Happy Cybils Day!

Cybils Day? That's January 1, when shortlists in all eleven (eleven!) award categories are announced. And even though I had a hand in making the middle grade science fiction and fantasy shortlist (as one of seven fantastic first round panelists this year), it's not official until I see it on the Cybils website New Year's morning. Now you can see it here, too!

Beswitched by Kate Saunders
Geeks, Girls, and Secret Identities by Mike Jung
The Cabinet of Earths by Anne Nesbet
The False Prince by Jennifer A. Nielsen
The Last Dragonslayer by Jasper Fforde
The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate
The Peculiar by Stefan Bachmann

There are actually two Cybils Days (sort of like the Queen's birthdays). The next is February 14, when the award winners are announced. I have no idea what will win in our category, although I do have a favorite from our list. What's yours?

Olive and other Halloween book+costume ideas from Penguin

Welcome to Penguin's Halloween blog tour, which pairs spooky middle grade books with great costume ideas! I love the idea of dressing up as a character from a book, and I know lots of families and schools choose to celebrate Halloween this way, too. Today's (seventh and final) tour stop features the first book of one of my favorite middle grade series (my review), plus a fantastic giveaway! Here's Penguin with the details:

Step into some creepy stories this Halloween and become your favorite middle grade character…from the ghoulish undead to mischievous pirates, the costumes are endless.

The BookBooks of Elsewhere: The Shadows by Jacqueline West

When eleven-year-old Olive moves into a crumbling Victorian mansion with her parents, she knows there's something strange about the house - especially the odd antique paintings covering the walls. And when she puts on a pair of old spectacles, she discovers the strangest thing yet: She can travel inside the paintings, to a spooky world that's full of dark shadows. Add to that three talking cats, who live in the house and seem to be keeping secrets of their own, and Olive soon finds herself confronting a dark and dangerous power that wants to get rid of her by any means necessary. It's up to Olive to save the house from the dark shadows, before the lights go out for good.
The Costume
Halloween is the perfect time to be Olive and travel through paintings and beyond! This costume is great for a school-day costume:
  1. Olive wears a red striped shirt over a long-sleeved white shirt, jeans, and red shoes. Don’t forget her yellow headband!
  2. Find the oldest, biggest glasses you can find. A grandparent might be able to help with this one!
  3. Now comes the fun part! Find a big piece of cardboard and cut out the shape of a BIG picture frame. Make the edges curvy and decorate with markers and paint. 
  4. You’re ready to be Olive! Carry around your new picture frame and wear your glasses for quick escape – but keep an eye out! There are people who might want to make sure your Halloween is full of more tricks than treats….
Find The Books of Elsewhere online at thebooksofelsewhere.com
Purchase The Books of Elsewhere here: AmazonBarnes and NobleIndieBound 
And check out the rest of the blog tour for more great book+costume ideas:

M 10.22 In a Glass Grimmly by Adam Gidwitz
T 10.23 Gustav Gloom and the People Takers by Adam-Troy Castro
W 10.24 Undead Ed by Rotterly Ghoulstone
F 10.26 The Creature from the 7th Grade by Bob Balaban
M 10.29 Wereworld: Shadow of the Hawk by Curtis Jobling
T 10.30 Books of Elsewhere:The Shadows by Jacqueline West
right here at Books Together
[Me again.] And now for the giveaway! Courtesy of Penguin, I'm giving away a set of all seven books featured on the blog tour to one lucky reader (and commenter) on this post. Just leave a comment by midnight Friday, November 2 to enter [deadline extended due to Hurricane Sandy!]. If you'd like, let me know who you're going to be for Halloween, too. Olive, perhaps?

2012 National Hispanic Heritage Month Roundup

Welcome to the second annual roundup of children's and young adult book reviews, interviews, and more celebrating National Hispanic Heritage Month. This year's roundup focuses on lists and awards, in hopes of raising awareness of great books by Latin American authors and illustrators--and making it easier for interested readers to find them.

Lee and Low Books is celebrating National Hispanic Heritage Month by highlighting some of their many wonderful titles written and illustrated by Latino/a authors and illustrators, including favorite picture books by Pat Mora and Carmen Lomas Garza.

Tu Books, an imprint of Lee and Low, publishes science fiction, fantasy, and mystery books for kids that feature diverse characters and settings. I'm especially excited about Summer of the Mariposas by Guadalupe Garcia McCall, which is described as "a magical Mexican American retelling of The Odyssey." You can read the first three chapters here.

This is also a good time of year to start thinking about the Pura Belpre Award, which is presented by ALSC and REFORMA and "recognizes excellence in the areas of literary merit and outstanding illustration in books for children and young adults by authors and illustrators who identify themselves as Latino." The Heartland chapter of REFORMA runs a mock Pura Belpre every year; they haven't put up the list of titles under consideration for the 2013 awards yet, but past years' mock Belpre lists are a great source of titles.

Another useful list comes from the UNM Institute of Latin American and Iberian Studies: its monthly, teacher-oriented book group Vamos a Leer reads and discusses children's literature related to Latin America, with an emphasis on the K-12 classroom. Check out their blog, Vamos a Leer: Teaching Latin America and Literacy, where you'll also find (among other great resources) the Latin American YA Bookshelf.

The 2012 Americas Award for Children's and Young Adult Literature, for work that "authentically and engagingly portray[s] Latin America, the Caribbean or Latinos in the United States," is being presented to Monica Brown and Julie Paschkis for Pablo Neruda: Poet of the People (Henry Holt and Company, 2011) and to Margarita Engle for Hurricane Dancers: The First Caribbean Pirate Shipwreck (also Henry Holt, 2001), this Friday, October 5, at the Library of Congress. Congratulations to Monica (interviewed today by Latina author Meg Medina) and Margarita!

And thank you for reading. If you'd like to contribute to the roundup, please leave a comment with your links or recommendations. ¡Gracias a todos!

Movie Night: Miss Minoes

Milly and I would like to recommend for your viewing pleasure Miss Minoes (2001), a Dutch film based on the children's book Minoes by Annie M.G. Schmidt (published in the United States as Minnie; Milkweed Editions, 1994). I love the premise--a cat turns into a young woman, instead of the other way around as so often happens in fantasy books. And I love Miss Minoes's green fur-lined coat.

But back to the premise. It's a fun one for cat-lovers in particular, as Miss Minoes retains a lot of her feline qualities: she climbs trees, rubs noses, hides under the table, sleeps in a box. She purrs even! There's a plot, too (it involves a shy newspaper reporter), but it's the cat-as-young-woman part that makes me want to track down the book, which is bound to be better than the movie. And to ask about other children's books featuring animals that turn into people (not just anthropomorphic animals, which are a dime a dozen). I know there must be lots.