2022 Cybils Awards Shortlists

The 2022 finalists for the Cybils (Children’s and Young Adults Bloggers’ Literary Awards) were announced on January 1.

Here are the results from the two speculative fiction categories. The complete list is here


Children of the Quicksands by Efua Traore

Simi’s mother raised her in a protective bubble in Lagos, which did nothing to prepare her for a summer spent with her grandmother in a remote village, where the magic of the Yoruba gods and goddesses is real, and modern conveniences aren’t. There she is confronted with a mystery of vanished children, an unhappy Goddess, and a lake of quicksand that sucks her into a magical bubble world where other children are trapped. She escapes, and begins to unravel the stories at the heart of the mystery, including her own family tragedy and her grandmother’s connection to the Goddess who created the lake. The fantasy side of the story is compelling and distinctive–though there is very real danger, loss, and heartbreak, there is no larger-than-life villain here to be defeated, and Simi is no special Chosen One. Equally engrossing is the beautifully detailed real world story of a city girl adjusting to a rural way of life, who learns how to adapt and becomes a true member of a vibrant community. Truly a winning combination!

Eden’s Everdark by Karen Strong

This stunning and thoroughly engrossing horror adventure book immerses readers in a nightmare, with the horrific history of slavery adding depth to the already blood-chilling setting. When Eden meets her deceased mother’s family for the first time, they embrace her. But their island home has a dark side. Eden wanders into Everdark, a strange parallel world. There she is captured by the Witch of Everdark, who is determined to keep her as a daughter in a terrifying version of an opulent mansion that once belonged to slave owners. The characters, both living and dead, are wonderfully complex and mysterious. Readers will be fully invested in Eden’s attempts to escape Everdark by drawing both on her own magical heritage and her strength of character to break and heal intergenerational trauma.

Fenris & Mott by Greg van Eekhout 

Mythological mayhem crashes into the real world, in the form of a wolf puppy, Fenris, who’s about to unwittingly set Ragnarok in motion, and who’s rescued by an ordinary girl, Mott. Now alongside her regular, very relatable, anxieties, Mott has a wolf puppy to defend, and Norse magic gone wild to deal with. Along with the fantastical danger the world is in, there’s also extreme environmental danger. Mott wants to save both Fenris and the world, and the tension keeps building beautifully. It’s funny and sweet as all get out (Fenris makes an adorable puppy), and it’s also a page turner of a high stakes romp! An utterly delightful book, with thought-provoking real world seasoning!

Freddie vs. the Family Curse by Tracy Badua

This supernatural caper about a boy who unleashes the spirit of his great uncle, responsible for the family curse, is full of heart and humor. Freddie’s many cringe-worthy antics and the loving, but often sarcastic, commentary of his family were both hilarious and relatable. At its core, this book celebrates Freddie’s Filipino-American family and does a beautiful job of substantively weaving in important themes of history, culture, community, and tradition into a madcap, magical adventure.

The Clackity by Lora Senf

Unapologetically scary and occasionally stomach-turningly grotesque, The Clackity reads like a mash-up of old-school fairy tales and modern horror. The prose is musical, the plot keeps the pages turning, and the emotional honesty keeps it grounded even in an entirely fantastical setting. Featuring an episodic structure that’ll appeal to gaming fans, our heroine is tasked with traversing seven dangerous houses full of puzzles and traps, suspicious characters and unwelcome surprises–and all she’s got on her side is her knowledge of fairy tales, her tenacity, her techniques for keeping her panic attacks under control… and an entirely original animal companion that might prompt young readers to start making plans for their first tattoo.

The Marvellers (Marvellerverse, 1) by Dhonielle Clayton, illustrated by Khadijah Khatib

Ella Durand has grown up near New Orleans in a magical family that practices the traditional arts of Conjure. Historically, though, Conjure has been considered somewhere between lesser and downright wicked by the rest of the magical community, the Marvellers. So when Ella enrolls in the Marveller’s magic school, the Arcanum Training Institute, her experience is both exciting and fraught. The Marveller’s world is filled with tradition and whimsy, including delightful foods, adorable creatures, steampunk/futuristic transportation, unique characters – and a villain that the adults refuse to believe is there. This is an engrossing read for any kid or would-be kid looking for a magical school to call their own.

