The Big Kahuna Approaches!

The Third Round of School Library Journal’s Battle of the Books finished up today. At last! A round where I picked everything the same as the judges did! (Only two matches might have had something to do with it.)

My hopes for the Big Kahuna Round? The same as they’ve always been: For Code Name Verity to come back from the dead and win it all.

If the Undead Poll winner is not Code Name Verity? Honestly, there’s not very many of the books I prefer over The Fault in Our Stars. Earlier in the battle, I had it edged out by Endangered, but I’m not sure I feel the same way a week later and after more judge’s opinions. If a middle grade novel I loved — namely, The One and Only Ivan or Three Times Lucky were to be in the Big Kahuna Round, I admit I’d be happy to have them pull an upset, in the name of middle grade fiction.

Bottom line, if Code Name Verity is not in the Big Kahuna Round, I could be sort of consoled by a victory for The Fault in Our Stars.

But, come on, that can’t happen!

If we can’t have Julie back from the dead, let’s at the very least have Code Name Verity back from the dead.

And on to Victory!

SLJ’s Battle of the Books and Abysmal Round Two

Okay, can I just say that School Library Journal’s Battle of the Books Round Two Judges made BAD decisions? Or is that too — horrors — judgmental?!

I’m finding the Battle is less fun when I’ve read all the books — at least when the judges don’t pick my favorites! When I hadn’t read the books, the judge’s descriptions piqued my curiosity and got me excited about reading those books. This time, they just make me think maybe I have bizarre taste.

Though at least they agonize so their opinions aren’t decisively bad!

So I’m still pouting about Code Name Verity going down. I still very much hope it will be the Undead Poll winner.

Which means I want The Fault in Our Stars to defeat Bomb. But honestly, I would have been rooting for The Fault in Our Stars anyway.

Did anyone else notice that one of the judges made the *same* usage mistake that appeared twice in Bomb‘s pages? They used “principle” when they meant to say “principal.” The Principal Flaw this year is the “Principle” Flaw! The principle is this: When you want to say it’s the main thing, you use “principal.” When you’re talking about a rule, a truth, you use “principle.”

Yes, call me a grammar snob. But my principle is that words in print are the principal way kids learn correct grammar and usage. If publishing professionals get it wrong, how can we expect kids to get it right?

There. Can you tell I’m grumpy about this round of the battle?

For the second half of the third round, it will be Splendors and Glooms vs. No Crystal Stair, almost my least favorite books in the whole battle. (My least favorite was Jepp, Who Defied the Stars, but these were next.) So that makes it hard to pick, and that makes me not too invested in the match. But rather than flip a coin, I will decide that No Crystal Stair has less flaws than Splendors and Glooms, so I will root for No Crystal Stair. The “Documentary Novel” approach was innovative, and she pulled it off.

I found it interesting that both these books had significant sections told from the perspective of adults. That would be a flaw against any other book in the battle. But since they both did it, they cancel each other out, as far as that goes. The principal factor in my decision was the unsatisfying ending of Splendors and Glooms weighed against the way No Crystal Stair upheld the principle that reading is empowering.

Clearly, it’s getting late and I should go to bed….

SLJsBoB: Getting Ready for Round Two!

The first round of School Library Journal’s Battle of the Books has finished up. I predicted exactly half of the matches correctly in both the first half and the second half.

However, up to Match 6, even though I only predicted half of the matches correctly, the one I did predict correctly was the one I’d picked to move on in Round Two, so at first it didn’t look like my picks in Round Two would change.

But a couple things have happened to change that.

First, I finished reading Endangered. Even though it plays havoc with your emotions as much as The Fault in Our Stars, it feels less manipulative as it does that. Not that I thought The Fault in Our Stars manipulated my emotions. But Endangered even less so, even though it’s every bit as weighty a book. Does that make sense?

I still want Code Name Verity to win the top bracket. But I’m reversing my pick for Endangered vs. The Fault in Our Stars. Now that I’ve read Endangered, I want it to win.

Admittedly, I still think The Fault in Our Stars or Code Name Verity, whichever one is knocked out, will win the Undead Poll. So I expect to see both of those in the Big Kahuna Round anyway. If they both get knocked out? I shudder to even think of that possibility!

But the second problem to my Second Round picks is that I hoped The One and Only Ivan would win the entire bottom bracket. This is clearly no longer going to happen.

I did, however, hope that one of Starry River of the Sky or Liar & Spy would get knocked out, despite my predictions, so I wouldn’t have to choose between the two. Well, I’m a little sorry my wish was granted.

