Awards Announcements: The Newbery and The Cybils!

January 21st, 2016 by

newbery-medalYou’ve probably heard of the John Newbery Medal, a very big deal in the children’s book world. Well, it was recently announced that this year’s medal goes to picture book Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Peña! Woo hoo! Congrats!

If you’re looking for a heftier page-turner, check out this year’s Newbery Honor books: The War that Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley, Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson and Echo by Pam Muñoz Ryan:

Cybils_2015And in other news, we’re celebrating Cybil’s 10th birthday: Happy 10th Birthday, Cybil — I mean, THE Cybils! You’re all grown up! Wait — maybe we should back up and answer the question: What (not who) is the Cybils?

The Cybils Awards aims to recognize the children’s and young adult authors and illustrators whose books combine the highest literary merit and popular appeal.”

We love The Cybils Awards, because they put a spotlight on awesome books — some well-known and some hidden gems. Check out this year’s middle grade finalists in each category:

The Cybils 2016: Non-Fiction Finalists

The Cybils 2016: Speculative Fiction Finalists

  • Bayou Magic by Jewell Parker Rhodes
  • Castle Hangnail by Ursula Vernon
  • Mars Evacuees by Sophia McDougall
  • The Dungeoneers by John David Anderson
  • The Fog Diver by Joel Ross
  • Wings of Fire Book Six: Moon Rising by Tui T. Sutherland

The Cybils 2016: Graphic Novels Finalists

  • Baba Yaga’s Assistant by Marika McCoola
  • Courtney Crumrin, Volume 7: Tales of a Warlock by Ted Naifeh
  • Dragons Beware! by Rafael Rosado and Jorge Aguirre
  • Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson
  • Secret Coders by Gene Luen Yang and Mike Holmes
  • Sunny Side Up by Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm
  • The Marvels by Brian Selznick

The Cybils 2016: Fiction Finalists

  • Blackbird Fly by Erin Entrada Kelly
  • The Blackthorn Key by Kevin Sands
  • Book Scavenger by Jennifer Chambliss Bertman
  • Footer Davis Probably Is Crazy by Susan Vaught
  • Listen, Slowly by Thanhha Lai

Have you read any of these award winners? Leave a comment and let everyone know your thoughts!

— Kidsmomo

Cybils 2014: The Almost-Finalists

January 18th, 2015 by

Cybils-Logo-2014-Round-Lg-300x300Do you know what the Cybils Awards are? Well, you should — because we talked all about them in our blog post from last week and you should be memorizing every word on!

But for those of you who are slacking, here’s a re-cap:

“The Cybils Awards aims to recognize the children’s and young adult authors and illustrators whose books combine the highest literary merit and popular appeal.”

Last week, we let you know the finalists in this year’s competition. Well, some of the judges have been talking about “the ones that got away” — the books that they wish could have made the cut. So we figured you might want to add these often-mentioned almost-finalists to your To Read list too:

A Collection of Almost-Finalists

space-case the-night-gardener ambassador

the-iron-trial Fourteenth Goldfish_Jennifer L Holm lockwood-and-co-whispering-skull

So… have you read any of these Cybils almost-finalists? Leave a comment and let everyone know your thoughts!

— Kidsmomo

Cybils 2014 Nominees

January 12th, 2015 by

Cybils-Logo-2014-Round-Lg-300x300Every year, bloggers and readers all over the country gather to read, evaluate, and decide the winners of the Cybils Awards! What are the Cybils Awards?

“The Cybils Awards aims to recognize the children’s and young adult authors and illustrators whose books combine the highest literary merit and popular appeal.”

Translation: What were the best books of the year?

