The Cybils Shortlists!

The shortlists for the Cybils Awards have been officially announced! It is such a pleasure to be able to share with you the middle grade science fiction and fantasy books that my fellow panelists and I thought best combined the qualities of Cybils books--great writing and tons of kid appeal. So many of the 98 books we read were truly excellent, and it was very hard indeed to come up with this list.

Here are our seven finalists, with the blurbs that we wrote explaining why we loved them, as they appear on the Cybils site!

11 Birthdays (my review)
by Wendy Mass
Nominated by: Maggi Idzikowski

Amanda's 11th birthday is the worst ever, and when she wakes up the next morning, she discovers that she and her ex-friend Leo are doomed to repeat the same day over and over--and over! Amanda and Leo's attempts to live the day the "right" way to break the spell are funny, entertaining, and absolutely believable, whether they are ditching school or auditioning for a rock band. This is a deliciously fresh look at how making small changes in your life--or even in one day--can have big consequences, both ordinary and magical.
--Eva Mitnick

Dreamdark: Silksinger (Faeries of Dreamdark) (my review)
by Laini Taylor
Putnam Juvenile
Nominated by: Melissa

The Dreamdark series, by National Book Award nominee Laini Taylor, opens a window on a world of fierce winged faeries determined to restore their race to its former glory. In Silksinger, Maggie Windwitch, Whisper Silksinger and their motley allies are driven to reach beyond their abilities to guard the sleeping Djinn Azazel from a host of conniving characters and gruesome devils. On panoramic display in Silksinger are Taylor’s gifts for rich language and imagery, suspenseful plotting, and intricate world-building. Even as readers thrill with vertigo while flying alongside Maggie and her crow brothers, they will feel secure in this master storyteller’s hands.
--Brian Jung

Farwalker's Quest, The (my review)
by Joni Sensel
Bloomsbury USA
Nominated by: Joan Stradling

Ariel finds a telling dart, an artifact that hasn't been in use for hundreds of years and carries a message that only a specific recipient can read. That sends her on an adventure to see who could have sent such a message and why this messaging system has started back up. Farwalker's Quest takes readers on a journey that is filled with many thoroughly developed characters. Joni Sensel weaves an enchanting story that is easily remembered by readers long after the story is done.
--Cindy Hannikman

Odd and the Frost Giants (my review)
by Neil Gaiman
Nominated by: Susan the Librarian Pirate

In a village in ancient Norway, winter isn’t ending, and when Odd—a fatherless boy with an injured leg and an infuriating smile—encounters a fox, a bear, and an eagle in the forest, he finds out why. The animals are gods exiled from the city of Asgard by a Frost Giant, and Odd takes on the task of defeating him. How he does so is surprising and satisfying, one of many lasting pleasures in this short novel by Neil Gaiman. We loved the inventive use of Norse mythology, the humorous bickering of the gods trapped in their animal forms, and, of course, cheerful and clever Odd himself. It’s a story beautifully told (and illustrated, by Brett Helquist), perfect for reading alone or reading aloud: quite simply, it shines.
--Anamaria Anderson

Prince of Fenway Park, The (my review)
by Julianna Baggott
Nominated by: Doret

When 12-year-old Oscar Egg discovers his dad's secret life as a half-human, half-fairy living a magical existence under Fenway Park, he decides it's his duty to break the spell that has cursed the baseball stadium. He gets a little help from Babe Ruth and Jackie Robinson, among others. The secret and seedy underbelly of Fenway Park, with all its magical creatures wearing Red Sox caps, has a compelling atmosphere that pulls readers right into the story and has them rooting for Oscar and the Red Sox. Not just for baseball fans, this fantasy combines Pookas, hot dogs, Banshees, and home-runs into an exciting and unusual adventure for all readers.
--Eva Mitnick

Serial Garden, The: The Complete Armitage Family Stories (Junior Library Guild Selection) (my review)
by Joan Aiken
Big Mouth House
Nominated by: Charlotte

The Serial Garden is a collection of twenty-four stories about the magical adventures of two very likable English children, Mark and Harriet Armitage. The stories are a brilliant mix of the ordinary and the fantastical--in the world of the Armitage family, the mundane concerns of English village life are mixed seamlessly with witches, druids, unicorns, enchanted gardens, and much, much more. At times hilariously funny, at times surprisingly poignant, this book is perfect for any child or grown-up looking for delightfully extraordinary fantasy. Aiken was a tremendously creative writer, and these stories are some of her most imaginative and skillful writing.
--Charlotte Taylor (It was especially nice to be able to write the blurb for the book that I myself nominated, a book that includes stories that I read and loved tremendously when I was a child).

Where the Mountain Meets the Moon (my review)
by Grace Lin
Little, Brown
Nominated by: EM

Prompted by her father’s fantastical stories and by an encounter with a talking goldfish, Minli sets off on a quixotic search for the Never Ending Mountain where she will ask the Old Man on the Moon to change her parents’ dreary lives. Woven into Minli’s journey are evocative folktales, each which could stand perfectly well on its own, but which beautifully resonate when brought together within Minli’s quest. Simply told, yet intricately developed, Grace Lin’s Where the Mountain Meets the Moon is finally a story about believing in stories and how that belief can alter ones fate.
--Brian Jung

Now these seven head off to the judging round, where these bloggers get to pick the one winner (and I don't envy them that task!)

Tarie Sabido, Into the Wardrobe
Jen Robinson, Jen Robinson's Book Page
Emily Mitchell, emilyreads
Melissa Baldwin, One Librarian's Book Reviews
Ashley Bair, Everead

Thank you so much, Eva and Brian and Cindy and Anamaria, for the fun we had together picking this lovely list of books! And thank you very much, Sheila, for organizing us, and to Anne, for making it all happen!

(Aren't these lovely books? Now please go and buy them, if you haven't already, so as to show the publishers that the Cybils are Important Awards, and, of course, so that you can enjoy them too!).


  1. That's a wonderful group of books! I'm especially excited to see Laini Taylor's SILKSINGER on there. Those characters are wonderful. I'll definitely be checking the others out.

  2. So many wonderful-sounding books - between these and the dragons, I am spoilt for choice! Hope some of them turn up in the UK.

  3. I'm so thrilled with Serial Garden! and I really need to read Dreamdark, been meaning to forever but somehow never got to it...

  4. The Prince of Fenway Park made the finals. That's unexpected sweetness. I am so happy.

    I am also exicted to see Where the Mountian Meets the Moon - That is such a beautiful story.

    Thank you Charlotte and the other panelists for working so hard. (for free) we really do appreciate it.

  5. I must confess, Doret, that I thought "Doret will be happy" when we chose it!


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