Meet the Panelists: Fantasy/Sci-Fi Roundtable

If you had a chance to read the first installment of Meet the Panelists, you'll remember that this is your opportunity to get to know the various judges and nominating panelists just a bit better–a peek behind the scenes and into the minds of the decision-makers behind the Cybils process. Today, courtesy of Fantasy and Science Fiction category organizer Tasha Saecker of Kids Lit, we learn a little more about the nominating panelists for Fantasy/Sci-Fi:

What is your favorite book this year, in any genre or age group, and why?

Alyssa Feller (The Shady Glade): Although I haven't read a lot of this year's nominees, I was excited to see No Girls Allowed by Susan Hughes had made it on the graphic novel list.  I'm excited to read the nominees, though; I've heard some great things about some of them!

Amanda Blau (Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs): Okay – my favorite book changes often. This year I loved Savvy by Ingrid Law, but this week my favorite book is the picture book Maybe a Bear Ate It by Robie H. Harris and illustrated (charmingly) by Michael Emberley.

Charlotte Taylor (Charlotte's Library): Of all the books I read this year, many of which I liked very much, there was only one that made me rush immediately to the computer and blog forth gushing praise–Seven Miles to Freedom: The Robert Smalls Story, by Janet Halfmann, illustrated by Duane Smith (2008). This particular story of this particular person, and the powerful way Halfmann tells the story, really got to me.  Reading the factual information at the end, and seeing everything Smalls had hoped for go crashing down again into racism toward the end of the 19th century (which I don't remember learning much about in school), was also pretty
moving (and topical).

Em (Em's Bookshelf): Such a tough question!  My favorite book this year would probably be House of Dance by Beth Kephart, followed by Paper Towns by John Green. I just finished it and it's amazing!

Laini Taylor (Grow Wings): This is a really tough question. If you mean books published this year, I guess I'll say The Magic Thief by Sarah Prineas, because I just read it and really enjoyed it, though I could just as easily say a number of books. Some of my other favorite reads this year, not published in 2008, were The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch and A Company of Swans by Eva Ibbotson.

Nettle (The Puck in the Midden): My "favorite book of the year" changes pretty much every week.  Right now I think it's Marie Rutkoski's gorgeous Cabinet of Wonders–I love the very different angle on what could be a typical medieval fantasy, and the flavors of her Other Prague, a place where magical talents are common and little girls have pet tin spiders.  I also loved Elizabeth C. Bunce's A Curse Dark as Gold.  It's my favorite kind of story–a retold fairy tale that works and doesn't feel forced.  It's interwoven with the story of a life, and felt very genuine, honest and compelling to me.  I have a soft spot for stories that live in the quiet spaces–in between the adventures and the world-saving, the ones that show that real life can be heroic too.

Tirzah Price (The Compulsive Reader): This is such a tough question because there are so many great books that I have enjoyed this year. One of the most recent ones that I can think of is The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. Not only is this book action packed and full of romance (which very nearly gets me every time, believe me) but the concept of the book, emotions, and even the morals really just reach out and grab you. My favorite type of book is the kind that is not only entertaining, but also forces you to stop and really contemplate.

Obviously, the panelists are going to have their work cut out for them narrowing down all the wonderful nominees to a short list! Thanks to the Sci-Fi/Fantasy nominating panelists for their intriguing answers to a tough question.

–Sarah Stevenson, Deputy Editor