author 2 Author

Ten Cents a Dance
written by Christine Fletcher
Bloomsbury USA

In this beautifully crafted piece of historical fiction about a Chicago taxi dancer in the 1940s, Christine Fletcher brings to life the shady world of a girl who is paid to dance with lonely strangers. Getting to know spirited Ruby was a pleasure, and the gorgeous use of language and 1940s slang in Ruby’s authentic voice made this book truly captivating. The experience of being immersed in the vividly captured setting, accompanied by characters that feel like real people, is one that shouldn’t be missed.
–Jocelyn, Teen Book Review

Thaw
written by Monica Roe
Boyds Mills Press

Temporarily paralyzed by Guillain-Barre Syndrome, popular jock Dane is sent to a rehabilitation center in Florida, where he’s forced to change his icy exterior while breaking down physical and emotional walls. Though instantly filled with dislike for this exasperating main character, the incredibly powerful themes of love, patience, and honesty had me hooked from the very beginning, both on the plot and on Dane.
–Amanda, A Patchwork of Books

I’m very proud of this shortlist. This might not be the seven books I personally would pick as best combining literary merit and teen appeal, but I also cannot deny that all of the above books are deserving of a spot on the final list. They are all worthwhile, captivating books. I’ll echo Abby and say that I also do not envy the judges who are going to have to select just one winner from these books.

Amazingly, I’ve reviewed five of the shortlisted titles (a huge improvement over last year):

If you have a kidlit-related blog, I would highly encourage you to volunteer to be a Cybils panelist or judge. I’ve done it twice and both experiences were fabulous. Like Jocelyn, I think it’s made me a better reader, forced me to think more critically about the books I read and, for the books I felt strongly about, positively or negatively, to defend and articulate my opinions in ways that makes sense to people besides me. And how often do you get the chance to discuss YA fiction (or other type of book in the Cybils category of your choice) in depth with a group of people just as knowledgable and passionate about it as you? Plus, you find yourself just flat out loving books that you normally wouldn’t pick up, that you might not have even heard of otherwise. That said, I wouldn’t be surprised if the YA fiction category surpasses 175 nominations this year, so I think I’ll let someone else enjoy the experience and relax the last three months of the year by reading adult books! non-fiction! fantasies! okay, and some non-sff YA fiction, too.

And the shortlists in other categories: Easy Readers, Fantasy & Science Fiction, Fiction Picture Books, Graphic Novels, Middle Grade Fiction, Non-Fiction MG/YA, Non-Fiction Picture Books, and Poetry.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. January 9, 2009 11:27 am

    I absolutely loved Sara Zarr’s Sweethearts, and I have Audrey, Wait! on my wishlist. I’ve heard it’s reminiscent of Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist, which I enjoyed . . . but we’ll see!

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