Landon, Kristen. The Limit.
Nominated for the Cybils by Enna Isilie
Matt's family has a good life. His father is a high powered wheeler and dealer who golfs a lot; his mother likes to shop. Matt and his two sisters don't want for anything. He's a little worried when there are rumors of a girl being taken by the government and sent to a workhouse when her family goes over its spending limit, but that couldn't happen to him, right?
Wrong. All it takes is one shopping trip, and the government officials come for Matt. They take him away to the Federal Debt Rehabilitation Workhouse, but since he's a bright kid, he gets put on the top floor, where he and several other children work on computers to earn money for the government. They are minimally supervised and seem to have unlimited credit to buy food, toys, etc. Life is good, until Matt's sister also ends up in the workhouse, and she and many of the other children are getting headaches. Will his family ever get out of debt? What is the government up to that is unsavory?
Strengths: This was a great premise with a strong start. It's a teen fantasy, really, and Matt revels in his life in the workhouse even after he realizes he's digging his family's debt deeper. There is some action at the end.
Weaknesses: This could have been even better-- we spend a little too much time luxuriating with Matt, and the government plot isn't as evil or all pervasive as I would have liked. The anti-consumeristic message loses its way a bit.
San Souci, Robert. Haunted Houses: Are You Scared Yet?
Nominated for the Cybils by Gladys
This collection of ten short, scary stories is fairly diverse; there's a haunted dollhouse, a story set in Mexico, a legend of a Japanese woman haunting a tea house. There are some ghosts, kids with a Ouija board and a haunted mansion. Nice illustrations, nice theme, probably will circulate well, and yet, I didn't find the book all that scary. I have all of San Souci's other collections (Dare to be Scared, A Terrifying Taste of Short and Shivery), but nothing really grabbed me about this one. That said, I'll probably buy it, as well as Triple Dare to Be Scared, which I somehow missed.