Summing Up

You may have noticed that my reviews have slowed down lately. I thought I’d sum up some of the things that have been going on.

School Library Journal‘s Battle of the Books finished up today. I’m sad that it’s over so quickly. If you haven’t been following the battle, it’s well worth going back and reading the judges’ decisions. The organizers took 16 outstanding children’s and young adult books, fiction and nonfiction, all written in 2009. Then they pitted them against each other in tournament brackets, with celebrity children’s authors providing the judging.

One of the best parts of the Battle is that the judges can write! They picked stellar writers to do the judging, and they waxed eloquent in praise of both the losers and the winners. Because, really all the books chosen to compete were outstanding. They also nicely expressed what factors swayed their ultimate decision.

Katherine Paterson was today’s judge for the final round, and she, too, did a wonderful summing up. Be sure to look at the Battle site and see who won!

Of course, half the fun was predicting who would win. With my first round choices, I did abysmally — only predicting one match right out of eight matches. But, funny thing, after that first round, every single one of my predictions was correct! Perhaps once my favorites were knocked out of the running, I was more objective and didn’t let my own biases affect how I predicted the judges would respond. Or perhaps I was just luckier.

Another event I’m following avidly, checking each morning, is the revelation of the Top 100 Children’s Novels, based on Betsy Bird’s poll over at her Fuse #8 blog. She announced #6 today.

I’ve been following Betsy’s blog ever since her Top 100 Picture Books poll last year. It’s so much fun being reminded of these truly great books. She does an incredible summing up of each book.

Just for fun, here are the books I voted for in the Children’s Novel poll. Now, it was supposed to be Middle Grade Novels, so I didn’t include some favorites that I consider YA. She gave 10 points for first place, 9 for second place, and so on. Here were my votes, with links to those I’ve reviewed:

1. Anne of Green Gables, by L. M. Montgomery
2. The World of Pooh, by A. A. Milne (This was my way of cheating and voting for both Winnie-the-Pooh and The House of Pooh Corner, but it backfired because no one else voted that way.)
3. Momo, by Michael Ende
4. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, by C. S. Lewis
5. The Queen of Attolia, by Megan Whalen Turner
6. The Hobbit, by J. R. R. Tolkien
7. Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott
8. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, by J. K. Rowling
9. The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle, by Avi
10. A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeleine L’Engle

Now, there are still five books left to announce. I suspect, when all is said and done, that all but one of my choices will show up on the Top 100 List. Momo, alas, is not well-known in America. Though it was the first book I ever ordered from Book-of-the-Month Club and in fact the book that got me hooked on Book-of-the-Month Club.

Betsy also held a contest to guess what the Top Ten books would be. I think I guessed the books correctly, but I did not get the order right. Here’s what I guessed:

1. Anne of Green Gables, by L. M. Montgomery
2. Charlotte’s Web, by E. B. White
3. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, by J. K. Rowling
4. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, by C. S. Lewis (what is it with great children’s writers using their initials?)
5. A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeleine L’Engle
6. From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, by E. L. Konigsburg (I probably should have put her before Madeleine L’Engle because she uses her initials!)
7. The Giver, by Lois Lowry
8. The Secret Garden, by Frances Hodgson Burnett
9. The Phantom Tollbooth, by Norton Juster
10. Holes, by Louis Sachar

My biggest error was not taking into account how many men and boys were voting. Anne, alas, was only #9. Here is how 6-10 turned out:

6. Holes
7. The Giver
8. The Secret Garden
9. Anne of Green Gables
10. The Phantom Tollbooth

But you have to admit, I’m pretty darn close! 🙂

Anyway, I will predict the top five as being my remaining guesses in the order I guessed them. We shall see…

But the real fun is the finding out! If you haven’t checked out Betsy’s blog yet, do so right away!

And I’m also happy to say that I’ve read almost all the books that have come up in the Top 100. Most of the ones I haven’t read are old classics, and I’m going to have to give them a try.

It was my turn to make a display behind the Circulation Desk for the month of April, so I decided to make a display of the Top 50 Children’s Novels — at least all the ones we have. I will take a picture after #1 has been announced and post it.

So you see, blogging about these blogs takes up my review time! On top of that, I am frantically trying to get out job applications. At the end of April, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors will vote on the budget. If they vote for a 15% cut in the libraries, as the County Executive has proposed, well, I will almost certainly lose my job. They would cut 24 Librarian I positions, based on seniority, and I’m about 10th from the bottom. Many other positions would also be cut, but that’s the job class that concerns me.

Anyway, I already have 5 job applications out there, for some librarian positions for federal agencies (like the US Senate Library and the Executive Office of the President!), and some research positions for private companies. All the jobs pay considerably better than my current job, so I’ll be tempted to take one even if I’m not laid off. But we will see. Anyway, each day after work I have time to either blog or get an application sent out. So tonight I’m not getting an application off, and neither am I getting a review written.

But I’m also reading slowly lately, because I have gotten on a Killer Sudoku kick lately, so I’ve been doing Killer Sudoku at bedtime instead of reading. But I do already have some books waiting to be reviewed, as well as lots and lots of wonderful books that I’m dying to read! So I’m reminding myself that if I just get these applications out, then I can get busy reviewing again….

Mind you, I also recently filed for divorce, so any day now I’ll have to gather up all my financial records again, or work with my lawyer on an agreement. I’m still sad about that — I still love my husband. — and yet I’m happy to get this settled and get out of his life while he does NOT want me there. And I get to pursue my career (who ever thought I’d have one? I was just tagging along on my husband’s career…) and the things that I am passionate about.

Oh, and I almost completely forgot to mention that for every day in 2010, I have faithfully spent at least 30 minutes each day working on my own book! It’s a middle grade novel, and I thought I had it finished last year, but then in the Fall I got an idea to add to the back story and give it a lot more depth. So slowly but surely, I’m rewriting it, and I think it’s a better book. Here’s hoping I can finish the revisions by my birthday in June.

So life is very busy. But it’s also very interesting and very good. I’m finding that I have a choice: I can stew over my impending job loss (I do really love my job!) — or I can get excited about what God is going to do next. The latter option is a lot more fun!

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