I’ve had the pleasure of serving on the Cybils periodically from 2006 through 2014. Whether I’ve been on round 1 or 2, I’ve always discovered a wonderful new book or author that I continue to share with my family, friends, and those kids who I help when I volunteer in the elementary school library. Every book can’t be a winner, or even a finalist.
Some of these books were dearly loved by me and other panelists, yet just didn’t make the cut for one reason or another, yet I’m so glad that I had the chance to read them.
Stuart Gibbs (Belly Up!, Middle Grade Fiction Finalist 2010) – Stuart Gibbs is practically a household name these days, but his first middle grade novel took us by storm. At the time, I shared it with my daughter, but it was one that I saved to introduce to my son when the time was right as well. Because of our love of this Cybils finalist, he’s read many more of Gibbs’ middle grade novels.
Tommy Greenwald (Charlie Joe Jackson’s Guide to Not Reading, Middle Grade Fiction nominee, 2011) – Though it didn’t quite make the cut as a finalist, my daughter and I thoroughly enjoyed this nominee when it was released, and I’ve recommended this book and its sequels to many kids and parents. I was thrilled last month when a student was looking for the second book in the series after I had suggested the first.
Elissa Brent Weissman (Nerd Camp, 2011 Middle Grade Fiction Winner) – Since falling in love with this title, reading it with my daughter when it came out, my son and I have continued to share every new release as a mother-son read aloud. There is nothing I love more than sharing a laugh with my kids while we are reading together.
Donna Gephardt (Death by Toilet Paper, 2014 Middle Grade Fiction Finalist) — Reading this novel last year reminded me how much I enjoyed her earlier title, How to Survive Middle School, a 2011 nominee. Since my son is starting middle school next year, it will be a perfect summer read for him. I’ve promised him it’s not quite as sad as Death by Toilet Paper but contains the same humor and heart.
Kathleen Krull (Isaac Newton, Middle Grade/YA Nonfiction Finalist 2006) – 5th grade is the year that students at my son’s school have to read across different genres. Nonfiction, and specifically biography, is on the list, so I recommended he check out the Giants of Science series. He’s read several, and not just to fulfill the quota!
– Jennifer Donovan, 5 Minutes for Books