The Cybils are Here! The Cybils are Here!

It’s Cybils Day!

Today is one of my favorite days of the year- the finalists for the Cybils Awards have been posted! Be sure to check out the finalists in the all of the categories, but I am especially proud of the finalists in the YA category.  My fellow panelists and I worked really hard to come up with this list and I think it’s pretty awesome.  There were 191 books nominated in our category and we read and debated them all.  It was a hectic few months (and I’m excited to read some non-YA books now that I have time), but well worth it.  The whole experience culminated in a fast-paced Googlechat that was over 3 hours long last week.  It was insane, but in an awesome way.

 

And with that, I present to you the 2012 YA Finalists!  Good luck to the next round of judges; I am not at all envious of your position.  ;)

 

2012 Finalists
Young Adult Fiction

Boy21

by Matthew Quick
Little, Brown

Nominated by: DLacks

Boy21 got game. And that game is basketball, as played diligently by narrator Finley, sublimely by his girlfriend Erin, and almost supernaturally by the titular Boy21, also known as Russell Allen. Boy21 also has heart, as it explores loyalty, friendship, class and racial differences, and the way the past impinges on the present. But most importantly, Boy21 has soul, as all three main characters work to free themselves from the constraints and grief that dominate their lives, threatening to prevent them from becoming who they truly are. So much more than a sports book, Boy21 speaks to our common humanity, and to the notion that we must not live our desires, nor our fears, in silence, lest we lose our humanity.

– William Polking, Guys
Lit Wire

Code Name Verity

by Elizabeth Wein
Hyperion

Nominated by: Ana @ things mean a lot

A harrowing and riveting tale of best friends who find themselves at the center of the British war effort in World War II, Code Name Verity defies simple categorization. Verity, a female spy for the British, makes a simple mistake while on assignment in German-occupied France and is captured by the Germans. While being tortured for information on the British war effort, she begins to write her confession. An unreliable narrator, the depiction of a strong female friendship, extraordinary prose, and allusions to Peter Pan make this novel a standout. A tour de force of a novel, Code Name Verity is multi-layered and heartbreaking. It’s a book that will leave you whispering “Kiss me hardy. Kiss me quick,” and turning back to page one to begin an immediate reread.

– Sarah Gross, The Reading Zone

Endangered

by Eliot Schrefer
Scholastic

Nominated by: 145lewis

Endangered follows a teen on her annual summer trip home to the Democratic Republic of Congo to visit her conservationist mother. When civil war erupts in the nation’s capital, Sophie finds herself on the run with a young bonobo ape named Otto. She navigates a war-torn country while struggling to protect her charge from a starving population. In a story that highlights inhumane behavior, we come to appreciate the communal problem-solving of the bonobos and the kindness of strangers along Sophie’s escape route. And at the end of this short novel, readers of all ages will find themselves speeding to the Internet and the library to learn more about these shy, matriarchal primates.

– Kirstin Fearnley, Sprite
Writes

I Hunt Killers

by Barry Lyga
Little, Brown

Nominated by: Kelia

A body shows up in a field outside of town, setting into motion a series of events all too familiar for Jasper “Jazz” Dent, son of murderer Billy Dent and the public’s favored heir to Billy’s legacy of ruthless horror. Jazz, concerned they may be right, starts to investigate the murder, using skills learned from his father. Jazz’s constant questioning about nature, nurture and, ultimately, destiny, combined with the hunt to stop a possible serial killer, make for a thrilling and deliciously scary read. Although the book contains a large amount of gore, the blood is never gratuitous and occasionally comes from Jazz’s hemophiliac best friend–and one of the panel’s favorite characters–Howie. Part true crime, horror and psychological thriller, the atmospheric and moody I Hunt Killers explores the dark, creepy corners of being raised by an infamous serial killer.

– Kellie Tilton, The Re-Shelf

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl

by Jesse Andrews
Amulet

Nominated by: Leila Roy

This is not your average cancer book. Narrator Greg wants readers to believe that he’s totally unlikable, but it doesn’t take long to see that his almost violent self-hatred is a coping mechanism for his mess of a life. As Greg navigates his senior year of high school, he also deals with the fact that his mother guilt-trips him into hanging out with the very ill Rachel, the changing nature of his friendship with Earl–a very short, chain-smoking African-American classmate, and the fact that college (and real life) is waiting just around the corner. This frequently hilarious and absolutely heartfelt debut by Jesse Andrews provides incredibly snarky, completely self-aware narration (“This entire paragraph is a moron,” Greg states at one point), fully realized characters, and a great deal of depth.

