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The Cybils: 2006 YA Finalists

I was fortunate to be on the Young Adult nominating committee for the first-ever Cybils Book Awards alongside Jackie, Mindy, Sara, and TadMack. It was our job to select five finalists.

It was not an easy task. We had eighty nominees, but the difficulty did not lie in the matter of reading them. (TadMack deserves special kudos, as she read all eighty books! I have ten more to go.) The difficulty was in narrowing down the field. We read, reviewed, and discussed the books at length. So many of them were strong contenders, worthy of honors and kudos. Finally, we had a top twelve list, then a top seven, then a top five.

Here now are the finalists in alphabetical order by title, with my own summaries.

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
In World War II Germany, a young girl named Liesel is introduced to her foster parents, one of which will become her most important teacher, and a plucky young boy who will become her best friend. She is also introduced to the world of reading - and haunted by Death, an everpresent and innovative narrator. To say this book will haunt you is a severe understatement. It will make you cry, it will make you pause, it will make you laugh, and, most importantly, it will make you think.
Read my interview with the author.

A Brief Chapter in My Impossible Life by Dana Reinhardt
Simone has known since she was a little girl that she was adopted, but she has never met her biological parents. She has never considered her adoptive parents anything less than Mom and Dad, and she loves them as much as and as well as her younger brother. Then the phone rings and Simone's biological mother is on the other end of the line. This book is both witty and wise. It addresses weighty subjects such as religion, adoption, and illness with honesty and tact.
Read my entire review.

Hattie Big Sky by Kirby Larson
In 1918, Hattie Brooks receives word that an uncle she's never known has passed away and left his homestead in Montana to her. She travels across the country to plant roots in this new place. She is understandably hesitant when she first realizes how much work she has to do to "prove up" her land, but she tackles the many jobs with determination and her own two hands. Those hands also craft letters to her friend Charlie, who is fighting in France, and articles for the newspaper. She befriends a lovable family and others in town as she fights to stake her claim. This memorable pioneer tale is perfect for fans of Little House, Anne of Green Gables, and Little Women.
Read my entire review.
Read my interview with the author.

Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan
This is not your typical boy meets girl story. Sure, it starts when boy meets girl - but then boy asks girl to pretend to be his girlfriend for the next five minutes, and girl agrees. Over the course of one night, two perfect strangers fall in and out of love with life, music, friends, cars, food, the city, and maybe - just maybe - each other. Nick and Norah tell their story in alternating chapters, with David Levithan writing for bass player Nick and Rachel Cohn writing for complicated Norah. The story is fast-paced, quirky, and, dare I say, hip.
Read my entire review.
Read my interview with the authors.

The Rules of Survival by Nancy Werlin
This is Matthew's story as told his youngest sister. He wants to make sure that Emmy understands why he and his other sister, Callie, did what they did - what they thought they had to do - to get away from their abusive mother. Another heavy subject handled well and written in a new way, with a voice that conveys the unconditional love these siblings have for one another. Poignant, believable, memorable.
Review to come.

To view a full list of nominees, click here.

For more fun, check out our Cybils YA Hall of Fame.

To discover all of the nominees and finalists in all of the categories, please visit
Tags: booklists, books, cybils, reviews

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