Category Archives: Cybils

I was abducted by a not-so-tiny kindergarten army and I’ve finally made it back home

photo-7I’ve missed this place. I’ve missed having a moment to breathe and think about something other than how to be a kindergarten teacher. With September almost over, I’ve seen and heard and done things I never imagined seeing and hearing and doing on a daily basis until now. For example, last week I barely avoided getting my brand new pair of sparkly ballet flats puked on by one of my most adorable students. Being stylish in kindergarten is dangerous, I’m telling you. By the end of the year I could very well make a go of it on the road as a stand up comedian with some of the stories I have to tell.

It is as crazy as you imagine it might be to spend everyday with 28 three, four, and five-year-olds. A lot happens. There’s giggling. Sometimes there’s crying. There is making things with glue and colouring and building. There is writing and painting and listening and chatting. There are puppet shows and play-dough self-portraits and wonder walks. These are very full days.

And you know what? My kids love stories. In all honesty, stories have helped me get through the past few wild weeks without losing my marbles. Here are just a few of the books we’ve read this month – thank goodness for them:

I hope to be able to get back to proper posting here at the Elf in the weeks ahead. For now I leave you with a few more pictures of my class. Kids sure make beautiful art. Oh, and I’m thrilled to say I’m part of an amazing team of bloggers on the Cybils Fiction Picture Book Team this year – something to look forward to in the dead of winter. All those books will suit me (and my kindergarten army) perfectly.




Feeling the love: Jumping for Cybils (and Valentine’s) Joy

photoAwesome picture, right? That’s me and my hubby doing a heart-shaped jump for joy. (And yes, that’s our sassy old-man Siamese stalking away in the background. He was not impressed by our acrobatics). Earlier this week, we went to do a photo session at jumpshots, an amazing studio in Toronto that is the brainchild of Margaret Mulligan. She is as lovely as she is talented. If you’re in Toronto and you’re in search of a fun way to spend an evening, I can’t think of a better suggestion than a photo shoot at jumpshots.

Today is not just Valentine’s Day (reason enough to jump around, all heart-shaped), it is also the day when the Cybils 2012 Winners are announced. Here’s the link. I was on the Fantasy and Science Fiction YA panel this year, and it was a treat to be able to discuss the finalists with such a smart group of bookish people. I think you’ll find our winner, Seraphina, is definitely worthy of a heart-jump.

Happy Valentine’s Day, and Happy Cybils Day!

You really oughta…

Just in case you didn’t know, the 2012 Cybils have been taking nominations since Monday. Exciting stuff! If you haven’t submitted your picks yet, now would be a good time to scan the nominations lists to see which of your favourites of the last year have not yet been put forward for consideration. The lists are already looking tremendous. Getting awfully excited about Teen Sci-Fi Fantasy. It has been a good, good year in my category, that’s for sure.

And I might as well put a little plug in for a book that has already been nominated in the Middle Grade Fantasy category, one that I am enjoying hugely at this moment. I’m nearly halfway through The Spindlers, by Lauren Oliver, and I’m forcing myself to slow down so that it lasts longer. It’s a wonderful, absorbing yarn. Here’s Lauren Oliver talking about how the idea for the book took shape:

Go forth! Nominate! Read the nominated books! Hooray for the Cybils!

Elf out.

This’ll be fantastic: Cybils 2012

I’m waving celebratory sparklers over here because I’m pleased as punch to announce that I’m a second round Cybils judge in the YA Fantasy and Science Fiction category this year. I’m on a new team for the first time ever. How exciting! And what a team it is. I’m happy to be working with these fantastic bloggers:

Round 1
Kim Baccellia
YA Books Central

Flannery Carlos
The Readventurer

Aurora Celeste

Tanita Davis
Finding Wonderland

Karen Jensen
Teen Librarian’s Toolbox

Sheila Ruth
Wands and Worlds

Hallie Tibbets
Undusty New Books

Round 2

Emma Carbone
Miss Print

Zac Harding
My Best Friends Are Books

Kerry Millar
Shelf Elf (Right here!)

Tasha Saecker
Waking Brain Cells

Nicole Signoretta
booked up

Nominations begin very soon, on October 1st. I’m already thinking about my top picks. If you don’t know how the Cybils work, you will find answers to all of your questions here.

I’m going to go have some cake now.

Cybils Finalists Are Here!

Just in case you didn’t get enough outstanding books for Christmas this year, you should be able to find plenty to entice you over at the Cybils blog since the 2011 finalists have been announced.

Of course, I’m particularly interested in the Middle Grade Fiction list, since I’m excited to be a member of the judging panel again this year. So here are those titles:

Darth Paper Strikes Back – by Tom Angleberger

Ghetto Cowboy – by G. Neri

Nerd Camp – by Elissa Brent Weissman

The Friendship Doll – by Kirby Larson

The Great Wall of Lucy Lu – by Wendy Wan-Long Shang

Warp Speed – by Lisa Yee

Words in the Dust – by Trent Reedy

Read more about why you need to read these books right here. I’ve already started. Happy Reading!

The Cybils Winners for 2010…

It’s Valentine’s Day, which means love, and chocolates, (and in my case, a dazzling pair of red boots bought for me by my fella and then put away for long, painful weeks “until Valentine’s Day”), and the Cybils Award Winners!

