Search results for 'cybils'

CYBILS Awards

9 Oct

Cybils Blog Header 2009

As many of you know already, I have the honor of being one of the panelist for the CYBILS Awards for Children’s Literature this year. CYBILS is an acronym for Children’s and Young Adult Bloggers’ Literary Award.

This means that I will be spending almost every waking moment reading or blogging about books here. For this reason, I have dedicated a tab at the top of my page to share my thoughts with you.

Under the main tab, The 2015 CYBILS, I have started two other pages Easy Readers and Early Chapter Books since those are the two genres I will be reading and reviewing. On each of those pages, I have described my definitions of Easy Readers and Early Chapter Books. These may differ slightly from those of other panelists or professionals in the field, but I believe they are substantially accurate. As I read, I will add a page to one of the two categories giving the title, author, publisher, year of publication, ISBN, summary, literary merit, and kid appeal for each book.

As with my other reviews, I will only comment on books that I really like. I hope that you will find these posts helpful in choosing books to read to your children, grandchildren, students, family or friends. Please feel free to make your own comment about any book you find on my website. 

Good luck to all the participants in this year’s CYBILS Awards!

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I will also end each post with the circular icon and a reminder that all of the opinions on my page are my own and have not been influenced in any way by any other parties.

The 2015 CYBILS

5 Oct

Cybils Blog Header 2009I am honored to be chosen as one of the judges this year for the 2015 CYBILS Awards. Although I actually wanted to be on the picture book panel, I am excited to be asked to be one of the Easy Reader panelists instead. This gives me another opportunity to increase my reading selections and to study another genre of children’s literature.

I will use this site to review the books I am reading and organize my thoughts throughout the process. I hope you will visit often and see how this all turns out.

For those of you who need a little guidance in the process (like myself) here are a few things I have garnered from the experience thus far:

First of all CYBLIS is an acronym for Children’s and Young Adult Bloggers’ Literary Award. It was developed by blogger Anne Levy in 2006, making this the Tenth Annual CYBILS Award season!

Nominations are open from October 1-15th from anyone who reads in any or all of the following ten categories.

Book Apps
Easy Reader / Early Chapter (fiction and nonfiction)
Elementary / Middle Grade Nonfiction
Elementary / Middle Grade Speculative Fiction
Fiction Picture Books
Graphic Novels (younger audience and young adult)
Middle Grade Fiction
Poetry
Young Adult Fiction
Young Adult Speculative Fiction

If you are interested in nominating your favorite children’s books for the year visit Katie’s blog HERE. Remember to do so before the October 15th deadline!

Publishers can nominate books in each category from October 16th-25th.

Round One of reading and reviewing will begin on October 1st and will run until December 29th. The short list of favorites is due December 29th and the finalist will be announced on January 1st.

Round Two will run from January 2nd through February 12th, with the list of winners due on February 12th.

Winners of the CYBILS will be announced on February 14th. Fitting for Valentine’s Day and people who LOVE children’s literature!

Get an idea of how this works. Check out the past CYBILS Award Winners HERE. Then follow along as I share some of the nominations I’m reading. Feel free to comment on my reviews and share these on your own media outlets.

Outside the Box

12 Jan

When the American Library Association thinks outside the box,open empty cardboard box 3d illustration

this is what happens…

A picture book is awarded the most outstanding contribution to children’s literature, the John Newbery Medal winner is https://julianaleewriter.com/books-alive/l/last-stop-on-market-street/ by Matt de la Pena and Christian Robinson.22521973

A 56 page story is awarded the most distinguished American picture book for children, the Randolph Caldecott Medal winner is https://julianaleewriter.com/books-alive/f/finding-winnie/ by Lindsay Mattcik and Sophie Blackall.24819508

An autobiography and ‘celebrity’ picture book is awarded The Coretta Scott King (Illustrator) Book Award. The winner is https://julianaleewriter.com/books-alive/t/trombone-shorty/ by Troy Andrews and Brian Collier.23167689

This is the first time in the history of the ALA Youth Media Awards that the same person won both the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award and the Virginia Hamilton Award for Lifetime Achievment in the same year. Congratulations to Jerry Pinkney! Pinkney’s newest picture book this year was https://julianaleewriter.com/books-alive/g/the-grasshopper-and-the-ants/20839547

Other picture books taking home ALA awards this year are….