The Mirrorwood by Deva Fagan

A girl without a face stars in this cleverly reinventive fantasy tale that has roots in Sleeping Beauty. The story twists and turns with never a dull moment as Fable encounters imaginative riddles, illusions, and challenges on her quest to free the Mirrorwood from its demon-prince. The folks who support Fable along the way (including a girl intent on killing her, a normalized queer family, and a fantastic feline sidekick) elevate the story. With themes of finding your identity and recognizing the experiences of others, The Mirrorwood is a fairy tale adventure with plenty that will enchant young readers.


A Snake Falls to Earth by Darcie Little Badger

Beyond our world lies the mirror world, populated by monsters, spirits, and animals that can take human form. In this mirror world Oli, a cottonmouth, is finding his way for the first time away from his family. His found family forms quickly to include the wolves, Reign and Risk, and a small silent gentle toad named Ami. When calamity strikes and one of Oli’s friends is in deadly danger, he must take the treacherous journey to our world to seek a cure. Once here, he meets Nina. Nina, a Lipan teenager, has always believed in the old stories. She recognizes Oli for what he is and seeks to help him find a cure for his friend while coping with her own family crisis. This gorgeously layered story balances the old and the new, science and myth, family and foe into a unique tale for the ages.

From Dust, a Flame by Rebecca Podos

Rebecca Podos brings Jewish folklore to life in her captivating new mystery From Dust, a Flame. Podos skillfully develops a dynamic and compelling relationship between the protagonist, Hannah, and her brother, Gabe, who must uncover the family and cultural history their mother deliberately hid from them in order to break an intergenerational curse. The intricate plot progresses masterfully and Podos introduces an authentically rendered group of characters along the way. I particularly appreciated the layered mythologies, intergenerational conflict, and brilliant representations of Jewish and LGBTQ+ identities. From Dust, a Flame is a must-read for all fans of young adult speculative fiction.

How To Succeed in Witchcraft by Aislinn Brophy

In their debut novel How to Succeed in Witchcraft, Aislinn Brophy crafts a magical world where Shay Johnson, a Black biracial witch, is working twice as hard to be a perfect student so she can achieve her goals of getting into a top-tier licensing college. But when she gets wrangled into the school’s play to help her earn a scholarship, she realizes that her enemy, Ana Alvarez, might not be her enemy after all. But worse still, Mr. B., who’s in charge of the play, might be using his connections to the scholarship to take advantage of Shay and the other scholarship winners who came before her. This story delves into issues surrounding race, classist systems, and diversity. Shay’s story serves as a reminder that not all adults have teens’ best interests at heart, but teens can turn to adults they trust when they get into trouble

Little Thieves by Margaret Owen

Little Thieves is a loose retelling of “The Goose Girl” fairy tale – from the perspective of the maid who stole the princess’s identity. And that’s not all that Vanja has stolen. She plans to steal enough from the wealthy houses she visits to be able to flee the Blessed Empire, but everything conspires to stop her – the brutal Margrave coming back to his castle, a Prefect of the Godly Courts investigating the jewel heists, and especially a curse that will turn her into a jeweled statue if she can’t break it by the full moon. Set in a medieval world where same-gender relationships and transgender folks are not remarkable, this is a wonderfully woven page-turner where Vanja must learn to make friends and trust them to help her if she wants to survive.

See You Yesterday by Rachel Lynn Solomon

Barrett Bloom hopes that college will be the fresh start she needs to recover and rise above her miserable high school experience. But after a disastrous first day, from unexpectedly being roommates with her high school BFF-turned-enemy to accidentally burning down a frat house, she finds herself walking up the next morning… only for it to be the very same morning. When she finds out that she isn’t the only student trapped in a time-loop, her physics 101 classmate Miles having been stuck in the same loop for months, the two embark on an exciting adventure to try and find their way to tomorrow. Hilarious, romantic, and full of heart, See You Yesterday is a story about growing up and the reassurance that no matter how embarrassing or unpleasant one’s past may be, there will always be a tomorrow waiting on the other side.

