Battle of the Books First Round Report

School Library Journal’s Battle of the (Kids’) Books finished its first round today. Back before the battle started, I predicted who would win. Of the eight first round matches, I only got one right! Though there is some consolation. Eric Carpenter of the blog What We Read and What We Think conducted a poll as to the winners of each match. And according to the stats he has reported, in every case I chose the same book as the majority who entered the poll. So I’m in line with the other people following the battle, just not with the celebrity authors who are making the choices.

And there’s some great writing going on by the judges. Getting talented wordsmith’s to say what they like about two books and why they chose won book over another was an inspired idea. Reading their comments will make you want to read the books you missed, even the ones that don’t win. That’s what happened to me last year with The Hunger Games. After hearing four rounds of judges extol it, I had to see for myself.

Now here’s a recap of the second half of Round One and my predictions for Round Two:

My biggest disappointment of the second half was that the wonderful Marcelo in the Real World was beaten by Marching for Freedom. There was some consolation in how eloquently Gary Schmidt talked about the brilliance of Marcelo.

The sixth match, Peace, Locomotion vs. A Season of Gifts was the only match in the whole Battle where I hadn’t read either book. So I wasn’t emotionally invested in that prediction.

In the second round:
Marching for Freedom
A Season of Gifts
Judge: Christopher Paul Curtis

I’d like to see Marching for Freedom win.

The seventh match was the only one I predicted correctly, with The Storm in the Barn beating Sweethearts of Rhythm. I read Sweethearts of Rhythm the night before the contest, and I thought Judge Anita Silvey summed up its strengths and weaknesses just about perfectly.

For the last match, I had come close to predicting the winner, because I do admire both books tremendously, and I wasn’t sure which way the judge would go. Julius Lester went with the incredible and bizarre Tales from Outer Suburbia over the Newbery winner, When You Reach Me.

In Round Two, that will give Shannon Hale this choice:
The Storm in the Barn
Tales from Outer Suburbia

This one is tough. Both are wonderful books in the graphic format. Will Shannon Hale go with the fairy-tale type element in The Storm in the Barn? Or will she be captivated by the quirks of Tales from Outer Suburbia? I think both books are brilliant, so I won’t be disappointed either way, but for the sake of prediction I will choose Tales from Outer Suburbia.

Tomorrow morning, M. T. Anderson will start the first half of the second round, which I predicted last week. Will I do any better in Round Two?

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