Book Review: Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein

I read this book as a part of Amy’s Armchair Cybils. Rose Under Fire was a finalist for the young adult fiction category. Sadly, it did not win, but I think it definitely deserves its position as a finalist.

It starts with a funeral and a report–the funeral of a fellow Air Transport Auxillary pilot, the report Rose must write because she saw the pilot’s failed landing.

How will Rose write about this report? In a way, she feels responsible. She had flown that plane before, the pilot who died hadn’t. She’d briefed the dead pilot on flying that plane. She’d let the other pilot take off first with Rose following behind. But the conversation Rose had with the mechanic who inspected the crashed plane complicates the matter. The plane had been damaged prior to landing. It’d had contact with something. The mechanic thought the pilot had tried tipping a buzz bomb–knocking it off course so it’d explode in an empty field instead of a city where it could injure people.

Rose becomes obsessed with the buzz bombs. They aren’t just buzzing overhead, going silent, and then knocking out whole city blocks–they’re getting much closer. Her colleague is dead. Her bus ride on her day off is spent on the floor of the bus for fear of one falling on them. She finds two boys playing with one undetonated one and orders them away, is left holding a fuse in her hand. She dreams of her little brother with his arm blown off by a buzz bomb fuse.

She talks to her fellow pilots about the buzz bombs, about this “tipping” thing. What are the mechanics? How does one do it? How does one not injure her plane like their colleague did?

Not that she’s likely to encounter a buzz bomb. The allies are advancing, have taken back France. She’s just transporting, not likely to be anywhere near the lines from which the bombs are launched.

Until she is. And a buzz bomb comes near. And she can chase it, can tip it.

And she gets caught by two German planes who escort her back to Germany.

Ravensbruck. The pilot who flew her to prison regards it as just a pilot’s navigation point. Rose finds that it’s so much more. Once there, she experiences unthinkable horrors, sees even worse.

Daily life is a struggle for survival. Physically, yes–but so much more. How does one not despair when stuck amidst maggots, when propping up dead compatriots so that the numbers can match during roll call, when left to the mercy of hellish guards and insufficient food?

Only the few who resist the temptation to despair will survive. Despair means certain death.

How will Rose fare under fire?

It’s difficult to describe a book so rich in historical details, so emotionally compelling, so horrific and so lovely.

Rose Under Fire is not an easy book to read. Ravensbruck is described in stomach-turning detail. One can sense the desperation, the horror of that time and place. One is forced to come to grips with the fact that this- this is what fallen humans can do, have done, could do again.

Davene does a much better job than I ever could of expressing the emotion and thoughts this book evoked.

“But tonight, I feel as if the veil has been lifted, and I’ve glimpsed anew what life is and has been like for so many people born into circumstances so much more difficult than mine. That chasm is so wide that I can’t even mentally reconcile it, but I can–and I will, every single day–say thank you for this life I’ve been given.”

If you haven’t read this book yet, you should. You will find yourself torn up over the reality of sin and injustice, thankful for the life you have now, and prayerful that justice and peace would reign someday over the earth (as it will, we have this blessed hope, when our Lord returns.)

Rating: 5 Stars
Category: YA Historical Fiction
Synopsis: After “tipping” a buzz bomb from the sky, Rose, a fearless Air Transport Auxillary pilot, finds herself in Ravensbruck witness to and victim of unspeakable horrors.
Recommendation: Read this.

Challenges in various stages of completion

L. M. Montgomery Reading ChallengeNow that it’s February, it’s time to write a wrap up post for this year’s L.M. Montgomery Reading Challenge. This year, I read only one book: The Blue Castle, which was also this month’s selection for the Reading to Know Classics Bookclub.

That would have been all I did for the L.M. Montgomery Reading Challenge, except that I took some time Saturday (I know, not in January at all) to stitch up another article of clothing for Anne’s wardrobe.

