2019 Cybils Award Winners

The 2019 winners of the Cybils Awards (Children’s and Young Adults Bloggers’ Literary Awards) were announced on February 14.

The Cybils Awards aims to recognize the children’s and young adult authors and illustrators whose books combine the highest literary merit and popular appeal. If some la-di-dah awards can be compared to brussels sprouts, and other, more populist ones to gummy bears, we’re thinking more like organic chicken nuggets. We’re yummy and nutritious.

Here are the results from the speculative fiction categories, plus another winner of genre interest, and the citations explaining why the judges liked these books.

Elementary/Middle-Grade Speculative Fiction

  • Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky by Kwame Mbalia

Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky is an epic adventure that melds African and African American folklore in a riveting fantasy about the power of stories. Tristan, an African American seventh grader, has lost his best friend and is spending the summer down South with his grandparents. There he is transported to an otherworldly land, where he gradually realizes that familiar African-American and African stories are real here, and powerful, and their characters are hurtling toward a cataclysm.  Tristan must accept that he is a hero, while working through his grief and guilt, in this powerful adventure full of twists and turns. Told in rich cinematic detail with beautiful attention to dialogue, a great cast of supporting characters, and with welcome comic relief lightening the weighty mood, Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky is an important book that will be embraced by young readers.

Young Adult Speculative Fiction

  • Fireborne (THE AURELIAN CYCLE) by Rosaria Munda

Rosaria Munda says three things inspired Fireborne: The French Revolution, Plato’s Republic, and the Blitz of London—plus the thought, “What if the bombers were fire-breathing dragons?”

Fireborne takes everything you might love about dragon-riders, revolution against a corrupt regime, and the loyalty of friends fighting for a common cause, and twists it sideways to create an emotionally intense, unpredictable story, by equal turns thought-provoking and edge-of-your-seat exciting. The revolution has happened; the “good guys” won: but are they really the good guys? Is the new society they created worth the atrocities they committed?

The tensions and opposing philosophies of the revolution are brilliantly captured in the two main characters. Lee was the son of an aristocrat. His family was brutally executed, and he grew up in an orphanage pretending to be a peasant. His best friend in the orphanage was Annie, a peasant whose whole family was killed by an aristocrat’s dragonfire. Now they are both dragonriders, competing to be the next leaders of the new republic. Threats from inside and outside make them question their beliefs, their loyalties, their friendship. Annie, Lee and their friends’ dilemmas are heartbreakingly believable and drive a compelling, endlessly interesting plot.

All five judges were blown away repeatedly by the beautiful writing, rip-roaring plot, believable character development, and window into society issues. We loved the slow-burn romance, the strong female characters, the high emotions and the depths of the ideas.

Amid a powerful and diverse slate of finalists, Fireborne rose to the top with its page-turning depiction of a dragon-filled, believably complex post-revolutionary world.

Easy Readers

  • Yasmin the Superhero by Saadia Faruqi, illustrated by Hatem Aly

When spunky Yasmin dons her cape and mask and heads out to defeat evil villains, she discovers that true heroes are those who help others. Written in three chapters, Yasmin the Superhero, celebrates family, diversity, and kindness with humor perfect for young readers. The bright and joyful illustrations have definite kid appeal and help to introduce a culture not often represented in children’s books. As an added bonus, Urdu vocabulary with definitions and introductory facts about Pakistan are included.

2019 Cybils Shortlists

The 2019 finalists for the Cybils (Children’s and Young Adults Bloggers’ Literary Awards) were announced on January 1.

The Cybils Awards aims to recognize the children’s and young adult authors and illustrators whose books combine the highest literary merit and popular appeal. If some la-di-dah awards can be compared to brussels sprouts, and other, more populist ones to gummy bears, we’re thinking more like organic chicken nuggets. We’re yummy and nutritious.

Here are the results from the speculative fiction categories, plus books of genre interest in the graphic novel categories.

Elementary/Middle-Grade Speculative Fiction

Cog by Greg van Eekhout, illustrated by Beatrice Blue

Cog uses the voice of a robot with artificial intelligence, who looks like a 12 year old African American boy, to raise questions about what makes us human. Learning from making mistakes? Our connections with others? After Cog saves a dog from being run over, he lands in the hands of a roboticist who believes robots are tools, and the financial bottom line is the most important thing. When Cog realizes the danger he’s in, he knows he must escape and find his beloved programmer again. Readers will love the rollercoaster ride adventure Cog takes to try to make sure he’s learning all the lessons he’s meant to learn.

Homerooms and Hall Passes by Tom O’Donnell

Homework and Hallpasses is a classic “fish out of water” story about a group of kids who get trapped in a game they’re playing. There’s a twist- the group of kids are from a medieval realm and include a wizard, an assassin, a paladin, a Barbarian, and thief. The game they are trapped in is called Homework and Hallpasses, a role playing game set in a modern day middle school. The laugh out loud dialogue and situations that develop as the dangers of middle school are coupled with a demonic curse, will keep all readers turning the pages to the final, hilarious solution.

Love Sugar Magic: A Sprinkle of Spirits by Anna Meriano, illustrated by Mirelle Ortega

Leo’s family runs a magical bakery in a small Texas town, and she longs to learn all she can about magic, even though her family doesn’t trust her with it. When she wakes up to find her abuela, dead for years, visiting her in very corporal form, she’s sure that this time it isn’t her fault. Other spirits pop up around town, and if it isn’t Leo’s magic at work, whose is it? Leo calls on her friends to help, and a wild ghost chase ensues. Honoring and balancing obligations to family, friends, and the community is just as important to the story as the magical shenanigans are, and these threads combined make an unforgettably fun, warm, story full of Mexican and Costa Rican culture.

Sal and Gabi Break the Universe (A Sal and Gabi Novel, Book 1) by Carlos Hernandez

Sal and Gabi Break the Universe is a quirky sci-fi friendship story brimming with humor and heart. Sal Vidón is not your typical diabetic Cuban-American middle school magician. He can tear holes in the fabric of the multiverse and bring things—and even people—from parallel universes into his own. It’s a useful skill, but it can lead to complications. Luckily, he finds a fierce ally in student council president, Gabi Reál. This book tackles serious issues with such a light touch that readers will never want to leave Sal and Gabi’s universe.

