Cybils Round One Fun

Tonight my plan was to post Sonderling Sunday on Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone looking at the translations in German — and French!

But instead, I took a longer Sunday afternoon nap than planned. And then my sister called. To say the traditional “Tomorrow we can say tomorrow is Christmas!” Yay! And then our Cybils Round One chat went way longer than I thought it would.

So next week I will plan to do an unusual tri-lingual Sonderling Sunday.

But meanwhile: The Cybils: What fun!

I’m on the Cybils Round One panel for Middle Grade Science Fiction and Fantasy. So I’ve been reading like crazy. And still feel like a slow reader compared to the others. We had at least two people read every title nominated — at least read enough to know if they needed to read on, anyway. And we all read any title that anyone shortlisted. Or at least we will have come very close to that by the time we finalize the list.

Round One is fun because you get to read widely, and you’re going for a list, so you don’t feel too bad if one you don’t like ends up on the shortlist. If people you trust loved it, it’s probably got a lot of merit. We found our group doesn’t have a whole lot of consensus — and we haven’t made a final list yet, but discussing these books is a lot of fun. It’s always a fun challenge to be able to come up why you like or dislike a book.

The Cybils strives for a combination of literary merit and kid appeal, so besides coming up with what we like or dislike, we also tried to figure out where that was from good or bad writing and which things would matter to kids.

This is much more than my reviews. In my reviews, I admit I like to focus on recommending books and telling what’s to like about them. It’s kind of fun to tear apart books I don’t like — in the privacy of a committee where most people will never ever see it. I hope I won’t like it so much that I do that sort of thing more widely! But there is some value in figuring out precisely where a book fell short. And was it a flaw? Or simply a personal preference?

I warned them in advance, and it proved to be true: My demon is internal logic. If a fantasy book has problems with the internal logic, it really really bugs me. There were a couple books that, to me, really dropped the ball at the end. I didn’t believe the characters would act that way, or I didn’t believe the magic would work that way. And there was one that I thought was lacking in explanation of the fantasy all the way along.

But it’s nice that I’m just one person on the panel. So my personal preferences and idiosyncracies won’t dominate the list, just influence it. I think we have a nice variety of viewpoints and preferences in our panel.

We now have settled on only one book that will definitely be on our shortlist. (Not that any of us think it’s the best — just that there was one book we all agreed on.) We have several to keep for now to discuss later, and we have several more that we sent to a corner with cookies to possibly come back if the list needs rounding out. We’ll be reading and rereading and discussing again later this week.

And we will announce our shortlist to the world on January 1st! Stay tuned!

And don’t forget to tune in next week to look at Harry Potter #1 in British, German, and French!

3 Responses to “Cybils Round One Fun”

  1. That’s so great that you’re on the Cybils! I met the wonderful fantasy author Laini Taylor (“Daughter of Smoke and Bone,” “Lips Touch”) because she was on the Cybils and that’s how she came to read “Odd-Fish.” She got in touch with me because she ended up liking it and we struck up a friendship. So Cybils is not only great for reading a lot of marvelous books you might have otherwise missed, but it’s also good for making friends! One of these days I’m going to put my name up for committee…

    I will follow your progress on this particularly closely because I’m trying to finish my middle-grade science fiction book right now, so tips on what’s tops in MG sci fi these days will be valuable info for me!

    As for Harry Potter in various languages . . . I have a Japanese version of Harry Potter on my shelf that makes me feel guilty every time I look at it. I have totally lost my Japanese ability. Once upon a time I could have made it through that book, though slowly. Now . . . not so much. Sadness!

    • I am really enjoying being on the Cybils panel. And it’s the third time I applied, but the first time I was accepted. So I feel the honor more than I would have if I’d been picked the first time!

      As for what’s tops in MG sci fi — Your books are NOTHING like anything else out there, as far as I’m concerned, so just keep doing what you do! Though I can say more after our list is public….

      One fun thing about Round One, though, is that we also look for variety. So from our perspective “different” is good, and if your next book is anything like Odd-Fish, you’ve got “different” down! :)

      You do know that I’m only getting through the German by reading sentence by sentence along with the English, right? When I get to Harry Potter, maybe you can pull out a sentence or two in Japanese. My French is much worse, but I did manage to get through HP #1 once upon a time very slowly that way, and I thought it would be fun to pull it out for Sonderling Sunday. I won’t bring out the Bulgarian or Hebrew or Chinese or Japanese or Czech, since I don’t even know where the sentences are to follow in those languages. But they do look cool on my shelf!

  2. Sherry says:

    Nice summary, Sondy. It was fun.

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