For those of you who’ve been following me for a while, you may remember the plain dress Marilla made Anne to replace her yellow-gray wincey (that was a cross between the snuffy-colored gingham and the black and white checked sateen) and the carpet bag with the funky handle (okay, I didn’t replicate that part.)

But now, Anne’s wardrobe has a third piece: the yellow-gray “skimpy” wincey. (Note the too shortness of the hem and sleeves as well as how tight the skirt and sleeves are. The goal was to have no superfluous fabric–did I succeed?)

This marks the end of Anne’s pitiful wardrobe–so the next piece will either have to be THE dress with the puffed sleeves or an outfit from after that wonderful gift. Yay! (Both exciting and scary since I’ll actually have to do some real pattern drafting to add tucks and shirrs and doo-dads for those fancy dresses.)

To see what others have been reading and doing for the challenge this past month, check out the L.M. Montgomery Reading Challenge at Reading to Know.

In addition to the L.M. Montgomery Reading Challenge, I have been trying to sneak in at least one book for the Armchair Cybils, which will be finishing up in the middle of February. Amy wrote a fantastic review of Elizabeth Wein’s Rose Under Fire–and that title just happened to be both a Cybils finalist AND in my local library system.

I’ve been devouring it. It is SO good. Rose is an American pilot who’s in the British Air Transport Auxillary, transporting planes from factory to field and back–until she finds herself landing in enemy territory and is taken to the Ravensbruck work camp where she meets a whole host of other interesting female prisoners.

One particularly interesting note for me was the early mention of (even obsession with) the German V1 “buzz bomb”. When my parents came down to Wichita to visit us last fall, we went to the Cosmosphere in Hutchinson–which has an enormous museum on the history of space. The first room included a V1 buzz bomb and gave a history of it–which made reading about it in a novel all the more fun.

I’m planning to be able to finish it up and review it by the time the Cybils winners are announced on Valentine’s Day–but it’s good enough already that you might as well put it on your watch list :-)

Finally, I’m going to be participating in Barbara H’s Laura Ingalls Wilder Reading Challenge this month. I plan on reading Little House on the Prairie (also this month’s selection for the Reading to Know Book club) as well as a number of biographies of Laura (as many as I can manage of the half dozen or so that I checked out of my local library).

The last time I participated, I made butter a la Ma from Little House in the Big Woods–and I’m eager to see what I can come up with to work on from the Prairie (When I was little, I wanted to build a log house like Pa and Laura did, but the closest I ever got was Lincoln Logs. I think it’s likely that’ll still be the closest I get after this month :-P)

So those are the reading challenges I’m participating in this month (or finished from last month.) Are you participating in any challenges this year? What are they?

Book Review: “Breadcrumbs” by Anne Ursu

Hazel’s Mom wants her to find new friends–girl friends. She’s just not so sure about Hazel and Jack’s best-friendship. She knows how tenuous those can become once adolescence begins.

The girls at Hazel’s school want to know if she and Jack are “going out.” Hazel feels like maybe she should say yes, because then maybe they’d think she was likeable enough that someone would want to go out with her. But she isn’t “going out” with Jack. She doesn’t want to “go out” with Jack. He’s her best friend.

“And there was a time when everyone understood that, but they didn’t anymore, because apparently when you get to be a certain age you’re supposed to wake up one morning and not want to be best friends with your best friend anymore, just because he’s a boy and you don’t have a messenger bag.”

Except that one day, Hazel wakes up and her best friend doesn’t want to be friends with her anymore.

Why did I love Breadcrumbs as much as I did? What made it shine so brightly among the myriads of children’s stories available?

Like Amy said in her review, I have a hard time articulating my reasons.

But I’ll try nonetheless.

First, and perhaps most strongly, I loved the literary allusions in this story.

Savvy readers can probably already figure out that this story is at least somehow related to Hansel and Gretel. But the story is just as much (or more) a retelling of the less familiar “The Snow Queen”. But the references to other works don’t stop there. I know I didn’t catch all the references, because I’m not as widely read in children’s fantasy as I could be, but I caught references to Chronicles of Narnia, Coraline, Alice in the Wonderland, Harry Potter, and pretty much every Hans Christian Anderson fairy tale.

