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To predict tomorrow's Battle of the Kids' Books winner I need only my "incredible powers of book discernment". But first I must cogitate.
Both titles reference the stars: Jepp, who Defied the Stars vs Starry River of the Sky.
Neither book's action is from around these here parts - geographically or chronologically.
Both books champion hope.
Hmmmm, yep, I think that's about it.
Jepp is historical fiction and describes the indignities suffered by people who appear different from the norm. The writing avoids being ponderous even when considering the time period and the weight of Jepp's indignities and difficulties. There is a touch of wishful thinking in Jepp's story that may toss the book overboard in this round. For instance, I found the ending to be anachronistic - far too modern for the time period, even though the main historical character, Tycho Brahe, was famous for his wildly unorthodox behavior and teachings.
Starry River of the Sky is fantasy through and through. The author alternates the main character's story with folk tales that seem to move that character's story along. The audience for this book seems to be younger than the audience for Jepp, Who Defied the Stars. Because of that the plot is simpler and the problems the characters meet are more immediate - the heat, the darkness, grouchy neighbors. The writing is more lyrical. The pacing has more drama. Less happens but more emotional ground seems to get covered.
Oh dear, what have I done? When I started this post, I thought my choice was clear. I must pause here and think carefully. If I was the esteemed judge, truly, which would I choose? (Note to BOB organizers: I NEVER want to be an esteemed judge.)
(Deeeeep breath). I stand by my initial inclination. I choose Jepp, Who Defied the Stars by Katherine Marsh. The books have different purposes and both purposes are worthwhile.
teaches us about a swatch of scientific history and gives us insight into the constant battle of all human beings to be treated with respect. Jepp
also encourages the reader to look inside for his or her own talents and pursue a path that is meaningful and satisfying. Starry River of the Sky by Grace Lin
is about anger, betrayal but most of all, this book is about forgiveness. How Lin gets there is a journey worth taking. The stories are like pearls disbursed on a strand with earthen beads. Did I love this book? Oh, yes, yes, I did.
And still, I choose small and sturdy, young and indomitable, clever, sometimes clueless, but eventually courageous Jepp
as the winner of this battle.
I have not read tomorrow's contestants in The Battle of the Kids' Books. They are Endangered! by Eliot Schrefer and Three Times Lucky by Sheila Turnage. The judge is Kathi Appelt.
Unfortunately for me, the two largest public libraries close to me do not own Endangered! Yeah! I know! It's a National Book Award Finalist, for golly sakes! They both own Three Times Lucky, but obviously the word is out that this is an awesome book because it is on hold at my hometown library and out at the "other" library.
(And, with huge apologies to all the booksellers out there who do such awesome work keeping literature alive, I only buy books that I have learned to love. It's a cheapster thing.)
So I have read a few reviews and I have investigated the judge. And, even though I am totally unqualified to make a prediction, I will! I predict that the small-town girl will beat out the orphaned chimpanzee.
| Who can resist a message in a bottle?|
I predict that tomorrow, Three Times Lucky
will move on to the next round. I predict this for three reasons.
Reason 1: Kathi Appelt's own work leans toward small-town and rural characters.
Reason 2: Sassy orphans beat out orphaned animals most of the time.
Reason 3: The American South is more appealing than the Congo, especially now.
But the New York Times review of Endangered!
gives me pause.
There just might be a surfeit of small-town mysteries in children's books right now. The suspense and tension of Sophie's attempt to save her small bonobo friend may tip the scales in Endangerd!'s
|He looks so frightened. I want to save him, myself.|
I wish I had a chance to read just one of these books!!!
I have nothing to lose! I stand by my prediction. Three Times Lucky
will win tomorrow. (maybe
Who can think about Kids Book Website Tuesday when the phone keeps ringing and I have to make nametags for StoryFUSION and I haven't collected enough media cords for my workshop yet?????
