Positively by Courtney Sheinmel

Emerson Price, more commonly known as Emmy, isn’t a typical kid.  Nothing about her life is normal.  She can’t remember a time when she didn’t take numerous prescriptions, when she didn’t stand out from the crowd as the odd one out.  When she was four years old she and her mother were diagnosed as HIV-positive.  When she was eight, her parents divorced.  She and her mom are best friends and their greatest support systems.  But when Emmy is thirteen her mother succumbs to AIDs.  Emmy must go live with her father and pregnant stepmother.  She feels like no one understands her the she way her mother did- no one else needs to take awful medicine everyday, no one else knows what it is like to be the girl with HIV.  Her life is already in upheaval and she starts acting out.  When her father signs her up for a summer camp for HIV-positive girls, she refuses to go.  She already knows she will hate it.  But it turns out to be just what she needed.

When I was in 8th grade I was a member of my school’s forensic team.  (Yes, I was that dorky).  We each chose an oral piece to memorize and perform at the regional competition.  That year, I memorized and performed Elizabeth Glaser’s speech from the 1992 Democratic Convention (read it here).  I had not thought of that speech in years but this book immediately brought it to mind.  It was an extremely inspiring speech and I am grateful that Courtney Sheinmel has memorialized her own experiences with Glaser through the writing of this book.

Positively is an extremely powerful book and one I am glad I read.  It’s so strange for me to look back and think that a girl like Emmy would have had a completely different life if she was my age.  We have come such a long way in the last two decades.  But Scheinmel will make you laugh and cry in Positively. I felt like I knew Emmy and I wanted to stay with her way after the story ended.  I think my students are going to love this one.  It deals with a tough issue that most tweens and teens aren’t even aware of.  Sheinmel deals with it realistically but also appropriately for the age level she is writing for….be prepared with some tissues when you read this one!

*Review copy courtesy of the publisher.  This is a Cybils nominated title and all opinions are my own.

The Last Invisible Boy by Evan Kuhlman

Finn Garret is slowly becoming invisible.  Ever since his dad died on a flight home, Finn’s been turning whiter and whiter.  He figures that soon he will disappear all together.

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I first picked up The Last Invisible Boy. An initial flip through the book gives the appearance of a Wimpy Kid read-alike.  However, within a few pages the reader knows they are dealing with a very different book here.  This is not a humorous, light-hearted book like many of the illustrated novels out there today.  And that’s a good thing.  Finn is telling his story, with his own illustrations, and his voice is spot-on for a twelve year old boy.  It’s bittersweet, angry at times, and will even bring tears to your eyes.

I loved the voice in this story.  Finn writes like most of my 6th graders.  He goes off on tangents at times, at others writes very dryly, and then WHAM!  Out of nowhere he hits you with an amazing and powerful few pages.

I really enjoyed this book and look forward to passing it on to some of my 6th graders.  I think it will appeal to boys and girls alike.

 

*Review copy courtesy of publisher

Cybils!

You only have a few more days to nominate books for the Cybil Awards!  If you haven’t done so yet, make your way over to the nominating form and get going.

Not sure what the Cybils are?  Check this out from the Cybils website:

Our purpose is two-fold:

  • Reward the children’s and young adult authors (and illustrators, let’s not forget them) whose books combine the highest literary merit and “kid appeal.” What’s that mean? If some la-di-dah awards can be compared to brussel sprouts, and other, more populist ones to gummy bears, we’re thinking more like organic chicken nuggets. We’re yummy and nutritious.
  • Foster a sense of community among bloggers who write about children’s and YA literature, highlight our best reviewers (and shamelessly promote their blogs) and provide a forum for the similarly obsessed.

We wouldn’t be a real awards if we didn’t have a whole bunch of complicated rules in tortured lawyerese. So maybe we’re not a real awards, because there aren’t any lawyers and only two rules:

  1. You (and you can be anybody, even you) may nominate any book published in the contest year in English;
  2. Only one book per category. We have ways of checking this, so play nice. Nominations open Oct. 1 and close Oct. 15.