The Girl Who Fell Beneath the Sea by Axie Oh

This gorgeous, gripping fantasy holds readers spellbound from the moment Mina jumps into the sea in hopes of saving her brother, Joon, and Shim Cheong, the girl he loves, from a watery death—or a fate worse than death. Mina’s impulsive decision sweeps her into a realm of menace and magic where a Sea God slumbers, spirits connive, and dragons cavort. With lush prose, satisfying romance, and perfectly interwoven notes of whimsy and suspense, Axie Oh’s brilliant reimagining of a classic Korean fairy tale explores themes of found family and true love—all kinds of true love. This wholly fresh take on the “chosen one” trope shows that even though you’re bound by the Red String of Fate, you still have agency.

The Weight of Blood by Tiffany D. Jackson

Maddy Washington lives a hidden life in a small town until her peers learn her secret and puts her into a devastating spotlight that will have extreme consequences for everyone. Jackson crafts a thrilling homage to the classic horror story Carrie by Stephen King that will resonate with contemporary teens by adding elements of podcasts and tackling social justice themes like racism, colorism, sundown towns, and, just as in the original, bullying and family relationships. The twists and turns keep readers fully invested while making them think about the world that we live in and the heritage that continues to impact who we are and how we live, for good or ill. The mastery and skill necessary to craft such an updated homage to a classic horror tale while making it fully original and relevant to today’s teen audiences put this on the shortlist.

2021 Cybils Winners

The 2021 Cybils Awards winners (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. The complete winners list is here.


Cece Rios and the Desert of Souls by Kaela Rivera (HarperCollins)

Cece Rios and the Desert of Souls is a stunning story of a brave and determined girl desperate to save her older sister, captured by the powerful dark criatura El Sombrerón. Though she must enter into the world of the dark magic of the brujas, sending the criaturas under her control to fight in the bruja’s arena, she never loses her kind heart and empathy. This is what helps her win through her challenges, while making her a character to love. The book, with a strong and captivating cultural background was inspired by stories the author’s abuelo told her growing up. With its vivid Southwest setting, inclusion of Mexican folklore, the fascinating magic of the criaturas, and beautiful themes of family, love, friendship, sacrifice and the importance of kindness, this is a story that will instantly capture the reader’s heart, and stay there.


Vespertine by Margaret Rogerson (Margaret K. McElderry)

Vespertine is a swift-moving novel with intriguing worldbuilding that revolves around different levels of spirits with a variety of powers and the people known as vessels who are possessed by those spirits. There is a fascinating dance of power between the interplay of people living with the Sight and the spirits themselves. The judges loved Artemisia as a main character, an antiheroine with a nontypical way of interacting with the world and with the complex sort of childhood trauma that impacts the rest of her life. Faced with one hard decision after another in which she could have chosen violence and retribution, Artemisia instead chooses mercy and empathy while still being badass when it’s required. Her relationship with the revenant is a highlight of the narrative—the push and pull of control and capability echoes the internal contradictions we all face in tough morally challenging situations.

2021 Cybils Awards Shortlists

The 2020 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 two speculative fiction categories. The complete list is here


Ophie’s Ghosts by Justina Ireland

After a white mob kills her father and burns their home, Ophie and her mother leave the Jim Crow south of the 1920s for Pittsburgh and both find work at the huge home of a wealthy family. It is a house full of ghosts, and Ophie can see and communicate with them. One restless spirit becomes a friend, and Ophie sets out to uncover the mystery of her death. She finds a story of passion, racial prejudice, and, she begins to suspect, murder…and unwittingly she gives the ghost herself the power to take matters into her own (ghostly) hands. But a ghost with power is a danger to everyone around it….and things get scary. This a lovely immersive read, blending ghosts and a gripping murder mystery with the daily life of a very real and relatable girl dealing with the racist realities of her life, her grief over her father, her lost hope for an education, and her worries for her mother.