Check out this year’s middle grade finalists for the Cybils:

Category: Fiction

Abby Spencer Goes to Bollywood by Varsha Bajaj All Four Stars by Tara Dairman Death by Toilet Paper Donna Gephart

Ice Dogs by Terry Lynn Johnson The Crossover_Kwame Alexander The Meaning of Maggie by Megan Jean Sovern Nickel Bay Nick by Dean Pitchford

Category: Speculative Fiction

Boys of Blur by N. D. Wilson Greenglass House by Kate Milford Nuts to You by Lynne Rae Perkins

The Castle Behind Thorns by Merrie Haskell The Jupiter Pirates- Hunt for the Hydra by Jason Fry The Luck Uglies by Paul Durham The Swallow- A Ghost Story by Charis Cotter

Category: Nonfiction

Angel Island- Gateway to Gold Mountain  Handle With Care- An Unusual Butterfly Journey The Case of the Vanishing Little Brown Bats- A Scientific Mystery

Separate Is Never Equal- Sylvia Mendez and Her Family’s Fight for Desegregation Feathers- Not Just for Flying by Melissa Stewart Chasing Cheetahs- The Race to Save Africa’s Fastest Cat When Lunch Fights Back- Wickedly Clever Animal Defenses

Category: Graphic Novels

The Dumbest Idea Ever by Jimmy Gownley El Deafo Cece Bell Ballad by Blexbolex Bird & Squirrel on Ice

Hidden- A Child’s Story of the Holocaust Gaijin- American Prisoner of War Bad Machinery- The Case of the Good Boy

Unfortunately, Karen and I haven’t read ALL of the nominees this year (if only we didn’t have those pesky things called jobs, we could read all day!), so we can’t fairly pick our favorites from this list. But how about you? Have you read any of the Cybils finalists, and which are your favorites? Leave a comment below!

— Kidsmomo

And the Winners Are…

February 20th, 2013 by

What do a giant slayer, a puppet prince, and a fifth grader at Beecher Prep have in common?

Hint: They’ve all got a special lady in common…

Well, not exactly. That lady is actually an award called The Cybils, and all three of those people are the main characters of the 2012 Cybils winners!

Sure, everyone knows about the Newberys and Caldecotts and Oscars and Golden Globes and Grammys and MTV Awards… but did you know that contenders for the Cybils can be nominated by anyone — kids included — and instead of just voting, Cybils judges evaluate, discuss, and decide as a group who wins the award? It’s the literary award of the people!

false-prince-jennifer-a-nielsenWinner of Fantasy & Science Fiction:
The False Prince: Book 1 of the Ascendance Trilogy by Jennifer A. Nielsen

Sage has been forced to compete with three other orphans to become the impersonator of the king’s long-lost son. With all the lies, scheming, danger, and action, he doesn’t know whom to trust.

Check out Karen’s review of The False Prince from last year where she says “THIS BOOK TOTALLY ROCKS!” — and now that it’s won a Cybil, we have bona fide proof that she and 12-year-old reviewer Rachel have amazing taste!

    Other finalists:

  • Beswitched
  • Geeks, Girls, and Secret Identities
  • The Cabinet of Earths
  • The Last Dragonslayer (The Chronicles of Kazam)
  • The One and Only Ivan
  • The Peculiar

wonder-rj-palacio-book-reviewWinner of Middle Grade Fiction:
Wonder by R. J. Palacio

Find out what happens when Auggie, who’s always been homeschooled because of his deformed face and many medical procedures, has a chance to attend regular school (Beecher Prep) for the first time ever. I’m impressed with 12-year-old Ethan’s review of Wonder“IT’S A MUST READ!!” he shouted (in all caps) — while Karen takes the easy road in her review with “it’s wonderful.” But it really is!

    Other finalists:

  • Almost Home
  • Chomp
  • Fourmile
  • Liar & Spy
  • The Adventures of Beanboy
  • The Lions of Little Rock

Bomb-The-Race-to-Build-and-Steal_SheinkinWinner of Nonfiction Books:
Bomb: The Race to Build — and Steal — the World’s Most Dangerous Weapon by Steve Sheinkin

It’s a real-life science and spy thriller. Seriously, guys. Everything in this book actually happened and it’s totally nuclear. (Hehe, pun intended!) Bomb is written from three angles: the scientists who built the atom bomb, the soliders who stopped Hitler and the Nazis from building their own bomb, and the spies who stole the bomb for Russia.

