Meet the Panelists: MG Fiction Roundtable

One of the most innovative aspects of the Cybils–something that differentiates it from other children’s and YA book awards–is the fact that it’s a grassroots effort to find the best in kids’ books. Our nominations are drawn from the internet public, and our nominating and judging panelists comprise a broad cross-section of bloggers with a common interest in recognizing quality literature for children and young adults.

We want to give you the opportunity to get to know our blogging panelists just a bit better–and so we’ve asked them a few questions about what they look for in a great children’s book. Today, courtesy of Middle Grade Fiction category organizer Kerry Millar of Shelf Elf, we learn a little more about the nominating panelists for MG Fiction:

What was your favorite children’s/YA book this year, in any genre, and why?

Sarah Mulhern (The Reading Zone): I hate difficult questions like this! It’s like asking me to choose my favorite pet! But if I absolutely must, then it’s a tie–The Dead and The Gone by Susan Beth Pfeffer for both myself and my students, and The Sweet Far Thing by Libba Bray for me.

Melissa Fox (Book Nut): Oh…so hard to choose. Suite Scarlett, because it’s a great combination of romance and adventure and has great characters and it hit me just right at the right time. Or The Adoration of Jenna Fox, for being thought-provoking and engrossing.

Alysa Stewart (Everead): Rapunzel’s Revenge! A fabulous graphic novel that anyone who can read it (8+?) will love.

Matt Wigdahl (The Book Club Shelf): Easy:  We are the Ship by Kadir Nelson–fascinating information, breathtaking illustrations.

Mary R. Voors (ACPL Mock Newbery): Can I have two? My two favorites this year–so far–are The Willoughbys by Lois Lowry because it made me laugh out loud more than any book I’ve read in years. I also really loved The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins because it was a `can’t put it down’ captivating fantasy with strong and believable characters and an intriguing premise.

If you could be a character in any MG fiction title, who would you choose to be, and why?

Kim Baccellia: I love upbeat, go-getter characters and Anna Smudge is one of my favorites! She’s a combination of Dr. Phil and Nancy Drew as she solves a mystery.

Sherry Early (Semicolon):  I’d like to visit Middle Earth. Is Tolkien middle grade fiction? Maybe I could be a minor character and see what hobbits and dwarves and elves really look and act like.

Sarah Mulhern (The Reading Zone): I am a huge science nerd, so I have always harbored a secret wish to spend a day as a character in The Green Glass Sea. To be in Los Alamos, surrounded by people like Richard Feynman and Albert Einstein, would be amazing. But only for a day. It is Los Alamos, after all!

Matt Wigdahl (The Book Club Shelf): I would choose to be the deceptively clever and exceedingly wise Nicholas Allen,  inventor of the original Frindle.

Thanks to the MG Fiction panelists for their thoughtful answers!

–Sarah Stevenson, Deputy Editor