Battle of the Kids’ Books, Week Two

School Library Journal’s Battle of the Kids’ Books has completed it’s first week, and I guessed EVERY match correctly! Go me!

Maybe it’s helping that this year, for the first time, I’ve read ALL the contenders. Mind you, I only finished them this week, but I did finish every book before its match. And tonight, I posted a review of a book in Monday’s match, The Grand Plan to Fix Everything.

So it’s time to post my picks for the rest of the first round. I have no more excuses.

But right away, Monday’s match, Drawing from Memory vs. The Grand Plan to Fix Everything, is a super tough match to decide.

Before I read Grand Plan, I was sure Drawing from Memory would win. It’s a unique book, not quite a graphic memoir, not quite a picture book, and a true story as well. It doesn’t fit well with Newbery or Caldecott criteria, but it’s definitely a distinguished book.

Grand Plan has the disadvantage of being in Present Tense, which I hate, but the book itself completely won me over. And I find myself thinking we need a few light-hearted books in this Battle. Things are a bit dreary so far. On top of that, Barbara O’Connor’s books are much more like Grand Plan than Drawing from Memory, and I know from painful experience that judges often don’t pick the book most like their own. But it’s really hard for me not to tap her as choosing The Grand Plan to Fix Everything. It seems almost like a book she would have written.

But on reflection, for excellence in art and story, for NOT being in present tense, and for being least like a book the judge would write herself, I’m going to pick Drawing from Memory. But I won’t be sad if I’m wrong — it would be nice to have a light-hearted book left in the second round.

I’m afraid the other Round One matches were pretty easy for me. Let’s just say I didn’t like Life: An Exploded Diagram or Inside Out and Back Again enough to review them. Okay, let’s say a little more. Life felt like a literary book for adults, not a book for teens, since a lot of the book is from an adult’s perspective. If I had picked it up expecting a literary book for adults, I probably would have enjoyed it more, though it still wouldn’t have been a favorite. With Inside Out and Back Again, it was up against my not being terribly fond of prose poems. Besides that, it reminded me of K. A. Applegate’s Home of the Brave, which aroused a lot more sympathy in me, for some reason.

That makes my pick for Match Six, Heart and Soul, and my pick for Match Seven, A Monster Calls.

Match Eight, Okay for Now vs. Wonderstruck, was more difficult. I did think Wonderstruck was brilliant, and I wish it weren’t up against that book I championed all year long, Okay for Now. So despite Wonderstruck‘s excellence, for Match Eight, I have to go with my favorite middle grade book in this competition (How’s that for couching my words?), Okay for Now.

I’ve written reviews for Heart and Soul, A Monster Calls, and Wonderstruck, and will try to post them all before their matches. Meanwhile, may the odds be ever in your favor!

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