Amari and the Night Brothers (Supernatural Investigations, 1) by B.B. Alston

This fast-paced, high-stakes story will delight readers as it entertains with wild and complicated magic (and yetis!) while offering myriad moral dilemmas and real-world social critique. Amari, a preteen Black girl, lives in the projects, and when her big brother Quinton goes missing the police assume he’s involved in illegal activities and don’t try hard to find him. Amari can’t believe this, but soon discovers Quinton was hiding his work as a lead agent at the very secretive and selective Bureau of Supernatural Affairs (BSA), and he’d arranged to have Amari try for a place at the BSA school. She leaps at the opportunity, hoping to find her brother. She soon discovers that prejudice, class distinction, and bullies are just as present at the BSA as they are back home. With danger mounting, and with newfound powerful magic of her own, Amari won’t let anything stop her from finding her brother.

Cece Rios and the Desert of Souls by Kaela Rivera

When Cece was seven, she got lost and Tzitzimitl, a criatura, one of the powerful spirits who roam the desert, brought her home. For this kindness, Tzitzimitl was attacked, as the villagers of Tierra del Sol believe that criaturas are evil and that only those that practice dark magic, like brujas, can control them. When Cece sets Tzitzimitl free, the villagers thought she cursed Cece. Years later, on the night of Noche de Muerte, when criaturas are released into the world, CeCe’s older sister Juana is kidnapped by the powerful dark criatura El Sombrerón. In order to save her sister, Cece must enter the Bruja Fights, but only if she can find criaturas who are willing to align with her. Cece Rios and the Desert of Souls is a fast-paced story, inspired by stories the author’s abuelo told her growing up. With its vivid Southwest setting, inclusion of Mexican folklore, and beautiful themes of family, love, friendship, sacrifice and the importance of kindness, Cece will instantly capture the reader’s heart.

Kiki Kallira Breaks a Kingdom by Sangu Mandanna

When 12-year-old Kiki’s anxiety overwhelms her, she makes drawings of the Indian folklore-inspired world of Mysore. Then the demon god Mahishasura and his demon Asura spring to life, and Kiki must enter her sketchbook and the world she drew to help The Crows, kid rebels of her own invention, defeat Mahishasura. If she fails, Mahishasura will enter the real world and enslave the human race, but if she succeeds, the drawn world and the new friends she makes there will cease to exist. This is a fast-paced, exciting, and hugely imaginative adventure, with wonderful characters, and a heroine who, faced with a terrible choice, is determined to find a way to save everyone but must learn to trust herself and her own strengths in order to do so.

The Last Cuentista by Donna Barba Higuera

In this riveting science fiction story about a dystopian future, Petra Peña, a 12-year-old girl from New Mexico who wants to be a storyteller, must set out on a 380 year journey into space when Early is destroyed by a rogue comet. But instead of waking up from stasis a few hundred years later at the planet that will be her new home, with her parents and brother next to her, she wakes up to a dystopian nightmare–the original plans for the mission have been subverted by zealots determined to brainwash all remaining humanity into complete conformity. Only Petra retains any memories of Earth, and she is the last reservoir of its stories. This stunner of a book has big themes of familial love and loyalty, adaptability, resilience, finding your own voice and the power of storytelling throughout history. The vivid writing and compelling plot twists make it hard to put down!

The Troubled Girls of Dragomir Academy by Anne Ursu

Marya is on fire with the injustice of life–everyone thinks her big brother will one day be a sorcerer, so he’s taught to read and gets fine clothes while she cleans the chicken coop and takes care of the goat. Her only comfort is the village weaver, Madame Bandu, who teaches her of the symbols that women have hidden in their tapestries even as they tell men’s stories. When Marya finds herself ordered to the School for Troubled Girls, in a far-off castle, she’s caught in a mystery involving not just the generations of girls sent to the school, but the magical, and deadly, Dread that is plaguing the kingdom. This Eastern-European inspired fantasy is a lovely, immersive story of undaunted girls using brains and courage to smash magical patriarchies, skillfully showing how strict social roles are damaging for both boys and girls.

