Cybils

It’s Cybils time! Head on over to Cybils.com to nominate your favorite children’s or YA book for this great award from the blogosphere!

Here is the official press release:
Here’s the official press-release from co-founder Anne Boles Levy:

Will Harry Potter triumph among critical bloggers? Will novels banned in some school districts find favor online?

With 90 volunteers poised to sift through hundreds of new books, the second annual Children’s and Young Adult Bloggers’ Literary Awards launches on Oct. 1 at http://www.cybils.com. Known as the Cybils, it’s the only literary contest that combines both the spontaneity of the Web with the thoughtful debate of a book club.

The public’s invited to nominate books in eight categories, from picture books up to young adult fiction, so long as the book was first published in 2007 in English (bilingual books are okay too). Once nominations close on Nov. 21, the books go through two rounds of judging, first to select the finalists and then the winners, to be announced on Valentine’s Day 2008.

Judges come from the burgeoning ranks of book bloggers in the cozy corner of the Internet called the kidlitosphere. They represent parents, homeschoolers, authors, illustrators, librarians and teens.

The contest began last year after blogger Kelly Herold expressed dismay that while some literary awards were too snooty – rewarding books kids would seldom read – others were too populist and didn’t acknowledge the breadth and depth of what’s being published today.
“It didn’t have to be brussel sprouts versus gummy bears,” said Anne Boles Levy, who started Cybils with Herold. “There are books that fill both needs, to be fun and profound.”

Last year’s awards prompted more than 480 nominations, and this year’s contest will likely dwarf that. As with last year’s awards, visitors to the Cybils blog can leave their nominations as comments. There is no nomination form, only the blog, to keep in the spirit of the blogosphere that started it all.

See you Oct. 1!

I’ve made my nominations, so head on over to make your voice heard!

The Green Glass Sea by Ellen Klages

I have been meaning to pick up a copy of this book for a while (since it won the Scott O’Dell Award), and was very excited to see it offered in the first Scholastic catalog I handed out this year. The order came in this week and I just finished the book. I loved it! I have to say, I didn’t expect to love it after reading the back. A note to the publishers: the back summary does no justice to the story! None! At all!

The book follows two seemingly very different girls during World War II. Both end up at Los Alamos, where their parents are working on top-secret projects for the government. The information about Los Alamos offered throughout the book is absolutely fascinating. So fascinating, that I have been on Wikipedia for the last few minutes doing more research! To the rest of the world, Los Alamos did not exist in the 1940’s. Small details in the book really drove this point home. For example, high school seniors in Los Alamos had a very hard time being accepted into any colleges because their high school did not exist- the only address was a P.O. box in Santa Fe. The girls live in a bubble of sorts, untouched by the outside world. They are also surrounded by many of the brightest minds of the century.

While the main characters are fictional, Ellen Klages sprinkles in many real life scientists who spent time at Los Alamos. Names like Feynman, Oppenheimer, and Bethe are mentioned frequently. In fact, Dewety (one of the main characters) befriends Dick Feynman at the beginning of the book.

I would love to use this book in a literature circle at some point. It brings up some great questions and really makes the reader think, without being preachy. I just have to find a unit to fit it into!

And the best part of all? Ellen Klages is currently writing a sequel!

A Mango-Shaped Space by Wendy Mass

I had been meaning to read this book for a while. Somehow, it came up in discussion at school last week, and one of my students immediately responded with, “My aunt wrote that book!” I’m going to get more info this week, because Wendy Mass is semi-local and I would love to try and get her to visit our school!

I was completely fascinated by this book. The main character, Mia, has synesthesia. (I keep wanting to say “the disease” or “disorder” synesthesia, when that isn’t true at all. As one of the characters says, synesthesia is a gift!) Like me, you may be asking what the heck synesthesia is. According to Wikipedia, synesthesia is a neurologically based phenomenon in which stimulation of one sensory or cognitive pathway leads to automatic, involuntary experiences in a second sensory or cognitive pathway. Mia has a type of synesthesia in which letters or numbers are perceived as inherently colored.

In 8th grade now, Mia has been hiding her gift since 3rd grade, when she realized everyone else around her did not see colors associated with letters and numbers. Because of this, she is failing math. She is struggling with her gift until she meets others who share her gift. The book explores her journey as she learns who she is and if she wants to be “cured”.

I had never heard of synesthesia before this. While I have a very hard time visualizing something like Mia’s perceptions, I am fascinated by it. And more than a little jealous!! I would love to see life that way that she and others do!

This was a great, quick read. I enjoyed Wendy Mass’ style and have begun reading “Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life”, another book she wrote. Hopefully, I will have a review soon!