After that, here’s what happens:

  • We place all the authors names into a hat and pass our magic wand over it. After the rabbit pops out, we eat him and announce the winner, whom we have selected at random;
  • Not really! Just testing you. We have panelists in each category who eat the rabbit. No, er, they read the books. They have until January 1 for that, which we hope and pray will be enough time. On Jan. 1 we’ll post the finalists;
  • From Jan. 1 to mid-February, a second group of judges will read all the finalists and pick the winners, which we’ll announce on Valentine’s Day.

See? Easy. And no actual rabbits will be harmed in the process.

To contact us:

Anne Levy, Contest Administrator:
cybils09 (at) gmail (dot) com

Kelly Herold, Director (on hiatus for 2009-10 season):
kidslitinfo (at) gmail (dot) com

Cybils Middle Grade Fiction Panel

I can finally share my exciting news!  It’s been killing me to stay quiet. ;)

I am thrilled to be a part of the Cybils for a second year in a row.  I will be a Round 1 Judge with some amazing other bloggers!

Panel Organizer: Kerry Millar, Shelf Elf

Panelists (Round I Judges):

Sherry Early, Semicolon
Melissa Fox, Book Nut
Abby Johnson, Abby the Librarian
Kyle Kimmal, The Boy Reader
Becky Laney, Becky’s Book Reviews
Sandra Stiles, Musings of a Book Addict

We will be reading and reviewing all of your nominations- have you made yours yet?

Then the Round 2 Judges will decide on the winner from our shortlist.  And we have some awesome and talented bloggers judging the final round!

Round II Judges:

Kimberly Baker, Wagging Tales

Kerry Millar, Shelf Elf
Stacy Dillon, Welcome to my Tweendom
Monica Edinger, Educating Alice
David Elzey, Excelsior File

I am so excited be a part of the Cybils again.  And my students can’t wait to read the books I review and help me with the kid appeal!

The Cybils are Coming, The Cybils are Coming!

October 1st marks the beginning of the nomination period for the Cybil Awards!

For those who aren’t familiar with them:

The Cybils Awards, or Children’s and Young Adult Bloggers’ Literary Awards, are a series of book awards given by children’s and young adult book bloggers[1]. Co-founded by Kelly Herold and Anne Boles Levy in 2006[2], the awards were created to address an apparent gap between children’s book awards perceived as too elitist and other awards that did not seem selective enough.[3]

Books are nominated by the public in nine genres of children’s and young adult literature: Easy Readers, FantasyScience Fiction, Fiction Picture BooksGraphic Novels, Middle Grade Novels, Non-Fiction Middle Grade/Young Adult Books, Non-Fiction Picture Books,Poetry, and Young Adult Novels. Nominees go through two rounds of panel-based judging before a winner is announced in each category. Finalists and winners are selected on the basis of literary merit and kid appeal.[4]

source

Start making your lists and decide what you want to nominate in each category.  This is your chance to participate in the process.  6a00d83451b06869e20120a5c50dc5970c-200wi-1

Cybils!

Today’s thought process went something like this:

“Ugh, it’s 8:30am.  I need to take more decongestant.”

Sleep until 11:00.

Shower.

“We need to go out and buy Mucinex…my mom and the doctor said it’s my best bet.  OH MY GOD IT’S CYBILS DAY!”

Run down the stairs, turn on the computer, wait impatiently for it to wake up.  Load up the Cybils website and squee while reading all of the winners!

Check them out for yourself!

Books, Books, and More Books!

I am fairly certain that my mailperson and USP delivery person hate me.

Why?

It might have something to do with the copious amount of books that land in my doorstep each day.  

I am currently buried beneath Cybils nominations, trying to dig my way out.

Hey, who doesn’t love living under a pile of books?  The hardest part is choosing what to read next!

Don’t Forget to Nominate!

