It was so much fun to judge the final round of the Cybils for Best Easy Reader and Early Chapter Book. I felt like our committee really pondered long and hard to come up with the winners in a multi-step process:
- We procured the books, mostly from the library (copies were sent by publishers if your library didn’t have it)
- We read all the books within about a 3 week period
- We shared notes on each book via a shared Google Doc
- We ranked the books within each category on the Google Doc
- We meet via Google Chat to discuss and choose winners (about an hour)
- The winners were written up with editing from the group
And the Cybils winners are …
Cybils 2014 Easy Reader Winner
Okay, Andy! (Jump-Into-Chapters)
by Maxwell Eaton
Blue Apple Books
Nominated by: Tasha
Preston and Andy are friends, though Andy might not admit it. While Andy spends his days in the forest hunting rabbits, going about his day, and trying to catch up on sleep, Preston would much rather spend his time doing fun things with his friend. And though playing tag, collecting found items, and impersonating other animals might not be Andy’s idea of fun, that certainly won’t squelch Preston’s enthusiasm.
Eaton’s story is told in three paneled chapters and introduces readers to two characters who are as different as can be, yet who clearly are a pair. Amid terse dialogue, these characters make an impression on readers that is both unique and memorable. Readers of all ages will find something to enjoy in Okay, Andy, and our early readers will revel in the knowledge that it was written just for them.
Cybils 2-14 Early Chapter Book Winner
Lulu’s Mysterious Mission
by Judith Viorst
illustrated by Kevin Cornell
Nominated by: Freya Hooper
Lulu has seemingly put an end to her tantrum-throwing days. But then her parents drop a bombshell announcement: They’re leaving for a week-long vacation without their precious Lulu. To make matters worse, they leave her with the intimidating Mrs. Sonia Sofia Selinksy. There’s no holding Lulu back now! Just as soon as her parents leave, Lulu puts into action a slew of complex ideas to not only bring them back but also to get rid of Mrs. Sonia Sofia Selinsky for good. Just when Lulu’s plans are starting to make an impact, she finds out an intriguing secret about her babysitter. One that has her rethinking the final outcome of her schemes.
Eeny meeny miney mo,
That babysitter’s got to go.
This third installment by Judith Viorst is full of mischief, spunk and a can-do attitude of stubbornness that will tickle your funny bone. With an addictive chant that seems to grow with each chapter, Lulu’s resilience and determination is one to be admired as she pulls out all the stops to get her way. But just how far will she go? Readers of all levels will find the characters memorable, the illustrations humorous and the storyline engaging.
Both these books were not actually my first picks. I tend towards chickens! The short list for the 2014 Cybils both Easy Reader and Early Chapter Books both had outstanding chicken books that topped my list!
In the Easy Reader Category, Extraordinary Warren was my favorite! It lost because it was “high” for the category. I totally agree that this is not a typical Easy Reader … it’s sort of an Early Chapter Book/Graphic Novel hybrid.
I think that because it’s hard to categorize, it got a little lost in the awards department. That’s too bad because it will get kids reading for ages 6 and up.
Extraordinary Warren: A Super Chicken
Nominated by: Mrs. Heise
In this inviting graphic novel-narrative book combo, Warren’s life is boring – endless peck, cluck, feed. He wants excitement in his life; he wants to be Chicken Supreme, superhero. And that’s just what he becomes when he and his best friend, Egg, thwart the devious rat Millard’s plans to barbecue him and the other chicks. (No Chicken Supreme dinner for Millard. Phew!) We love bold illustrations and kid-appropriate humor. Warren’s a superhero to whom we can all relate – a lovable and curious seeker of adventure whose ultimate success comes from valuable life lessons and a little help from a friend.
The Easy Chapter Book category was much more difficult for me. Is it bad that I loved all the books?! One drawback for a few of the books was that they were girl oriented. This is not a bad thing, but the category had quite a few books that really would appeal only to girls. Sadly, those got knocked out for single sex audience.
I really liked Nicola Davies’ The Lion Who Stole My Arm. It was the first book I read for the Cybils and it was an exciting read with a great environmental message. Our committee wasn’t sure if kids would get this message but I never underestimate kids!
My first choice, however, was another chicken story. Out of many of the short list of funny books, this one really stood out for me: The Chicken Squad: The First Misadventure by Doreen Cronin.
The other strong contender that I also loved was Dory Fantasmagory by Abby Hanlon. It was a very long discussion to come up with a final winner.
I honestly can say that you can’t go wrong with any of the books on the 2014 Cybils Short List in any of the categories! Each book was lovely nominated by a reader, and carefully vetted by first round judges.
I really liked how our panel discussed the books. We all had strong opinions but were open to lively debate. And, when push came to shove, it was all about what KIDS would like, not adults. Which books would really feel like a new discovery to a child to get them excited to read?! I’m all about that! I ended up loving our winners but I hope that you will also check out my chicken favorites!
If you think that judging the Cybils sounds fun — it is!! It’s really not that time consuming and it’s very well run! I hope that you will apply next year; applications come up towards the end of August. The best way to find out is to subscribe to the Cybils newsletter.
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