13 January 2012

Cybils Wrap-up

I say "wrap-up" even though round two of the judging is just getting into gear. But for me, the work is done, and now there is nothing left to do but sit back and join those waiting to hear the announcement of the eventual winners. After months of reading, and weeks of debating, the Non-Fiction, Middle Grade and Young Adult panel chose six outstanding books as finalists. I don't envy the round two judges as they try to chose a single book to rise above the rest. Without giving away any secrets, I can say that almost everyone on they panel had to give up a title for which the felt passionately. The selection this year was excellent.

This year we have been invited to comment on "the ones that got away;" the titles that we wish had made the final cut. There were several books which I would have been happy to see make the list--books which were not on my short list but which I couldn't argue against if there was strong feeling in their favor, because they were so good. One book which missed out though, which I really would have liked to see make the list, was The Mysteries of Angkor Wat, by Richard Sobol. It's inclusion on our list was a bit of a surprise to me, because it is a picture book. There were several picture books on the list, (including The Many Faces of George Washington, which did go through as a finalist,) but they were text heavy and clearly written for a middle school or older audience. But Ankor Wat seemed young. However, we covered a wide age group, and I am assuming that is why it remained on our list and was not moved to non-fiction picture books. The picture book format served the subject matter well, giving Sobol the opportunity to share some outstanding photos on the sprawling temple. Its kid appeal was evident. Sobol introduced readers to a group of school children who sold trinkets and snacks to visitors to the temple. They befriended Sobol and shared a secret with him about the temple known only to themselves; a hook which was so surprising that I am not going to reveal here what it was, because it certainly caught me by surprise. Adults are almost non-existent in this book, other than Sobol himself, so while it is clear that these children are working to try and raise some extra money, the fact that they are playing on this ancient site completely unsupervised reveals a level of independence and freedom that American children can only wonder at.

Good luck to all the finalists! You can see a full list here.

1 comment:

KateCoombs said...

That hook is hooking me--thanks!

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