    Other finalists:

  • Last Airlift: A Vietnamese Orphan’s Rescue from War
  • Moonbird: A Year on the Wind with the Great Survivor B95
  • Temple Grandin: How the Girl Who Loved Cows Embraced Autism and Changed the World
  • Titanic: Voices From the Disaster

Giants-Beware_Rosado_AguirreWinner of Elementary/Middle Grade Graphic Novels:
Giants Beware! by Jorge Aguirre and Rafael Rosado

Charlotte’s dream is to be a giant slayer — but there are no giants around her quiet little village. So the answer is obvious: sneak off on a super-secret quest to find a giant! I haven’t read Giants Beware! yet, but it’s definitely moved up my to-read list since it’s won the Cybils!

    Other finalists:

  • Hilda and the Midnight Giant
  • Annie Sullivan and the Trials of Helen Keller
  • Little White Duck: A Childhood in China (Single Titles)
  • Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales: Big Bad Ironclad!

Ack! I haven’t read all of these books, and the non-winning finalists seem pretty awesome too. At this rate, my to-read list is going to be as long as Moby Dick. Never read it? It’s really long. Good thing Moby Dick isn’t on my to-read list.

So, what do you think of the winners — deserving, or was another finalist totally robbed of its recognition? Leave a comment below or send in your own review of a Cybils finalist or winner!


icon_nancySeriously, world. We’ve only gotten to February of this year. Nancy cleared out her to-read list just a month ago and now it’s back to dozens of titles!

More about Nancy »

Ghetto Cowboy: Book Review

March 10th, 2012 by

When you think of a cowboy, what comes to mind?

Probably someone like John Wayne…


Or Clint Eastwood…


Or maybe even Yosemite Sam?


Most likely, you’re envisioning someone lanky and sandy-haired who hangs out in saloons in the Wild Wild West. Right?

Or maybe you read Nancy’s recent review for Gabriel’s Horses and you have a different picture in mind? You’d be on the right track in that case, because I recently learned about a different kind of cowboy — the kind who’s Black and lives in the middle of urban Philadelphia. This guy:


In Ghetto Cowboy by G. Neri, I discovered the existence of these “ghetto cowboys” alongside Cole, who is forced to move in with one of them when his mother gets fed up with his delinquent ways. And the cowboy Cole meets for the first time ever — well, it’s his dad.

As you can tell, there’s a lot going on in this book: Cole is adjusting to life with his stranger of a dad, and having trouble accepting his mother’s absence. His dad and the rest of the Chester Avenue cowboys are being pressured by the city government to shut down the stables, even though caring for the horses gives the neighborhood kids hope and keeps them out of trouble. And on top of that, Cole doesn’t even know how to ride!

I read this book as a judge for the Cybils Awards (Children’s and Young Adult Bloggers’ Literary Awards), and it was one of my favorite finalists. With each turn of the page, I was drawn even more into the action and wanted to know what would happen next. And I also really enjoyed learning about this community I’d never heard of before — even without the illustrations, all the vivid descriptions brought it to life in my imagination, but the pictures by Jesse Joshua Watson are also awesome. For example:


So check out Ghetto Cowboy and journey to the Wild West of Philadelphia!

— Karen

Karen has always enjoyed visiting Philadelphia. It’s got beautiful old buildings and town squares — and also used to be the only place she got Rita’s Water Ice before a New York location opened!

More about Karen »

Nerd Camp: Book Review

March 1st, 2012 by

nerd-camp-elissa-brent-weissmanI’m not ashamed to say it: I wish I were a nerd. I’m a geek about some things and I’m definitely a complete all-around dork, but I’m not sure that I’m smart enough to qualify as a nerd. A girl can hope, right?

