My Cybils ’07 Shortlist Retrospective: The Shortlist That Rocks and What It Was Painful to Leave Out

h1 January 3rd, 2008 by jules

As many of you know, the shortlisted titles for several categories in the Cybils ’07 were announced on January 1st. That included the category I organized and for which I served as a nominating panelist, Fiction Picture Books. I already posted a bit about how much fun it was to choose the seven shortlisted titles with my fellow panelists. I thought I’d go ahead and share my previous reviews of the shortlisted titles and share some of the titles I adored so mightily, yet which didn’t make the list. And then I promise to get back to regular ‘ol reviews here in the new year.

I am really happy with the shortlisted titles in our category. Here they are. I look back at my ’07 reviews now and see that I managed to review all of them except one this year:

* * * The Chicken-Chasing Queen of Lamar County by Janice N. Harrington and illustrated by Shelley Jackson — Here’s my review from May of this year. Love that chicken-chasing queen. LOVE her.

* * * Four Feet, Two Sandals — written by Karen Lynn Williams (who has her Master’s degree in Deaf Education — the sign language interpreter in me points that out and says “yes!”) and Khadra Mohammed and illustrated by Doug Chayka. Published by Eerdmans Books for Young Readers in August 2007. This is the one title of all the shortlisted ones that I didn’t manage to review this year. This is a pensive, poignant glimpse into the world of two Afghani girls in a refugee camp, a world we don’t often see (for more than two femtoseconds in a brief news clip) in contemporary American culture. We’re talkin’ the crowded, harsh landscape of refugee life in which used clothing from relief workers is a novelty and a thrill — yet also, in this story, comes to represent more than just sartorial bliss.

* * * Go to Bed, Monster! by Natasha Wing and illustrated by Sylvie Kantorovitz — Here’s my review from November of this year. Move over, Harold. Make way for Lucy and Monster.

* * * The Incredible Book-Eating BoyHere’s my review from June of this year. How do I love Oliver Jeffers? Let me count the ways.

* * * Knuffle Bunny TooHere’s 7-Imp’s co-review from August of this year — in which we pretty much couldn’t find a single weakness in the book (there’s also the Sunday in August in which we got a sneak-peek illustration from the book). It’s a bit odd to see a sequel on a shortlist, no? I mean, not to be unfair to the world’s sequels, but they usually don’t measure up. But, well, this is Mo we’re talking about here. He pretty much shows us all how a sequel is done, yo. ‘Nuf said.

* * * Leaves by David Ezra SteinHere’s my review from Sep-
tember of this year — as well as the pro-
tagonist bear in a November Sunday feature of David Ezra Stein.

* * * Pssst! by Adam RexHere’s my review from September of this year. And back in June we got a sneak-peek illustration of the book on a Sunday, a couple months before it came out.

Which books did I think were casualties here?

Okay, I suppose “casualties” is a bit harsh. Again, I’m happy with the shortlist. But, yes, it’d be somewhat different if I were Ruler of the Universe and could have shortlisted this category all by myself. Mwahahahahahaha {world domination laugh}. But then, hey, wait: It would not have been half as fun, ’cause my fellow panelists were great. We’re all happy with the list, but compromise was necessary on everyone’s part at least once, I’d say, during our shortlist creation. So, I’ll re-word:

Which titles would I shortlist if I were
Ruler of the Universe? Mwaha — Oh I’ll just shut it now

The NUMERO UNO title not on this shortlist that makes me ache in its absence is At Night by Jonathan Bean. Oh the ever-so talented Jonathan Bean who had two nominated titles (the other being The Apple Pie That Papa Baked by Lauren Thompson, reviewed here in September, along with a little Sunday Jonathan Bean feature on the same day). I wanted either one to make it, but especially the flawless, quiet wonder that is At Night (reviewed here by Yours Truly in August of this year).

Second title I really miss on the list is Emily Gravett’s Orange Pear Apple Bear for being the most wonderful book for very, VERY young children to come along in a while. You could call it a book for babies, and it’s actually. not. boring. Here’s my review of it/Ode to Emily Gravett from May of this year.