Second, I loved this story for how it captured a tension between the wonder of fairy tales and “cold science”.

Hazel hates how everyone tries to tell her the boring scientific explanations for everything when she’s caught in the magic that is snow or whatever. When Jack’s soul goes cold (for that is what happened to him), he suddenly finds fairy tales incomprehensible but math makes perfect sense. Yet math and science aren’t completely placed outside the realm of imagination. Jack has arranged imaginary stats for his superhero baseball team. The imaginative Uncle Martin delights in the geometry of snowflakes.

Third, I love this book for its description of the woods.

The book is split in two–the first half is set in the normal world of school children, the second half in the wild woods not far from the sledding hill. The first half is ordinary with occasional asides into fairy tale, the second half is fairy tale with occasional flashbacks into “reality”. The second half was my favorite.

You see, people go into the woods because they’re desperate. Desperate people prey on other desperate people; desperate people fall prey to other desperate people. Everyone there is either predator or prey, desperately seeking something they somehow failed to find in the “real world”.

It might seem that the woods are a fantasy world completely separated from reality, but really, it’s an unveiling of reality–pulling back the mundane details of daily activities to show the heart.

Finally (for now), I loved this book because it’s a story of friendship against fierce foes.

Hazel and Jack are friends, just friends, not boyfriend-and-girlfriend. I love this, in an age where boys and girls are encouraged to “likey-likey” stuff at younger and younger ages. But that doesn’t mean that non-romantic girl-boy friendship is seen as particularly normal or easy. In fact, Hazel and Jack are constantly at odds with the reality that boy-girl friendships don’t usually last through the transition from child to teen.

Their friendship might not last through this adventure. Jack might be changed. Hazel might be changed. When Hazel sets out to rescue her friend Jack, she has no promises that life might return to usual. She might be able to rescue Jack, but she has no illusions that she’ll be able to get her friend back. She has to selflessly choose to rescue her friend–even if she rescues him only to find that he’s not her friend anymore.

I love this. I love how this speaks of real love, not the smarmy stuff found in so many stories. And I love how this story ends. It’s perfectly fitting.

This is truly a good story.

Rating:5 Stars
Category:Middle Grade Fantasy
Synopsis:Hazel ventures into the woods to rescue her friend Jack, who has been taken away by an enchantress.
Recommendation: Read this book. It’s great.

Cybils Nonfiction Picture Books

This year’s Cybils Nonfiction picture books was heavy on the nature/environment theme, with a whopping five out of the six titles falling under said theme.

I read four of the Cybils finalists, three environmental/nature ones and the lone non-natural book.

Cybils nonfiction picture books

All the Water in the World by George Ella Lyon and Katherine Tillotson is a poetic celebration of the water cycle, with text that TaP dAnCeS and sprays with different fonts and sizes of fonts. The illustrations flow in semi-abstract fashion.

This is a great conversation-opener, but will require conversation about the water cycle, since it doesn’t so much explain as it eludes to how the water cycle works.

Can We Save the Tiger? written by Martin Jenkins and illustrated by Vicky White tells about animals that are extinct, animals that are endangered (like the tiger), and once endangered animals that have been preserved. The illustrations are classic nature notebook stuff–highly detailed black and white shaded drawings with the occasional colored bit.

This book did a nice job of balancing the interests of animals with the interests of humanity–and talking about the difficult decisions stewardship of the earth involves (not that it uses the term “stewardship” to describe it.)

Thunder Birds by Jim Arnosky is classic Arnosky, featuring fantastic nature drawings. This title showcases the avian predators in their fierce glory. The fold-out pages often allow for life-size drawings of bird heads, accompanied by statistics about each type of bird and a narrative piece about Jim’s (and often his wife Deanna’s) experiences with each bird.

