The winners of 2008 Cybil Awards have just been announced over at the Cybils site. How exciting! I look at this list of winners and I can’t help but think that 2008 was a cracker year for books: The Hunger Games, The Graveyard Book, The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks, and toss in a little Naomi Shihab Nye and Mo Willems and Shannon Hale and wowza! It’s like everybody who’s anybody is on this Cybils list.
I’d like to post here the description of the winning book in the category I was organizing and helping to judge: Middle Grade Fiction. This year’s winner is Siobhan Dowd’s, The London Eye Mystery. Here’s our teaser:
Brother and sister, Ted and Kat, take their cousin Salim to see the London Eye, the city’s gigantic Ferris wheel. While Ted and Kat watch, Salim gets into one of the glass pods, but thirty minutes later he doesn’t get off. So the siblings set out to find their cousin. Complicating the situation, Ted’s brain “runs on a different operating system” from other people’s, which makes him a lot better at facts and figures than he is at reading people. Narrated in Ted’s voice, this is a page-turner that brings London to life and takes readers inside a powerfully rational mind. The London Eye Mystery shows off kids’ natural ingenuity and proves that difference can be a strength, as Ted and Kat work to solve the irresistible riddle of their cousin’s disappearance.
I enjoyed Dowd’s book immensely, and I think many kids will feel the same way. It’s exciting and clever, narrated by an engaging and unusual kid and it offers readers a look into a quirky, and extraordinarily real-seeming family. I remember when I put down the book after reading it, I immediately felt so sad that we won’t be seeing any more stories from Siobhan Dowd, who died very young in August 2007. This book inspired me to read Dowd’s YA title, A Swift Pure Cry, further proof of her outstanding talent for storytelling. The London Eye Mystery will make you want to visit London and fly the Eye for yourself, and you’ll root for Ted and Kat as they put their natural sleuthing skills to the test.
It wasn’t easy to choose a winner in our category, as all of the titles offer something so different and worthy to this age group. I hope many kids read the other finalists: Diamond Willow (Helen Frost), Alvin Ho (Lenore Look), Shooting the Moon (Frances O’Roark Dowell) and Every Soul a Star (Wendy Mass).
A huge thank you again to the wonderful group of MG Fiction panelists and my fellow judges, who all worked very hard (and read even harder) to whittle many fantastic reads down to one winning title. It was a treat working with all of you and getting to chat and share opinions about such fine writing. Cybils 4-ever!
Middle Grade Fiction Panelists
Sarah Mulhern, The Reading Zone
Alysa Stewart, Everead
Mary R. Voors, ACPL Mock Newbery
Sherry Early, Semicolon
Melissa Fox, Book Nut
Matthew Wigdahl, The Book Club Shelf