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Emmanuel’s Dream by Laurie Ann Thompson and Sean Qualls  won the Schneider Family Book Award for books that embody an artistic expression of the disability experience.

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The Wonderful Fluffy Little Squishy by Beatrice Alemagna won the Mildred L. Batchelder Award for an outstanding children’s book translated from a foreign language and subsequently published in the United States.

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Drum Dream Girl by Margarita Engle and Rafael Lopez won the Pura Belpré (Illustrator) Award honoring a Latino writer and illustrator whose children’s books best portray, affirm and celebrate the Latino cultural experience.

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Funny Bones by Duncan Tonatiuh won the Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Award for most distinguished informational book for children.

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https://julianaleewriter.com/the-cybils-2015/easy-readers/dont-throw-it-to-mo/ by David A. Adler and  Sam Ricks won the Theodor Seuss Geisel Award for the most distinguished beginning reader book.

Backyard Witch

1 Dec

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Title: Backyard Witch

Author: Christine Heppermann and Ron Koertge

Illustrator: Deborah Marcero

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Year: 2015

ISBN: 978-0-06-233838-9

Summary: Sadie gets left behind when her two best friends go off to camp together. But in her own backyard, she meets Mrs. M, a witch, living in her old playhouse. Mrs. M is looking for her black cat and best friend who just so happens to have been turned into a bird. For the next several days, Sadie helps Mrs. M look for her cat and her bird. In the process she learns how to identify different bird species in her neighborhood. Mrs. M’s cat returns, but she never does find her friend the bird. Then it’s time for her to leave and Sadie’s friends return home from camp. As it turns out, camp was pretty lousy and Sadie actually had more fun at home than they did going away.

Literary Merit: Easy to read with short chapters. Keeps the reader guessing as to whether or not Mrs. M. is actually a witch, and even if she actually exists.

Kid Appeal: Kids will enjoy imagining that a witch might live in their backyard. Being able to learn something that does not involve spells, and maybe even questioning whether or not the witch was actually using spells, is another draw for kids and their parents.

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Disclaimer: This book was nominated for the 2015 CYBILS Award in the Early Chapter Book category. This review is shared as part of the Round One Judging. It is solely my own opinion and not influenced by any other parties.

Olive and Beatrix: The Not-So-Itty-Bitty Spiders

28 Nov

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Title: Olive and Beatrix: The Not-So-Itty-Bitty Spiders

Author and Illustrator: Amy Marie Stadelmann

Publisher: Branches, Scholastic Inc.

Year: 2015

Summary: Olive and Beatrix are twin sisters. Olive is a regular kid, but her twin sister Beatrix is a witch. Olive and her best friend, Eddie, love science. But Beatrix loves to play tricks on them while they conduct experiments. Then one day, Olive decides it’s time to play a trick on Beatrix. So they collect itty-bitty spiders and put them in a bucket to fall on Beatrix when she opened her door. It worked! Beatrix screamed and ran away, unfortunately the spiders landed in her growth potion and became giant spiders which caused all kinds of trouble in their neighborhood. They needed to work together in order to capture the spiders and use her shrinking potion on them. It took some time, but they finally got all the spiders under control.

Literary Merit: Short easy chapters. Written in a lot of dialogue similar to a graphic novel.

Kid Appeal: Twins and Witchcraft play an important role in getting kids’ attention. Playing tricks and casting spells, will have kids turning pages.

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Disclaimer: This book was nominated for the 2015 CYBILS Award in the Early Chapter Book category. This review is shared as part of the Round One Judging. It is solely my own opinion and not influenced by any other parties.

The Adventure of Sophie Mouse: A New Friend

28 Nov

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Title: The Adventures of Sophie Mouse: A New Friend

Author: Poppy Green

Illustrator: Jennifer A. Bell

Publisher: Little Simon

Year: 2015

Summary: Sophie and her meadow friends are excited about the first day of school until they meet the new student. No one wants to play with Owen Snake. They all have stories to tell about snakes, none of them good. Then Sophie sees Owen sitting alone at recess and looking sad at the end of the day when his mother picks him up. She asks her parents about snakes when she gets home and finds out that they once had a very good friend who was a snake when they were young, but she moved away. They told Sophie things about snakes that she didn’t know. She vowed to be nicer to Owen the next day at school, but Owen never came back to school. Then one day while she was collecting buttercups with her friend Hattie, Sophie fell into a deep hole and couldn’t get out. Owen hear her calling and came to help her out. She apologized for treating him so badly. As it turns out, Owen’s mother was the same snake her parents were good friends with when they were young. Owen returned to school, and the other students had a change of heart when they saw Hattie and Sophie playing with him at recess.

