The Cybils are starting again! The Cybils are awards bestowed on worthy, kid-friendly children's and YA books by us, the bloggers, and I think this produces the best shortlists of any awards around--I have yet to read a Cybils shortlisted book that disappointed me.

Since the books are chosen by us, the bloggers, obviously bloggers are needed to read the books in all the various genres covered (YA, Middle Grade, Easy Reader, Poetry, Sci Fi/Fan tasty, Picture books, two levels of Non Fiction). The call has gone out, and now is the time to submit yourself if you would you would like to be one of the panelists (who create the shortlists) or the judges (who pick the winners).

The details are all at the Cybils website, but I've copied a large piece of it here, with a few annotations from me in [parentheses]:

There are two rounds of judging, and two types of judges.



Panelists are the first-round judges. You start work when nominations close on Oct. 15th, sifting through scores of nominated books in your chosen genre. [if you are reading something like sci fi/fantasy, which had 161 books last year, you start reading and requesting library holds the moment you find out you made the cut, and as nominations start rolling in, you gather as many together as you can. It is a very serious commitment, especially in December, when it becomes clear that you did not read the fifty books you had planned for November. The wordiest, largest genres (ie the biggest commitment reading time wise) are middle grade, sci fi/fantasy, and YA].

You’ll join a Yahoo! Group or similar list and use a database to keep track of what you’ve read.
Although we make every effort to obtain review copies for you, you may have to track down some copies via interlibrary loans, or plop yourself on the floor of your bookstore of choice (we cannot reimburse you for purchases). [the Yahoo Group part is the BEST. It was so much fun last year talking books with the rest of my gang! You don't have to talk about every book you've read, but the comments group members make, the more rewarding it is for their co-panelists who procrastinate by checking their email too often, and it's fun to get snarky or serious lines of discussion going. Seriously, this is the best chance to have cool online discussions of books in your favorite genre that I know of. I also liked looking at the database to see how many books had been read. Not that I'm competitive, or anything].

One word: e-books. Get used to them! Publishers are getting stingy with the dead tree kind. Review copies were horribly scarce last year. [although we still got lots--when there are 161 books to read, even if you only get 1/4 of them, mail time is still exciting]

We have a 50-page rule. Each panel commits only to making sure every nominated book is read to at least the 50th page by at least one person. This prevents wasting time on marginal books.
You turn in a shortlist of 5-7 titles in late December and then collapse in an exhausted heap. This isn't an exaggeration! [the chat at the end, where you argue about your shortlist, is fun too...]

[there's no requirement that you have to blog about the books you read, but I tried to make an effort to do so, especially for books that were sent by the publishers]


Judges pick up where panelists leave off. You start work on Jan. 1, 2009 and will present us with a winner by Feb. 12th.

While we make a Herculean effort to get review copies to you extra speedy fast, it is UP TO YOU to make sure you read EVERY SINGLE BOOK ON THE SHORTLIST in a timely fashion. [from the panelist's point of view, reading and discussing 5-7 books in 6 weeks seems easy peasy].
We have plenty of librarian volunteers who can familiarize you with interlibrary loans, and there’s always that cozy spot on the floor of your bookstore of choice. Sorry for the harsh tone, but it’s been an issue, y’know?
You don’t need to be Super Extrovert Blabbermouth, but you should be willing to engage the other judges as soon as you’ve read 2 or 3 of the finalists. Jump in there. Go ahead. Please.

Getting rejected:
Please don’t stop the love if we cannot find a place for you on a panel. We’re not judging your looks. It doesn’t mean all your blogging efforts have come to naught.
But, yes, it’s ultimately a subjective decision who to take on and where to place them. Here are a few of the more obvious criteria, in no real order:

A demonstrated expertise in the genre;
A demonstrated enthusiasm for blogging;
A blog that has built a following (not necessarily a huge one -- loyalty counts too);
The blogger’s prestige (ie, you might be an award-winning illustrator, or have a Ph.D. in children’s poetry)

(end of description lifted from Cybils website)

So, if this sounds like something you'd like to do, here's the Cybils post that tells you how to put your name forward. Good luck!


  1. This looks like something I might want to do :). I shall see if I can get in!

  2. I agree the chat at the end of December is the best thing. It was too bad I had the flu last year. I really didn't enjoy it as much as I had previous years. :P


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