The Dark Lord Clementine by Sarah Jean Horwitz

Clementine has been raised to follow in her father’s footsteps as a Dark Lord. When he’s cursed, it falls to her to look after their castle and its magical creatures, while desperately searching for a cure. It doesn’t go well. But as Clementine grows in confidence, with two friends on her side for the first time in her life, she subverts the old notions “Dark Lord” and makes the role her own. It’s delightful to watch her come into her own. The humor of her world and the fun twists on standard fantasy are delightful as well, with themes of community, friendship, and forgiveness adding emotional weight.

Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky by Kwame Mbalia

Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky is an epic adventure that melds African and African American folklore in a riveting fantasy about the power of stories. Tristan, an African American seventh grader, has lost his best friend and is spending the summer down South with his grandparents. There he is transported to a land of lore that is both familiar and strange. Tristan processes grief and guilt while confronting an allegory of his ancestral past in this otherworldly adventure. Told in rich cinematic detail with beautiful attention to dialogue, Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky demands space on the bookshelf.

We’re Not from Here by Geoff Rodkey

We’re Not From Here puts all of us in the place of refugees and new kids when Lan and their family must represent all of humanity on an alien planet. The inhabitants of the planet Choom changed their minds about taking refugees while the human ship was on its way there – and now if Lan’s family can’t convince them that humans are civilized, all the humans on their ship will die in space. Even though the situation is dire and the government of Choom has set them up to fail, the humor in this book keeps the reader laughing along with Lan, learning how to understand truly alien perspectives.

Young Adult Speculative Fiction

Aurora Rising (The Aurora Cycle) by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Six cadets are brought together by circumstance. A rescued girl joins their crew; she’s powerful, mysterious, and over 200 years old. When the group uncovers a massive conspiracy, it takes all of their skills to survive. The chapters alternate between the seven crew members, each with distinct voices, including one who seems to be on the autism spectrum, and another who is both disabled and queer. The world is impressively fully built, including a unified religion and complex alien cultures.

Echo North by Joanna Ruth Meyer

When Echo’s father goes missing, she sets out to find him and runs into the wolf that scarred her as a child. The White Wolf agrees to save her father if she promises to live in an enchanted house with him for an entire year. Meyer’s story is a captivating fairy tale retelling mash-up about love being the most potent magic. There’s a strong sense of fairy-tale destiny in some of the events, and in many ways, it reads as if it were an ancient tale handed down instead of a new release. The darkly atmospheric tone contributes to this fantastical, unique take on the fairy tale genre.

Fireborne (THE AURELIAN CYCLE) by Rosaria Munda

What happens after the revolution, and how do you build the society you’ve fought to create? In Munda’s fiery debut, inspired by Plato’s Republic and set in a fantasy world a few years after a people’s revolution, two teenage dragonriders face these questions head-on as they compete to become First Rider. Munda has written a rousing story full of twists and turns that places her multi-layered characters in impossible situations where all choices seem like the wrong ones. The dragons and their relationships with their riders are fresh and exciting, adding new life to an old and beloved fantasy trope. Expertly balancing a thrilling plot with literary depth, Fireborne soars.

Internment by Samira Ahmed

Set “fifteen minutes in the future,” this speculative novel about the internment of Muslim Americans is all too realistic. In an authentic teenage voice, Layla Amin tells of how she and her parents are forcibly removed from their homes and imprisoned in the California desert. Teens will feel Layla’s growing terror as her civil rights are violated and violence against the internees grows. But they’ll also root for her as she and some new friends resist and make plans to right the wrong. In an era where many people feel helpless about the real world, Internment can inspire empathy and action among teens, who are poised to change the world.

Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson

Margaret Rogerson’s sophomore novel, Sorcery of Thorns, reads like a love letter to libraries, books, and readers. The orphaned protagonist, Elisabeth Scrivener, was raised in one of the Great Libraries to become a warden, a protector of the library’s grimoires. When Elisabeth is accused of a murder she didn’t commit, she has to leave her home in the Great Library and make an unlikely alliance with a sorcerer named Nathaniel. While she attempts to clear her name, she uncovers danger, conspiracies, and an evil she never expected.

Mixing high fantasy, romance, and gothic elements, Sorcery of Thorns is an engaging story that presents a fascinating world, a breathtaking plot, and deep themes on morality and family. Our panel also enjoyed the representation of bisexuality in a fantasy setting, the lore of the demons, and the quick pace.

The Wicked King (The Folk of the Air) by Holly Black

Cardan is now High King, but Jude is pulling the strings. In this dark and broody second installment of the Folk of the Air Trilogy, Black returns to the beautiful and harsh faerie realm, where Jude must fight off attempts to steal the crown while ruling from the shadows. This is no second book slump: Black builds upon the first book, further fleshing out the brutal world of Faerie and peopling her story with delightfully complicated characters both old and new. Secrets, tragedy, and betrayal await Jude on every page of this exciting story that will have teens clamoring for the finale.

War Girls by Tochi Onyebuchi

Set in a far-future Nigeria and based on the real Nigerian Civil War of the 1960s, War Girls alternates chapters between two sisters who believe the other to be dead. Separated by the war, the two girls – one a warrior who pilots giants mechs, the other a young technological whiz – slowly and inorexably move toward a reunion that will be like neither of them expects. Each sister has a distinct personality and unique voice, and the world is detailed and fully fleshed out. This book both requires and inspires deep thought.

OTHER NOMINEES OF GENRE INTEREST

Elementary/Middle Grade Graphic Novels

The Hidden Witch by Molly Knox Ostertag

Through her writing and vibrant artwork, Ostertag has created a sequel that is every bit as moving and hopeful as 2017’s The Witch Boy. When a new girl, Ariel, starts at Charlie’s school, a mysterious dark power starts attacking people, and Charlie and Aster suspect Ariel is the source. This series often explores the idea that people who lash out at others may be suffering themselves and instead of turning against her, Charlie and Aster work together to reach out to Ariel and help her turn things around. Even though this comic tackles some serious themes, it does so skillfully and is an absolute delight to read.