Literary Merit: Easy to read chapters with pictures supporting the story on every page.

Kid Appeal: Friendship. Accepting differences. Childlike fears about someone new and different. Innocent misunderstandings.

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Disclaimer: This book was nominated for the 2015 CYBILS Award in the Early Chapter Book category. This review is shared as part of the Round One Judging. It is solely my own opinion and not influenced by any other parties.

 

Hamlet: Retold in Modern-Day English

28 Nov

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Title: Hamlet: Retold in Modern-Day English

Author: Timothy Knapman

Illustrator: Yaniv Shimony

Publisher: QEB Publishing

Year: 2015

Summary: This is the story of Hamlet retold for children. It includes all the elements of ghosts, murders, deaths, and weddings of the original story. Hamlet is called home to Denmark for his father’s funeral. When he arrives the guards show him the ghost of his dead father, the king, roaming the castle battlements. The ghost tells Hamlet that he has been murdered by his brother, Hamlet’s uncle, who has now married the queen, Hamlet’s mother. Hamlet vows to get revenge for his father’s death. But his uncle is clever and realizes that Hamlet knows the truth. Hamlet accidentally kills his girlfriend’s father, thinking it is his uncle and now his girlfriend has gone mad and her brother vows to kill Hamlet. Hamlet’s father sends him to England with two of his friends with a letter to the English king to kill him. Hamlet finds the letter and changes it so that his friends are killed instead of himself. When his ship is taken over by pirates, Hamlet is taken back to Denmark for a ransom. On his return, Hamlet learns that his girlfriend had killed herself in her madness. He is angry and her brother is angry as well. His uncle plans a duel between Hamlet and his girlfriend’s brother, whose father he had accidentally killed.  His uncle poisons one of the swords and a cu of wine. Hamlet’s mother accidentally drinks the poisoned wine and dies. And the sword cuts both opponents, but before Hamlet dies he takes the poisoned sword and kills his uncle with it. In the end, only Hamlet’s best friend is still alive.

Literary Merit: William Shakespeare! Easy/Easier to understand than the original.

Kid Appeal: Adventure, ghosts, sword fights, poison, pirates, murder, and deaths. I think there would be a great market for this with the older readers, maybe 10+ years old, but it is too easy for a traditional chapter book.

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Disclaimer: This book was nominated for the 2015 CYBILS Award in the Early Chapter Book category. This review is shared as part of the Round One Judging. It is solely my own opinion and not influenced by any other parties.

Jasper John Dooley, Lost and Found

28 Nov

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Title: Jasper John Dooley, Lost and Found

Author: Caroline Adderson

Illustrator: Mike Shiell

Publisher: Kids Can Press

Year: 2015

Summary: Jasper John Dooley and his best friend, Ori decided to play a new game at recess. They dug for treasures in the sandbox. That day Jasper’s Nan showed him a treasure box she found. It was full of his dad’s and uncle’s toys that they had when they were young. Nan has saved them and now Jasper could pick any toy he wanted from the box. He picked his dad’s favorite plastic mouse, Marcel Mouse. He tied him to a long string and wore it around his neck. He wore it everyday, but one day Marcel accidentally got flushed down the toilet. Mom and Dad took Jasper to the library to find out where the toilet water goes and learned that Marcel probably went to the water treatment plant to get clean and then out to the ocean. They found the ocean currents and saw that Marcel would go to Alaska first, then Japan, then Australia where Uncle Tom lives. Jasper John hoped that Marcel would find Uncle Tom and come home with him for Nan’s birthday party. Uncle Tom came, but he didn’t have Marcel with him. Jasper was disappointed until Uncle Tom took him to a yard sale in the neighborhood and they found another Marcel Mouse toy that Jasper wore on a string around his neck.

Literary Merit: Characters with personality! And a little science lesson on toilets, water treatment plants, and ocean currents.

Kid Appeal: The Marcel Mouse tune is catchy and I can see kids singing it long after the story is finished. Real life school, playground, and family situations will hold kids’ interest as they read too.

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Disclaimer: This book was nominated for the 2015 CYBILS Award in the Early Chapter Book category. This review is shared as part of the Round One Judging. It is solely my own opinion and not influenced by any other parties.