– Clementine Bojangles, Early
Nerd Special

Storyteller, The

by Antonia Michaelis
Abrams for Young Readers

Nominated by: Sommer Leigh

On the continuum of dark to light, light to heavy, Antonia Michaelis’ The Storyteller definitely resides on the dark/heavy end. But it’s also found on the gorgeous end of the scale, as it’s one of the most beautiful books we read this year: structurally, lyrically and emotionally. Flawlessly translated from German, The Storyteller is about a sheltered girl falling in love with a boy who is not only damaged, but possibly irrevocably lost. Michaelis incorporates Leonard Cohen’s lyrics into an atmospheric mystery that is reminiscent of the Grimm brothers, David Almond and Kevin Books. It’s tragic from beginning to end, but it’s also a fairy tale about love, forgiveness, innocence lost and innocence preserved.

– Leila Roy, Bookshelves of Doom

Theory of Everything, The

by J.J. Johnson
Peachtree

Publisher/ Author Submission

Johnson deftly blends humor and grief in this story of a teenager’s struggles to make sense of her best friend’s death. The witty chapter drawings (designed by Johnson) and main character Sarah’s pitch-perfect voice make The Theory of Everything compulsively readable, but the underlying veins of emotions—confusion, grief and even hope—keep this from feeling like lighter fare. Teens will understand Sarah’s desire to keep the world at bay with her “snarkbox,” but it’s the moments when Sarah puts aside the snark to truly face life that will leave a lasting impression. With a cast of characters that includes a tame possum, a wonder dog, and a maybe-creepy-maybe-misunderstood Christmas tree farmer, The Theory of Everything keeps readers guessing—and laughing—and crying—to the last page.

– Kendall Kulper, Blogging
for YA

World Literature That High School Students Actually Want to Read- Share a Story, Shape a Future 2012

I teach World Literature and I love the responsibility of introducing my students to literature from across time and across the world.  Along with the canon literature that I am required to cover, I try to bring in as much multicultural YA as I can, through booktalks, book trailers, displays, and read-alouds.  Over the past year I have been compiling a list of books that have caught the attention of my students and I am excited to share them today. This is by no means a complete list, as I focus on the areas of the world that my curriculum centers on.

Multicultural YA for Discerning Teen Reader

Integrated Summer Reading

I realize I haven’t posted much about school and my new job this year, but I promise to remedy that as the school year winds down.  Just as soon as I dig out from under this pile of essays and short stories that need to be graded….

I am very excited about everything this year.  What I really love is that our freshman curriculum is integrated across four subjects- English, History, Biology, and Software Applications.  We have a common planning period each week and work hard to integrate as much as possible.  We do a ton of joint projects, work out schedules together, and share resources.  In addition, I co-teach with my history partner and our curriculum revolve around each other.  It’s fascinating to read The Canterbury Tales while my students are studying the Middle Ages.  It really brings a whole new dimension to class discussions and activities.

Recently, our team sat down to hammer out summer reading.  (nota bene: I am not a fan of prescribed summer reading, but I do believe that students should read during the summer.  I believe in choice. Plus, my students are highly motivated and expect to read!)   I wanted to capitalize on our inter-disciplinary team and I’m so thrilled with what we came up with.  First, we decided to have One Book, One Class. All of the incoming freshman will be reading Brian Christian’s The Most Human Human: What Talking with Computers Teaches Us About What It Means to Be Alive for two reasons.  First, Brian is an alum and we expect the kids to love that.  Second, the book (review coming soon!) is a perfect composite of our cross-curricular team.  It covers science, language, communication, computers, history, and so much more.  All of the freshman will have this touchstone text and the teachers will be reading it, too.

In addition, each student is asked to select one fiction and one non-fiction title from the list we provide.  On the list, we also noted our own favorites, in case students were seeking guidance.  I am thrilled with this list- it provides a wide array of choices in a variety of genres and across many levels (keep in mind my students are all accelerated, so while it is a 9th grade list, it may read more like a 10th-11th grade list).  Come September, the students will be meeting with others who read their book(s) and producing a project related to it.  All of the books are connected to our school theme and inter-disciplinary team.  I am looking forward to seeing how the assignment is received.  I ran the list by a few current freshman and they loved it, and they’re the best judges!

 

*I should note that these aren’t paired in any particular order.  Students are free to choose any F and any NF- they don’t have to choose them both from the same line.  One of the activities I am considering for the first few days/as an icebreaker, is having the kids come up with ways to pair the books, after reading them!