The Tea Dragon Festival (The Tea Dragon Society) by Katie O’Neill

While gathering herbs in the forest, villager Rinn discovers Aedhan, a dragon who has been in an enchanted sleep for nearly a century. With the help of Rinn’s uncle Erik and his partner Hesekiel, they set off to discover the source of the enchantment. O’Neill includes characters of multiple genders and races as well as disabled characters; she makes a point at the beginning to explain the use of ESL in the course of the story. From the Eisner and Harvey Award-winning author of Princess Princess Ever After and Aquicorn Cove, this all-ages companion story set in the world of The Tea Dragon Society is magical and heartwarming.

Tiger vs. Nightmare by Emily Tetri

Find the unlikeliest of friendships and an unbeatable nightmare-fighting team in this empowering graphic novel about wrestling with growing pains and anxieties. Tetri’s dynamic and colorful imagery is full of emotional expressions of bravery, fear, joy, and determination, and there’s an inherent movement to the watercolor media that carries readers curiously but safely through Tiger’s story. Tiger vs. Nightmare is the perfect choice for children aging out of picture books or looking to explore their anxieties more deeply through the comfortable lens of someone else’s life.

Young Adult Graphic Novels

Grimoire Noir by Vera Greentea and Yana Bogatch

Spooky and ethereal, Grimoire Noir creates a mystery within a unique paranormal world in which all the females are witches. When Bucky Orson’s younger sister goes missing, he has to search the whole town to find her. In the process, he discovers a forgotten and sinister history. Bogatch complements Greentea’s unique world building with moody illustrations that are sure to capture the imaginations of readers everywhere.

Mooncakes by Suzanne Walker and Wendy Xu

Enchanting and adorable, Mooncakes whisks the reader into a story of rekindled romance between a witch and a werewolf with a touch of danger. The layers of each character add much to the story, our lesbian witch having hearing aids and using them in her magic. The werewolf character is non-binary and learning her wolf magic, and the grandmother characters are just so beautiful, loving and accepting of everything that happens in the story. Mooncakes brings to life a story that is full of acceptance and magic all in one.

They Called Us Enemy by George Takei,  Justin Eisinger, Steven Scott, and Harmony Becker

This graphic novel is easily one of the most important that I have read this year. It vividly displays the hardships of Japanese-Americans during World War II while they were forced into concentration camps. The book is a graphic memoir and follows George Takei’s family as they lived in one of the camps.

2018 Cybils Shortlists

The 2018 finalists for the Cybils (Children’s and Young Adults Bloggers’ Literary Awards) were announced on January 1. They were selected from 1,335 books nominated across all categories.

The Cybils Awards aims to recognize the children’s and young adult authors and illustrators whose books combine the highest literary merit and popular appeal. If some la-di-dah awards can be compared to brussels sprouts, and other, more populist ones to gummy bears, we’re thinking more like organic chicken nuggets. We’re yummy and nutritious.

Here are the results from the speculative fiction categories, plus other finalists of genre interest.

Elementary/Middle-Grade Speculative Fiction

Inkling
by Kenneth Oppel
Harper Collins Canada

Have you ever had an inkling that something was about to happen? For the Rylance family things have been tough since Mom died. Dad has writer’s block, Ethan’s school project is overwhelming and Sarah, who has Down’s Syndrome, is fixated on getting a puppy. Then, one night, a little blot of ink jumps off Dad’s sketchbook and begins to explore the world by devouring the books it encounters. Ethan names it Inkling, and its inquisitive and caring nature helps the Rylance family work through their grief and learn about themselves. Thought-provoking dilemmas, great characterization, and a swift plot, all make this a book that kids will devour.

Love Sugar Magic: A Dash of Trouble
by Anna Meriano
Walden Pond Press

It’s not easy being the youngest of 5 sisters, but what makes it worse for Leo is being told she is too young to help in the family bakery for the annual Dia de los Muertos festival. To top it off, the family secret is revealed by accident – they are Mexican brujas, who put magic to work in their baking! Leo knows could help, if they’d let her. When her best friend starts to fall for a boy, she decides to test her baking magic and prove her talent so she can join in the family traditions. It’s magically realistic, with a family that makes mistakes and forgives and fills the pages with baking love. Readers will warm to this story full of spells going hilariously wrong, baking, family love and friendship.

Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow
by Jessica Townsend
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Cursed from the day she was born, Morrigan never expects anything good to happen to her. Then, on her eleventh birthday, she is whisked away to the secret, magical city of Nevermoor and invited to compete in the trials to become a member of the Wundrous society. There is plenty of suspense and action as readers follow Morrigan through the trials, hoping that she will be chosen to stay. This is a very readable fantasy adventure that will keep readers wondering what will happen next, and especially delight Harry Potter fans!

Snared: Escape to the Above (Wily Snare)
by Adam Jay Epstein
Imprint

Wily Snare has never left the Carrion Tomb, where he works as a trapsmith for its cavern mage Stalag, designing elaborate traps to foil treasure seekers. Then an acrobatic elf, a moss golem, and a former knight with a floating arm named Righteous evade all of his traps, ambush Stalag and take his most valuable treasure, Wily himself. They want Wily’s quick fingers, wit, and ability to detect and disable traps to raid some of the most challenging dungeons in the realm. But by the end of their adventure, treasure isn’t important to the group–they have become a family. Snared is an action-packed and heartwarming adventure filled with twists and turns and memorable characters, that’s sure to captivate fans of dungeon crawling.

Sweep: The Story of a Girl and Her Monster
by Jonathan Auxier
Harry N Abrams

Life is hard for the kids who clean the chimneys of Victorian London, especially if the kid is a girl. Nan Sparrow was once looked after by the Sweep, who made her story soup when times were tough. But since his disappearance, Nan’s been forced to climb chimneys for a cruel master. Then the glowing coal the Sweep left her becomes a living creature of ash, her friend and protector, “Charlie.” Nan’s adventure is a heartwarming journey of the magic of love and story, full of vividly drawn characters, from the cruel sweep master Crudd to Nan’s friend the mudlark Toby Squall and the kind teacher Miss Bloom – the last two keeping their Jewish heritage a secret from almost everyone but Nan. And Charlie, the soot “monster,” is the most marvelous of all.

