Some of last year’s favorites

With our  Cybils Shortlist done. and that list in the hands of a new round of judges, I realized I ought to have a blog shout-out to all my fellow panelists!  A huge thanks to Charlotte (Charlotte’s Library) our fearless leader who kept us on track and in touch!  Likewise thanks to all my fellow bloggers: Kristen (The Book Monsters), Brandy (Random Musings of a Bibliophile), Melissa (The Book Nut), Cecelia (The Adventures of Cecelia Bedelia) and Liviania (In Bed With Books)!  A group of wonderful readers and writers who were most welcoming to a relative newbie.

While we’re pleased with our final shortlist of titles,  in all the hard work we put in, we discussed a lot of great reads from this year.  Here are a few of my personal highlights that didn’t make the final cut.

Parched by Melanie Crowder (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)  

This book was one of my discoveries later in the year–it’s so rare to have futuristic stories in an African setting–particularly for a middle grade audience.  It’s a short, fairly unforgiving story of a near future where water has become scarce and the cities have become ruled by gangs fighting over the water left.  Our young protagonists are struggling simply to survive amid this harsh environment.  There some fantastic elements thrown in, but overall a very different sort of science fiction story.

 Sky Jumpers by Peggy Eddelman (Random House)

I’ve a  personal soft spot for this book.  I grew up with futuristics that looked at what life would be like on a post apocalyptic earth.  They’ve been a rare breed, especially for younger middle grade readers.  Sky Jumpers manages to be such a futuristic, without being dystopian.  It’s an uplifting adventure tale and good one at that.

The Vengekeep Prophecies by Brian Farrey, Illustrations by Brett Helquist (HarperCollins)

A sweet favorite from late 2012, there’s plenty to like here.  A family of con artists who finally go one con too far–and find it backfiring on them!  The Grimjinx’s thought they’d secure a way out of any crime by making themselves the heroes of this year’s prophetic tapestry–but when the fake prophecies they’ve created start coming true, they’ll have to become heroes for real–and young Jaxter Grimjinx will have quite the adventure figuring a way out of this mess.

How to Catch a Bogle by Catherine Jinks (Harcourt)

Lots of fun to be had here, one of several apprentice books this year.  Birdie is an apprentice bogler, helping her master sniff out bogles (creepy, child-eating monsters) by playing bait.   When more kids start going missing than usual, however, Birdie will need to find out who the monster is this time.  Victorian adventure with an engaging protagonist.

Check out some more honorable mentions at In Bed With Books, and The Book Monsters.  (If any of my other co-panelists have put up honorable mentions–drop me a message.)


About Stephanie Whelan

I'm a children's librarian with a life-long love of all things science fiction and fantasy.

Posted on January 5, 2014, in General Posts, Reviews and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. I really enjoyed Parched as well, such a surprising read. I had a ton of fun and hope to be apart of it again in the future. 🙂 Thanks for helping us make up such a great team.

  2. Oh, I agree with you 100% on HOW TO CATCH A BOGLE. I wish we could have included it on the list! I may have to go and write up my own ‘runner up’ post… but until then I’ll check out the ones Liviania and Kristen did.

    You were a wonderful panelist! I felt like the slow newbie, but it was a great experience.

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