2014 Cybils Reading Challenge

One of my favorite things about New Year's Day is the announcement of the Cybils shortlists. In the past, after being on a first round panel in the fall, I've set myself a Cybils Reading Challenge of one new-to-me book in each of the other categories before the winners are announced on February 14. It hasn't caught on anywhere else, though, and this year I am abandoning it in favor of reading all of the shortlisted books in one category (my favorite): Elementary and Middle Grade Speculative Fiction.

I definitely missed being on the first round panel (I had other book award commitments and couldn't apply), but I like the list this year's panelists came up with--especially Jinx by Sage Blackwood (HarperCollins, 2013), which exemplifies the qualities of literary merit and kid appeal that the Cybils recognize. I read Jinx early last year (maybe even late the year before), so I might reread it now and then treat myself to the sequel, Jinx's Magic (Katherine Tegen Books, 2014), which comes out on Tuesday.

Anyone else want to try this year's version of the Cybils Reading Challenge? Here's the complete Elementary and Middle Grade Speculative Fiction shortlist:

Where would you start?

More Jonathan Bean: Big Snow

A little bonus post to go with Caldecott Hopefuls: Building Our House. This is Jonathan Bean's Big Snow (FSG, 2013), and the forecast is warm and cozy (there's cookie baking, but also bathroom cleaning, which one doesn't see so often in picture books), with occasional flurries and the exciting possibility, real or imagined, of big snow.

I don't have as much to say about Big Snow (although it is a perfectly fine book, exemplary even) as I did about Building Our House, which is really the point of this post: only one of these books feels like a Caldecott contender to me. Would comparing them help to articulate why that is? Or maybe I'm wrong and Bean will pull off another Klassen!