Last Friday was Valentine's Day, of course, and such a day stuffed with goodies and hearts and schmears of chocolate on your fingertips. We celebrated here with Aphrodite - who better? - but like all good parties, we don't know when to quit. The celebration continues!
By now, you've heard that the Cybils have roared forth - and this year has been a swell one for us, because we've actually read quite a few of the books which made the final cut! We're not always so on top of things! Two very special books that linger on the palette like the very last pieces of chocolate in a fancy box are THE SUMMER PRINCE, by ALAYA DAWN JOHNSON and YAQUI DELGADO WANTS TO KICK YOUR ASS, by MEG MEDINA. I first encountered Alaya's work in ZOMBIES v. UNICORNS, which made me immediately think, "Oh, more, more, more!" And you all remember how her book hit me right between the eyes. It was no surprise to me that it was longlisted for the National Book Award, no surprise at all that her book gained strong support without our Cybils first round judges, and wowed the finalist list to surge to the top. W00T! And, after the very painful experience of the author being un-invited from a school visit on the charge of the allegedly "coarse" language she was going to bring to their apparently refined environment, Wonderland has been beaming mistily that the curvaceous Piddy (and Meg - yay, Meg!) won a 2014 Pura Belpré Award this year. The Cybils Award is the chocolate icing on a very rich, satisfying and sweet IT'S AWESOME, WE TOLD YOU SO cake. Ahem.
And, in other bookish news...
I got a kick out of the fact that Stephen Pastis, one of my fave cartoonists, is also writing children's books. His goofy drawing styles and acerbic wit works really well in Pearls Before Swine. I can't imagine him not being that funny in picture book form.
Marilyn Nelson is one of the most impactive historical poets I've read - her stuff just lays me out. Remember A WREATH FOR EMMET TILL? or THE MANUMISSION REQUIEM, the poems she wrote about slaves being freed? "I Am Not My Bones" is one of the pieces from there that still gives me chills. Ms. Nelson takes everything - inanimate objects, times, animals - and weaves their pain, their grace, their point of view and voices into the most beautiful and chilling poetry. I thought to never find another author like her -- but featured on Cynsations this week is Lesléa Newman, whose excerpt from her new book, OCTOBER MOURNING: A SONG FOR MATTHEW SHEPPARD has opened up something inside of me. I wish I could hear her read in Austin next month. If you can, go.
Batty about books? Of course you are. Want to join in a fun online read with Book Riot and Batty About Books? They're reading THE ARCHIVED, by Victoria Schwab, and their schedule is listed on Facebook, Tumblr, and all over. I'm excited to see some of our Cybils judges leading the charge on this -- we judges remarked frequently this year how fun it was to have a group with whom to think about and talk about books together. This sounds like it'll be fun.
If you haven't wandered into the village of Echo Harbor, or ever found yourself wondering "what happened to the interns from the Hidden Almanac Test Garden?" (answer: first, zucchini, then snow), then you're missing the treat to be discovered with the Hidden Almanac. Cybils-and Hugo Awarded author Ursula Vernon has created this surreal parallel universe of kingdoms, saints, scientists, squirrel wars, occasionally sentient mayflies, and vaguely disturbing commercials. Three days a week, Reverend Mord gives us a peek into a much stranger world than our own, and an ongoing story in its own right. Visit the Hidden Almanac... be safe, and stay out of trouble.