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BOB, Matches 5-8 March 21, 2014

Posted by ccbooks in Nerd Line.
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SIGH. There are two ways that the matches seem to be going for me in the Battle of the Kid’s Books this year. One, I’m ok with either book winning because I liked them both with no real strong feelings either way. Or two, I’m never going to be happy because I LOVED both titles and it’s completely unfair that one has to lose. The redeeming factor in all this angst is how amazing the judges are this year. No offense to anyone who has judged the past couple years but this group is just nailing every single decision. Holy bagumba! (as Flora would say).

“… I think I’ve got the most outrageously unfair bracket since the invention of brackets in 1257AD.” –Tom Angleberger

Side note: Were brackets invented in 1257? I think my favorite part of this decision was Angleberger’s description of Hokey Pokey as ‘Peter Pan’ meets ‘Pilgrim’s Progress.’ Best. Description. Ever. At least for this fan of Little Women, which is the only reason I ever actually got through the John Bunyan allegory. I thought March Book 1 was possibly the best historical graphic novel I’ve ever read and I can’t wait to read the next installment (plus the fact that it was a staffer who convinced Lewis to write it gives me hope that there actually are cool people among the hordes of political junkies in my hometown). Still, I’m happy to have Hokey Pokey move on to the next round.

“…my inner beard-stroking medievalist made me an actual beard-tugging reviewer.” –Mac Barnett

YES. Barnett nailed all of my problems with both P.S. Be Eleven and Midwinterblood. I’m not a medievalist so it wasn’t the anachronisms in Sedgewick’s writing that stuck out to me, so much as the lackluster characters of both Eric and Merle. I don’t always mind cliches anachronisms (and I know there are those out there who will say “It’s fantasy! Who cares?”) but they have to have a reason for existing or at least make the story compelling and I was never pulled into any of the worlds depicted in Midwinterblood. Thank you Mac Barnett, for explaining all this much better than I ever could have. 

“Can a combine be cute? Yes!” –Malinda Lo

The Thing About Luck is a book I appreciate. Rose Under Fire is a book I love. That said, especially with all the discussion lately about lack of diversity in children’s lit, I can’t find fault with any part of Lo’s decision (and can I say how refreshing it is to have judges who decide so specifically instead of waffling?). I do think the structure of Rose could have been smoother, although it didn’t bother me that I knew from the beginning she survived–if I hadn’t had that reassurance, I’m not sure I could have made it through the book. Also, this sets up a huge middle grade showdown with the winner of the eighth match…

“So. How’s that fruit salad coming along?” –Sheila Turnage

Will there ever be a year when none of the Battle of the Books judges use the old apples vs. oranges cliche? I wish I could say that I predicted What the Heart Knows to win this, but I had a feeling that Turnage would pick True Blue Scouts–incidentally the book on this list that hews closest to Turnage’s own writing style. I enjoyed the escapades of Chap and Sonny Boy, Bingo and J’miah but I haven’t gone back to re-read them nearly as much as the precise, insightful poems by Joyce Sidman. Oh well. May I point out that four of the finalists for the National Book Award (Far Far Away, Boxers & Saints, True Blue Scouts, The Thing About Luck) are still in the running here? Will The Thing About Luck triumph over them all yet again? We’ll see….

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