And the Winner Is… The Shadows (The Books of Elsewhere)!

February 20th, 2011 by

The ShadowsAs you might have seen from Karen’s earlier post this week, we’re finally allowed to reveal the winners of the Cybils categories that we judged! Judging, by the way, consisted of reading each finalist book carefully and then having a discussion about it — so basically, everyday life here at Kidsmomo!

And the winner for the Science Fiction & Fantasy book is… (drumroll please)… The Shadows by Jacqueline West!

Hm. For regular Kidsmomo readers and listeners, that title might sound kind of familiar… That’s because Karen actually recommended it for our Harry Potter Withdrawal theme a couple months back!

The Shadows is Volume 1 of The Books of Elsewhere series, which made me really happy when I got to the last chapter… because I didn’t want it to end! But let’s take a few steps back and introduce this book properly:

Shy, thoughtful, and imaginative 11-year-old Olive Dunwoody moves into a new town and a creaky, old house with her mathematician parents. (Olive, by the way, is not mathematician-like at all, which makes her feel a little out of place in her own family sometimes.) All around the house are paintings of different styles, sizes, and shapes, and she discovers that they are stuck to the walls, no matter how hard she pries. She also starts prying into the mysterious history of the house, and along the way makes a few friends… if you count sneaky talking cats and a two-dimensional boy stuck in a painting as friends.

Just to clarify — the talking cats speak English, not just in meows, like these guys:

I really loved this book — so much, in fact, that I might re-read it again after writing this blog entry. And then maybe I’ll start a letter-writing campaign to Jacqueline West to get crackin’ on Volume 2!

— Nancy

Nancy used to talk to her sister’s cats, Duck and Goose, a lot. Since they never spoke back, she figured they must be fluent only in Meow or Portuguese, or something! That’s the most logical answer, obviously.

Meet Nancy

Origami Yoda: Love This Book, You Will!

February 17th, 2011 by

A while back, Nancy and I mentioned that we’re judges for the Cybils, which are awards for children’s books, run by adults just as obsessed with kidlit as we are. Well, this week we announced the results, and now I can finally tell you about the winner in my category: The Strange Case of Origami Yoda by Tom Angleberger!

It’s been very hard to keep my mouth shut and not tell everyone in the world about this book, because it is AWESOME! Seriously. Read it, you should. Thank me, you will.

The Origami Yoda in question is a paper finger puppet. When Dwight shows up to school wearing the little guy and dispensing wisdom in a squeaky voice, everyone just assumes it’s a joke because, well, Dwight’s weird and not particularly bright. But then it turns out that Origami Yoda’s advice actually works… at least sometimes. So Tommy decides to investigate; he asks everyone to write up their experiences with Origami Yoda, and he invites his nonbeliever friend, Harvey, to make scientific counterarguments. Tommy puts it all together in a case file and tries to figure out the truth. Why? Well, everybody at school is pretty curious, but Tommy’s got his own motivation: He got some advice from Origami Yoda about a girl he really, really likes…

I was kind of a horrible judge when it came to this book because, well, there’s nothing I disliked about it! When it came time to write my thoughts, I was just like, “Uh, it’s perfect?” The book is funny, but not in a phoney over-the-top wacky way. It’s sweet, but not in a gag-me cutesy way. And it’s even got hilarious little doodle illustrations in the margins! Like I said — perfect!

So what are you waiting for? Go get this book! There is no try!

— Karen

Karen still hasn’t seen Star Wars Episodes I-III and isn’t sure she ever will. Not that she qualifies as a hardcore fan of the original films, but still. Draw the line, she must.

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Happy New Year, Cybil!

January 2nd, 2011 by

What’s that? Your name’s not Cybil? We know that! What do you take us for?

We’re just wishing a Happy New Year to Cybil because every January 1st, the finalists for the Cybils Awards are announced. That’s the children’s book competition that Karen mentioned a while back, because both of us are serving as Round 2 judges this year. That means we get to help pick the ultimate winners! (THE POWER!)