But it does make my decision easier. No dithering here! It turns out that in every Round Two Match, there is one book I predicted correctly, and one book I didn’t. Except for Endangered (see above), I always want the book I predicted correctly in the Round One to win Round Two.

That means I want Starry River of the Sky to beat Splendors and Glooms. No question about it.

And Seraphina over No Crystal Stair. Easy-peasy choice, despite whatever judge Paul Griffin may say about it.

Round Three? If it goes as I wish, the top half is still all about Code Name Verity. In the bottom half? Well, can I cop out and say whichever of the Round Two matches I get right?

But if by some amazing miracle I guess both right, Starry River of the Sky vs. Seraphina? Well, I think Starry River is the more expertly crafted book, so I’ll go with it. But that’s one where I wouldn’t be as sad, because I did love Seraphina.

If I get the Second Round Bottom Half both wrong, I’d choose Splendors and Glooms over No Crystal Stair.

And I still want Code Name Verity to win it all!

Sondy for Newbery!

It’s official! I’m on the ballot for next year’s Newbery committee!

Here I am at the 2010 Newbery Banquet. I’m such a Newbery-geek, any contact with the awards process thrills me!

Here’s the scoop. Each year, a committee chooses the “most distinguished contribution” to American literature for children. The committee is made up of fifteen people, eight of whom are voted on by members of ALSC, the Children’s Services division of the American Library Association. There are sixteen names on the ballot.

Why should you vote for me, Sondra Eklund?

Besides being an avid reader of children’s books all my life, I’ve been writing book reviews in Sonderbooks since 2001, thinking about why certain books are good.

When I discovered Heavy Medal blog a few years ago, and they posted the Newbery criteria and guidelines, I couldn’t keep myself from printing out and reading every word. I realized then how much the whole thing fascinated me. Since then, I avidly follow Heavy Medal, and have learned much from Jonathan and Nina about the Newbery Medal and the process of choosing the winners.

When ALA offered online classes, I took one on the Newbery Medal, one on the Caldecott Medal, and one on the Printz Award.

Last January, I had the privilege of attending the William Morris Seminar, an entire day of training about the process of book evaluation committees. I’m ready to carry out what I’ve learned!

Last year, I joined Capitol Choices, a DC-area group that chooses about a hundred of the best children’s books of the year. They meet monthly to discuss great books, and it gave me practice being in a formal book-discussion setting.

Last year I also got to be a first round judge for the Cybils Awards, in the category of Middle Grade Fantasy and Science Fiction. I figured it would help me find out if I like spending all my spare time intensely reading children’s books. (I loved it!)

I’m involved in ALSC, a member of the Children and Technology Committee for the past two years.

I am currently Youth Services Manager at City of Fairfax Regional Library, a large public library in northern Virginia. Last year, I started a Mock Newbery Club. I hope to keep it up to get feedback on how actual kids feel about the new books being published.

In 2008, 2009, and now 2013, I’ve been on our county’s Summer Reading Selection committee, selecting a list of books to promote for Summer Reading.

What’s more, this would be a great time in my life to devote to children’s books. My youngest son just headed off to college, so I’m living alone. I’m moving into a lovely new home next month. No more cooking and cleaning for kids! I am ready to devote all those spare hours to reading children’s books! 🙂

So, any ALSC members out there, make my dream come true! Vote for Sondra Eklund for Newbery Committee!

And Thank You from the bottom of my heart!

Battle of the Books First Week Report

The first week of School Library Journal’s Battle of the Books has finished up, and the first half of the first round matches. I predicted these matches. How’d I do?

My success rate is only 50%. However, I am not discouraged! Because the two books I want to win the second round were the two I got right. So my hopes for the second round still stand.

What’s more, I only this week got started reading Endangered, the one book in the battle I hadn’t yet read. So I’m kind of glad it’s still around, and think I can safely say I’ll be finished before it competes again.

Once again this year, I made a display with little book covers, and I’m moving the book covers in the brackets based on who wins. (Sorry, it’s at the library. I should have taken a picture!) Losers go to the bottom, until one comes back from the dead. Today I wore my SLJ BoB t-shirt from 2010, when they gave t-shirts to anyone who blogged about the Battle.

I’ve enjoyed the judges so far. I forgive them for using The Format (see the first commenter at a Read Roger post), because they’ve had good things to say in the body of the decision.