At any rate, given my geekosity and dorkulousness, it’s no wonder that I LOVED Nerd Camp by Elissa Brent Weissman. I seriously had to squash major envy pangs as I read about all the adventures at the Summer Center for Gifted Enrichment (aka Smart Camp for Geeks and Eggheads, aka Nerd Camp).

I mean, c’mon, who doesn’t want to make charts with their cabin-mates to predict when Color Wars will be announced? Or rock out to the “Nations of the World” song as part of a karaoke battle? Or participate in a camp-wide scavenger hunt? Uh, sounds like paradise!

Except Gabe (the main character in Nerd Camp) is not so sure about that… He WAS really excited about camp — up until he met his new stepbrother-to-be, the decidedly un-nerdy Zack. Now Gabe wants to prove that there’s more to him than just being a nerd, and that SCGE isn’t some lame version of summer school that only a loser would enjoy, which is what Zack has to say about it. Can Gabe transform himself from geek to cool dude while still having fun at Nerd Camp?

Obviously, you should read this book to find out! I read it as a Cybils judge  (Children’s and Young Adult Bloggers’ Literary Awards), and I definitely had the most fun reading this story out of all the finalists. And my fellow judges agreed — we named it the big winner!

So read it! Read it! READ IT! 🙂

That is all.

— Karen

Karen doesn’t do it to calculate probabilities, but she kinda enjoys making grids. Once she created a spreadsheet to track her friends’ votes on which episodes to watch during a Gilmore Girls marathon!

More about Karen »

Cybils 2011: Calling All Nominations!

October 8th, 2011 by

If you’re a long-time Kidsmomo reader, well, first of all, THANK YOU and you get a gold star. *bling* *bling* But secondly, you may recall that Nancy and I were judges for the 2010 Cybils Awards.

In case you forgot, that’s a children’s book award program run by a bunch of passionate folks in the kidlit internet world. And this year, I’m at it again — I’ll be up to my old antics as a 2011 Cybils judge!

But before I can judge, we need nominations — and that’s where YOU come in! Up until October 15, you can submit the name of any new book that you think deserves its own party (balloons and streamers and all). Just be sure that it was published between October 16, 2010 and October 15, 2011.

Also check to see if anyone else has already nominated it. You can see the books that have already been nominated here:

Once your pick has passed those tests, grab a parent to fill out the online form and nominate nominate nominate!

AND THEN, leave a comment and tell me what you nominated! That last part is not required, but c’mon… you can’t leave me hanging! I gotta know! I MUST know! Tell me, please! Please?

In case you’re curious, I decided not to nominate anything for the category that I’m going to judge (Middle Grade Fiction). But I did nominate in the Fantasy and Science Fiction category: The Only Ones by Aaron Starmer (for ages 10 and up). Not only is it an awesometastic book, but Aaron Starmer will also be stopping by Kidsmomo in just a few days! Yaaaaaaaaaaaaaay!

Okay, but don’t get so excited that you lose your mind or anything. Now is the time to concentrate — on what you’re going to nominate for the 2011 Cybils, of course! So do it already!

— Karen

Karen promises to be a completely fair judge. But on an unrelated note, in case any authors were wondering, Karen’s favorite candy is Reese’s and her favorite flowers are calla lilies.

More about Karen »

Meet “Milo”

March 3rd, 2011 by

Lately, it’s been a Cybils lovefest around here, as Nancy and I declare our admiration for various finalists for the award. Well, get ready for more… because today I’m recommending Milo: Sticky Notes and Brain Freeze by Alan Silberberg.

Yes, this book has a fun and funky title. Yes, this book has humorous illustrations sprinkled throughout the story. Yes, this book is about a guy who’s trying to figure out friends and school and life and who the heck he is. BUT this is no Diary of a Wimpy Kid. I repeat: Milo is NOT Greg Heffley.

The most important difference between Milo and Greg is that whereas many of Greg’s problems are his own darn fault, Milo is facing a much more serious issue: the recent death of his mother. It affects how his dad acts; how he feels about school; and, well, everything.