Too Bright to See by Kyle Lukoff

Although middle school can be nerve-wracking and scary for anyone, for eleven-year-old Bug, try adding in a legitimately haunted house and a mysterious dead uncle to contend with, all while deciphering subjects like makeup, friendship, and gender identity. This emotionally rich novel delves into complex topics, such as loss, family, and queerness through the lens of its characters, allowing it to remain wholly accessible and entertaining to its target audience and beyond. The writing is perfect for fans of magical realism, utilizing its supernatural angle to tackle the deepest questions, drawing parallels to how we all can feel at odds with ourselves in a truly haunting way.


Bad Witch Burning by Jessica Lewis

An entrancing story of magic and the danger it can bring. Katrell’s can’t make enough to support her mom by talking to the dead to pay the bills she turns to raising the dead. The unforeseen side effects of this decision change her life. The characters are well-developed and the decisions of the protagonist make you wish she’d do anything else, but leave you knowing she’s choosing the only choice for her.

Iron Widow by Xiran Jay Zhao

Iron Widow is an intense, entertaining, wild ride of a book set in a futuristic world with giant fighting robots, loosely based on the rise to power of the only female emperor of China. Zetian begins the book determined to get vengeance for her sister’s death as a concubine-pilot: the robots who are humanity’s only hope against alien attackers need to be piloted by a man and a woman, but the women usually die from the strain of the psychic bond. Zetian’s will and her anger propel her through this world impossibly stacked against her, and the world will never be the same.

The City Beautiful by Aden Polydoros

Set against the backdrop of the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair, The City Beautiful follows Alter, a young, queer, Jewish immigrant who is possessed by the dybbuk of his murdered best friend, Yakov. Alter must trust a dangerous former acquaintance to help him. Putting his feelings for his old friend aside, they work together to take down a serial killer. Jewish folklore, big city American 19th century culture, and Gothic horror vibes combine to make this a haunting and thrilling tale.

The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna

The Gilded Ones is a bold and defiant story of a young woman who smashes expectations. Deka is desperate to fit into her small community, where girls are required to prove their purity through blood, but when the time for her ritual arrives, she is revealed as powerfully impure. She is taken away to join the ranks of the alaki—female warriors tasked with defending their country from the Deathshrieks. This story starts off strong, with a fast-paced and well-structured plot and lots of exciting world building. The female characters are very well developed and their backstories are unveiled with compelling timing throughout the story. This was originally planned for publication in 2020 but how lucky we are to include it here in the 2021 list of finalists!

The Mirror Season by Anna-Marie McLemore

A tale of discovery, healing, and powerful magic, The Mirror Season tells the story of a teenager named Ciela, who loses her family gift of baking enchanted pan dulce following her sexual assault. As she navigates her journey, the world changes around her: trees in the neighborhood mysteriously disappear, shards of mirrored glass haunt her every move, and a teenage boy named Lock suddenly appears who shares Ciela’s experience at the same party that night. Both must help each other understand and heal from their trauma in this effective and beautiful venture from author Anna-Marie McLemore.

The Ones We’re Meant to Find by Joan He

In a world ruined by climate change, two sisters search for each other. Humankind is looking for a solution for the natural disasters ravaging the world, and Kasey is looking for her sister, Celia. Kasey is content with her life in the eco-city and conducting part of her life virtually to save resources. Celia on the other hand desired to be in the real world outside, and three months ago she disappeared after secretly taking a boat out to sea. As Kasey traces her sister’s last steps, Kasey discovers Celia had secrets—just like her. Three years ago, Cee woke up on an abandoned island with no memories other than she must get back to her sister.

Vespertine by Margaret Rogerson

In a world where the dead do not always rest peacefully, Artemisia is training to become a Gray Sister — a nun tasked with cleansing corpses to ensure their spirits will not rise again as violent monsters. When she was a child, Artemisia was possessed by a dangerous type of spirit called a revenant, and the trauma from her past still lingers. But when her convent is attacked by possessed soldiers, Artemisia may have no choice but to allow a revenant to possess her once more. She must become a vespertine, a priestess with the power to wield a revenant. Though dark and gritty, this novel has a surprising amount of heart and humor. It’s difficult not to fall in love with each of the characters and the friendships that bloom throughout this story, including one between Artemisia and her revenant. It’s also refreshing to see a young adult novel that prioritizes platonic relationships over romance.