This is the least narrative of the books so far, meant more for browsing and reading in short snippets than for reading aloud all in one setting. The fold-out pages are fascinating and it’s fun to have a glimpse of the size of the animals–but I fear the format isn’t as durable as a normal two-page spread.

I enjoyed all three of these books, but something about them rubbed me a little wrong. It took me a while to identify it, but I think I finally figured it out.

In an age where we eschew “moralistic” literature and (rightly?) consider the Victorian morality pieces to be pedantic, we seem to have no problem allowing environmentalism to be the new morality. As long as it’s environmentalism we’re championing, it’s just fine to moralize.

Thus, All the Water in the World ends with the injunction “All so precious–do not waste it. And delicious–we can taste it. Keep it clear, keep it clean…keep Earth green.”

Okay, I’m all about keeping water clean and keeping Earth green. But this feels a little bit like propaganda. I guess I’d rather children’s books (which are meant for an audience that doesn’t really have much judgment) focus more on facts and less on persuasion. Or something.

Which probably explains why my favorite of the four I read was Carlyn Beccia’s I Feel Better with a Frog in My Throat. (Although the fact that I’m all about medicine may also contribute to my attraction to this title.)

I Feel Better with a Frog in My Throat is written in quiz format, asking the reader to identify which of the proffered historical cures might actually help. The following pages walk through each cure, answering “Yes” “No” or “Maybe” to whether the cure would work and giving a brief history of the use of that specific “cure”.

This was a fascinating and imaginative book. It’s gross enough that boys should really love it and not gross enough that girls won’t read it–a perfect mix.

These books were all Cybils NonFiction Picture Book Finalists. I read them as a part of Amy’s Armchair Cybils. If asked to rank the books, I’d put I Feel Better at the top of the list, followed by Thunder Birds and Can We Save the Tiger?. All the Water in the World ranks last in my book, but basically just because of that bit I quoted above. Apart from those few lines (which interrupt a beautiful book), I’d recommend all four titles.

Easy Reading Cybils

After reading two of the “Easy Reading” Cybils finalists, my conclusion is sure: I hope any children I might have pass VERY quickly through the easy reading stage.

Easy Reading Cybils

Dodsworth in Rome by Tim Egan is like a remarkably muted Amelia Bedelia. Dodsworth and “the duck” arrive in Rome. Dodsworth announces their destination: “Rome!” So the duck begins to roam.

The two visit the famous sights of Rome on a motor scooter, the duck with his eyes tightly shut (riding on a motor scooter can be rather scary, you know). They visit the Sistine Chapel–and the duck tries painting a duck on the ceiling. They visit a flea market, where the duck warily watches out for fleas.

Things happen. The duck is mildly amusing. The book overall is rather boring.

I don’t think it’s the book’s fault so much as the genre’s.

Frog and Friends is slightly more interesting–each chapter acts as a discrete story, similar to a story one might find on the typical picture book shelf.

Frog and his friends find a balloon and try to figure out what kind of animal it is. They grab ahold of its tail and get the surprise of their life when a gust of wind sends them sailing through the air aloft–until the balloon pops. They give the pieces a decent burial, sadly realizing that they will never know what the THING was.

In the next story, frog is gifted a scarf that he immediately pronounces as “perfect”. When he discovers that it’s not so perfect, he regifts it to someone else, who also announces it perfect only to find that it’s not. The regifting continues until frog gets it back. This time, the gifter provides some scarf-tying assistance and the scarf is at last deemed perfect–and truly is.

Finally, a hippo runs away from the zoo and decides to hang out in frog’s pond for the rest of his life–something frog’s not so sure about. How can frog show hospitality while still convincing the hippo that maybe he doesn’t want to stay quite so long?

The individual stories that made up Frog and Friends are cute, while not particularly spectacular. But I rather suppose that’s how it is with Easy Readers.

The mercy, I suppose, is that these readers are supposed to be able to be read independently–so as long as your child can do it on your own, you won’t have to put up with it too long. Even so, I hope every child makes it quickly through this stage and on to books with actual plots.