Personally, I don’t fault the judges for praising both books in each match. They’re excellent books, okay? I appreciate that they took some time; they pointed out things about the books I hadn’t necessarily noticed. If you haven’t read the books, you’re going to find many reasons for doing so. If you have read them, you get to see them through another author’s eyes.

I do hope someone will mix it up a little and not talk about the losing book first, though.

I’m probably happiest with Margarita Engle, simply because she praised my favorite book, Code Name Verity, and quoted beautiful lines and reminded me of why I love it so much.

Speaking of judging books, (clever transition there?) today I saw that it’s really official: My name is on the ballot for next year’s Newbery Committee! Squee!

Now, mind you, there are 16 names on the ballot for only 8 positions. And voting opens next week and continues for more than a month, so I’m going to be tense about it for quite awhile. Sometime soon, I will make a post about why voting for me is a good idea and why I am a great choice for the job. For now, I’ll just beg: Any ALSC members out there, make my dream come true! Vote for me! Vote for me!

SLJ BoB is Here!

It’s that time of year! School Library Journal’s Battle of the Books is starting up! (I keep hearing this rumbling that other tournaments happen in March, but I’ve never heard about anything so exciting.)

What is SLJ’s Battle of the Books? The stellar Battle Commanders and Commentator choose 16 of the best children’s books of the previous year and arrange them in tournament brackets. The judges are distinguished children’s and young adult authors. Their tales of their travails while judging are my favorite part of the battle (unlike Roger Sutton). The judges usually manage to make an entertaining and brilliant commentary, playing off themes or styles from the books they judged.

And until tomorrow, you can still vote in the Undead Poll for one book, if slighted by the judges, to come back from the dead for the Big Kahuna Round at the end.

But enough about the details! Let’s talk about the books!

This year, by the time the books were announced, I’d read 15 of the 16 books, a new record. (No, I take that back. I was halfway through Bomb.) I still haven’t read Endangered, but it’s next on my TBR pile, so I might (maybe?) finish it before its match on March 14.

What’s more, not only have I read 15 of the books, I’ve reviewed all 15. Now, I only review books I like, and in previous years, let’s just say that I did not review all of the Battle books. Okay, a few of the reviews are not glowing. But I still liked them enough to review them. What’s more, out of the fifteen I’ve read, nine made my 2012 Sonderbooks Stand-outs. Two of the remaining six (Bomb and Three Times Lucky) I didn’t read until 2013, but they are highly likely to be 2013 Sonderbooks Stand-outs. So it’s pretty clear I like their choices this year.

Here are the first round match-ups with my pick listed first:

Match One, judged by Kenneth Oppel:
Wonder vs Bomb
This one’s a toughie. Bomb is probably the more excellently crafted book. But, doggone it, hasn’t it gotten enough awards? The Sibert, the YALSA Excellence in Nonfiction, Newbery Honor, oh my! Shouldn’t Wonder at least win a round in Battle of the Books?

Mind you, whichever book wins Match One, I want to win the first round only, because look what’s in the second match:

Match Two, judged by Margarita Engle:
Code Name Verity vs. Titanic: Voices from the Disaster
Sorry, Titanic. I liked you enough to name you #3 Sonderbooks Stand-out in Children’s Nonfiction. But Code Name Verity was my favorite book read in 2012, and that hasn’t changed. Yes, this was also my pick in the Undead Poll, but I don’t really want it to win that way. I want every judge to acknowledge its brilliance. However, I realize not all judges are so perspicacious. We shall see how they do in acknowledging greatness.

Match Three, judged by Kathi Appelt
Three Times Lucky vs. Endangered
Yes, I realize this isn’t fair, since Endangered is the one book I haven’t read yet. But I have a soft spot for Three Times Lucky, and I find myself hoping I don’t like Endangered as much. (Though it would be fun to see Endangered go up against The One and Only Ivan in a later round. If only for the cartoon SLJ’s artist would draw.)

Match Four, judged by Deb Caletti
The Fault in Our Stars vs. Temple Grandin
Again, I’m sorry, Temple Grandin. It’s not that I don’t like nonfiction. But I did think The Fault in Our Stars was wonderful. And this is another case where I’d like to see a stellar book get a bit more recognition. I notice The Fault in Our Stars was #9 in Teen Fiction on my Sonderbooks Stand-outs, but Temple Grandin was #8 in Children’s Nonfiction. So I have to admit that #9 in Teen Fiction is higher in my affections than #8 in Children’s Nonfiction. So sue me.

