SLJ BotB Commentary…Better Late Than Never

31 03 2012

New promise for the blog–no more promises!  Life often gets in the way of typing over here.

I haven’t even had a chance to catch up with the battles at School Library Journal’s Battle of the Books until this morning and boy, were there some tough ones.  E. Lockhart, possibly my favorite YA author, judged Daughter of Smoke and Bone against Chime.  She didn’t love Karou like I loved Karou.  She picked Chime which means only one thing: now I have to read it.  Chime has been a much-discussed book among librarians.  It is equally loved and hated by my wonderful librarian friends and colleagues.  But it beat the book I was pulling for and if E. Lockhart says it’s better than a book I love, I should definitely find out.  Add it to my always growing to-read pile…

The final match-up, with our undead poll winner Okay for Now up against Between Shades of Gray and Life: An Exploded Diagram .  I am shocked to find that I have read two of these books!  The first two, and judging from the, well, judging, neither of them is as sophisticated as Mal Peet’s lengthy tome.  The ones I read are fairly slim books.  Okay for Now has spare narration that makes you think about what Doug is saying.  Between Shades of Gray is Lina’s straight forward tale of the horrors she experiences, and her description of the pictures she draws to keep herself going.  And that’s where I have to fault this book.  I know that not all books have to be illustrated but I wanted so badly to see Lina’s drawings, just a few. I know the author may not be an artist but that’s why illustrators exist.  With illustrations, this book might have held more power for me.  I think it is important, well-written and a fairly easy read about a hard topic.  But it doesn’t shine for me.

It seems to me that the battle is between Between Shades of Gray and Life: An Exploded Diagram.  Since I can’t judge a book I haven’t read, I’ll just have to blindly root for Okay for Now.  That being said, I have read the judges’ commentary on the book and it says something that the possible (and in my mind likely) winner of SLJ BoB is thought to be not particularly appealing to YA readers.  At a time when the readership of YA is expanding, I find this to be an interesting development.  I wonder what other books will be published under the YA flag this year.





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