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Battle of the Books: Second Round March 27, 2015

Posted by ccbooks in Nerd Line.
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Oh the sadness, as books are judged and set aside! However, this round featured stellar decisions from both Elizabeth Wein and Alaya Dawn Johnson, so I am happy. I was thrilled that both El Deafo and Brown Girl Dreaming made it through, though I am not thrilled that they now must face each other. Can’t we just declare a tie right now?

I love how Jason Reynolds commented that there is probably a flag with Jackie Woodson’s face on the moon (if there isn’t, there should be!) and that she “…could’ve thrown a fire-breathing chipmunk in there and it would’ve worked” (I also agree, though it’s a little hard to picture).

I probably laughed the hardest at Elizabeth Wein’s line about using her “…skills as an unreliable narrator” which everyone who has read Code Name Verity knows are CONSIDERABLE. She is right that many judges start with the book that they are going to cut and what fun to see her do the opposite with her decision! I still need to read Madman of Piney Woods. I really enjoyed Alaya Dawn Johnson’s reasoning behind her decision, even if I kind of was hoping for a graphic novel match up between El Deafo and This One Summer. 

Now no matter who wins the next round, I’m in for some serious disappointment when either Brown Girl Dreaming or El Deafo have to leave. Hopefully the Undead Poll will solve all quandaries.

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March Favorite: Goodbye Stranger March 23, 2015

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strangerHow is it March already? Three months into the year and I have read 95 books. I’m sticking pretty close to my 50% by or about POC goal, though I see that I haven’t read much with LGBTQ characters lately. I need to work on that! I also need to read more poetry, especially as April approaches.

My favorite for March has to be Rebecca Stead’s latest book, coming in August, which is called Goodbye Stranger. A story of friendship, growing up, and feminism, it has the same New York City setting as her previous books, but with slightly older protagonists and themes. This is a book I really wish had been around when I was in middle school–it would have given me a mirror to reassure me that I wasn’t so weird after all. It’s a great example of a book that makes it hard for me to figure out which I like more: the universal themes or the tiny specific details that remind me of my own adolescence.

I also had a tendency to eat lunch in out of the way corners like the theater and started participating in the theater both onstage and backstage in middle school. I had causes that I was passionate about (in the book, it’s feminism, for me it was pacifism) and drove my friends kinda nuts with all my diatribes. I didn’t have any close friends like Sherm, though I wish I had had one!

I think this book is going to spark a LOT of great discussions among readers and adults about the messages girls get from media and grown-ups, how to handle issues of growing up and friendship and in general staying true to yourself. I can’t wait to share it with as many people as possible.

Battle of the Books: First Round March 20, 2015

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HA! I think this is the best I’ve ever done in predicting the first round of matches. 7/8 correct, my only flub being Grasshopper Jungle vs. The Key that Swallowed Joey Pigza. I haven’t read Joey Pigza, so I chose the YA title and Jo Knowles did not. The Newbery Curse did not disappear, even though Isabel Quintero is a poet and spoke about The Crossover far more eloquently than I ever could. I was sad to see The Story of Owen go, though I am now even more excited to read both the sequel Prairie Fire and judge Hartman’s books Seraphina and Shadow Scale (I know, I should have already read Seraphina, get off my back!)

And now? I am very nervous that Brown Girl Dreaming will wind up facing off with El Deafo and what will I do then? Elizabeth Wein and Alaya Dawn Johnson are possibly the judges I am most looking forward to reading. Wein has already contributed comments on many of the other matches, pointing out folklore traits, historical detail and other lovely nerdy elements I would otherwise have missed. I can’t wait to see what she says in her judgement of Port Chicago 50 and The Madman of Piney Woods. Onward!

Battle (Almost) Ready March 9, 2015

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The SLJ Battle of the Kid’s Books starts tomorrow!!

I haven’t been quite as on top of things as in some years, and there are still two books I have yet to read. Neither one sounded terribly appealing to me, but perhaps the comments from the judges will change my mind! Before things kick off, here are my thoughts about the books in this year’s list.

Brown Girl Dreaming vs. Children of the King

Brown Girl Dreaming made me cry multiple times, every single time I read and re-read it. I like Sonya Hartnett, but did not find Children of the King terribly impressive. The protagonist seemed way younger than her stated age and in general, I wasn’t terribly invested in the characters.

The Crossover vs. Egg and Spoon

Ahhh, I loved both these books! The precision and poignancy of sibling battles and the sweep and drama of epic magical journeys! How can I choose? Will The Crossover finally break the Newbery curse? Maybe…

El Deafo vs. The Family Romanov

No contest here whatsoever. I enjoyed The Family Romanov, but it didn’t stick with me and El Deafo captured my heart in a way few books have. It has my vote in the Undead poll as well.

Grasshopper Jungle vs. The Key that Swallowed Joey Pigza

I have not read Joey Pigza. In general I find it hard to get into Jack Gantos’ writing for some reason, though I usually like it once I get going. I enjoyed Grasshopper Jungle, but got annoyed at the cardboard cutouts that were the female characters after awhile.

The Madman of Piney Woods vs. Poisoned Apples

I also haven’t read Madman of Piney Woods. I read Poisoned Apples in ARC form a very long time ago and liked it, but can’t point to any poem or image in particular that has stuck with me.

The Port Chicago 50 vs. The Story of Owen

Two books that I probably liked about the same. I wasn’t blown away by Port Chicago 50 in the same way that I was by Bomb, but I’m glad I now know about this piece of history. Likewise, The Story of Owen didn’t overwhelm me with greatness, but it was a super fun read and I’m looking forward to the sequel.

This One Summer vs. A Volcano Beneath the Snow

Ugh, I really don’t envy Nathan Hale. Talk about two ENTIRELY different books–genre, format, structure…what a thankless job. I loved This One Summer and admired Volcano. That’s about all I have to say.

We Were Liars vs. West of the Moon

Two more that I read quite awhile ago and haven’t felt the urge to go back to. I’m looking forward to hearing what Kelly Barnhill has to say about them.

Let the Battle begin!