SLJ BotB Overview

10 03 2012

Okay, if you want to hear about what School Library Journal’s Battle of the Kids’ Books is about, go to their website.  They’ll tell you what it is.  I am here to tell you what I think of their selections.  But before I can do that, let’s see what I’ve read this year.  And the nominees are…
(books I’ve read in bold)

Amelia Lost by Candace Fleming
Anya’s Ghost
 by Vera Brosgol
Between Shades of Grey by Ruta Sepetys
Bootleg by Karen Blumenthal
The Chesire Cheese Cat
by Carmen Agra Deedy and Randall Wright
Chime by Franny Billingsley
Daughter of Smoke and Bone
 by Laini Taylor
Dead End in Norvelt by Jack Gantos 
Drawing from Memory by Allen Say
The Grand Plan to Fix Everything by Uma Krishnaswami
Heart and Soul by Kadir Nelson
Inside Out and Back Again by Thanha Lai
Life: An Exploded Diagram by Mal Peet
A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
Okay for Now by Gary
Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick

I’ve read exactly half of the books and I liked all of them.  There’s only one book on this list I hadn’t heard of until I saw it: The Grand Plan to Fix Everything.  What?!  A Bollywood-inspired tale!  No wonder I’ve never heard of it says the girl who has never seen a Bollywood film.  Yup, it’s true.  Too busy reading YA.

If you’re reading this when I post it, you have approximately 1.5 more days to vote in the Undead Poll so it only makes sense that I tell you which books you should consider voting for.  Anya’s Ghost was my pick.  Devoted blog readers know how much I love graphic novels and this one is spot-on.  It scared the crap out of me.  The art was creepy and accessible and added to the mood of the story.  And it told the story.  I loved it.

But if I had to choose another favorite, it would be a close call between Daughter of Smoke and Bone and Dead End in Norvelt.  And possibly A Monster Calls.  How do you judge such fantastic and varied literary talent? One has angels and death and war–but mostly just a teenage girl finding out her true roots.  The next has death in its title and a pretty solid murder mystery.  And the last, well, it has an epic battle with a monster and…cancer.  All incredibly written, poignant, smart, absorbing reads.

Possibly the best part of SLJ BotB is that no judge is told how to judge.  There’s no rubrics.  There’s no scoresheet.  That means on Friday, March 16, when Sara Zarr judges two of my favorites, (the “D” books), there is no guarantee of who she’ll pick.  Will she go for the strength of the world that Laini Taylor created or the incredible recreation of a time period by Jack Gantos?  I can’t fault her for either.  But stay tuned!  I will be shedding a tear for one of the two.  But secretly, I think I’m rooting for:

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