Fiction J Nonfiction J
A Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy  

by Douglas Adams

 

Collapse or Guns, Germs and Steel 

by Jared Diamond

 

*
Ender’s Game  

by Orson Scott Card

 

* As The Future Catches You: How Genomics & Other Forces Are Changing Your Life, Work, Health & Wealth 

by Juan Enriquez

 

mtr
Revolution  

by Jennifer Donnelly

How to Read Literature Like a Professor 

by Thomas C. Foster

 

*
House of the Scorpion  

by Nancy Farmer

Outliers  

by Malcolm Gladwell

 

An Abundance of Katherines  

by John Green*

 

Charles and Emma: The Darwins’ Leap of Faith  

by Deborah Heigelman

 

Nectar in a Sieve  

by Kamala Markandaya

The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind: Creating Currents of Electricity and Hope  

by William Kamkwamba

 

Life of Pi  

by Yann Martel

 

The Disappearing Spoon: And Other True Tales of Madness, Love, and the History of the World from the Periodic Table of the Elements 

by Sam Kean

 

The Road  

by Cormac McCarthy

Measuring America  

by Andro Linklater

 

*
Nation  

by Terry Pratchett

A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future  

by Daniel Pink

 

Unwind  

by Neal Shusterman

* Omnivore’s Dilemma  

by Michael Pollan

 

The Monstrumologist  

by Rick Yancey

 

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks* 

By Rebecca Skloot

 

 

Popular Book Fair Picks

The spring book fair was held last week at my middle school.  As the language arts teacher on my team, I escort all of our students to the fair and I love it.  I get to spend about 20 minutes with each class, browsing and making book recommendations.  They also love telling me about books that I haven’t read yet.  It’s always a lot of fun to see which books are popular, as I take over 100 students over the course of the day.  I see a lot of the same books being bought over and over.  Many times, it’s because someone in 1st period saw it, raved about it, and convinced students in later classes to buy the same book.  I love watching these social reading experiences!

Mark Teague’s The Doom Machine was very popular with a lot of my students. They were intrigued by the cover and even more excited when I listed some of Teague’s other books. Kids love reading books by familiar authors.

During my first period class, a group of girls purchased Alphas by Lisi Harrison. They decided to read it together as a book club, even going so far as to assign pages to be read each night so that they could discuss it at lunch the next day. I found myself laughing at dismissal because one of the girls read ahead and the rest were mad at her. Gotta love it!

My romance lovers were drawn to the fantastic cover of A Novel Of The Titanic – Distant Waves. I haven’t read it yet, but found myself talking about it over and over as we tried to figure out what it was about. Thanks for not putting a summary on the back, Scholastic! (Can I just say that I hate it when publishers don’t put jacket copy on the back cover of a paperback? It stops so many kids from buying the book!)

I also had a few students pick out books for their younger siblings. For baseball-loving younger brothers, one student purchased Six Innings and The Brooklyn Nine. I love both of these books and they are very popular with my students, who are now sharing the love with their siblings.

Students looking for scary stories seemed drawn to a few major titles. Most popular were Neal Shusterman’s Full Tilt and Dread Locks: Dark Fusion # 1. Mary Downing Hahn is always popular, so All the Lovely Bad Ones went home with more than a handful of students, too.

Some other popular choices were-

100 Books for 100 Days

Inspired by the Reading Countess’s post here, I decided to change my lesson plans at the last minute this morning. It’s been one of those weeks and the 100 Books for 100 Days seemed like exactly what my class and I needed. And you know what? It worked!

I began each class by having the students open their binder to their mini-lesson section and labeling a sheet of paper “My Most Important Books”. Each student was charged with listing 20 books that impacted their life- it could be a favorite book, a book that they read to their younger siblings, or a book they shared with Mom and Dad. Books could be picture books or chapter books. The only requirement was that the books be meaningful to them. I share my own list, and then set them free. Let me tell you, they set to work like little worker bees! It was quieter than normal and it was amazing to look out at the students scratching away at the paper in front of them. A few students in each class would approach me with, “I remember this book where……..But I can’t remember the name of it!” If I did not know the title off the top of my head I would google it for them.

After each student listed their 20 books, I placed the students into random groups and handed each group a blank sheet of paper. I then informed them that they would have ten minutes to combine all their lists into a single list of 20 titles their group could agree on. I listened in as students debated books, became excited over shared favorites, and laughed as students cried out, “Whoa! I totally forgot about that book! I loved that one in third grade!” It was a fantastic class.