The Stone Girl’s Story
by Sarah Beth Durst
Clarion Books

For Mayka, a living girl carved from stone, and the rest of her stone family, the stories of their lives are carved directly onto their surfaces by their maker, and as the marks erode so do they. When there is no one left to refresh the carvings, Mayka ventures into the world of humans to find someone to take up the task, but she learns that not all people can be trusted and that the rules may be different for people of flesh and stone. Old fears and secrets (and a giant carved monster) must be confronted before she finds a way to save her stone family and their stories. This unique fantasy world offers both adventure and thoughtful contemplation about selfhood and story.

Thisby Thestoop and the Black Mountain
by Zac Gorman
HarperCollins

No one would have picked Thisby Thestoop to be the heroine of a great adventure. And yet, this foundling girl (whose only friend is a slime named Mingus), who lives in a dungeon, feeding and cleaning up after its monsters, saves a prince and princess. The perilous journey of the two very different girls, Thisby shy and grubby and Iphigenia beautiful and entitled, shows how a friendship can be made under the most challenging of circumstances, and the challenge of maintaining a friendship even when trust is broken. Witty, funny, and full of feeling, with memorable characters, both major and minor, this will appeal to gamers and fantasy fans of all stripes, especially those who are looking for real characters with whom they can sympathize and identify.

Young Adult Speculative Fiction

Dread Nation
by Justina Ireland
Balzer + Bray

In the 1880s, the world has been infested with shamblers — or zombies as we’d call them. Jane McKee is a young black woman attending school to become an Attendant, protecting rich white women from shamblers. A series of events and betrayals lands her in the unregulated and unprotected West. Full of action, suspense and humor, but with an underlying critique of racism, sexism, and zealotry, Dread Nation gives us an #ownvoices re-imagined history that no one will want to put down.

Mirage: A Novel
by Somaiya Daud
Flatiron Books

When Amani is kidnapped by the Vathek, the cruel conquerors of her moon, she learns that she is to serve as the body double for the hated half-Vathek princess Maram, perhaps to be assassinated in her place. Daud builds a fascinating Moroccan-inspired futuristic world around this irresistible hook, one where old-world poetry and glittering palaces exist alongside robots and space travel. Danger haunts Amani’s every step as she becomes caught up in a plan to overthrow the Vathek rulers, even as her relationship with Maram, once purely antagonistic, gradually deepens.  Mirage tackles the real-world issue of the evils of colonization and combines it with a high-stakes plot, rich character relationships, and stellar world-building to create a story that teens won’t soon forget.

Not Even Bones (Market of Monsters)
by Rebecca Schaeffer
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Not Even Bones lives up to its hyped pitch as a cross between “Dexter” and “The Savage Song.” In a world where humans traffic in fresh body parts of unnatural species, Nita’s job is to dissect the bodies her mother brings her. When her mother brings home a live boy in a cage, however, Nita knows she has to save him. Nita has the most villainous mother in YA lit: when crossed, her punishment is worse than death. Nita fights for her freedom, but a surprise twist at the end blows up the entire book, setting the stage for book two. With page turning action and ghastly description, Not Even Bones is a YA masterpiece of horror! Kudos to Rebecca Schaeffer for the BAM! Epic twist that will leave teen readers reeling.

Pitch Dark
by Courtney Alameda
Feiwel & Friends

The premise of Pitch Dark is simple: a hacker terrorist takes control of the Conquistador, crashing the ship into the USS John Muir, a starship that has been lost in space for over four hundred years. The John Muir’s inhabitants had woken up from a 400 year stasis about twenty-two months before that. Laura is blamed for the crash because unfortunately she had been hacking the system at the same time as an ecoterrorist, making her the perfect scapegoat for the Smithson family, who are trying to sabotage Laura’s family’s leadership (her mother is the captain). It’s a fight for survival against the clock and monstrous creatures that kill with sound in the dark. We loved the big ideas, the world-building, the excitement and creep-factor Alameda presented in this #ownvoices science fiction/horror novel. Her protagonist Laura is Latina and will connect with teen readers as they read about her and Tuck trying to save the John Muir and everyone aboard ship.

Summer of Salt
by Katrina Leno
HarperTeen

This is one for readers who love magic in the real world. It’s a family story, with two very different twin sisters figuring out how they fit together as they get ready to leave the island where they’ve lived all their lives to go to different colleges. It is a story of women with magical talents. It is a murder mystery, with a most unusual victim. It is a very sweet teen lesbian love story. It is also a sensitive story about rape and mass hysteria. These threads all combine to make a gripping page turner, that despite everything bad that happens, is very sweet and very magical.

Tess of the Road
by Rachel Hartman
Random House Books for Young Readers

Set in the same world as the author’s earlier Seraphina, Tess of the Road follows seventeen-year-old Tess as she casts off her hyper-critical family and heads out on the road with only a small dragon companion, intent on finding the self she lost three years before. The novel moves between the past, slowly revealing the events that traumatized a fourteen-year-old Tess, and the present, as she confronts her memories, rediscovers her own strength, and slowly transforms from an angry, unhappy girl to one at peace with her past and looking forward to her future.

This Mortal Coil
by Emily Suvada
Simon Pulse

With a plot more twisty than a strand of DNA, and a terrifying apocalyptic world decimated by plague, This Mortal Coil keeps readers on the edge of their seats following Catarina Agatta, master gene hacker, as she races to code a cure with a soldier she doesn’t trust. What if you could hack your own DNA? What if you could hack everyone’s? Emily Suvada explores identity and free will in the best sci fi tradition in this fast-paced, mind-blowing adventure.

OTHER NOMINEES OF INTEREST

Graphic Novels

The Tea Dragon Society
by Katie O’Neill
Oni Press

Greta is training as a blacksmith—a dying art—when she rescues a tea dragon and discovers another tradition in danger of being lost: the care and tending of delicate little tea dragons, who grow tea leaves from their horns. Katie O’Neil’s enchanting graphic novel features an endearing and diverse cast of characters rendered in charming illustrations and a lush color palette. This is a story about facing your fears, discovering your purpose, and dedicating yourself to your calling. And don’t be surprised if you find yourself longing for your very own tea dragon by the end!

