I first heard of the Cybils (Children's and Young Adult Bloggers' Literary Awards) a few years ago when I started writing book reviews. I set the goal of one day being a judge. When the call for judges went out in August, I knew that this had to be the year, since it's my first year living in the United States after seven years of teaching internationally. I filled out the application form and crossed my fingers.
On September 18th, I received an email saying that I would be a judge for the first round of the graphic novel category. I expressed a preference for the first round, as that was the round when the bulk of the reading is done. I thought my
personality worked better with narrowing the field than debating the minutiae of the finalists.
This adorable illustration was made by winner Mo Willems.
A few weeks later, we were given access to a database, where we kept track of all the nominations and marked down when we read them. This involved using the interlibrary loan system, sitting on the floor of Barnes & Noble, and getting packages of books from publishers. This was the most fun part of the process; who doesn't love coming home to a bunch of new books?!
Over the course of a few months, the panelists read tons of books and then came up with our list of five favorite middle grade and five favorite young adult graphic novels. Over the course of a two hour google chat conversation, we narrowed the nominations to a list of finalists, which was sent on to the second round judges.
I loved this experience and learned so much about book blogging. If you are organized and able to read a lot of books in a short amount of time, I highly recommend applying to be a judge. It's a lot of work, but has made me more knowledgeable about graphic novels. I now have a treasure trove of graphic novels that my students borrow and adore, hundreds of dollars worth of books that are newly published and incredible additions to my classroom library.