Thursday, February 28, 2008

February - Cybils Award Finalists

I wish we had to time read all of the wonderful Cybils Awards Finalists, but since we didn't we decided first to read all of the fictional picture book finalists:

Pssst! by Adam Rex
Go to Bed, Monster! by Natasha Wing

The Chicken-Chasing Queen of Lamar County by Janice N. Harrington

Leaves By David Ezra Stein

Four Feet, Two Sandals by Karen Lynn William and Khadra Mohammad

Knuffle Bunny Too by Mo Willems

The Incredible Book-Eating Boy by Oliver Jeffers

Then we also selected a few of the middle grade fiction finalists. Heather did a great job hosting, and for those of you who weren't able to attend, here are a few of her discussion questions:

Emma Jean Lazarus Fell Out of A Tree by Lauren Tarshis
How did the author use the two voices to her advantage in the telling of this story? What do we gain as readers from hearing both points of view?Did the ending seem to be missing a final chapter? Was there enough climax? Do the seemingly random subplots get tied up a little too neatly at the end?Did the short length of the book appeal to you or leave you wanting?

A Crooked Kind of Perfect by Linda Urban
Why did this win 2007's most appropriate title award? Who or what is a crooked kind of perfect in the book?How does Zoe's father cross over from home-bound to holding an actual job?Describe Zoe's relationship with her mother. How does it change over the course of the book?How did the author demonstrate Zoe's social awkwardness? Was it mirrored by the instrument she had to play?Which relationship is the most believable?What is an example of a funny part you remember from the book? Why is it so hard to write good humor?Was anyone bothered by her swapping her organ for a piano at the end?

The Wild Girls by Pat Murphy
Assign partners. Ask your partners interesting questions and be prepared to introduce something "true" about her.Which girl do you feel worse for, Newt (parents fighting and Dad leaving), or Fox (abandoning mother returning)?What did you learn about masks in this book? When and why did the characters use them?Truth was an important theme in this book. What experiences stood out as "true" to life for you in Wild Girls?Why is it often so hard for girls to get along with their own mothers, but easily relate to the mothers of their friends?

If you read these three and are looking for more to read, check out the other middle grade fiction finalists:
Leap of Faith by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

Leepike Ridge by Nathan D. Wilson
Louisiana's Song by Kerry Madden

Miss Spitfireby Sarah Miller
Of course discussion lead to which books we wanted to see win the Cybil awards. We wanted A Crooked Kind of Perfect to win for middle grade fiction (that's probably not a surprise to you since I've been pushing it into the hands of anyone who will read it. Good humor in middle grade fiction is so hard to come by and this book is brilliant!) but we didn't agree on a second choice. We were all in agreement that we wanted Pssst! to win in the fiction picture book category. It's so clever and I love the artful illustrations.
In case you missed it, the award winners have been announced. The Middle Grade Fiction committee saw things the way we did and selected A Crooked Kind of Perfect as the winner! The Picture book committee Chose The Chicken-Chasing Queen of Lamar County, which wasn't a favorite among our group. You were robbed, Adam Rex!!!!! Robbed I tell you! (Although he did win the Cybil Award for elementary/middle grade fantasy/science fiction for his book The True Meaning of Smekday so the Cybils did recognize his genius so everything is still good, eh?)