Speaking of Stars:

Match Five, judged by Adam Gidwitz
Starry River of the Sky vs. Jepp, Who Defied the Stars
My affection for Starry River of the Sky is mingled with admiration for what a sweet person Grace Lin is, since I got to hear her speak at KidLitCon last year. But I also not only read Starry River of the Sky, I also listened to it, and that made me appreciate its structure and craft even more than the first reading. Jepp? Well, I did review it, and I only review books I like…. But I want Starry River of the Sky to come out of this match shining.

Match Six, judged by Franny Billingsley
Liar & Spy vs. Splendors & Glooms
I don’t think my ranking here will surprise anyone. Liar & Spy was a 2012 Sonderbooks Stand-out, but Splendors & Glooms was not. Now, Splendors & Glooms is much more similar to Franny Billingsley’s books, all atmospheric and creepy and magical, than Liar & Spy is. But my first year when I tried to predict Battle of the Books choices by thinking judges would pick books similar to their own, I got them all wrong. My current theory is that judges are quicker to see flaws in books like their own, or are perhaps extra admiring of someone who pulls off a book they could never write. So I hope Franny Billingsley will agree with me.

Match Seven, judged by Marie Lu
Seraphina vs Moonbird
Okay, I admit, this time it looks like I’m simply choosing fiction over nonfiction. Because Moonbird was a 2012 Sonderbooks Stand-out, but Seraphina wasn’t. And Moonbird was #9 in its category, and Seraphina was in a much tougher category, fantasy for teens. I’d always have a hard time rooting against a good fantasy novel for teens.

Match Eight, judged by Catherine Gilbert Murdock
The One and Only Ivan vs. No Crystal Stair
Sorry, but no contest here. Count me an Ivan fan. Again, my ranking in Sonderbooks Stand-outs is telling: The One and Only Ivan was #2 in Children’s Fiction, but No Crystal Stair, while reviewed, was not a Stand-out.

On reflection, I’m pretty lucky with the first round — few of my favorites are pitted against one another. But I’m setting up to be much more upset if any of my favorites lose!

Now, I’ll make new predictions for Round Two, but just a run-down on how it would go if I got to judge all the matches:

Code Name Verity would win every match in which it appears.

The Fault in Our Stars would win the second round before succumbing to Code Name Verity‘s brilliance. Though I must admit, I’d cheer for Mo if Three Times Lucky pulled off a win.

In the bottom half of the tournament, I’m almost counting on one of my favorites not advancing, so I won’t have to choose between Starry River of the Sky and Liar & Spy, though I’d probably go with Starry River of the Sky. But I would want Ivan to win all its matches until it faces Code Name Verity.

For the book coming back from the dead, I’m hoping it won’t be necessary for Code Name Verity to be resurrected, making it a match-up with Code Name Verity, The Fault in Our Stars, and The One and Only Ivan, with, you know it, Code Name Verity coming out on top. (It’s gotten enough Honor! Time to WIN!)

But believe me, I don’t expect the judges will see it my way. They never do!

How about you? What are your picks? (Links to blog posts are good, too!)

Mock Newbery Results

Today at the City of Fairfax Regional Library, we had our first annual Mock Newbery voting. The idea is to figure out which children’s book published in 2012 we think was most distinguished.

The winner is:

Three Times Lucky, by Sheila Turnage

Participants commented on the distinctive voice, and that it showed character growth, besides having a plot that included a murder mystery with twists and turns. I didn’t read Three Times Lucky in 2012, so it didn’t make my 2012 Sonderbooks Stand-outs, but it may well make my list for 2013.

We chose two Honor Books:

The One and Only Ivan, by Katherine Applegate

Summer of the Gypsy Moths, by Sara Pennypacker

We’re all waiting eagerly to see which books will win the official Newbery Medal on January 28!

Get in your Cybils Nominations!

It’s time for Cybils nominations!

The Cybils are children’s book awards given by Kidlit Bloggers. They have a wonderful breadth of categories, and anyone can nominate one item in each category. Nominations are open until October 15. This year’s awards go to anything published in the last year, October 16, 2011 to October 15, 2012.

I confess that I wasn’t ready with my list this morning, so this year I think I’ll wait a little while and then see if anything’s missing from the books I want to be considered. If you want to nominate your very favorites, it helps to get up early! But if any of my favorites slip through the cracks, I’ll give a try to nominating them before October 15.

And I need to start reading like crazy! This year I’m a Round One Panelist in the category of Middle Grade Science Fiction and Fantasy. I’m so looking forward to being forced to read my favorite kind of books. We’ll see if I can handle it!

