2013 Cybils Finalists

I was so excited to be a part of the Cybils again! Love this group so much! This year I decided to think outside my box and help judge the YA Nonfiction category. So many great nominations. Here's what we decided made the top five picks of this year. Trust me, this was hard. Tomorrow check my own top 5 list!

2013 Finalists
Young Adult Non-Fiction

Breakfast on Mars and 37 Other Delectable Essays
Roaring Brook
Nominated by: Katy Manck (BooksYALove)

Writing and reading essays usually evokes yawns. Forcing students to use the formal style of writing not only is boring but kills creativity. Breakfast on Mars takes the dreaded essay assignment and spins a fun, creative twist that is sure to inspire younger writers. Each essay takes a usually boring subject and brings it to life. There are examples of persuasive, informative, literary, personal, and illustrated essays. In this collection, readers will find essays on such topics as summer camp, invisibility, life on Mars, and the first kiss. Delightful twists on the dreaded essay. A must-add to any middle and high school classroom.

by Kim Baciella, Si Se Puede

Imprisoned: The Betrayal of Japanese Americans during World War II
Martin W. Sandler
Walker Books for Young Readers
Nominated by: Deb Nance at Readerbuzz

Imagine having your loyalty to your country of birth questioned and you and your family sforced to relocate to an interment camp. For the Nisei , second generation children Americans of Japaenese descent, that meant the United States, Canada and parts of South America imprisoned them in interment camps after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Imprisoned outlines the challenges Japanese immigrants faced while trying to make a life for themselves and their children in the years before the war, the weeks leading up to the relocation, the years in the camp, and the fight for reparations by the Sansei, or third generation, on behalf of their parents and grandparents.

Included in the book are numerous photographs, maps, and first-hand accounts.

by Sarah Sammis, Puss Reboots

The Boy on the Wooden Box: How the Impossible Became Possible . . . on Schindler's List
Leon Leyson
Nominated by: Mary McKenna Siddals

Leon Leyson’s memoir offers a distinctive glimpse into the life of the youngest Holocaust survivor on Oscar Schindler’s renowned list. Unlike the Hollywood version of events, Leyson tells his story in a matter-of-fact style, which helps readers connect to the daily fear and hardship of the Holocaust from his first-hand perspective. Leyson veers away from anger or blame, leaving readers free to experience and reflect upon the momentous history in his telling. The Boy on the Wooden Box is a significant book, not only for the unique historical perspective it holds, but for the dignified way the author lived his life.

by Cheryl Vanatti, Reading Rumpus

The Bronte Sisters: The Brief Lives of Charlotte, Emily, and Anne
Catherine Reef
Clarion Books
Nominated by: Sherry Early

In this thorough and engaging family biography, Catherine Reef recreates the lives
and works of the famous Brontë sisters. Raised by a busy Reverend and a somber aunt, the Brontë children turned to each other for entertainment – rambling about
the English moors, writing stories, and constructing elaborate fantasy worlds together. This shared passion for imaginative play and storytelling would lead the sisters toward literary greatness, but first they endured severe boarding schools,
family tragedy, and unrewarding teaching careers. The Brontës’ swift but hard-earned transformation from playful girls to serious writers is fascinating and inspiring, but what makes Reef’s biography shine is her attention to the everyday struggles of 19th century living, especially for young women.

Charlotte, Emily, and Anne become strong female protagonists in their own life stories; readers will root for the three girls as they overcome challenges of class and gender in order to pursue their art. Well-read teens will enjoy tracing paths from the Brontë’s childhood experiences into the worlds of Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre, and Reef’s crisp, readable narrative will easily breed new fans.

Jessica Tackett MacDonald at http://herlifewithbooks.com

"The President Has Been Shot!": The Assassination of John F. Kennedy
James L. Swanson
Nominated by: Amanda Snow

“There was a father with a little boy, a little girl, and a joy of each in the other. In the moment, it was no more, and so she took a ring from her finger and placed in his hands.

There was a husband who asked much and gave much, and out of the giving and asking wove with a woman what could not be broken in life, and it a moment it was no more. And so she took a ring from her finger and place in his hands “ (page 180).

Ask anyone who was a teenage or older about November 22, 1963, chances are they can tell you where they were when they learned President John F. Kennedy had been shot. A moment that defined a generation, it has forever changed our country. Swanson takes readers through the a brief account of JFK’s presidency, the last several days leading up to the pivotal moment, Jacqueline Kennedy’s bravery and strength as a nation watched her every move, through the murder of Lee Harvey Oswald.

With a subject that has been well covered by both media and conspiracy theorist alike, Swanson presents the information in an engaging tone and select photographs. One of the most intriguing aspects of this book is the ending, which includes the diagrams, photos and illustrations from the assassination. Also included is Places to Visit, Source Notes and a thorough index—all adding to the usability of this title.

Stephanie Charlefour


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