The Witch Boy
by Molly Knox Ostertag
GRAPHIX

Aster, a thirteen-year-old boy living in a secluded community with strict magical rules, longs to learn practices that are forbidden to boys. Rich, believable characters support this appealing tale of breaking free from traditional gender roles. Ostertag has created a fully-realized magical world that will leave middle-grade and teen readers clamoring for more.

Poetry

In the Past: From Trilobites to Dinosaurs to Mammoths in More Than 500 Million Years
by David Elliott, illustrated by Matthew Trueman
Candlewick Press

Elliott pays tribute to prehistoric creatures with succinct poems filled with subtle humor. Both the subject matter and the humor will entice kids to open this book. The poems will leave them laughing while the facts at the end will send them on to learn more about the creatures.

Mary’s Monster: Love, Madness, and How Mary Shelley Created Frankenstein
by Lita Judge
Roaring Brook Press

Mary’s Monster is a gripping verse novel filled with imagery and emotion that draw readers into Mary Shelley’s tragic life…and into her process for creating the most famous “creature” of British literature. Lita Judge’s text perfectly captures the mood and atmosphere of Mary’s turbulent world and times. Her book is an empathic portrayal of an independent, imaginative teenager who defied tradition, suffered great personal losses, and wrote the world’s first science fiction novel.

Junior/Senior High Non-Fiction

Apollo 8: The Mission That Changed Everything
by Martin W. Sandler
Candlewick Press

1968 was a difficult year for the United States, but it ended with at least one bright spot—the successful mission to orbit the moon. 50 years later, Sandler expertly reveals the true tale of Apollo 8 from many important angles: the science and technology behind the mission, the lives of the individuals involved in making it happen, and the cultural and historical relevance of both the mission itself and its most iconic image, the Earthrise photograph. The gorgeous design and absorbing storytelling combine to offer something for every reader.

Spooked!: How a Radio Broadcast and The War of the Worlds Sparked the 1938 Invasion of America
by Gail Jarrow
Calkins Creek Books

Author Gail Jarrow reflects on how far hoaxes can undermine trust in legitimate sources in this exceptional history about the 1938 radio broadcast of a Martian invasion. Hoax aficionados will find the well-designed book both informational and engrossing reading. A nifty graphic spread reveals the level of audience outrage from excerpts of letters, postcards and telegrams CBS received following the radio broadcast. Published complete with timeline, a “More to Explore” section, source notes, selected bibliography and index.

[Via Locus Online.]

Pixel Scroll 2/14/18 Do Not Scroll, Bend, Fold, or Pixelate

(1) DIANE DUANE’S GOOD NEWS. An appeal signal-boosted here yielded enough book sales to save the Duane/Morwood home. As she wrote in a comment

Hi folks! Diane Duane here.

I noted this morning that visitors have been arriving at the Ebooks Direct store from here. I just wanted to let everyone know that the astonishing generosity of customers and donors has meant that our problem has been completely solved in A SINGLE DAY. To say that Peter and I are gobsmacked — not to mention amazed and overwhelmed and unutterably relieved by the sudden removal of a difficulty that’s been hanging albatross-like around our creative lives for what seems like forever — would be putting if mildly. If you were involved in assisting with this… THANK YOU! (And meanwhile we’re leaving the sale running, because what the heck, everybody likes a sale…) Best! D.

(2) A DIFFERENT TONGUE. CNET’s Bonnie Burton advises: “This Valentine’s Day, woo your crush like a Wookiee or Klingon”.

Who needs boring English? Once you discover how to flirt in sci-fi speak, you’ll be making out to the Star Wars or Star Trek theme song in no time. Well, that’s the idea….

My love of speaking sci-fi goes way back. As a kid, I thought I could talk droid like R2-D2 and began to randomly beep at my classmates in elementary school — until a confused teacher pulled me aside to ask if I was OK. Later, when I worked as a senior editor for the Lucasfilm site StarWars.com, part of my job was to become familiar with phrases spoken by characters like Chewbacca, Jabba the Hutt, Greedo, Wicket the Ewok and Jawas.

While I did end up marrying R2-D2, it’s not as easy to master a sci-fi language as it looks. It took awhile just to decipher the difference between the high-pitched sounds of Jawas and Ewoks and the deeper, guttural utterances of Jabba the Hutt and Chewbacca. But with patience, and the help of repeat Star Wars film viewings and books like the “Star Wars Galactic Phrase Book & Travel Guide,” I got there.

(3) HAVE SCARF, WILL TRAVEL. James Bacon is visiting this side of the pond. He snapped a selfie on the plane:

I’m on my way to Boston.

Tomorrow I fly to Chicago for Capricon

Then early on Sunday back to Boskone.

(4) DOWN THESE MEAN TWEETS. Bleeding Cool’s Rich Johnston released an internal DC Comics memo in his post “‘Mean Spirited’ Tweets Against Company Policy – DC Comics’ Social Media and Press Guidelines to Comic Creators”.

…While I understand that this kind of thing has been an increasing concern in recent years, I understand that this is happening right now as a result of the actions and internal company employee reactions and concerns reported by Bleeding Cool over artist Ethan Van Sciver‘s social media activity. Concern has been expressed from the top, from President Diane Nelson, down to fellow freelance creators….

DC’s memo begins:

Dear DC Talent Community –

The comic book industry is a very special creative community dedicated to telling epic and legendary stories of action, heroism and intrigue with a rich and diverse portfolio of characters. Both DC’s employees, as well as its extended family of freelance talent, contribute to our success and are direct reflections of our company, characters and comics.

As such, DC expects that its employees and freelance talent community maintain a high level of professionalism as well as reasonable and respectful behavior when engaging in online activities. Comments that may be considered defamatory, libelous, discriminatory, harassing, hateful, or that incite violence are unacceptable and may result in civil or criminal action.

