The ones that got away--four mg sff books that didn't make the shortlist

Although I'm very fond of the books on the middle grade fantasy/science fiction shortlist for the Cybils, there were (as is always the case) books that I myself loved that didn't (sniff) make it. Here are four that would have made my own personal best list of the (Oct-Oct) year.

The Ring of Solomon, by Jonathan Stroud. I am a huge fan of the demon Baritmaeus, and loved this book to pieces. From my review:

"Oh my gosh I enjoyed this one so very much. Not, so much, the first hundred or so pages, which were mostly Bartimaeus annoying various beings and getting into trouble, because I found Bartimaeus is hard to like when he is just one demon among many. But once Bartimaeus and Asmira get together, the sparks begin to fly! With her to provide a foil for him, Bartimaeus pushes the boundaries of standard cold-hearted demon-ness, and Stroud does a beautifully teasingly tantalizing and oh so engrossing job of making Bartimaeus sympathetic (while still demonic). And he was just the companion Asmira needed to push her out of her box of blind duty and into independent thinking. From kick-ass knife thrower without much personality, she progresses to strong young woman one can really root for."

Season of Secrets, by Sally Nicholls, which tells of a grieving girl who finds herself caught up in the age old magical violence of the changing seasons of the year. Here's what I said about this one: "I think that this is one for those readers who would, if they had to pick either Character or Plot to be marooned with on a desert island, would go with Character.

That would be me, and I thought it was a lovely book. The writing, the characters, and mix of fantasy and reality, and the mix of sadness and hope make this one of my favorites of 2011."

The Ogre of Oglefort, by Eva Ibottson. This book, her last, is my favorite of all Ibottson's books. It all hangs together just ever so delightfully, and is basically the perfect, lightly-diverting younger middle grade fantasy for me in particular. Here's my review, where I explain this in more detail.

And finally, I'd like to give a nod to Mistress of the Storm, by M.L. Welsh. This one was on my anxious list of books that hadn't yet been nominated, along with Season of Secrets; I went with Season, and was very sad that this one didn't find a champion. From my review: "There's a lovely, old-fashioned feel to this book. It's set neither firmly in the past, or in the present--there's no technology, but Verity "feels" like a modern child. The setting has a lovely solidness to it--it's a slightly not quite real place, but real in the story sense, and many of the characters are likewise reminiscent of people one might have met in other stories long ago--in an evocative, rather than an imitative, way (if that makes sense?). Verity is a classic example of the bookish outsider making good, and as such many of us will empathize with her, and cheer her on."


  1. I really enjoyed The Ring of Solomon! I hope that we'll be getting more Bartimaeus again someday...

  2. I forget that the Cybils go from Oct-Oct so didn't think of RING OF SOLOMON. Of course I'm a tad prejudiced as it won last year's Battle of the Kids' books!

  3. What a great description for Season of Secrets - "for people who would be marooned on a desert island with Character" So true! I was glad to see it nominated, even if it didn't make it to the finalists.

    Mistress of the Storm looks so interesting... I haven't heard of it! The cover is beautiful, I love the colors and the silhouette.

  4. I'm so sorry Mistress of the Storm didn't make it! I was really waffling between that one and The Silver Bowl for my nomination.

    But I'm way behind on my blog reading - I neglected to wish you a happy birthday, and also need to see what made the Cybils shortlist.

  5. Of the four, I've only read Ring of Solomon. Must get reading... the others sound good too!

  6. Thanks for recapping these--I wouldn't want to miss them! To me, Mistress of the Storm and Ogre of Oglefort sound especially delightful!

  7. I love this post of "also-rans". I like knowing what you think, and have put them on my wishlist!

  8. Oo, I hadn't heard of Mistress of the Storm. I've put it on my list. Thanks, Charlotte!

  9. I'm so with you on THE RING OF SOLOMON. It's certainly the best MG/YA book I read last year.

  10. I was WONDERING about Mistress in the Storm. And I so know what you mean about your personal loves that didn't quite make it. I love looking at these as much as the Cybils because I know which books to head toward next.


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