Battle Bugs: The Lizard War

27 Nov

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Title: Battle Bugs: The Lizard War

Author: Jack Patton

Illustrator: Brett Bean

Publisher: Scholastic Inc.

Year: 2015

Summary: Max takes an amazing trip to Bug Island, the only catch is that he is the same size as the bugs. He escapes being eaten and then helps a scorpion fight off a lizard attack. He convinces the scorpion that he can help the bugs using his big brain, so the scorpion takes him to the bugs’ headquarters. He learns how Bug Island was connected to the Lizard Land after a volcano fused the lands together. Now the bugs only hope for survival from the lizards is to cross a river to the other side. The flying bugs could do it easily but the others cannot. Max plans an ant bridge which could support the lightest bugs. On the other side, some of the bugs ate through a tree so that it could fall across the river. The bigger bugs crossed the tree bridge. Then just before the lizards could get them, they pushed the tree into the river and it floated away. Now the bugs were safe, but Max was still their size. As they talked about how he got to be their size, they realized he had been looking at a map of their island through a magnifying glass. All he had to do was reverse the process and he was back to his normal size.

Literary Merit: Fast paced action adventure. Fantasy.

Kid Appeal: Boys especially would be drawn to this book, but I think a lot of girls would enjoy reading it just as much.

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Disclaimer: This book was nominated for the 2015 CYBILS Award in the Early Chapter Book category. This review is shared as part of the Round One Judging. It is solely my own opinion and not influenced by any other parties.

Lulu and the Hamster in the Night

27 Nov

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Title: Lulu and the Hamster in the Night

Author: Hilary McKay

Illustrator: Pricilla Lamont

Publisher: Albert Whitman and Company

Year: 2015

Summary: Lulu loves animals, all kinds of animals. One day she rescues a hamster from a big girl at school who was going to get rid of it because it bit her. Lulu took the hamster home and trained it to be friendly. But then she was invited to spend the night at her grandma’s house with her cousin, Mellie. Lulu wanted to go to Nan’s house, but she didn’t want to leave her new hamster alone. So Lulu and Mellie secretly bring the hamster to Nan’s house. That night, the hamster escapes and gets caught inside the walls of Nan’s house. Luckily for the girls, Nan’s cats know exactly where the hamster is at all times and a policeman showed them how to make a trap to catch the hamster with a bucket, a scarf, and some carrot pieces. Nan and the girls stay in the garden waiting for the hamster to crawl into the trap but they fall asleep and the hamster takes all the carrot pieces away and goes back to his own cage to sleep!

Literary Merit: Good storytelling with rich vocabulary and realistic adventure.

Kid Appeal: Animal lovers will enjoy this story. The story is easy to follow with lots of details and interesting characters. Everyone will love Nan as much as Lulu and Mellie.

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Disclaimer: This book was nominated for the 2015 CYBILS Award in the Early Chapter Book category. This review is shared as part of the Round One Judging. It is solely my own opinion and not influenced by any other parties.

Shelter Pet Squad: Merlin

19 Nov

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Title: Shelter Pet Squad: Merlin

Author: Cynthia Lord

Illustrator: Erin McGuire

Publisher: Scholastic Press

Year:2015

ISBN: 978-0-545-63599-8

Summary: Suzannah is the youngest member of the Shelter Pet Squad, a group of children who volunteer at the local animal shelter on Saturdays. One week they met a new friend, Merlin the Ferret. Merlin was soft and cute and cuddly, but he was also a lot of hard work. It would take a very special person to adopt Merlin. The kids researched ferrets and made a quiz to give prospective ferret owners. The following weekend, there was a big Match-a-Thon at the mall to match people with new pets. Suzannah met a woman who loved ferrets, but she wasn’t ready to get a new one yet. No one else passed the test, so Merlin went back to the shelter. The kids had fun playing with him and making him cardboard buildings to crawl in and out of. Finally, Merlin found the perfect home… the same woman who met him at the mall! And Suzannah learned that  it was okay to ask for help.

Literary Merit: Fun and interesting facts about ferrets and other pets are interspersed in the story line. Male and female characters work together, making this a story both genders would enjoy reading.

Kid Appeal: Kids who love animals will enjoy reading this story. It’s got strong characters and rich vocabulary that isn’t watered down for beginning chapter book readers.

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Disclaimer: This book was nominated for the 2015 CYBILS Award in the Early Chapter Book category. This review is shared as part of the Round One Judging. It is solely my own opinion and not influenced by any other parties.