In addition, comments that may be considered insulting, cruel, rude, crass and mean spirited are against company policy and guidelines. We ask, and expect, that you will help to create an online environment that is inclusive, supportive and safe.

Below you will find the most current version of the company’s social media guidelines. If you have any questions, please contact DC Talent Relations department so that we can be of assistance.

The full text of the guidelines can be read at the Bleeding Cool link.

(5) TOP GRAPHIC NOVELS FOR TEENS: The Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA), a division of the American Library Association (ALA),  announced its list of 2018 Great Graphic Novels for Teens, with 115 titles. The list is presented annually at the ALA Midwinter Meeting. The books, recommended for those ages 12-18, meet the criteria of both good quality literature and appealing reading for teens. The cumulative list can be viewed at www.ala.org/yalsa/great-graphic-novels.

In addition to the full 2018 list, the committee chose the following titles as its top ten:

  • The Backstagers. By James Tynion IV. Illus. by Rian Sygh. 2017. BOOM! Studios. (9781608869930).
  • Black Hammer, Volume 1: Secret Origins. By Jeff Lemire. Illus. by Dean Ormston. 2017. Dark Horse. (9781616557867).
  • Brave. By Svetlana Chmakova. Illus. by the author. 2017. Yen Press. (9780316363189).
  • I Am Alfonso Jones. By Tony Medina. Illus. by Stacey Robison and John Jennings. 2017. Tu Books. (9781620142639).
  • Jonesy. By Sam Humprhies. Illus. by Caitlin Rose Boyle.
    • v.1. 2016. BOOM! Studios. (9781608868834).
    • v.2. BOOM! Studios. (9781608869992).
    • v.3. BOOM! Studios. (9781684150168).
  • Kindred: A Graphic Novel Adaptation. By Damian Duffy and Octavia E. Butler. Illus. by John Jennings. 2017. Abrams ComicArts. (9781419709470).
  • Lighter than My Shadow. By Katie Green. Illus. by the author. 2017. Lion Forge. (9781941302415).
  • My Brother’s Husband. By Gengoroh Tagame. Illus. by Gengoroh Tagame. 2017. Pantheon Books. (9781101871515).
  • Pashmina. By Nidhi Chanani. Illus. by Nidhi Chanani. 2017. First Second. (9781626720879).
  • Spill Zone. By Scott Westerfeld. Illus. by Alex Puvilland. 2017. First Second. (9781596439368).

(6) THEY WANT A LITTLE LIST. Graphic novels are a theme of the day – The Daily Dot reports: “Comics creators want the New York Times to bring back the graphic novel bestseller list”.

The New York Times killed its graphic novel bestseller list last year, and comics creators want it back. Over the past few days, hundreds have signed an open letter asking for the list to be reinstated, claiming the Times is causing damage to their industry.

When the Times canceled the bestseller list in January 2017, the decision was met with immediate criticism. Comics and graphic novels are more culturally relevant than ever, but the industry still relies on mainstream media outlets like the Times to find new readers. And as Polygon pointed out, the paper continued to publish much more specific lists like “Children’s Young Adult Hardcover Chapter Books” and “Advice Miscellaneous.”

In the words of the open letter, creators and publishers have “watched their readership decline” since the list was removed.

(7) CONGRATULATIONS. Heather Rose Jones announced she has an Alpennia story in Deborah J. Ross’ newly-released anthology Lace and Blade 4.

The important contents, of course, is my new Alpennia story “Gifts Tell Truth”, but here’s the full table of contents:

Lace and Blade is an anthology series featuring stories with a particular look-and-feel — a flavor of romantic, elegant, swashbuckling sword and sorcery, across a wide array of eras and cultures. (Alpennia is a perfect setting for this sort of tale.) If you want an collection of stories that’s perfect for Valentine’s day (or any day of the year, for that matter), check it out!

(8) CYBILS AWARDS. SF Site News reports the 2017 Cybils Award winners of genre interest

The winners for the 2017 Cybils Literary Award for Elementary and Middle Grade Speculative Fiction have been announced. The awards recognize the children’s and young adult authors and illustrators whose books combine the highest literary merit and popular appeal. Categories with winners of genre interest are listed below.

  • Elementary/Middle Grade Graphic Novels: Where’s Halmoni?, by Julie Kim
  • Elementary/Middle Grade Speculative Fiction: The Dragon with a Chocolate Heart, by Stephanie Burgis
  • Young Adult Graphic Novels: Spill Zone, by Scott Westerfeld
  • Young Adult Speculative Fiction: Scythe, by Neal Shusterman

(9) VICTOR MILAN. George R.R. Martin posted a tribute to his late friend and colleague – Another Ace Falls.

Our writing community here in New Mexico, and the world of SF and fantasy in general, took a blow this afternoon when our friend Victor Milan died after two months of suffering and struggle in a series of Albuquerque hospitals.

I first met Vic not long after I moved to Santa Fe in 1979. Outgoing, funny, friendly, and incredibly bright, he was one of the cornerstones of the New Mexico SF crowd for decades, a regular at Bubonicon in Albuquerque, the perennial masquerade host at Archon in St. Louis, a fan, a lover of ferrets and collector of guns, a gamer (I can’t tell you how many times we stayed up till dawn playing Superworld, Call of Cthulhu, and other RPGs with Vic, and laughing at the outrageous antics of the characters he created). But above all, he was a writer.

(10) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • February 14, 1959Journey to the Center of the Earth premiered.
  • February 14, 1976The Bionic Woman aired its first episode on TV.

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

  • Born February 14, 1919 – David A. Kyle

(12) FRANK HERBERT HONORED. The late author of Dune has been commemorated by the town where he spent his childhood: “Metro Parks Tacoma board honors author Frank Herbert and Judge Jack Tanner”.

Dune Peninsula

The process of naming a new public gathering space carved from the remnants of the former ASARCO smelting operation has sparked the parallel recognition of a pioneering African-American jurist, the late U.S. District Court Judge Jack Tanner.

On Monday, Feb. 12, the Metro Parks Tacoma Board of Commissioners concluded a lengthy public process by naming the 11-acre waterfront site on the breakwater peninsula in honor of science fiction writer Frank Herbert’s 1965 novel “Dune” and its five sequels.