2020 Cybils Winners

The 2020 Cybils Awards winners (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, and a work of genre interest from the Young Adult Graphic Novels category. The complete winners list is here.


Rival Magic by Deva Fagan

Antonia dreams of being a great wizard, even if her wizarding skills aren’t so great, and she gets her chance when Master Betrys takes her on as an apprentice. Then Moppe, the young new scullery maid, arrives with secrets and powerful budding wizard abilities of her own, earning her a place as another apprentice. When Master Betrys is arrested, these two wildly different, yet equally fierce and determined girls must put their jealousy and arrogance aside to find a magical relic that may help them save their teacher and home. Rival Magic takes readers on a fun adventure, rife with magic and mayhem, and full of unexpected twists, fantastical elements, and a lot of heart. The two smart, capable female leads will delight, the unique take on wizardry will captivate, and readers will walk away from Rival Magic inspired to follow their hearts and forge their own paths.


Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas

When his family bans him from performing the ritual that would give him the supernatural abilities of a brujo, Latinx trans boy Yadriel stubbornly performs the ritual in secret, but things don’t go exactly as planned… He accidentally summons the wrong spirit, the recently-deceased Julian Diaz, high school bad boy who is more than he seems. This story is full of heart, and while it doesn’t shy away from heavier topics like transphobia and homophobia, it isn’t a story about queer pain at all. This novel is hopeful, witty, and bright, and in many ways reads like a warm hug and is something many young queer readers will find comfort in.

Young Adult Graphic Novels

Superman Smashes the Klan by Gene Luen Yang, illustrated by Gurihiru

Tommy and Roberta are excited about the possibility of seeing Superman in action when their Chinese-American family moves to Metropolis in 1946. They never expected to become the target of the Klan of the Fiery Kross, a fictional stand-in for the Ku Klux Klan that has started to terrorize the city. Teaming up with Superman, Tommy and Roberta fight back against the overt racism of the Kross and the casual racism of others in town, eventually uncovering some dark secrets. Based on a real radio play that aired in 1946, Superman Smashes the Klan seamlessly weaves together perennially popular superhero tropes. Yang and Gurihiru tell the story of two kids fighting for their place in the world, a story that will resonate strongly with the teens of today.

2020 Cybils Shortlists

The 2020 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.


A Wish in the Dark by Christina Soontornvat

In this mix of magic and Thai culture, with inspiration from Les Miserables, orphaned Pong escapes the prison where he was born with the help of his friend Somkit, who doesn’t make it out. Pong is now a fugitive from the government, marked as a criminal forever by his prison tattoo. The Governor who promised order and goodness has become a dictator, providing magical orbs of colored light only to those who faithfully follow his ever-increasing number of rules. Pong is a boy version of Jean Valjean as he finds himself condemned to be always on the run. Eventually he learns the lesson: “You can’t run away from darkness. It’s everywhere. The only way to see through it is to shine a light.” And that is just what he does. This exciting story with an unusual setting and a positive message about light that conquers darkness and change that is difficult and costly but always possible will win readers’ hearts!

Curse of the Night Witch (Emblem Island) by Alex Aster

On Tor’s island, most kids bear the physical marks of their destiny. When Tor wishes his leadership emblem gone, he wakes to find a curse in its place, and his lifeline shortened to almost nothing. Two other kids quickly become contaminated by the curse. To save their lives, they must find the legendary Night Witch. Their only guide is the stories told about her, and the journey takes them through fearsome dangers from magical creatures and treacherous terrain. The stories of the Night Witch are rooted in tales told to the author by her Columbian grandmother, which makes the book even more appealing. Readers will love the wildly extravagant world-building, the solid friendships between the kids and their bravery. On top of that, there’s thought-provoking considerations of destiny, and a powerful and nuanced final confrontation.

Eva Evergreen, Semi-Magical Witch by Julie Abe 

Eva Evergreen has set off on her own to take on her first station as a witch in the town of Auteri to prove herself on her Novice quest. While she does her best, she only seems to have a small pinch of magic and often overdoes it without achieving the result she hoped for. When a magical storm heads towards the town, Eva must use ingenuity and find a way to protect her town and the friends she has made in it. A charming and serendipitous tale, Eva Evergreen, Semi-Magical Witch will capture your heart, make you laugh and have you cheering for her to accomplish her goal of becoming a Novice Witch. She proves that just a pinch of magic mixed with hard work and a little creativity can go a long way.