Nancy is a judge for the Science Fiction & Fantasy category, and Karen is a judge for the Middle Grade Fiction category — in other words, the kinds of books we talk about here on Kidsmomo!

And we are both REALLY excited about being part of the Cybils this year. In fact, each of us has already finished reading one of the finalist books! How is that possible when the finalists were just announced yesterday? We’ll let you in on a little secret: we totally knew the finalists ahead of time. In yo’ face! Er, we mean… As judges, we got emailed our lists last week, but we had to promise to keep them completely confidential. But now it’s the new year, and the finalists have been revealed to the world — and that means you can read along with us!

The finalists are…

& Fantasy



You’ll find short reviews for all the finalists on the Cybils website, written by Round 1 judges! Here are quick links to the Science Fiction & Fantasy category and Middle Grade Fiction category.

And if you’ve read any of these books, please send in your review or leave a comment! Just PLEASE no spoilers, so that Nancy and Karen have pure experiences reading the books. We are Very Important Judges, after all. 🙂

What’s Your Favorite New Book? Nominate It!

October 14th, 2010 by

So, it looks like Nancy and I have decided that it’s not enough that both of us work in children’s publishing and we spend a good chunk of our free time on Kidsmomo — apparently, that’s just not enough kidlit for us, because now we’ve gone and volunteered to be judges in this year’s Cybils Awards.

Never heard of ’em? Don’t worry, we didn’t expect you to. The Cybils are a big deal amongst adults who have blogs about children’s books — people like me and Nancy who are WAY older than you but can’t seem to grow up. (No offense to our fellow Cybils judges. Just sayin’.)

The way it works is that people nominate books that were published within the last year, and then kidlit bloggers from around the web read and score the books, eventually declaring the winners in various categories like Poetry, Graphic Novels, and Fantasy & Science Fiction. All the judges are adults, but the cool part is that ANYONE can nominate!

That’s where you come in. Do you have a favorite new book that was published between October 16, 2009 and October 15, 2010? Then you can nominate it to be judged in this year’s Cybils Awards! But act fast, because the deadline is October 15th at 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time. (Do I sound like a TV commercial or what?)

Just ask your parent to submit the title using this nomination form. (Sorry, you have to get a parent to do it and use their email address. But you can totally use your own name, and I’d encourage you put in your age too, so that everyone can see that the nomination came from a real-honest-to-goodness kid — these books are written for you, after all!)

Before you nominate, be sure to read over these rules:

  • You can only nominate one book in each category. Speaking of which, you guys may not be interested in all the categories. I’d suggest nominating in one of these: Science Fiction & Fantasy, Graphic Novels, Nonfiction, Poetry, and Middle Grade Fiction (which is pretty much anything else you’d read that doesn’t fall into one of those other categories!).
  • You can only nominate books that were published between October 16, 2009 and Octother 15, 2010. I know I already said that, but it’s a no-nonsense rule that you just can’t get around, so I thought I’d repeat it. (If you have trouble figuring out when a book was published, just go to Amazon or Barnes & Noble’s website; they have the publication dates for most books.)
  • You can’t nominate books that were written entirely in a language other than English. (But you can totes nominate a book written in English and another language, like a book written in both English and Spanish.)
  • PLEASE nominate each book only once. As long as you nominate it, it will be included in the contest, I promise.
  • Your parent must be the one to submit the nomination for you, using their email address. You’re not allowed to submit it yourself. (Yeah, yeah, I know this one is also a repeat. I’m just trying to stay out of trouble here.)
  • Nominations are due before October 15th at 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time. So, hurry hurry hurry!
  • After you nominate a book, you have to hop around in your living room wearing a pink tutu. JUST KIDDING! I just wanted to see if you were paying attention.

So, I think that just about covers it! Well, how about I throw in the link to the nomination form again, for good measure. Here it is: CYBILS NOMINATION FORM! Don’t forget, nominations are due before 11:59 p.m. ET this Friday (10/15)!

— Karen

There are lots of nominated books that Karen really wants to read, but she’s waiting to see if they make it past the first round because Karen is a Round 2 judge. Some might call that laziness, but Karen prefers to think of it as efficiency.

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