At the end of the twenty minute period, I collected each list. I read the books to the entire class and then asked them to put their heads down on their desk. At that point, I read each title and the students raised their hand if they felt it should go on our class list of Top 25 books. (4 periods x 25 books each= 100 books). The first half of the list was always easy, but the second half of the list always resulted in students debating books and championing their favorites.

At the end of the day, I tallied all the lists, deleted duplicates, and added the books that just missed the list in each class, to reach 100. Without further ado, here are the Top 100 Books for our team (in no particular order)!

1. Dr. Seuss books (we grouped these together)
2. The Cay series
3. Shadow Children series
4. Magic Tree House series
5. Tuck Everlasting
6. Neil Armstrong Is My Uncle and Other Lies Muscle Man McGinty Told Me
7.Where the Sidewalk Ends
8. Skeleton Creek
9. The Little Engine That Could
10. Chrysanthemum
11. Number the Stars
12. Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day
13. The Twilight Saga
14. The Dollhouse Murders
15. The Very Hungry Caterpillar
16. Chicka Chicka Boom Boom
17. A Bad Case Of Stripes
18. All The Broken Pieces
19. The Phantom Tollbooth
20. Percy Jackson and the Olympians series
21. Thomas the Tank Engine
22. Dear John
23. Daniel’s Story
24. Heat
25. Wayside School series
26. When You Reach Me
27. Diary of a Wimpy Kid series
28. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
29. The Giving Tree
30. The Complete Tales of Winnie-the-Pooh
31. The Hunger Games
32. Fablehaven series
33. Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs
34. Guinness World Records
35. Love You Forever
36. Frindle
37. Arthur series
38. Where the Wild Things Are
39. The Berenstein Bears books
40. A Series of Unfortunate Events series
41. Tuesday
42. The Bible/The Torah
43. Ripley’s Believe It Or Not
44. Swindle
45. Junie B. Jones’s series
46. Goodnight Moon
47. Ten Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed
48. Biscuit Storybook Collection
49. Clifford the Big Red Dog
50. Where’s Waldo?
51. Goosebumps series
52. The Kissing Hand
53. Franklin’s Classic Treasury
54. Holes
55. If You Give a Mouse a Cookie
56. Stuart Little
57. Wait Till Helen Comes: A Ghost Story
58. A Million Dots
59. There Was an Old Lady
60. Guess How Much I Love You
61.Shiloh
62. Hatchet
63. Charlotte’s Web
64. Lunch Lady graphic novels
65. Rolie Polie Olie
66. On My Honor
67. The Magic School Bus series
68. Amelia Bedelia books
69. Fantastic Mr. Fox
70. Matilda
71. Anything But Typical
72. Flat Stanley
73. Because of Winn-Dixie
74. Harry Potter series
75. The Alex Rider series
76. Grayson
77. Mr. Popper’s Penguins
78. Life As We Knew It series
79. James and the Giant Peach
80. The 39 Clues series
81. Inheritance series
82. Maximum Ride series
83. Cirque Du Freak series
84. Found (The Missing, Book 1)
85. Coraline
86. Stolen Children
87. Dork Diaries: Tales from a Not-So-Fabulous Life
88. Chains
89. Last Shot: A Final Four Mystery
90. The Name of this Book Is Secret
91. Speak
92. My Life in Pink & Green
93. Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing
94. Make Lemonade
95. The Chocolate Touch
96. Stone Fox
97. Marley: A Dog Like No Other
98. Babe & Me: A Baseball Card Adventure
99. The Cricket in Times Square
100. Love Story (Amiri And Odette)

Cybils Finalists!

The Cybils finalists have been posted!  Check out all of the shortlists on the Cybils blog.

I am particularly proud of our middle grade panel.  I love all of the books on our shortlist and I have no idea how the judges will choose one winner!

Books I’m Pining For

Right now, my world is centered around a tiny 6 lb monster who likes to cry and bark.  :)  I’m reading two puppy training books, Puppies For Dummies and My Smart Puppy: Fun, Effective, and Easy Puppy Training (Book & 60min DVD) without much time for anything else. But here are a few books I am looking forward to reading after he settles down….

 

Also Known As Harper by Ann Haywood Leal- This one has been getting mentions all over the blogosphere so I am dying to get my hands on it!


Tropical Secrets: Holocaust Refugees in Cuba by Margarite Engle- Last year Engle snuck up on me and snatched a Newbery Honor. So when I saw that Betsy Bird had this book on her Newbery 2010 contenders list, I knew I needed to to read it! Plus, I am always on the lookout for new Holocaust stories that focus on aspects of the tragedy that aren’t a part of the general curriculum at our grade level.


