Like all revolutions, this one started small, with a single post on a blog devoted to children's literature. The Newbery Medals were too elitist and the Quills, well, not enough so. Was there a middle ground, an annual award that would recognize both a book's merits and popularity?
The answer: invent one! Within hours, this meme had circulated among some of the biggest bloggers in the burgeoning kidlitosphere, the cozy corner of the Web where children's books are given the same regard as their grown-up counterparts.
Within days, the new awards had a name and a website: The Cybils, a loose acronym for Children's and YA Bloggers' Literary Awards, at http://www.cybils.com/ Nominations quickly opened in eight categories, from picture books up to Young Adult fiction and even graphic novels.
In keeping with the democratic and unpredictable nature of the blogosphere, anybody can nominate a book, so long as it was published in 2006 in English. Yep, anybody: teens can log their choices, authors can nominate themselves, random Googlers can leave word too.
Nominations close November 20th. Then comes the literary part. Panels comprised of bloggers with expertise in their category will cull the lists down to five finalists (to be announced January 1st). After that, judges step in to pick the winners.
Who are these smarty-pants panelists and judges? Some have impressive bona fides, including, yes, a Newbery judge. Others are your garden-variety librarians, teachers, homeschoolers, authors and illustrators, parents and the kidlit-obsessed.
"Think of it as Wal-Mart meets Nordstrom's over kids' books," said Anne Boles Levy, a freelance writer who blogs at Book Buds Kidlit Reviews (http://www.bookbuds.net). "Bedtime will never be the same."
Anne Boles Levy, firstname.lastname@example.org
Kelly Herold, email@example.com
1. The book must be published in 2006 in English. Translations and bilingual books are okay too.
2. You can be anybody. You don't have to be a blogger to nominate a book. You can even be the author, the editor, the publicist, the next-door neighbor or best friend or just a random Googler.
3. If a book you love has already been nominated by someone else, you don't need to second it. We're pretty smart. We'll see it. Promise.
4. Please, pretty please, only nominate one book per category.
Fantasy and Science Fiction
Fiction Picture Books
Middle Grade Fiction
Non-Fiction (Middle Grade and Young-Adult)
Non-Fiction Picture Books
Young Adult Fiction
The Cybils website
The syndicated LJ feed
Hip Hip Hooray
Three cheers to Anne and Kelly for creating the awards. Thanks to Jen for asking me to be on the Young Adult nominating committee. Kudos to everyone on the staff and various committees.