The Critter Club: Ellie and the Good Luck Pig

18 Nov

 

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Title: The Critter Club: Ellie and the Good Luck Pig

Author: Callie Barkley

Illustrator: Marsha Riti

Publisher: Little Simon

Year: 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4814-2403-5

Summary: Ellie and her friends have a club in Ms. Sullivan’s barn. They take care of animals until they can be placed in other homes. This story is about Ellie’s attachment to a little pig named Plum. Ellie is convinced that Plum is bringing her good luck. And when Plum goes away to live on a farm and Ellie’s luck changes, she is even more convinced until her friends help her realize that her ‘luck’ was really her own doing.

Literary Merit: Lively chapters with lots of little details.

Kid Appeal: Girls will enjoy this book more than boys, for the most part. (There are no male characters in the story, except the man who takes the pig to his farm.)

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Disclaimer: This book was nominated for the 2015 CYBILS Award in the Early Chapter Book category. This review is shared as part of the Round One Judging. It is solely my own opinion and not influenced by any other parties.

 

The Mystery of the Missing Lion

18 Nov

 

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Title: Precious and the Mystery of the Missing Lion

Author: Alexander McCall Smith

Illustrator: Iain McIntosh

Publisher: Anchor Books

Year: 2013

ISBN: 978-1-1018-7202-4

Summary: Precious Ramotswe is a nine year old girl living in Botswana. She has the chance to visit one of her favorite aunts during a school holiday. She must travel in the back of a truck for a whole day until they reach Okavango Delta where her aunt lives. While she is there, a film crew comes to make a movie with a trained lion named Teddy. Precious is naturally afraid of lions, but learns that this lion acts more like a kitten than a lion when the lion tamer asks Precious and her new friend, Khumo to hide in the grass and make the sound of a guinea fowl to get Teddy’s attention. The next day, they find that Teddy is missing. Precious and Khumo go down the river in search of him. When they spot him with a pride of lions, they return and tell the camera crew where he is. Before the crew could capture Teddy, Precious convinces them to leave him with his new family. They all agree that Teddy looks happy and will learn how to be more of a lion and less of a kitten if he is left in the wild.

Literary Merit: This story has the flavor of a folktale and the adventure and mystery of a detective story.The heroine in the story is not a frilly, girly, character. She is smart and independent and honest. She brings all the character traits of a kid-dective to life in the African jungle.

Kid Appeal: Both boys and girls will be attracted to a strong female detective in a a wild adventure mystery.

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Disclaimer: This book was nominated for the 2015 CYBILS Award in the Early Chapter Book category. This review is shared as part of the Round One Judging. It is solely my own opinion and not influenced by any other parties.

The Boulder Brothers

17 Nov

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Title: The Boulder Brothers: Meet Mo and Jo

Author: Sarah Lynn

Illustrator: Pierre Collet-Derby

Publisher: Blue Apple Books

Year: 2014

ISBN: 978-1 -6090 5- 501-1

Summary: Mo and Jo are cave brothers who have to solve cave brother problems like how to get rid of a stink, how to play hide and peek, and how to stay warm.

Literary Merit: Cave boy language makes this fun to read.

Kid Appeal: Funny situations and it’s fun to read like a cave boy.

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Disclaimer: This book was nominated for the 2015 CYBILS Award in the Early Chapter Book category. This review is shared as part of the Round One Judging. It is solely my own opinion and not influenced by any other parties.

Sofia Martinez Picture Perfect

17 Nov

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Title: Sofia Martinez: Picture Perfect

Author: Jacqueline Jules

Illustrator: Kim Smith

Publisher: Picture Window Books

Year: 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4795-5773-8

Summary: Sofia is the youngest of three sisters who all look alike. In last year’s school pictures they all wore blue. Sofia changed the pictures in the frames and no one noticed. Now she wants to do something so that she stands out on picture day this year.

Literary Merit: Integrates spanish words in an english text. A dictionary is provided at the end of the book to help translate words or phrases that the reader is unfamiliar with.

Kid Appeal: Feisty girl who takes matters into her own hands. Common sibling problem resolved in a unique way.

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Disclaimer: This book was nominated for the 2015 CYBILS Award in the Easy Reader category. This review is shared as part of the Round One Judging. It is solely my own opinion and not influenced by any other parties.

 

 

 

 

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