"Boy Toy" author Barry Lyga bests Sherman Alexie in teen category;Palestinian's childhood memoir also honored
Chicago, IL—-This was the year of troubled childhoods, with a wrenching story of a middle schooler's seduction by his teacher clinching a winning spot in the Children's and Young Adult Bloggers' Literary Awards, informally known as the Cybils.
Barry Lyga's Boy Toy was a surprise choice in the Young Adult category over heavily favored Sherman Alexie's The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, which won a National Book Award.
Judges cited Lyga's ability to reach "beyond sensationalism and straight into empathy, challenging expectations and assumptions on every page," according to the awards announcement at the Cybils website. "Lyga's prose is unflinching and the resultis heartbreaking and unforgettable."
The Cybils team hands out awards in eight genres of children'sliterature—both Graphic Novels and Fantasy & Science Fiction were also split by age group, for a total of ten awards. The other five categories were fiction and nonfiction picture books, middle grade novels, middle grade/YA nonfiction, and poetry.
Tasting the Sky: A Palestinian Childhood, Ibtisam Barakat's haunting account of the Six Day War won for middle grade/YA nonfiction, with judges lauding how the author "conveys the fear, confusion and tumult of war." At the same, they said, "It's also an excellent memoir of childhood in any culture: the broad injustices, the importance of trivial things, the mysteries of the adult world."
Not all the winning titles were so serious. The True Meaning of Smekday, Adam Rex's spoof of science fiction novels, won that category in the younger age group. Janice N. Harrington's impish The Chicken-Chasing Queen of Lamar County took top honors in Fiction Picture Books.
Nearly 90 kidlit bloggers participated in two rounds of judging; the first group waded through 575 titles nominated by the public last autumn. Their short lists were announced on Jan. 1. The Cybils are the only online literary awards, said Boles Levy, andinsist on only two criteria: the books must combine both literarymerit and kid appeal.
"We're not about dictating kids' tastes," she said. "But we'reimpatient with formulaic garbage too."For More Information:
Anne Boles Levy
Co-Founder and Editor, The Cybils Awards