So here’s a little-known fact about me (as, indeed, why should it be known?): my grandfather was a judge for the Rhode Island State Supreme Court. He wasn’t the kind of grandfather I could get to know that well, especially because he was sick for a large part of my life, but I definitely knew that being a judge was a huge part of his identity. I have many vivid memories of walking around Providence with him and having people doff their hats to say, “Hello, Judge.” Or he’d host parties (with the most delicious hors d’oeuvres, oh my word; I still fantasize about the cheesy puffs)–and people would give him cards addressed to The Judge. I hope it’s not speaking ill of him to note that my mother would indeed concur that he was A Judge. But whether this was fun for those around him or not, I am psyched to learn that I will be following in his footsteps–not as a law-court judge (good lord, I would be terrible at that)–but as a judge for the Cybils!
The Cybils are the Children’s and Young Adult Bloggers’ Literary Awards, and every year, ripe dozens of bloggers commit to reading many nominated books each year to determine which are award-worthy. Their call for judges was so funny, actually, that I’m going to quote them:
Yes, it’s that time of year, when we ask kidlit bloggers around the world to stop what they’re doing and join us. It’s going to be another crazy contest year, so we’re again reminding everyone [editor's note: the italicized words below were actually crossed out, but WordPress is not delivering on its promise to do the cross-out font, so I had to downgrade:]
- judging is loads of fun work. For which we pay you tons nothing.
- you should skip skim read every word of this post here.
- you’ll also find an explanation of the secret handshake rules there too
Got to love an honest call for volunteers.
I’m going to be a panelist in the non-fiction category, which means that along with a committee of an unclear number of people I don’t know yet esteemed peers, we will be reading until our eyeballs bleed cooing lovingly over all of the please God don’t let there be too many nominated books and yammering loudly for our favorites to move on narrowing to a shortlist of 5-7.
First of all, it’s a chance to read great books and learn some stuff. But perhaps of greater interest is the chance to discuss the merits of books with other interested parties, especially debating what makes one great book stand out over another. M. T. Anderson’s judging statement for the School Library Journal Battle of the Books, on two non-fiction titles, actually, was one of the best pieces of literary criticism I have ever read, and was part of what inspired me to throw my hat into the non-fiction ring. I think that, for the first time, I’m going to post reviews of what I read, and I’ll get to pass on the knowledge to you all. Maybe, just as I notched up the rent-count on Fame, I’ll get you all to learn about Nicola Tesla or the invention of lollipops.
So thank you, Cybils, for choosing me (was it my post on Fame that convinced you?), and to our fearless leader especially, Susan Thomsen from Chicken Spaghetti. I promise to doff my hat in return when you address me as “Judge” and to find that recipe for cheesy puffs to celebrate the end of our process.
Let the games begin! May the odds be ever in your favor!
ps An interesting post from the Cybils website about choosing their panelists and judges. There are 110 of us–wow!