In the Red by Christopher Swiedler

Michael dreams of joining the Rescue Service, which protects the public from the many dangers of living on Mars. But those dreams are dashed when he suffers a panic attack during his first test on the surface and keeps having them whenever he dons a spacesuit. He and his best friend sneak out to the surface in an attempt to prove he can overcome his anxiety, but it goes very wrong when a solar flare strands them out in the middle of nowhere with limited resources. The dangers of Mars are very real, and Michael worries another panic attack might doom them. Both the physical and the emotional stakes of this story are incredibly high as Michael uses his scientific smarts to conquer the dangers of Mars’ surface while struggling to understand and deal with his anxiety. It’s a high-octane survival story packed with peril that keeps the reader frantically turning the pages!

Mulan: Before the Sword by Grace Lin

When Mulan’s sister is bitten by a deadly nine-legged spider, Mulan joins forces with a healer who turns out to be the immortal Jade Rabbit to gather the ingredients for a healing potion. Then the evil White Fox intervenes to stop Mulan and Rabbit, and a prophecy about a member of the Hua family saving the emperor turns out to be at the heart of it all. Enormous challenges face Mulan and Rabbit; will they be able to make the antidote in time or will the White Fox prevail? Though she doubts herself, Mulan faces many challenges without immortal help, allowing her strengths and courage to shine through. As she did in her Where the Mountain Meets the Moon series, Lin integrates Chinese folktales beautifully into the story, each placed carefully to move the story forward to its fitting conclusion, and the end result is a joyous fantasy full of heart.

Rival Magic by Deva Fagan

Antonia dreams of being a great wizard, even if her wizarding skills aren’t so great, and she gets her chance when Master Betrys takes her on as an apprentice. Then Moppe, the young new scullery maid, arrives with secrets and powerful budding wizard abilities of her own, earning her a place as another apprentice. When Master Betrys is arrested, these two wildly different, yet equally fierce and determined girls must put their jealousy and arrogance aside to find a magical relic that may help them save their teacher and home. Rival Magic takes readers on a fun adventure, rife with magic and mayhem, and full of unexpected twists, fantastical elements, and a lot of heart. The two smart, capable female leads will delight, the unique take on wizardry will captivate, and readers will walk away from Rival Magic inspired to follow their hearts and forge their own paths.

Thirteens by Kate Alice Marshall

Eleanor has come to live with her aunt in an old, illogical mansion on the edge of the perfectly picturesque town of Eden Eld, a place her mother told her never, ever to go. She knows not to talk about the things she sees and hears that no one else can – but when she meets two kids at school who see them too, including a flame-eyed dog, a bone crow, and a cat of ashes, she finds out that they share more than just a birthday. All three are turning 13 on Halloween, and in this perfect town, this means they only have a few days to save themselves from the horrible bargain that’s at the heart of the town’s perfection, a bargain in which they are slated to die. The suspense mounts as, in true fairytale fashion, the kids have to figure out how to bend the rules in order to make it through to an ending that is both hard won and deliciously uncertain. It’s perfect for those who like brave friends confronting old and twisted magic in the real world!


Burn by Patrick Ness

Fans of Patrick Ness will rejoice over this newest title—now he’s bringing us stories about DRAGONS! In this novel, he creates a realistic world set in Cold War America. Sarah Dewhurst and her father have been struggling to keep their small farm operating after the death of Sarah’s mother. In order to get the help they need without paying for (more expensive) human workers, Sarah’s father hires a blue dragon from the Russian Wastes to help prepare the fields for planting. Not only is the dragon problematic because of the tenuous peace between humans and dragons, he is a “Russian” blue dragon. Sarah and her father are poor enough to need a dragon’s help to keep their farm afloat, but that’s not their only challenge: Sarah’s mother was Black and her father is white, and in the Pacific Northwest of 1957, this creates a host of added difficulties for their family. To make matters even worse, this dragon brings word of an apocalyptic prophecy that involves Sarah and their farm. With the strong writing readers have come to expect from Ness, excellent character development, and an exciting multiverse twist, this is a must-read.

Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas

When his family bans him from performing the ritual that would give him the supernatural abilities of a brujo, Latinx trans boy Yadriel stubbornly performs the ritual in secret, but things don’t go exactly as planned… He accidentally summons the wrong spirit, the recently-deceased Julian Diaz, high school bad boy who is more than he seems. This story is full of heart, and while it doesn’t shy away from heavier topics like transphobia and homophobia, it isn’t a story about queer pain at all. This novel is hopeful, witty, and bright, and in many ways reads like a warm hug and is something many young queer readers will find comfort in.

Elatsoe by Darcie Little Badger, illustrated by Rovina Cai

Elatsoe is the riveting tale of an asexual Lipan Apache girl with the unique ability to summon the ghosts of dead animals. When her cousin visits her in a dream, warning her that he has been killed and needs to be avenged, she must embark on a dangerous quest to solve his murder – but luckily she has her family and friends on her side to support her along the way! This urban fantasy novel is rich in worldbuilding, fascinating magic systems, and loveable characters, as well as creepy villains and plot twists sure to shock readers! Eerie yet endearing, this exciting novel is a must-read for any teen thirsting for adventure.

Legendborn by Tracy Deonn

When Bree goes to an early college program, she never expected to join a secret society that dates back to the round table. As she learns more about the society and her own past, she begins to uncover secrets that could change her life. Bree is the kind of main character you instantly fall in love with, in the way that you will follow her to the end of the earth or the end of this incredible book. Legendborn weaves a tale of the history of America and the Legends of Arthur that is both exciting and insightful. This book will appeal to fantasy lovers both new and old, and hopefully, more readers will see themselves in Bree and this story.

Red Hood by Elana K. Arnold

Elana K. Arnold is an unapologetic feminist who pulls no punches and takes no prisoners. Her new book, Red Hood, is a brutal retelling of the Little Red Riding Hood fable but in her take on the story, Little Red saves herself. Bisou is a high school student who is attacked by a wolf in the woods the night of the homecoming dance. During the struggle, Bisou fights back and ends up killing the wolf. The next morning, a boy from her school is found dead in the woods in the same location as her fight with the wolf. As the story unfolds, you learn about Bisou’s family heritage and more about the wolves in those woods. This story follows a similar pattern as the author’s previous fractured fairy tale (Damsel), so expect a dark and very intense read. There are graphic depictions of sex and violence in this story, so it is not for every reader. However, before you shy away–our sisters and daughters and friends are learning about sex and violence in this world, sometimes in the worst possible way, and the author does us all a favor by calling that out clearly…. For those of us who appreciate compelling storytelling with a kick-ass female protagonist who fights against toxic masculinity and violence against women, this is a five-star read.

Sia Martinez and the Moonlit Beginning of Everything by Raquel Vasquez Gilliland

Sia Martinez and the Moonlit Beginning of Everything has been compared to Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe meets Roswell. With its focus on the importance of family and friendships, its enveloping portrayal of adolescent growing pains, and its all-too-real and heartbreaking depiction of Mexican American experiences of racism in America, Sia fits these comparisons and more. Raquel Vasquez Gilliland deeply understands her characters, and there is something about Sia’s voice and Gilliland’s writing that feels so real, so raw, so engrossing.

The Guinevere Deception (Camelot Rising Trilogy) by Kiersten White

Guinevere is not who she seems in this refreshing take on the classic Arthurian legend. Sent to Camelot to marry King Arthur, Guinevere must learn how to navigate court life whilst protecting Arthur and coming into her own magic and courage. Guinevere is neither a helpless princess nor a simple plot device to further Arthur’s story in this retelling, and with the addition of a little gender-swapping—reminiscent of White’s epic The Conqueror’s Saga—and LGBTQ+ characters, The Guinevere Deception is a delightful journey to a fantastical 5th to early 6th century Britain.

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.


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

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

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

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

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.


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

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.


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.


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


  • 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)


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