The board approved the name Dune Peninsula at Point Defiance Park for the highly anticipated space that’s still under construction around the Tacoma Yacht Club boat basin. In addition, a winding, paved pedestrian loop also being built on the site has been named Frank Herbert Trail. Both are tentatively scheduled to open to the public later this year.

… The chosen names for the breakwater peninsula area were recommended by a Metro Parks committee of staff members who reviewed more than 500 recommendations submitted by the public last summer. Of those, about 300 were related to Herbert or “Dune.” Tanner’s name also was highly rated among the publicly submitted recommendations.

(13) SHORT FICTION REVIEWS. Charles Payseur is back with “Quick Sips – GigaNotoSaurus February 2018”

Perhaps appropriate for the month, GigaNotoSaurus brings a rather romantic piece for its February release. Or, at least, a story very interested in love and trust, hope and freedom. It’s a story that features two very different characters finding a common language, a common purpose, and staying true to each other in order to do something they couldn’t do alone. It’s a touching and beautiful piece, for all that it’s dominated by the weight of captivity and the desire for release. But before I spoil everything, let’s get to the review!

(14) MEET ANOTHER SHARKE. Another new Shadow Clarke juror meets the publilc: “Introducing Foz Meadows”.

My Shattersnipe blog turns ten years old in May this year, which is a genuinely startling milestone to contemplate. The idea of my one day being invited to participate in something like the Shadow Clarke jury wouldn’t have occurred to me a decade ago. Though my first novel was years from being accepted and published when I started Shattersnipe, my aim was still to become a fantasy author, which is why I opted to blog under my own name. Even so, I had no sense that I might end up being paid or known for my essays there: it was just an extension of what I’d always done, a way to keep myself occupied. I’ve changed a lot since I started it, as has my writing; as, for that matter, have my opinions about writing. My taste in things has never been static, and while there’s something to be said for consistency, it’s my belief that critical practice, like any other discipline, should always be a sort of Theseus’s ship, willing and able to improve or change while still remaining coherent and functional.

At base, my approach to criticism is that total objectivity is impossible. Everyone has a bias, which is another way of saying that everyone has their own tastes, opinions, and context, and that rather than trying to feign objectivity by generalising those biases into an inherently limited concept of what is Normal or Traditional and therefore Good, the more honest, productive approach is to acknowledge them openly. In this way, I believe, our literary yardsticks become both more varied in terms of scope and more individually useful to the audience. Knowing that a critic dislikes steampunk, for example, gives their potential enthusiasm for a steampunk novel far more positive weight than if that dislike had hitherto been presented, not as an individual preference, but as a blanket, universalised declaration that steampunk is fundamentally Bad. In the latter case, such a critic’s praise of a book that their readership would reasonably have expected them to shun reads as a total alteration of judgement and worldview, like a political flip-flop, and is therefore made somewhat suspect. In the former case, it becomes a genuinely intriguing recommendation, that such a story was good enough to overcome their usual inclinations.

The new juror received an immediate endorsement from a Becky Chambers fan –

(15) IT’S THE RIGHT TIME. At SciFiNow, “Guillermo del Toro talks The Shape Of Water, Sally Hawkins and making an adult fairytale”.

Was the 1962 setting always a key element?

I knew I wanted to make it about now, not about then, but most of the time the fairytale needs “Once Upon A Time”. So, I thought, “What is the most cherished time in American history, recent American History?” I thought of 1962 because it’s when everybody is talking about the future, the space race is on and you have beautiful jet fin cars, suburban life, a TV in every house, Kennedy in the White House and Vietnam is starting to escalate, and then Kennedy’s shot, Vietnam escalates and everything kind of dies and scepticism is born. But when people say “Let’s make America great again” they’re thinking of ’62, I think. But this is if you were a WASP. If you were a minority the problems were horrible.

(16) CALL AND RESPONSE. Liz Bourke devoted her latest Sleeps With Monsters column to asking “Where Are the SFF Stories About Pregnancy and Child-rearing?” It begins:

The literature of the fantastic is a fruitful place in which to examine gendered questions of power. People have been using it to talk about women’s place in society (and the place of gender in society) pretty much for as long as science fiction has been a recognisable genre. Joanna Russ and Ursula Le Guin are only two of the most instantly recognisable names whose work directly engaged these themes. But for all that, science fiction and fantasy—especially the pulpishly fun kind—is strangely reluctant to acknowledge a challenge to participation in demanding public life (or a physically ass-kicking one) faced primarily (though not only) by women.

Pretty sure you’ve already guessed what it is. But just to be sure—

Pregnancy. And the frequent result, parenting small children.

Judith Tarr felt the title was not a rhetorical question and answered it this way —

(17) HARASSMENT SURVEY. Here are the responses to Anne Ursu’s survey about “Sexual Harassment in the Children’s Book Industry”.

We work in children’s books, and we like to think we are different, somehow. We value “kindness.” The ranks of publishers are populated with women. And everyone is so nice, right?

But we aren’t different, and before we can do anything about sexual harassment, we need to face that reality. And the reality is that a culture of “kindness” can silence people who have been harassed, that women can be complicit in a culture of sexual harassment and gender discrimination, and that the people who we work alongside, whose books we care about, who we like, can be sexual harassers.

Facing this reality is going to be ugly. But it is far uglier to pretend these problems aren’t here.

In December, I opened a survey about sexual harassment in children’s publishing, inspired by Kelly Jensen’s work on sexual harassment in libraries. I received almost 90 responses, as well as emails and DMs from people who didn’t want to fill out the survey because they felt too ashamed, or were still frightened of reprisal.

This is not intended to be some kind of lurid exposé of children’s publishing. The point of it isn’t to say that our industry is somehow special; the point is simply that we do have problems, that these problems affect people’s careers and mental health, and that we can and should take steps to solve these problems so more people do not get hurt.

(18) SHE BELONGS IN PICTURES. The Thirteenth Doctor heralds a new era for Titan Comics’ Doctor Who.

BBC Worldwide Americas and Titan Comics are excited to announce that, alongside premiering in the Doctor Who season, the Thirteenth Doctor will be debuting in comics this fall!