Conference Corner – KidLitCon 2012

KidLitCon in New York City! At the New York Public Library! KidLitCon is a conference for bloggers who blog about children’s books. I went to KidLitCon09 close to home in DC, to KidLitCon11 in Seattle, and just had to go when it was so close by and free to boot.

I’m way behind on my Conference Corner posts. So, for fear I’ll never get to KidLitCon, I decided to post the same night I got back, when everything’s fresh. Instead of giving you all my notes, I’m just going to give you the high points. Here are the things I took home from KidLitCon12, in chronological order.

1. Publisher Previews are Dangerous.

I only was able to go to one preview, since I flew in to New York at noon, and that was probably a good thing. It was at the offices of HarperCollins going over books they’re publishing soon.

Why are previews dangerous? First, I had packed lightly. They gave us a full bag of advance reader copies, as well as three hardbound published books and a blank book. Did I tell them, no, I couldn’t possibly carry the bag home on the plane or fit it in my suitcase? No, I did not. Did I even tell them my neurologist said, since my vertebral artery dissection, that it’s not a good idea for me to walk around carrying more than 15 pounds? No, I did not.

Now, don’t worry, as I walked 20 blocks up 5th Avenue to our dinner (which I actually enjoyed. Definitely gave me the feel of New York City.), I found a FedEx and stuck the bag on their counter, and had them ship the whole bag home to me. But the other reason the preview was dangerous is after hearing them talk about the upcoming books, I want to read every single book! Was I hurting for ideas of books to read? No, I was not. Did I need to know about more books I’d like to read? No, I did not. Does that make me want to read them any less? No, it does not.

Now, later in the conference, I did end up with two more hardbound and two more paperback books. My suitcase ended up being hard to close, but I managed it. But to show how dangerous I find publisher previews, and how impossible I find it to resist free books — this morning I woke up from a dream where I was in a line to get advance reader copies of some adult books I didn’t even find very interesting, and which I knew I wouldn’t be able to fit in my suitcase, and when I knew it was Sunday and I wouldn’t be able to ship them — but I took them anyway! I was so relieved when I woke up! I had not taken more books than I could carry after all.

Yeah, I have a problem.

2. KidLit Bloggers are My People.

Okay, I knew this already. But it was a lovely to spend a weekend with other people who are a little nuts about children’s books. My resolution: Read more of their blogs! More regularly! These are my people, and it was wonderful to see the ones I already knew and meet some I hadn’t met before.

And I got to be roommates again with Lisa Song, who blogs at Reads for Keeps. She helped me navigate the subways, and having some quieter time with her between busy days was definitely a highlight of the conference.

3. Grace Lin shines with niceness and has a Really Cute Baby.

4. Sushi tastes good.

Who would have thought?

5. You should be creating something you want to share with the world, not something to show how clever or talented you are.

This was from Grace Lin’s talk. Just an inspiring reminder why I blog: To share special books with other people.

6. Although they are My People, not all Children’s Book Lovers are introverts like me. The extroverted ones are really fun to be around, though.

Here’s Pam Coughlan, Mother Reader, “auctioning” off ARCs from the Publisher Previews the day before. (I managed not to take any, I’m proud to say.) That’s Charlotte, middle grade science fiction and fantasy specialist, on the right. (Who is in the middle?)

7. Make your blog easy to share.

Resolution: Add more sharing buttons, besides the Tweet button. Must get around to this….

8. “If you talk like you’re alone in a room, you will be.” — Marsha Lerner

This point brought a small epiphany for me. Since I began Sonderbooks as an e-mail newsletter consisting of book reviews, I think of it as my thoughts I’m sharing with people. I’m talking like I did when I was the instructor lecturing the classroom.

9. Ask questions you want answers to.

All these last three points are from Marsha’s talk. And, mulling them over, I had an idea this morning. I think I am going to start using comments to discuss the books I review with other people who have read them. So I will put Spoilers in the comments. So far, I don’t get a lot of comments on book reviews. I mean, what do you say if you haven’t read the book? You can say, I’m looking forward to reading that. But wouldn’t it be nice to be able to talk about that annoying or brilliant thing at the end of the book and find out what other people think? I could use the comments for deeper discussion.

What do you think? I am honestly curious. Do you think spoilers in the comments is a good idea, if I put lots of warnings? My main blog doesn’t show comments, and on my website, you’d have to click over to the blog to see them, and I’d make sure to put warnings. Do you think it will work?