These books were both Cybils Easy Reader Finalists. I read them as a part of Amy’s Armchair Cybils. Clearly, I’m not a fan of the genre–but Frog and Friends was amusing and it’d be my pick for winner (of the two I read). I can’t help thinking, though: “If these are the best of the best…” Yeah. Scary.

Cybils Fiction Pics

Do you know who Jane Goodall is?

If you’re like me, you’d answer that question in the vaguest of terms: “Isn’t she the environmentalist… likes monkeys… kind of homely?” (And now you’ve discovered my sad secret: I judge famous people by their looks–or at least classify them by their looks.)

Me...Jane by Patrick McDonnell

Me…Jane by Patrick McDonnell doesn’t give that much information about Jane, but it’s enough to get a child interested, I think.

This picture book tells of the young Jane and her stuffed chimpanzee Jubilee. Jane loves to be outdoors and wants to learn everything she can about plants and animals.

She dreams of someday going to Africa, where she’d live with and help the animals.

Each double-page spread contains only a few lines of print on one side of the page and a softly colored illustration on the opposite side–until the last page.

“At night Jane would tuck Jubilee into bed, say her prayers, and fall asleep…
to awake one day…
to her dream come true.

The final page, with that final line on it, bears a photograph of the grown-up Jane holding hands with a chimpanzee in Africa.

The second Fiction Picture Book Finalist I read couldn’t be more different than the first.

Where Me…Jane has muted colors, Press Here by Henre Tollet has bold colors. Where Me…Jane is written in past tense, with little action, Press Here is written in present imperative.

Press Here by Henre Tullet

The picture: A bright yellow dot in the center of the first page. The imperative: “Press Here and Turn the Page.”

One dot turns to two.

Press again, the next page has three yellow dots. Rub the dot on the left and it turns red.

In this high tech world where children play on iPads before they’re potty-trained, Press Here is a delightful bit of magic.

With nothing more than pages and dots, Tullet creates a world of interactive fun.

But unlike with the iPad, this book lets kids see the mechanism–and be the mechanism. This is to the iPad what a flip-book is to cartoons–and (in my semi-Neo-Luddite mind) is ten times better than any “technological marvel.”

Press Here has advantages beyond its novel concept, though. The primary-colored dots overlap to form secondary colored segments (like a Venn diagram, anyone?) The instructions help the child learn right and left (they can tell they picked the wrong side if the colored dots move in the wrong direction). At least one spread allows kids to do some trouble-shooting with pattern recognition (which dots are out of order?)

Mothers will delight in sharing this little book with their children–and will find endless ways of turning the simple text and even simpler graphics into learning opportunities for their preschoolers.

These books were both Cybils Fiction Picture Book Finalists. I read them as a part of Amy’s Armchair Cybils. For the record, I’m rooting for Press Here for the big one.

Book Review: “The Big Crunch” by Pete Hautman

According to the book jacket:

“Jen and Wes do not ‘meet cute’. They do not fall in love at first sight. They do not swoon with scorching desire. They do not believe that they are instant soul mates destined to be together forever. This is not that kind of love story.”

Except that it pretty much is.

So Wes doesn’t start off considering Jen to be double-t-hott and Jen dates Wes’s dorky friend before she and Wes start going out–but those are mere footnotes to what this story really is–a sappy love story between high-schoolers.

Now here’s the thing. I love chick-flicks, I enjoy romances, I like love stories (especially sappy ones.)

What I do not like is sappy high school love stories.

Why? Because I think high school is the wrong time to be “falling in love”. And I especially think high school is the wrong time to be having sex.

Which is why when Wes and Jen started having sex (or seemed to me to be getting close to it), I shut this book for good.

I don’t need to be filling my mind with that sort of trash–and there was nothing redeeming in the plot to make me skip over the raunchy bits and keep going.

This may have been a Cybils nominee, but it’s certainly not a winner in my book.

