Friday, October 2, 2009

Cybils! *squee!*

Yup, I'm happy to announce that I'll be serving on the Middle Grade Fiction nominating panel for the 2009 Cybils Awards!

I'm working with a great group of bloggers, some of whom I'm familiar with and some of whom I'm not (yet!). Check 'em out:

Panel Organizer: Kerry Millar, Shelf Elf

Panelists (Round I Judges):

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

Round II Judges:

Kimberly Baker, Wagging Tales
Stacy Dillon, Welcome to my Tweendom
Monica Edinger, Educating Alice
David Elzey, Excelsior File
Kerry Millar (see panel organizer)

There were lots of great middle grade novels published this year, so make sure you nominate your favorite!

And say you're on a Cybils panel for the first time. You might be wondering just what you've gotten yourself into. Last year I was on the YA Fiction panel, so I have a few tips for Cybils newbies:

1. Start reading now. Yes, I know the final nomination lists won't be out until mid-October, but you will appreciate it later if you start reading right now. You probably have some idea of the titles in your category that have been getting buzz, so seek them out and get started!

2. Yes, you will get free review copies of some books, but you may not receive review copies of all the books. Last year we got most of them, but not all, and the economy will have an even bigger impact this year. Use your local library and see if they will ILL or purchase the titles they don't own.

3. Start reviewing those titles that you read and start sharing your thoughts with others on your panel. Letting others know which titles are your favorites will help all of you pick which titles you should prioritize. In categories with large numbers of nominations (YA Fiction, MG Fiction, and Fantasy/Sci-Fi, I'm lookin' at you), this will be really helpful.

4. Make notes as you read, particularly the books you want to recommend for the short list (or books you really don't think should be on the short list). When your group gets together to hash out the list, it's so helpful to have your reasoning thought out and written down. It makes it much easier to make a case for a particular favorite or explain why someone else's favorite isn't short-list-worthy. That said, there will be compromises. Not all the books on last year's YA fiction short list were my very favorites, but I can honestly say that they each had a case built for them. Remember that it's a group effort!

5. Being on a Cybils nominating panel is A LOT OF WORK. But it's fun work and worthwhile. The short lists you come up with will be tools for parents, kids, librarians, and teachers looking for great books. They kind of go down in history. And you'll get to know a great group of bloggers, which only strengthens the community and your place in it. (Okay, that was not a tip, but I just want you to be prepared!)

If you're a Cybils judge this year, best of luck! If you volunteered and were not selected, don't lose heart. The Cybils organizers have a huge job in fitting bloggers into panels. Keep reading, keep blogging, and maybe there will be a place for you next year. And don't forget to nominate your favorite books of 2009!