05 January 2009

Cybils Middle-Grade Fiction Nominees

So here's a list of the middle-grade novels I'll soon read as a judge in this category of the Cybils Awards. And here are all the lists of finalists.

Alvin Ho
written by Lenore Look
Schwartz and Wade Books

Alvin Ho is brave (as long as he has his Personal Disaster Kit), a gentleman (in training), a good friend (but NOT to girls), and an interesting kid (who doesn't talk in public). It's just that he's allergic to everything: girls, substitute teachers, airplanes, escalators ... and anything else that's even remotely scary (like leaving the house). However, he loves explosions, his dog Lucy, Plastic Man, Wonder Woman, the Green Lantern, Aquaman, King V, and all the superheroes in the world.
Oh, dear. Will I be able to relate?
Diamond Willow
written by Helen Frost
Farrar, Strauss & Giroux

Helen Frost tells the story of Willow, a young girl living in a remote Alaskan town. When Willow gets her first chance to mush the family dogs, everything changes. Told in a series of diamond-shaped poems, with sporadic prose every few chapters, Frost has woven a beautiful coming-of-age story fraught with realism and magic. Braiding the stories of Willow, her family, the dogs, and her family's ancestors, the story is simple and middle-grade students will easily connect with Willow and her family.

“Sporadic prose”--what a selling point.

Every Soul a Star
written by Wendy Mass
Little, Brown

Three middle school students are brought together along with thousands of eclipse-chasers to witness a rare full solar eclipse. Told in the three voices of Ally, Bree & Jack, the alternating narrations are beautifully written and increasingly weave together. Ally (short for Alpha) and her family own the Moon Shadow campground, and have been preparing for their eclipse-chasing guests for years. Bree's parents have bought the Moon Shadow and are dragging her from city life to try running a campground. Jack is along for the ride as his science teacher's assistant in an amateur astronomy experiment they plan to run during the eclipse.

Shooting the Moon
written by Frances O'Roark Dowell

Both the characters and the setting are fully fleshed out and believable in this Vietnam era novel. Born and raised in a career army family, 12-year-old Jamie explores her changing feelings as her brother enlists in the army and is sent far away to fight. While offering no easy answers, this is a thought-provoking page-turner that will have lots of appeal for kids.

Not one but two astronomically-themed titles!

The London Eye Mystery
written by Siobhan Dowd
David Fickling Books

This story has Ted and Kat searching for a cousin who disappears from the London Eye Ferris wheel. The two siblings must work together to solve the mystery. What's unique about this tale is how Ted's Asberger's doesn't stand in the way of him being active in solving his cousin's disappearance.

Which reminds me, I should post some of my dad's photos of our "flight" on the London Eye last summer.


Anonymous said...

London Eye has got great reviews. I think there might already be a sequel.

J. L. Bell said...

I understand that The London Eye Mystery was written some years ago, but the publisher delayed issuing it for fear that it would end up in the shadow of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time. So I'm not surprised that the author's had the time to write a sequel.

Nathan said...

A girl in Alaska named Willow? Is it the governor's daughter, by any chance?