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Battle Books Revisited March 6, 2014

Posted by ccbooks in Nerd Line.
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The Battle of the Kids Books officially starts on Monday! So here are my comments on the books heading into the ring. Bear in mind that these are VERY rough thoughts, especially for those titles that I read six months ago and haven’t opened since!

All the Truth that’s in Me: I finally got around to this one after it was picked for the Battle. The somewhat disjointed style (and the present tense narration) are not my favorite and at a certain point, I just wanted to know the ending without really caring how we got there.

The Animal Book: I loved this book and sold many, many copies over the Christmas season. Definitely one of my top non-fiction picks of the year–I always learn something interesting from Steve Jenkins’ books.

Boxers & Saints: Possibly my favorite graphic novel I read last year. I was so grateful I got to hear Yang speak about these books and learn a little more about the journey he took in telling these stories. I was hugely disappointed this did not get any love at the YMAs.

A Corner of White: I just finished this, having started it months ago and put it down, put off by what I saw as a twee magical kingdom concept and a boring protagonist. I admit that I was wrong. The ending especially just knocked it out of the park and I can’t wait to read the second book in the series.

Doll Bones: I really enjoyed this, having been a big fan of similar games as a kid. That said, I haven’t felt compelled to re-read it recently and none of the characters really stuck with me.

Eleanor & Park: Despite the fact that I identify far more closely with the protagonist of Fangirl, I believe that E & P is the better book and the relationship between the main characters is amazing. I can easily see this coming back from the dead, should it get knocked out earlier in the Battle.

Far Far Away: I really enjoyed this creepy fairy tale and the oddly distanced narrator worked for me. Not in my top ten, but still a good read.

Flora & Ulysses: I loved both main characters in this story and was thrilled that it won the Newbery. Can it beat the Newbery Curse?

Hokey Pokey: Pacing was an issue for me, but once I got past all the introductory stuff and descriptions and hit the urgency of this day being different for Jack, I really enjoyed this one.

March Book One: I was lucky enough to hear John Lewis speak multiple times at my college and I sang for him on several of those occasions as part of the college choir. This is a wonderful introduction to the civil rights era and his experiences as a leader and activist. I hope it becomes widely read and appreciated.

Midwinterblood: This one really did nothing for me. I didn’t hate it, but after how much I loved Revolver by the same author, I was pretty disappointed. The format didn’t build into anything bigger and more meaningful and I didn’t really care about any of the characters (in any reincarnation).

P.S. Be Eleven: Delphine is one of my favorite middle grade characters ever. While the episodic structure of this title didn’t build for me as smoothly or effectively as One Crazy Summer, I’m still a big fan.

Rose Under Fire: It didn’t quite tear my heart out in the same way as Code Name Verity, but it would be unfair to expect that. I loved every single character in this story (Anna Engel!!!) and got to hear Wein speak about it back in May, which was a thrill.

The Thing About Luck: This was an ARC that I picked up, read a few pages, and put down. When it started getting love on the Heavy Medal blog, I went back and tried it again. Kadohata’s work is never going to really be my favorite–the style is just too slow for me. That said, I love the character building, there were lots of funny moments and I appreciated learning about a group of workers I never knew about before.

True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp: Similarly, Kathi Appelt is a writer I appreciate, but hasn’t been one of my favorites. However, I LOVED this title and really wish I still had a classroom to read it aloud with. Great voice and setting and just a fun, rollicking adventure all around.

What the Heart Knows: I pre-ordered this as soon as I knew it was coming out. Joyce Sidman is one of my favorite poets and every single poem in this collection touched me in a different way. I want to have printed copies of them on little cards that I can carry in my pocket as a talisman. Another title I was very sad to see without a shiny sticker after the YMAs.

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