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And the Winner Is… April 3, 2014

Posted by ccbooks in Nerd Line.
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I’m SO HAPPY with the result of this year’s Battle of the Kid’s Books! I’ve been following now for about four years and for the last couple of battles I’ve appreciated but haven’t really loved the winner. This year, however, I was rooting for Boxers & Saints from Round 1.

“This book is brilliant in the way only older children can be.” –Jennifer Holm.

Why, thank you! (Yes, I’m an oldest child) I absolutely loved the family metaphor that Holm used to start off her decision. Books and literature are a family–a huge fantastic one with cousins and second cousins and not-really-related-but-might-as-well-be cousins (I have lots of those) and I love how she reminds us that different kinds of books all have their merit. And yes, that line from Eleanor & Park is one of the best love lines ever.

Holm, from the standpoint of a historical novelist, makes us appreciate even more the challenges that Yang faced in distilling the events of the Boxer Rebellion into a narrative. Patrick Ness touched on this as well in his decision, but one of the reasons that I think this book resonated with me so much this year was the fact that it illustrated how a specific story can illuminate huge historical events or experiences. I am a playwright and puppeteer, and storytelling is something I ponder on a daily basis. How to create fresh stories? How to communicate the horror of events and experiences to audiences? This book reminds me that the specific can also be universal and by telling a single person’s story, we can create empathy and understanding. I love that Holm talked about the technical aspects of Boxers & Saints as a graphic novel. Her gushing about the layouts, the panel design, the color palette are all aspects that we haven’t heard as much about from the other judges and I love that she gets to remind us how rich and varied the visuals in Boxers & Saints are, along with the text. And then she quotes Neil Gaiman. Perfect.

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