Nominations for the third annual Children’ s and Young Adult Bloggers’ Literary Awards (the Cybils) CLOSE TODAY!  Have you nominated your favorite book published between January 1, 2008 and October 15, 2008?  You only have a few hours left!

This year, awards will be given in nine categories (Easy Readers, Fantasy & Science Fiction, Fiction Picture Books, Graphic Novels, Middle Grade Novels, Non-Fiction Middle Grade/Young Adult Books, Non-Fiction Picture Books, Poetry, Young Adult Novels). Anyone can nominate books in these categories (one nomination per person per category). Nominated titles must be published between January 1st and October 15th of this year, and the books must be in English (or bilingual, where one of the languages is English). To nominate titles, visit the Cybils blog before the end of Wednesday!

There is a separate post available for each category – simply nominate by commenting on those individual posts.

Cybils!

This year I am extremely excited to be a member of the middle grades panel for the Cybil Awards.  Are you ready for the awards?!

 

Cybils Nominations Open October 1st: How Can You Participate?

Nominations for the third annual Children’ s and Young Adult Bloggers’ Literary Awards (the Cybils) will be open Wednesday, October 1st through Wednesday, October 15th. The goal of the Cybils team (some 100 bloggers) is to highlight books that are high in both literary quality and kid appeal . The Cybils were founded by
Anne BolesLevy and KellyHerold.

This year, awards will be given in nine categories (Easy Readers, Fantasy & Science Fiction, Fiction Picture Books, Graphic Novels, Middle Grade Novels, Non-Fiction Middle Grade/Young Adult Books, Non-Fiction Picture Books, Poetry, Young Adult Novels). Anyone can nominate books in these categories (one nomination per person per category). Nominated titles must be published between January 1st and October 15th of this year, and the books must be in English (or bilingual, where one of the languages is English). To nominate titles, visit the Cybils blog between October 1st and 15th . A separate post will be available for each category – simply nominate by commenting on those individual posts. If you are not sure which category to choose for a particular book, a questions thread will also be available.

Between October 16th and January 1st, Cybils panelists (children’s and young adult bloggers) will winnow the nominations down to a 5-7 book short list for each category. A second set of panelists will then select the  winning titles for the different categories. The winners will be announced on February 14th, 2009.

The Cybils lists, from long lists to short lists to the lists of winners, offer a wonderful resource to anyone looking for high-quality, kid-friendly books. The Cybils team has worked hard to balance democracy (anyone can nominate titles) with quality control (two rounds of panel judging by people who focus on children’s books every day). We do this work because we consider it vital to get great books into the hands of children and young adults.

How Can You Participate?

We think that the Cybils nominations will be of interest to parents, teachers, librarians, writers, and teens. If you have a blog or an email list or belong to a newsgroup that serves one of these populations, and you
feel that your readers would be interested, please consider distributing this announcement (you are welcome to copy it). The Cybils team would very much appreciate your help in spreading the word. And if you, or the children that you know, have any titles to suggest, we would love to see your
nominations at the Cybils blog, starting on Wednesday. Thanks for your help, and stay tuned for further
news!

Jen Robinson
Literacy
Evangelist for the 2008 Cybils

Cybils!

I am beyond thrilled to be a panelist for the 2008 Cybils Middle Grade Fiction panel! Check out the announcement on the Cybils blog.

Not familiar with the Cybils? For newcomers, Cybils stands for The Children’s and YA Bloggers’ Literary Awards, and they are the only book awards of any sort from the blogging community.

Still curious?

1. Nominations open to the public on Oct. 1 at cybils.com. Anyone 13 or older – authors and publishers included – may nominate a book!

2. In order to be eligible, books must be published in English between Jan. 1 and Oct. 15.

3. The books will go through two rounds of judging. Finalists are announced Jan. 1. Winners are announced Feb. 14.

The Cybils are a fantastic award and I am honored to be a part of the middle grade panel. Get ready to start nominating!

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