Save Me a Seat

From the 2016 Cybils shortlist, we listened to Save Me a Seat on audio. It’s a short book, told from the perspectives of two very different boys — one who grew up in New Jersey, and another who grew up in Bangalore and both find themselves outcasts at Albert Einstein Elementary. One who is very smart (an IQ of 135! lol) and one who has an auditory processing disability so people often assume he is not smart.

On audio, having two separate voices tell each boy’s story was a nice touch. An even nicer touch was the glossary in the back of the book. You’d think, being white Americans that you are (or I am), that there would simply be a glossary of Ravi’s “unfamiliar” Indian words. But nope, Joe’s “unfamiliar” words are there, too.

Kids who are struggling with bullying or self-esteem should read this. Or, anyone who needs a refresher in why there’s more to a person than meets the eye or a reminder that giving up is not an option should this one.

Full of Beans

I really loved Full of Beans. It’s a Cybil from last year that explains how Key West went from being a dead, bankrupt town during the depression to a must visit tourist destination — and a 10 (?) year old boy tells the story. It event touches on the leper colony that was in Key West at the time, and handles it beautifully.

(TW was not quite as thrilled with the book as I was. I don’t know what her problem is, except that she doesn’t like children’s fiction. Speaking of which, I think it’s categorized as middle grade fiction but it feels pretty young, to me. So better for younger good readers or older reluctant readers.)

In the Footsteps of Crazy Horse

Another Cybil from last year, In the Footsteps of Crazy Horse was good. It read younger than I expected it to, so if you have struggling readers – this would work for them.

I liked the relationship between Jimmy and his grandfather and the journey they took together. I wish there’d been more connecting the dots between Jimmy’s situation at school before the journey and his growth after the journey but that would have made the book more complex and I think the author wanted to keep it an easy read.

The Inquisitor’s Tale: Or, The Three Magical Children and Their Holy Dog

The Inquistor’s Tale was on last year’s Cybils Shortlist in the audiobook category and I see why.

It was Canterbury Tale-like and there were some “ass” jokes, which kids would find very amusing. It was also a story with serious themes that were presented in some pretty kid-friendly ways without minimizing those serious issues. Well done.

Faith Volume 1: Hollywood and Vine

Woot, a graphic novel! Faith Volume 1: Hollywood and Vine is from last year’s Cybil shortlist and I finally managed to get it added to my library hold list. (Another reminder to myself to get more graphic novels on my hold list in 2018.)

Faith is not one of those thin, sleek, gorgeous super-heroes. She’s an average sized woman who writes blog posts for an online media company (sorry, Faith — blogging was better 5-10 years ago) as her day job.

I liked Faith but I didn’t love her. I feel like the writers are trying a little too hard to make her a “real” woman. I am going to grab volume 2 and see if they’ve settled into her character a little more because I’d really like to love her.

Ms. Bixby’s Last Day

Tearjerker. And a fun, well-written tearjerker, at that. Ms. Bixby’s Day Off is exactly the kind of Cybil shortlist book that I love.

Have you ever had a teacher that you’d go out of your way to do something really special for — like create her “last day” dream? I’ve had teachers like that. I hope every kid who reads this book has had a teacher like that.

2017 Cybils Shortlist

Here are the shortlists. I was thrilled to see “Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus” and “The Hate U Give” on the list. I read both last year and they were excellent. I’m disappointed that they had to skip the audiobooks category, I was pretty happy to see that category last year and the Graphic Novel shortlists seem a little lackluster, but I could be wrong about that.

I’m not planning on reading them all (again) this year but I do plan on reading a bunch of them (again.)

Easy Readers and Early Chapter Books

Charlie & Mouse & Grumpy: Book 2
I Like the Farm
King & Kayla and the Case of the Secret Code (King and Kayla)
My Kite is Stuck! and Other Stories (A Duck, Duck, Porcupine Book)
There’s a Pest in the Garden! (The Giggle Gang)
Tooth Fairy’s Night (Step into Reading)
We Need More Nuts! (Penguin Young Readers, Level 2)
What Is Chasing Duck? (The Giggle Gang)
Dragons and Marshmallows (Zoey and Sassafras)
Heartwood Hotel, Book 2 The Greatest Gift
My Fantástica Family (Sofia Martinez)
Overboard! (Survivor Diaries)
Princess Cora and the Crocodile
The Princess in Black Takes a Vacation
Wedgie & Gizmo

Elementary/Middle Grade Non-Fiction

Adrift at Sea: A Vietnamese Boy’s Story of Survival
Danza!: Amalia Hernández and Mexico’s Folkloric Ballet
Dazzle Ships: World War I and the Art of Confusion
Hatching Chicks in Room 6
Once Upon a Jungle
Shark Lady: The True Story of How Eugenie Clark Became the Ocean’s Most Fearless Scientist
What Makes a Monster?: Discovering the World’s Scariest Creatures (The World of Weird Animals)
Beauty and the Beak: How Science, Technology, and a 3D-Printed Beak Rescued a Bald Eagle
Fred Korematsu Speaks Up (Fighting for Justice)
Lost in Outer Space (Lost #2): The Incredible Journey of Apollo 13
Pathfinders: The Journeys of 16 Extraordinary Black Souls
Red Cloud
Two Truths and a Lie: It’s Alive!
Zoo Scientists to the Rescue

Elementary/Middle Grade Graphic Novels

Real Friends
Sure and the Shadow
The Big Bad Fox
The Dam Keeper
Where’s Halmoni?