But don’t think Milo is just gloom and doom. There may not be pages dedicated to the Cheese Touch, but it’s got disgusting slushie flavors, several crush-on-a-cute-girl disasters, and an alter ego named Dabney St. Claire. Not to mention some hilarious writing. Plus, the comics do a really great job of lightening the mood just when things get really serious. Because like I said, this book is NOT Diary of a Wimpy Kid. So you should expect lots of sad stuff — but happy stuff and funny stuff too. Just like real life! With cartoons. 😀

— Karen

Karen would love a world filled with doodles, but sadly, she’s never been a good artist herself. Nowadays, the margins of her notebook are filled with triangles. Yes, that’s all she’s capable of drawing…

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Would You Answer The Call?

February 26th, 2011 by

David “Mack” MacAvoy (the main character in Michael Grant’s series, The Magnificent 12) didn’t want to do it when he first got the call. What call is that? The call to save the world, of course. That’s because 12-year-old Mack has a list of phobias a mile high, and a case of the “mediums” — medium grades, medium looks, and medium parents.

He’s approached by Grimluck, a 3000-year-old wizard… sorcerer… morphing… guy to track down eleven other 12-year-olds to stop an evil force. So despite his mediumness and phobias, Mack sucks it up. It is the fate of the world, after all.

I really liked this book, and it was also a Cybils finalist, so it’s in good company. One thing that’s always bugged me about non-orphaned young heroes on journeys: don’t their parents get worried that they’re suddenly running off to exotic places, saving the world from evil and running (in slow motion) from fiery explosions? Well, Michael Grant figured that out. Standing in for Mack at home is a golem, a magical dude made of mud that looks like Mack (more or less). Problem solved!

Well, more problems arise, like the golem trying to eat Mack’s cat. But don’t worry — it’s all in good fun, I swear! Speaking of which, the whole book is really funny.

Check out the book trailer for The Call and pick up the book as soon as you can! Because Book 2 of the Magnificent Twelve series is coming out in the fall, so you don’t want to get behind. And I haven’t even mentioned the other cool things about this book, like:

* a bully turned bodyguard
* the flashbacks to the original Magnificent Twelve’s story
* jumping out of a plane
* an intimidating (and cute) girl who’s the second of the Magnificent Twelve
* and much more!

— Nancy

Nancy thinks it would be awesome if she had a golem to do her laundry!

Meet Nancy

Thumbs Up for “Belly Up”

February 24th, 2011 by

belly-up-stuart-gibbs-book-reviewLast week, I announced the big winner of the Cybils Award for middle grade fiction. But there were LOTS of great books in the running, and another finalist that I really enjoyed was Belly Up by Stuart Gibbs.

You know, over the years I never said to myself, “Gee, I could really go for a murder mystery set at a zoo. Oh, and the victim should be a grumpy hippo!” But now that I’ve ready Belly Up, I realize it’s been a hole in my life that I didn’t even know existed!

The hippo in question is Henry, the mascot of FunJungle, a spectacular new zoo where Teddy and his parents live (his parents work for the zoo). When Henry turns up dead, Teddy suspects foul play — and his investigations bring him into contact with the zoo’s short-tempered head vet, the zoo owner’s celebutante daughter, and quite a bit of danger.

You also get an insider’s access to the operations of a gigantic zoo/theme park, which I loved. Teddy pretty much gets free rein of the park (and sometimes sneaks into spots if he doesn’t), so following his adventures was like getting a behind-the-scenes tour of the place — but with a possible hippo killer on the loose!

Added bonus: If you’ve been suffering through an especially windy and snowy winter like most of the country, then this book makes for a great getaway to sunny Texas!

— Karen

Karen spent a summer in San Diego when she was eight, and she went to their famous zoo quite a lot. Her favorite memory? Eating ice cream in a waffle cone for the first time!

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