Of course, I am particularly interested in Middle Grade fiction, being category organizer/judge for that area. So without further ado, the Cybils 2010 winner for Middle Grade Fiction is…

Tom Angleberger’s The Strange Case of Origami Yoda!

It is such a delightful, funny, quirky, true book for Middle Graders. Buy one for someone you love today. What says Valentine’s more than a wise old green guy with giant ears?

Here’s my review (from before it was even nominated for a Cybils Award – don’t worry folks, we’re all about integrity here), and a wonderful little video so you can make a Yoda for your sweetie today:

Now, allow me to link you straight on over to:

The Cybils Winners for 2010 in all of their kid-appeal fab-writing glory

The 2009 Cybils Winners Announced!

Yippee because it’s the day that the 2009 Cybils Award are announced (and it’s Valentine’s Day, International Day of Extreme Spoiling for moi).

Naturally, as the Middle Grade fiction organizer, I’m particularly excited to share the winner in that category, but before I do, I’d like to send out a giant thank you to the first round panelists and the judges this year, for your reading and thinking and discussing. Without you, no Cybils. So I’m glad the world is full of such devoted kidslit bloggers.

Middle Grade Fiction Panelists

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

Middle Grade Fiction Judges

Kimberly Baker, Wagging Tales
Stacy Dillon, Welcome to my Tweendom
Monica Edinger, Educating Alice
David Elzey, Excelsior File
(and me – thanks me!)

To all of you, I send a big, superhero cartoonish heart o’ thanks:

And the winner of the 2009 Cybils Award for Middle Grade fiction is…

Chains, by Laurie Halse Anderson. Congratulations Laurie!

For a list of all of the winners, visit the announcement post at the Cybils blog. Well done writers! Well done readers!

(Adorable cheering child picture & superhero-ish heart courtesy of stock-xchng).

Cybils 2009 Finalists Announced!

January 1st is worth celebrating because it is the start of a brand new year (with no mistakes in it!) and also because it is the day when the finalists for the 2009 Cybils Awards are announced. Hooray!

You can find the lists of all of the finalists at the Cybils blog.

As one of the Middle Grade Judges, I am naturally just a teensy bit more focused on the Middle Grade list. So here it is:

All the Broken Pieces – Ann Burg

Anything but Typical – by Nora Raleigh Baskin

Captain Nobody – by Dean Pitchford

Chains – by Laurie Halse Anderson

Heart of a Shepherd – by Rosanne Parry

Operation Yes – by Sara Lewis Holmes

The Small Adventures of Popeye and Elvis – by Barbara O’Connor

The winning title in each category will be announced on February 14th, 2010. Time to read!

(Celebratory fireworks courtesy of stock.xchng).

Cybils 2009 – let the fun begin!

Cybils2009-Web-SmallToday is the day! It’s launch day for the 2009 Cybils Awards. This is always an exciting day in the kidlitosphere, as readers far and wide begin to nominate their favourite titles of the last year in all sorts of categories. Then, over the next few months, expert panels of kidlit bloggers and reviewers whittle the nominations down to a group of finalists and judges choose the winning titles in the New Year. Pure bookish fun. It’s all about celebrating titles that have true kid appeal and outstanding literary merit. I’m happy to be the category organizer and one of the judges in Middle Grade Fiction this year. Read my snazzy bio here. I am thrilled to introduce the fantastic crew working with me this year. Tah dah!

Cybils Middle Grade Fiction Panelists 2009

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

Cybils Middle Grade Fiction Judges 2009

Moi (blogging right here, right now)
Monica Edinger Educating Alice
Stacy Dillon Welcome to My Tweendom
David Elzey The Excelsior File
Kimberly Baker Wagging Tales

But… nothing’s going to happen unless everyone out there in the ether nominates some titles. So step up! This is what you do:

1) Go to the Cybils blog.

2) You will find the nifty new Nominations Form that will make nominating titles super simple and avoid the headaches of duplicate nominations. (Go Cybils computer-genius Sheila for inventing said form! We bow to your powers!)

3) Nominate one title per category only. The title must be a book that was published after October 15th 2008 to the end of this year’s nomination period, October 15th 2009. This time frame was new last year, so be sure to cast your minds back to all of those wonderful titles published in late 2008. I’ve already got a few in mind. I haven’t forgotten you!

4) Check the Cybils blog for lots of cool posts from here on in.

*doing a happy Cybils dance*

Let the fun begin!

Cybils 2009 Needs You!

It’s almost Cybils season again and I’m getting super excited already! In case you’re not in the know, the Cybils are the Children’s and Young Adult Bloggers’ Literary Awards, presented annually. Here’s what the Cybils are all about, quoted straight from the Cybils site, where the magic is managed:

“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.”

So it’s all about highlighting the best books loved by kids and critics alike, all the while promoting the many outstanding blogs in the kidlitosphere.

It’s getting to be the time when the panelist and judging committees for every category are getting organized. If you blog about kids’ and/or YA books, and you’re interested (it is LOTS of fun, I promise!) then you can check out all of the details on applying for the job here and here.

If judging isn’t your bag, but you’d still like to be involved, you can make it all happen by nominating in every single Cybils category beginning on October 1st, 2009. Just keep your eye on the Cybils blog for every detail you’ll need.

(F.Y.I. I’ve heard the Middle Grade Fiction organizer this year is a cool gal, just in case you’re wondering which category to sign up for 🙂 )