Elementary/Middle-Grade Speculative Fiction

A Face Like Glass
A Properly Undaunted Place
Last Day on Mars
Miss Ellicott’s School for the Magically Minded
Spirit Hunters
The Countdown Conspiracy
The Dragon with a Chocolate Heart

Fiction Picture Books

After the Fall (How Humpty Dumpty Got Back Up Again)
Baabwaa and Wooliam
Big Cat, Little Cat
Creepy Pair of Underwear!
Flowers for Sarajevo
The Book of Mistakes

Board Books

Bears Are Big
Changing Faces: Meet Happy Bear
Circle, Triangle, Elephant
Hair (Leslie Patricelli Board Books)
One Happy Tiger
Peek-a Moo!
When Your Lion Needs a Bat


Fresh-Picked Poetry: A Day at the Farmers’ Market
I’m Just No Good at Rhyming: And Other Nonsense for Mischievous Kids and Immature Grown-Ups
Keep a Pocket in Your Poem: Classic Poems and Playful Parodies
Miguel’s Brave Knight: Young Cervantes and His Dream of Don Quixote
One Last Word: Wisdom from the Harlem Renaissance
Out of Wonder: Poems Celebrating Poets

Middle-Grade Fiction

Amina’s Voice
Armstrong and Charlie
Caleb and Kit
Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus
The Epic Fail of Arturo Zamora

Junior/Senior High Non-Fiction

Bound by Ice: A True North Pole Survival Story
Isaac the Alchemist: Secrets of Isaac Newton, Reveal’d
Locked Up for Freedom: Civil Rights Protesters at the Leesburg Stockade
Motor Girls: How Women Took the Wheel and Drove Boldly Into the Twentieth Century (History (US))
Poison: Deadly Deeds, Perilous Professions, and Murderous Medicines
The Whydah: A Pirate Ship Feared, Wrecked, and Found
Undefeated: Jim Thorpe and the Carlisle Indian School Football Team
A Dog in the Cave: The Wolves Who Made Us Human
Alice Paul and the Fight for Women’s Rights: From the Vote to the Equal Rights Amendment
How Dare the Sun Rise: Memoirs of a War Child
Queer, There, and Everywhere: 23 People Who Changed the World
The March Against Fear: The Last Great Walk of the Civil Rights Movement and the Emergence of Black Power
Uprooted: The Japanese American Experience During World War II
Vincent and Theo: The Van Gogh Brothers

Young Adult Graphic Novels

Buddha: An Enlightened Life
New Super-Man Vol. 1: Made In China (Rebirth) (Super-Man – New Super-Man (Rebirth))
Soupy Leaves Home
Spill Zone
Tyson Hesse’s Diesel: Ignition

Young Adult Fiction

A Short History of the Girl Next Door
Moxie: A Novel
Piecing Me Together
Saints and Misfits
The Hate U Give
The Inexplicable Logic of My Life
The Lake Effect

Young Adult Speculative Fiction

Scythe (Arc of a Scythe)
Song of the Current
The Hearts We Sold
The Rules and Regulations for Mediating Myths and Magic
They Both Die at the End
Wonder Woman: Warbringer

A Study In Charlotte

I’m not really a Sherlock Holmes fan but A Study in Charlotte made me kind of want to read some more Sherlock Holmes. Good thing I’m too busy to fall into that trap. Instead, I’ll just wait until the next Charlotte Holmes novel comes out.

The Wooden Prince

The Wooden Prince is on the Cybils List for audiobooks, unfortunately the audiobook isn’t available at my library so we read it in print. It wasn’t bad, if you like Pinocchio fan fiction? I might even read the next book in the series. (I bet it was better on audio, though.)

Two YA

First, a Cybil, Still Life With Tornado was a book about a teen who has a breakdown triggered by some stuff that happened at school but also by stuff that’s happened at home. It was an interesting book, A.S. King does a good job with teens and dysfunctional families. I wasn’t all that thrilled about the art teacher and the student… I’m not sure that was necessary to the story line. Otherwise, I liked it and recommend it.

Next, Goodbye Rebel Blue. I liked it a whole lot more than I expected to. Misfit kid finds herself drawn to complete the bucket list of a dead schoolmate — a girl she didn’t really know at all. Good read, really.

Related: After I finished it, TW asked me what I thought of it. I told her I liked it and asked her what was on her bucket list. She said nothing. I said NOTHING? She said no, nothing really matters. I replied… are you reading Still Life in Tornado right now? (She was.) The juxtaposition between the two books was interesting, to say the least.