Cold Hands, Warm Heart by Jill Wolfson- I hate doctors and hospitals. I love books about medicine. Weird, huh? The novel focuses on the organ donation process and I am dying to read more.

 

 

 Nothing but Ghosts by Beth Kephart- “How do you paint regret?” That sentence has been at the back of my mind ever since reading a review of Beth Kephart’s newest novel. I think I’ll be purchasing this one this week!

 

 

 

L.A. Candy by Lauren Conrad- So sue me, I love The Hills and Lauren Conrad! I am dying to see how this one is, because I’m hearing good things so far. Plus, who doesn’t love a little light, fluffy reading during the summer?

 

 

So, what books are you pining for?

“You HAVE to Read This!”

As one of the final activities on our final day of school, I had my students fill out “Recommend a Book” postcards for next year’s 6th graders.  I reminded them that on the first day of school they thought I was out of mind when I said they would read between 20-40 books over the course of the year and that they would enjoy it.  We talked about how they discovered the joys of reading books they liked, recommending books to each other, and learning about new books from their classmates.  

Each student chose one book that they feel all 6th graders must read.  Next year, I will make a bulletin board out of the postcards and share these recommendations with my new classes.  Sometimes, they don’t want to listen to me but will gladly hear recommendations from each other. :)

The books my students recommended:

  • Cirque du Freak: A Living Nightmare by Darren Shan because it is one of the best series ever. This book has spine-crunching twists and turns, a touch of action, and thrills.
  • The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins because it is action-packed and keeps you at the edge of your seat.
  • Fire Within by Chris D’lacey because it has action, adventure, mystery, and fantasy.
  • The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Book 1) by Rick Riordan because this books is really cool. It is interesting and makes you love mythology!
  • Twilight by Stephenie Meyer because it was the first book I read this year and after I read it I couldn’t stop reading!
  • Flying Solo by Ralph Fletcher because it’s a really funny book and you can relate to it.
  • A Mango-Shaped Space by Wendy Mass because it has such a great story and will change the way you look at the world.
  • Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt because it’s a good book. If you love mysteries you should read this!
  • Evermore (The Immortals) by Alyson Noel because it is an awesome romance. I give it 9 out of 10 stars.
  • Windcatcher by Avi because it is a great book. It has hidden treasure and a mystery.
  • The Diamonds by Ted Michael because it is a great book for all girls! It is a page-turner and full of gossip! An amazing book!
  • Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney because it is really funny and makes me and other kids laugh out loud.
  • Oh. My. Gods. by Tera Lynn Childs. If you like Greek mythology, you’ll love this book! It has romance, comedy, and mythology. It’s a keeper!
  • Skeleton Creek by Patrick Carman. If you like creepy, this is beyond creepy. It is suspenseful and there are videos in-between. You watch the videos after reading a few pages.
  • Secrets of My Hollywood Life by Jen Calonita because this series tells you what it’s like to be a part of Hollywood. The books make you feel like you are in it!
  • Gone by Michael Grant. It’s a good cliffhanger book. If you like the dystopian genre it’s really good. The atmosphere makes you feel like you are right there in the book.
  • The Clique by Lisi Harrison because it is full of drama!
  • Flush by Carl Hiaasen because it is a great book and very interesting.
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Book 7) by J.K. Rowling. You should read this books because it’s action-packed and a great read!
  • Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer. I think you should read this books because you feel like you’re there and it is very suspenseful I like books like that. I hope you do, too.
  • In the Serpent’s Coils (Hallowmere) by Tiffany Trent. It’s scary and it’s unexpected at times. It always makes you want to read more.
  • Found (The Missing, Book 1) by Margaret Peterson Haddix because it is suspenseful and ends on a great cliffhanger.
  • The Angel Experiment (Maximum Ride, Book 1) by James Patterson. It was my favorite book this year and the entire series is great!
  • Akiko on the Planet Smoo by Mark Crilly because it is a very funny book!
  • The Secret Language of Girls by Frances O’Roark Dowell. This book is good. There is a lot of drama and it is about two best friends going through hard times in middle school.
  • I,Q by Roland Smith. It’s full of action and adventure.
  • Boy Who Dared by Susan Campbell Bartoletti. This book was a really good Holocaust book. It is about a boy who was a Nazi then he betrayed the Nazis and ends up in jail.
  • Dork Diaries: Tales from a Not-So-Fabulous Life by Rachel Renee Russell. It was so funny! It is realistic and easy to relate to. It’s one of the best books I ever read!

There were a few repeats, which I left out.  But that’s quite a variety!

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 6,593 other followers