The Cybils* finalists have been released for all categories, and you should check them out. Quoting the amazing Anne Levy, who organizes all this:
From our database:
- Total eligible books across all categories: 939
- Books read by at least 1 panelist: 931 which is 99.1% of the books
- Books read by at least 2 panelists: 894 which is 95.2% of the books
- Unread books: 8 which is 0.9% of the books
I just can't tell you how impressive an effort this is, by truly dedicated people. It was an honor to serve on the YA science fiction and fantasy first round jury, and also incredibly difficult. I may be biased, but I think we had the category with the stiffest competition (and probably the most nominees), which is fitting given that we're in a golden age for YA fantasy (and it is still mostly fantasy). I love our finalist selections, and I loved lots of other books that were nominated too, some of which I'll probably post about soon. Suffice to say, 2009 was a really good year for young adult fantasy.
Anyway, you can read our descriptions of the YA shortlist titles here, but they are: Candor by Pam Bachorz, The Demon's Lexicon by Sarah Rees Brennan, The Dust of 100 Dogs by A.S. King, Fire by Kristin Cashore, Lips Touch: Three Times by Laini Taylor, Sacred Scars by Kathleen Duey, and Tiger Moon by Antonia Michaelis.
I suggest you read all of them.
*If you don't know, the Cybils are the annual Children's and Young Adult Bloggers Literary Awards.
UPDATED TO ADD: There is a really essential discussion going on about diversity–particularly the lack of books featuring African Americans that aren't historicals about slavery–in children's publishing, as a result of the Cybils' finalists being released. Cleary, this isn't just at issue in the world of children's and YA lit, or even just in lit with a capital L. It certainly was something we discussed among our panel, and we were all disheartened at the lack of SFF titles featuring people of color and GBLT teens. There just weren't many, among the great number of books nominated. And it sounds as if this lack of titles to consider was largely the case across all the categories, and that is the real shame. Clearly, we need more. Lots more.
And that's also independent of awards–offerings in the marketplace are needed. Great commercial fiction featuring PoC in varied roles is lacking, too. (Yes, yes, there is obviously overlap–especially in kid lit–between commercial and literary, but still, the point remains. As with everything, the sales numbers to convince publishers are more likely to come from the commercial-trending side of things.)
I also truly hope that some of the bloggers involved in this conversation who haven't participated in the Cybils will do so next year, or the year after that. This isn't a problem that's going away overnight. But maybe, if we all keep talking and participating and pushing, then publishers will get the message and start rejecting the received wisdom, really a self-fulfilling prophecy, that books featuring characters of color can't/don't sell.
Just for the record, Tiger Moon made the shortlist because it's a FANTASTIC book–there was not a whiff of tokenism involved. It was a great favorite among the jurors.