**Side Note: The title “The Big Crunch” comes from a scientific theory Jen’s science teacher teaches as fact–that the universe expanded in the “Big Bang” and will someday contract in a “Big Crunch” in preparation for another Big Bang. While I wouldn’t be surprised at this being taught in a high school (since high school science is generally around 15 years behind true science), it still managed to tick me off that it was presented as truth in this book. You see, that theory, known as the oscillating universe theory, was devised in an attempt to avoid the most obvious implications of the Big Bang–the necessity of an infinitely powerful uncreated Creator who is outside our space-time continuum. Problem is, there’s absolutely no evidence for an oscillating universe–which is why today’s astronomers and cosmologists have, by and large, abandoned this theory (the honest folk for what one astronomer called “the first church of the God of the Big Bang”-generally Christianity; the naturalist ideologues for unfalsifiable theories such as multiverse theory.**

Rating:0 Stars
Category:YA Fiction
Synopsis:Wes and Jen meet, are attracted to one another, begin sleeping together. Imagine that.
Recommendation: Don’t read it. It’s trash with nothing whatsoever with which to redeem itself.

Book Review: “The FitzOsbornes in Exile” by Michelle Cooper

This time around, I was determined to end up with the real Cybils nominees, so I compiled my list and checked what the library had prior to taking my trip into Lincoln.

Either my technique was completely wrong the last time I went, or my library is better at having new YA than Middle-Grade fiction, but I ended up with a treasure trove this visit.

Which didn’t mean that I didn’t spend some time second-guessing myself once I got into The FitzOsbornes in Exile.

“I thought that all the YA I’d gotten this trip was Cybils nominees–but this can’t be a Cybils nominee, can it?”

It’s not that The FitzOsbornes in Exile is bad. In fact, it’s the sort of book I really enjoy reading. It just isn’t, well, it isn’t very literary.

The book is written as the diary of teenaged Princess Sophia FitzOsborne of Montmaray. She, her brother and sister, her cousin, and their retainer (who happens to be the illegitimate son of the late king) managed to escape to England after the Nazi takeover of Montmaray–thus the “in exile”.

Sophie is a rather ordinary girl–but the rest of the family is quite extraordinary. Her cousin, the late king’s daughter, is a strident Bluestocking and socialist whose beautiful face and figure makes her seem the perfect debutante, but whose unregulated tongue often creates trouble at dinner parties. Sophie’s brother, the new king, is a rather worthless chap who cares nothing for his studies–and nothing for the many women his aunt keeps throwing at him. Henrietta, Sophie’s little sister, is a perfect hellion, causing even the sternest governesses to pull out their hair.

The plot, I suppose, is about how the children try to get the British government to assist them in getting Montmaray back. But the plot takes back stage to the gently-moving anecdotes of crazy cooks, deranged would-be-assasins, red journalists, and nervous ladies maids.

Like I said, it’s not very literary. It is neither plot-driven nor character-driven. I’m not sure that it’s driven at all. Instead, it’s a meandering float through appeasement-happy Britain in the calm before the storm.

I enjoyed it, but it’s nothing particularly spectacular. I’m still rather surprised that it was nominated for the Cybils.

**Content Note: The young king of Montmaray is a practicing homosexual, which plays a rather significant role in the interpersonal relationships within the story. Nevertheless, there is nothing sensational or explicit about the discussion of homosexuality–or anything else–in this novel. The most “YA” part of the novel is when Sophie has tea with a newly married friend and is invited to ask whatever she wants to know. The record of the conversation is as follows: “Well! Thanks to Julia, I now know how married women avoid having babies. Suffice to say it requires a round rubber object that one has to obtain from a doctor, except doctors refuse to hand them over or even discuss the issue till immediately before one’s wedding day. The whole business sound horribly messy, not at all romantic.” So, yeah, not much on the racy front (which is a great relief to this particular reader!)**

Rating:3 Stars
Category:YA Fiction
Synopsis: A mostly-teenaged royal family attempts to interest the British government in intervening in continental affairs after the Nazis take over Montmaray.
Recommendation: A fluffy sort of novel almost reminiscent of Meg Cabot’s Princess Diaries, only vastly cleaner and with a bit of pre-WW2 history thrown in. A good choice for light reading.

Armchair Fail

So remember how I said I was arm-chairing the Cybils this year?

Yeah. About that.

I failed to do my research on what Cybils-nominated books my library owned prior to my last visit–and therefore spent 15 minutes on the “Express” internet-accessible computer frantically writing down author last names and the first few letters of the middle-grade fiction nominations. Then I spent the next half an hour or so running through the juvenile fiction stacks trying to locate the books. After eliminating from my list several dozen books that the library DIDN’T OWN, I finally arrived at one that it DID own.

I brought home Calvin Coconut: Dog Heaven (by Graham Salisbury) and read it right off.

Calvin is a third-grader (or maybe fourth grader?) who has been given a writing assignment–write an essay about something he wants so badly he can TASTE it, and try to convince Mr. Purdy that he should get it.

Calvin knows exactly what he wants–but the difficult thing isn’t convincing Mr. PURDY. It’s convincing his MOM that she should let him get a dog (even though their live-in helper might be allergic to dogs.)

I enjoyed this book, although I was a bit stunned by how young it seemed. The reading level and the plot are both even simpler than the Boxcar Children which I used to think were the simplest “real” chapter books imaginable. Obviously, I was wrong.

The other thing that I was wrong about was…whether Calvin Coconut: Dog Heaven was nominated for the Cybils.

I just took a look at the Cybils website and discovered that it was not Calvin Coconut: Dog Heaven but Calvin Coconut: Hero of Hawaii that had been nominated for the Cybils.

Yep, that’s right. Should have written down more than just the first couple of words of the title.

So, I have not managed to read any Cybils nominated titles since signing up for the challenge (although I did notice that Close to Famous, which I read and enjoyed a couple of months ago, is on the list of Middle Grade Cybils nominees.)

So there you have it. My Cybils Armchair fail.

What have I learned from the process? Figure out which Cybils nominees your library has and request them before your visit to avoid mix-ups.

If you want to read more Armchair Cybils posts (from readers who ostensibly actually read Cybils nominated books), check out Amy’s November link-up.

On a vaguely related note, I was so distracted by writing my Sunday School lesson and writing a Systematic Theology paper and working on a project for 2012 this weekend that I forgot to renew my library books. I got the overdue notice in my e-mail inbox this morning. Yeah, so at $0.35 per book per day for 3 days with over a hundred books… That’d make a great story problem for your kids, homeschool moms. For me? It’s my discretionary spending for the month. Budget fail!

I’m Arm-chairing the Cybils this year!

If you’re one of my bloggie-friends, chances are the Cybils are old-hat for you. You’ve been reading about them since the beginning–and probably reading along with them too.

If you’re one of my real-life friends, chances are you’ve never heard of the Cybils.

“Cybils” stands for “Children’s and Young Adult Bloggers’ Literary” Awards.

Several of the book bloggers I follow (or have followed intermittently over the years) are or have been judges, including Sherry @ Semicolon, Dawn @ My Thoughts Exactly and 5M4B, Jennifer @ Snapshot and 5M4B, and Emily @ Homespun Light.

I am not a judge, not being particularly focused in my book reading or blogging.

But this is one of those rare sports in which I LOVE to be an armchair judge–and Amy @ Hope is the Word has offered up a challenge to any and all to join her in the Armchair Cybils

Participants are free to name their own stipulations for participation–so these will be mine. Over the next four months, I’ll be reading at least one book nominated in each of the ten Cybils categories.

And, of course, I’ll be blogging my thoughts and reactions–and reading others’ thoughts–along the way.

Wanna join?

It’s not too late. Write a quick post and join us at Hope is the Word for tons of kid lit reading fun!