Thursday, February 28, 2013

CYBILS #winning

So, after the first round shortlist for the Nonfiction Picture Book category was announced on New Years Day, I was told I could "lift the curtain" and discuss some of the process, my favorites, etc.  And I meant to do that.  Well, sort of.  I really did mean to do that.  But February was a bit of a hectic month, and so, January was a bit of a hectic month just thinking about February, and tomorrow is Read Across America, which made things feel like they never stopped being hectic and, therefore, blogging was put on the back burner.  Enough excuses.  For entirely different reasons, I have a smidge of time to blog today.  And, as far as CYBILS are concerned, reason to gloat!  So, I shall give you a look at the great and powerful CYBILS and what I have learned this year.

1) When they say it's a lot of work, that's no joke.  I read a LOT of books.  Lucky for me though, I really, really like to read lots of books.  And, it was a professional opportunity to familiarize myself with a number of awesome authors and illustrators and their newest work.  Which, in turn, made me research some of their older work as well.

2) I had no idea what the expectations were...but now I do.  When they say shortlist, they mean shortlist.  There was some confusion on my part where at one point, I thought we, as a panel, were trimming things down to a list of 30.  Which (I thought) compared to 100, was pretty short.  But no, a shortlist is 5-7 books.  Which meant many, many of my contenders had to be dismissed.  Sigh.

3) I had no idea what the timelines were.  Now I do.  First round shortlists are announced on New Years Day and winners are announced on Valentine's Day.  I mean.  Could they make it any easier to remember that?  Now I know.

4) I thought I had to blog about every book.  I started to, but if I had continued to, I wouldn't have had time to read every book.  Reading trumps blogging.  As it should.  Clearly.

So, on to deliberations.  I purposefully did not look at any other panelists short lists as I was building my own.  I didn't want any biases to creep in prior to discussion of the books.  So, I read, and I blogged, and I added books to my personal shortlist that I thought stood head and shoulders above the rest.  Our short lists were to include 10 books and we were allowed an additional 5 in reserves.  After reading 100 awesome books, that was a tricky feat.  I loved many more than appeared on my short list. Here is my short list, in no particular order:



Now, back to deliberations.  I was told that my list was the most "unique".  Of the ten titles on my shortlist, six of those titles did not appear on any other panelists list.  SIX.  The remaining four only appeared on one other panelist's shortlist.  Meaning, most people did not agree with my choices.  Well, that is why a panel is a panel, right?  Lots of different opinions.  Healthy discussion.  But, I felt like I was either on the wrong track, or going to hold things up unnecessarily.  I felt sort of bad.  But...I also felt strongly about the titles I had selected.  I had my reasons.  And I was ready to bring those reasons to the table.  So, I did.

And I'm glad that I did.  With any deliberations, there is some give and take.  If you are familiar with this year's finalists, you'll realize only one of my titles from above made it to the short, shortlist.  And, with that give and take, one title made it to that finalist short list that I disagreed with wholeheartedly, and wasn't afraid to let anyone know how much I disliked it.  One of my fellow panelists insinuated that I didn't dislike it that much...but I did.  I was just kinder in my blog post because I'm all for encouraging reading, even if it's not my favorite.  But...I trusted that the final panel would see reason.  And..they did.  The one title I fought for hardest was the one I "blurbed" on the finalist post: Mrs. Harkness and the Panda. WON!!!!!

That's me with ALL of the books our library received from my participation on the CYBILS NFPB first round panel.  All catalogued and ready for kids!  Featuring (of course) Mrs. H. and the Panda.

So, Valentine's Day was extra sweet for me this year.  I felt a little like Colby Sharp after The One and Only Ivan won the Newbery Medal.  Though, he did a much better job than I of backing his horse in that race and letting the world know how he felt about.  But, I got my horse in the race.  And, that's a start.

I hope to be involved in the CYBILS on a panel again next year.  Maybe NFPB, maybe something else.  I'm looking forward to diversifying my reading and, in the meantime, reading and blogging about some 2013 titles now to save some time come fall. 

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