This brand-new ongoing comic series, written by Eisner-nominated writer Jody Houser (Orphan Black, Star Wars: Rogue One, Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows, Faith, Supergirl, Mother Panic) with art by fan-favorite artist Rachael Stott (The Twelfth Doctor, Motherlands) joined by colorist Enrica Angolini (Warhammer 40,000), features the Thirteenth Doctor, as played by Jodie Whittaker. The new Doctor made her first appearance on 2017’s Doctor Who Christmas Special, “Twice Upon A Time,” regenerating from Peter Capaldi’s Twelfth Doctor.

(19) A ROLL CALL OF STINKERS. 24/7 Wall St. believes these are the “30 Worst Superhero Movies”. For instance —

  1. “The Phantom” (1996) > Director: Simon Wincer > Starring: Billy Zane, Kristy Swanson, Treat Williams > Domestic box office: $17.30 million > Superpower: Extreme athleticism

(20) SFF FILM FOR VALENTINE’S DAY. “Orbit Ever After” by Jamie Magnus Stone (2013) featuring Love, Actually’s Thomas Brodie-Sangster as a smitten suitor in space.

[Thanks to JJ, John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, DMS, Mark Hepworth, Carl Slaughter, and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day jayn.]

2016 Cybils Winners

The 2016 winners of the Cybils (Children’s and Young Adults Blogger’s Literary Awards) were announced on February 15.

The Cybils Awards aims to recognize the children’s and young adult authors and illustrators whose books combine the highest literary merit and popular appeal. If some la-di-dah awards can be compared to brussels sprouts, and other, more populist ones to gummy bears, we’re thinking more like organic chicken nuggets. We’re yummy and nutritious.

Here are the results in the categories that started out with a large number of genre finalists.

Elementary/Middle Grade Speculative Fiction

  • Shadow Magic by Joshua Khan (Disney-Hyperion)

Elementary/Middle Grade Graphic Novels

  • Lowriders to the Center of the Earth (Book 2) (Lowriders in Space) by Cathy Camper and Raul the Third (Chronicle Books)

Young Adult Graphic Novels

  • March: Book Three by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell (Top Shelf Productions)

Young Adult Speculative Fiction

  • Illuminae by Amie Kaufman (Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers)

Audiobooks

  • The Inquisitor’s Tale: Or, the Three Magical Children and Their Holy Dog by Adam Gidwitz (Listening Library)

2016 Cybils Shortlist

The 2016 finalists for the Cybils (Children’s and Young Adults Blogger’s Literary Awards) were announced on January 1. They were selected from 1,163 books nominated across all categories.

The Cybils Awards aims to recognize the children’s and young adult authors and illustrators whose books combine the highest literary merit and popular appeal. If some la-di-dah awards can be compared to brussels sprouts, and other, more populist ones to gummy bears, we’re thinking more like organic chicken nuggets. We’re yummy and nutritious.

Here are the results in the categories with a large number of shortlisted genre works.

Elementary/Middle Grade Speculative Fiction

  • Shadow Magic by Joshua Khan (Disney-Hyperion)
  • The Evil Wizard Smallbone by Delia Sherman (Candlewick Press)
  • The Firefly Code by Megan Frazer Blakemore (Bloomsbury USA)
  • The Goblin’s Puzzle: Being the Adventures of a Boy with No Name and Two Girls Called Alice by Andrew Chilton (Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers)
  • The Memory Thief by Bryce Moore (Adaptive Books)
  • The Voyage to Magical North by Claire Fayers (Henry Holt)
  • When the Sea Turned to Silver by Grace Lin (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers)

Elementary/Middle Grade Graphic Novels

  • Bera the One-Headed Troll by Eric Orchard (First Second Books)
  • Compass South (Four Points) by Hope Larson and Rebecca Mock (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)
  • Lowriders to the Center of the Earth (Book 2) (Lowriders in Space) by Cathy Camper and Raul the Third (Chronicle Books)
  • Mighty Jack by Ben Hatke (First Second Books)
  • Princess Princess Ever After by Katie O’Neill (Oni Press)
  • The Nameless City by Faith Erin Hicks and Jordie Bellaire (First Second Books)
  • The Wolves of Currumpaw by William Grill (Flying Eye Books)

Young Adult Graphic Novels

  • Dare to Disappoint: Growing Up in Turkey by Ozge Samanci (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)
  • Faith Volume 1: Hollywood and Vine by Jody Houser, Francis Portela, and Marguerite Sauvage (Valiant Books)
  • Lucky Penny by Ananth Hirsh and Yuko Ota (Oni Press)
  • March: Book Three by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell (Top Shelf Productions)
  • Monstress Volume 1: Awakening by Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda (image comics)
  • Ms. Marvel Vol. 5: Super Famous by G. Willow Wilson, Takeshi Miyazawa, Adriean Alphona, and Nico Leon (Marvel Books)
  • Trashed by Derf Backderf (Harry N Abrams)

Young Adult Speculative Fiction

  • Illuminae by Amie Kaufman (Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers)
  • Labyrinth Lost (Brooklyn Brujas) by Zoraida Cordova (Sourcebooks Fire)
  • Still Life with Tornado by A.S. King (Dutton Books for Young Readers)
  • The Door at the Crossroads by Zetta Elliott (Rosetta Press)
  • The Keeper of the Mist by Rachel Neumeier (Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers)
  • This Savage Song (Monsters of Verity) by Victoria Schwab (Greenwillow Books)
  • When the Moon was Ours: A Novel by Anna-Marie McLemore (Thomas Dunne Books)

Audiobooks

  • Out of Abaton, Book 1 (Library Edition): The Wooden Prince by John Claude Bemis (Oasis Audio)
  • Raymie Nightingale by Kate DiCamillo (Listening Library)
  • The Best Man by Richard Peck; narrated by Michael Crouch (Listening Library)
  • The Inquisitor’s Tale: Or, the Three Magical Children and Their Holy Dog by Adam Gidwitz (Listening Library)
  • When the Sea Turned to Silver by Grace Lin (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers)