Sunday, March 13, 2011

School Library Journal's Battle of the Kids' Books Round One Preview (part 1)

A few weeks ago School Library Journal's third annual Battle of the Books kicked off with the announcement of the match ups and judges. Since then 47 people have submitted brackets to the contest I announced in a previous post. Tonight I will show what the participants are thinking for the first 4 matches of round one. As well as make some predictions of my own.

Match 1 Francisco X. Stork judging As Easy as Falling Off the Face of the Earth vs. The Cardturner

Judge Stork has a tough decision ahead of him when deciding between two male centric young adult novels by Newbery winning authors. Since Stork writes male centric young adult novels he should have some great insights.

Of the 47 contest participants 26 bet that Stork would pick The Cardturner. If last year taught me anything it’s that the most of contestants’ guesses are usually wrong. The majority of contestants agreed with the judges decision only one time in the 15 decisions made by judges in the contest (when they overwhelmingly agreed with first round judge Anita Silvey’s decision to advance The Storm in the Barn over Sweethearts of Rhythm).

Will this contrarian trend continue or will Judge Stork go with the author of one of the most popular Newbery winning titles of all time over the author of one of the least popular Newbery winners? (For the record I really, really like Criss Cross and never understood its reception)

Match 2 Dana Reinhardt judging A Conspiracy of Kings vs. Countdown

Two titles that got a lot of Newbery buzz before coming up empty at ALA this winter. Will one of them make a run in the Battle of the Books and get the recognition some feel they were robbed of?

I am not familiar with any of Judge Dana Reinhardt’s so I would attempt to make any sense of her decision process. I just hope somewhere in her decision she mentions A Conspiracy of King’s lack of map. Turner address the issue a while back in a Q&A with Horn Book (or maybe SLJ) but I’m always looking for someone else to back me up on this particular topic.

In another close race he bracket contestants favored Countdown slightly more than A Conspiracy of Kings but 53% to 47% seems like a toss up to me. These are two books I really enjoyed but if I had to pick a favorite I would go make the homer pick and go with fellow Atlantan Deborah Wiles’ Countdown.

Match 3 Barry Lyga judging The Dreamer vs. The Good, the Bad, and the Barbie

I just finished The Good, the Bad and the Barbie this morning. I was happy to see that Stone didn’t inject her “to be ground axe” here like I felt she did in last year’s Almost Astronauts that said, I am probably no where close to the target audience for this one. The only thing that made me smile was the short reference to Todd Haynes’ Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story a short film I’ve seen a few dozen times including once in a pristine 16mm print with Haynes in attendance. Probably the funniest anorexia stories ever made and my favorite film of the eighties.

The Dreamer on the other had is a magical experience that I can’t wait to experience again. I’m not familiar with Lyga’s work but I have to assume he’s going to go with Ryan’s prose over Stone’s research.

The contest participants picked The Dreamer 27 times and 20 participants went with Barbie so I wouldn’t be too surprised if Lyga continues last year’s trend and picks Stone’s Barbie.

Match 4 Susan Patron judging Hereville: How Mirka Got Her Sword vs. Keeper

Judge Patron (whose upcoming Lucky for Good the finally to her “Hard Pan trilogy” is fantastic by the way) has the task of picking between two very different titles telling not so different stories. On one hand you have Appelt’s Keeper a middle grade fiction title featuring a girl trying to find her place within her family and community. On the other a visually stunning graphic novel about a girl trying to find her place within her family and community.

I enjoyed Hereville until the end when I realized the best part of Mirka’s story is yet to come. Finding a sword is all well and good but I want to see her use it. If Deutsch makes a sequel I’ll be first in line. For me though Hereville felt like only half the story. Keeper on the other hand tells a complete story and Appelt tells it with her trademark lyrical prose. While this one isn't as good as The Underneath it’s still pretty amazing.

Contest participants picked Keeper more than twice as often as Hereville, so I fully expect Patron to choose Hereville: How Mirka Got Her Sword.

So that's the top half of the bracket. I hope to get to the preview of the bottom half of the bracket by Thursday night, hopefully I will finish my last unread title, The Ring of Solomon, by then. Now off to fill in my NCAA brackets. Go 'Cuse!!!!


Jen said...

Love, love, love the breakdown of statistics - it makes my little mathy heart so happy. Even if so far I'm 0 for 2 in my guesses. Methinks this is not my year.

Doret said...

Pie charts and everthing, that there is fancy. Thanks for the great breakdown.

Nina Sayers said...

Which book to choose from and which to skip ?? Ask your friends about it through a fun survey and have few options from which you can opt in. helps you in creating simple surveys or also Polls which you can post on FB and Twitter.