10. Winnie-the-Pooh!!!!! The Original!!!!

Okay, this was NOT something I took home with me, but this WAS a big huge enormous thrill. I got to see the original animals that Christopher Robin played with! Don’t they look so much like the Ernest Shepard illustrations? Especially Tigger:

And you can clearly see why Piglet is truly a Very Small Animal:

Eeyore actually looks patched, which easily explains the story of him losing his tail. All the animals, including dear Pooh, were clearly much loved.

But wait. You may be asking, like me, “What is that OTHER stuffed animal doing in the case?” That, dear reader, is a Travesty. You see, not only was a sequel to Winnie-the-Pooh and The House of Pooh Corner “authorized,” a new character was created. A stuffed animal of this new character was created, and someone had the Very Bad Idea of putting the new stuffed animal in the case with the original toys with whom Christopher Robin once played. Here is a picture Leaving It Out:

I took these pictures on my lunch break, and was so glad I’d made the pilgrimage. Wow.

11. Keep my inner fangirl in check. Maybe?

There was quite a lot of talk about the relationship between writers and bloggers. Do we get too nice because we don’t want to hurt the authors’ feelings? Is our professionalism hurt when we “know” the writer online or have met them in person?

I began writing Sonderbooks when I was working in a library, but was not yet a librarian. Now I’m a librarian, and I’ve been to the William Morris Seminar, and I closely follow the Heavy Medal blog — and I would so love to be on the Newbery committee some day. If I don’t want my reviews to be merely cheerleading, I should practice thinking critically. Yes, I feel I can continue with my policy of only reviewing books I like, but why do I like them? And, come on, it’s more professional if I try not to Squee too hard when I meet an author. Maybe less pictures with them? (And you’ll notice at least I posted Grace only with her baby.) Hmm. I’ll have to work on this one.

12. If you’re doing a PowerPoint presentation, make sure you are not scheduled after Brian Selznick.

This point is courtesy of Maureen Johnson; it seems very wise.

13. Always feel free to bring a friend.

Maureen roped her friend Robin Wasserman into sharing the keynote, and that added lots of fun to the talk.

14. Keep in mind every day why you’re doing what you’re doing.

Another one from Maureen Johnson.

15. Central Park is lovely.

Who knew?

I had a late afternoon flight, so I went into Central Park, and when I walked a little way in, I heard and saw an actual waterfall. So lovely.

I liked the juxtaposition of the trees with the skyscrapers.

Then later I came upon a large lake. Walking through Central Park was simply a lovely way to spend a couple hours after an inspiring weekend.

How about you, other KidLit Bloggers? What did you take away from KidLitCon?

Go, Zombie, Go!

Well, today the last of my three favorite books in School Library Journal’s Battle of the Kids’ Books was knocked out.

To review, those three favorites, probably in this order, were: Okay for Now, Daughter of Smoke and Bone, and Chime. Though I’m plenty fickle, because in her brilliant analysis, E. Lockhart got me completely behind her choice of Chime over Daughter.

Now, in a side note, didn’t I tell you that authors tend to pick the book least like the one they’d write themselves? So, once I thought about it, I wasn’t really surprised Maggie Stiefvater didn’t move Chime along. And let’s just say that I loved her book, The Scorpio Races, more than either Chime or Daughter of Smoke and Bone. But that’s the way these things go. The fun is not in having my own choices vindicated (They usually aren’t.); the fun is in reading brilliant authors talking about reading brilliant books.

Now, I said last week that I was pretty sure I would choose any book in the first half over any book in the second half.

But now that I know the books that have won, I actually think I would pick Drawing from Memory over Between Shades of Gray. DfM is growing on me as I read the judges’ comments, and it really is a brilliant book. And, let’s face it, Between Shades of Gray is much more depressing.

What’s that you say? Drawing from Memory is up against Life: An Exploded Diagram tomorrow and may not even make it to the Final Round? I am not even going to consider that possibility! It would be too wrong.

But all this is a moot point, and here’s why: I want the Zombie to win!

You see, every year since the second, the fun thing about SLJ’s BoB is that they hold an Undead Poll before the Battle begins. Fans vote for their favorite book to come back from the dead and compete in the final round, if it got knocked out sooner. This year, I voted for Okay for Now, but I would be very happy if any one of my top three favorites was the winner. I think my chances of one of these three being the winner are very good. — They were all three popular books.

And this is cool because now they don’t have to compete against each other, so I can wholeheartedly root for the Zombie to win.

Go, Zombie, Go!