Grumpy Bird! O Grumpy Bird, my sweet matutinal misanthrope! One of my top-five favorite titles from this year, but — again — I am not Ruler of the Universe. I reviewed this exceptional picture book by Jeremy Tankard here in May of this year (and here was our Sunday feature). And Kevin Henkes’ A Good Day, reviewed here. Two of the very best from this year. Hands down.

I’d also have been happy with Fred Stays With Me! by Nancy Coffelt and illustrated by Tricia Tusa; The End by David LaRochelle and illustrated by Richard Egielski; and I’m the Biggest Thing in the Ocean by Kevin Sherry for its humor and for capturing so well the hubris and the great and powerful and optimistic ego of young children — and all with such simplicity. But have I mentioned that . . .


10 comments to “My Cybils ’07 Shortlist Retrospective: The Shortlist That Rocks and What It Was Painful to Leave Out”

  1. Oh my goodness, Jules is using marquees and mwahhahas.

  2. Hee! Your Cybils time sounds much like mine. I, too, frequently wished to be Queen of the World, but alas!!!

    And ALL of these books look SO DARNED CUTE. I have a (temperament-wise) soft spot for Grumpy Bird, and I’ve wanted to read Four Feet, Two Sandals, and The Chicken-Chasing Queen since I read about them here. Thanks for keeping me up to date on the awesomeness. And your use of marquee is awesome.

  3. Goodness. That marquee is scaring me. And the mwhhaaha world domination laugh.
    Chicken chasing queen is my favorite PB. Going to lie down now.

  4. (ignoring the marquee) What strikes me as interesting from a bookseller’s perspective is that the titles that made the shortlist are hard sells to customers while the ones that you mentioned didn’t make the list practically sell themselves. I know that popularity and sales aren’t criteria, nor should they be, and that the award won’t boost awareness the way some other awards might (not yet at least), I merely find it interesting to see a list that runs counter to what “sells”.

    Now anxiously awaiting the shortlist for my category, graphic novels, on Monday…

  5. World domination laughter and marquees – you really are the hostess with the mostess, Jules. Wow – David E’s point was an interesting one.

    I was startled to see A Good Day and Orange Pear Apple Bear NOT on the list. And I kinda thought 17 Things I’m Not Allowed to Do Anymore might show up, too.

    My guess is that At Night was deemed too quiet by some folks, but I happen to like quiet from time to time. Like, say, at night.

  6. Thanks, everyone. And, yes, interesting point, David. Except, of course, KBToo is the very definition of easy-to-sell.

    Kelly, I initially set out in this post talking about my feelings about the shortlisted titles, even though, as I’ve said, I’m generally happy with it (but are there titles I would knock off in lieu of some of the favorites I listed that didn’t make it — if I were, indeed, knighted Ruler of the Universe? Sure). But then I took that stuff out, ’cause I wasn’t sure if that’d be proper protocol, since the judges have yet to do their job?? Not that I’m so important that every judge will be running to their computer this morning to hang their attention on my every thought and subsequently let it influence their decision. As if. But I just decided to play it safe in case I’m not really supposed to be doing that.

    I figured At Night would fly under just about every award radar, since it is so hushed (but oh-so beautifully hushed, huh?). But I gave it my all!

    Oh and Jama, I know that marquee is scary. Sorry. I can’t help avoiding its kitschy charm. I vow to never use it again.

  7. Can’t wait to start reading them! Thanks for working so hard on the nominations!

  8. Actually, at least my neck of the woods, Knuffle Bunny isn’t doing well as a follow-up. People who bought the first book aren’t interested in the second; people who have never head of KB want the first book before going for the second. People familiar with Mo’s books keep asking for more Pigeon and Piggie and Elephant and not Trixie and KB.

  9. Jules, it was fun working with you through the whole process. I knew it was going to be hard to do the shortlist because there were so many great books that could easily have been on it. I like all four of the ones you mentioned, plus at least another four of my own favorites. But, like you, I do feel good about the list we put together and it was fun doing the internet chatting thing to pull the list together.

  10. Jules,
    I loved this post- because you mention so many of the books I’d have been thrilled to see on the shortlist.

    As a bookseller, I see David’s point. But for us, Knuffle Bunny Too has absolutely flown off the shelves (I can never seem to keep it in stock no matter how many copies I order)… and we’ve sold quite a few copies of Psssst!

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