Battle of the Kids’ Books Second Round Begins

I admit that I pay absolutely no attention to basketball. For me, March is the time of School Library Journal’s Battle of the Kids’ Books, a tournament where celebrity children’s book authors judge between sixteen outstanding titles from the previous year.

I’ve already discussed my first round picks, and the winners of the first half of the first round.

Now the first round has been completed. Because my prediction rate is so dismal (3 out of 8 this year — still much better than last year!), I like to wait to name my second round picks until the first round is done. It’s just as well I did, since my favorite in the top half of the brackets, A Conspiracy of Kings, and my favorite in the bottom half of the brackets, One Crazy Summer, have both already been knocked out.

The second round began today in a match judged by Laura Amy Schlitz. Her analysis is absolutely brilliant, and she explains so much better than I why The Cardturner is such a wonderful book. I was very happy about that result. One match picked correctly in the second round!

The second half of the first round went better for me than the first half, though I have to admit I wasn’t as passionate about this set of books — except One Crazy Summer, which lost.

Matches Six and Seven did go as I hoped/predicted, won by The Ring of Solomon and A Tale Dark and Grimm. Match Eight did not go as I predicted, but I didn’t feel strongly, and Mitali Perkins’ judging convinced me that I will definitely have to read the winner, Trash.

For the second half of Round Two, here are my hopes, though I admit with my favorites out of the running, I’m less invested in the outcomes. (Though the judges’ critiques seem particularly outstanding this year, and I know I will enjoy reading the rest of the Battle action.)

Match 3: The Odyssey, by Gareth Hinds
vs. The Ring of Solomon, by Jonathan Stroud
judged by Patricia Reilly Giff

My hold for The Odyssey still hasn’t come in, and I wouldn’t mind if it won, but my prediction here is The Ring of Solomon. It’s not as incredibly good as the Bartimaeus Trilogy, but it’s still wonderfully crafted and a great read.

Match 4: A Tale Dark and Grimm, by Adam Gidwitz
vs. Trash, by Andrew Mulligan
judged by Pete Hautman

I’m looking forward to what Pete Hautman has to say about these books. I’m currently almost finished reading A Tale Dark and Grimm, but my hold hasn’t yet come in for Trash. However, based on what’s been said about Trash, I think I’m going to pick it.

To borrow from Susan Patron, my “inner librarian” likes A Tale Dark and Grimm more than my “inner me” does. I think it will be a fantastic book to recommend for kids who have read all the Goosebumps books and want to go on to something a little longer. As for me, it did remind me of reading fairy tales when I was a kid, but bottom line I enjoy the actual fairy tales more. And I never was crazy about the gory and grim part of the fairy tales, which is what’s emphasized here.

But it’s going to be fun to read what Pete Hautman has to say about them.

To sum up, my favorite in the top half of the brackets out of the remaining books is now The Cardturner, with Keeper as a close second. My favorite in the bottom half is The Ring of Solomon. I am still fondly hoping that A Conspiracy of Kings will come back from the dead to win it all.

However things turn out, it’s going to be fun to watch.

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