I can!! Ta Ra Ta Ra! I can think about Kids Book Website Tuesday. Of course, right now my favorite KBW is Battle of the Books. DUH!! With amazingness happening at every cliff-hanging turn! Today, Judge Jewel Parker Rhodes chose Drawing from Memory to move to the semi-finals. I have hope for Inside Out and Back Again to rise from the dead in the final round.
I was hoping to share a Reading Rainbow site but since the show was taken off, PBS no longer hosts a site for it. But, never fear, Reading Rainbow fans. I have heard from very credible sources that Reading Rainbow will come out with an app for your iPhones this Spring!!! YAY! Take a look! It's in a book! Reading Rainbow.
Here you go. Stone Soup
, the magazine, has been publishing stories, poems and drawings of young people for decades. So Stone Soup
, though not actually a book website, is my choice for this week's Kids Book Website. Sample the writings of children and teens. This magazine never publishes the work of grown-ups. NEVER! Stone Soup
is Peter Pan's favorite reading material, I've been led to believe. I'm sure that's true.
Make sure you check out the video on the magazine's home page. Very cool.
Back to BoB: Tomorrow, Life: an Exploded Diagram
goes up against Wonderstruck.
My first lackluster prediction is that Wonderstruck
will head to the next round. But Chris Lynch is the judge and that changes things. Must....think... ... ... I am going to predict Wonderstruck.
Just because I feel I should predict something. Is that lackluster enough for you? Both good books. Both worthy opponents. Just not A Monster Calls.
I feel so much better. Do you know why????
Battle of the Books Brackets have been chosen. I knew there was a good reason to return to the land of ice and wind and Internet access. i just knew it.
Here they are:
Once again, I have read some, but not all, of the books. I have direction! I have purpose! I have a goal. I love Battle of the Books.
Now, the brackets are chosen BEFORE the American Library Association announces their Book Award Choices
- which ALA did last Monday right before I re-learned body surfing on a Caribbean beach.
For the complete ALA approved list of Newbery Award winners, here you are. Caldecott Winners, click here.
To check on all the other awards - for best children's non-fiction, or YA book, or social justice book, concept book, go to the ALA Book Awards page
and click on the individual links. There are just too many great books written for young people.
If you go to BoB's current post
, you will see how well the Brackets match the ALA Award winners. As always, judge's comments and the Peanut Gallery responses will be some of the best blog-reading of the year.
Oh, I wonder when we get to vote for the Undead. Or, gasp, has that vote been cast? And who will be this year's awesome author/judges? So many questions! So many books! So little time! Excuse me, I have to put books on hold at the various libraries of which I am a member.
I have been very busy this week with non-bloggy things - sitting for a grandchild; following my Dad from the hospital to Rehab to another room in Rehab; catching up on Committee work for my worship community; and reading.
Ah, reading... It is a salve to my weary - and sometimes restless - soul. Over at Battle of the (Kid's) Books, you can now vote for the one book in the entire contest that you want to return to the Final Round if it gets voted off. I LOVE this part of BoB because sometimes a worthy book falls short of a worthy judge's expectations. Ya know what I mean? Judges are human.
Here is how my reading and Battle of the Kids' Books stands. I have ONE book yet to read in the first match-up of Round One. I need to get hold of Bomb! by Steve Sheinkin before March 12th.
In the next set of match-ups, I have to read two books, Endangered
by Eliot Schrefer and Three Times Lucky
by Sheila Turnage.
Round one continues, and I must read Starry River of the Sky
by Grace Lin.
In the next set of four contestants, I haven't read THREE of the books; Moonbird
by Philip Hoose, Seraphina
by Rachel Hartman
AND No Crystal Stair
by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson.
Some very heavy reading will be going on in this house.
If you would like to see all the books in the competition, and by elimination the books I've already read, click here
I've voted for MY Undead Choice. It was a close call. Join in the fun, today.
Over at Battle of the Kids' Books, Bomb has (insert your explosion related verb here) to victory! I have already used one incendiary pun. I can not in good conscience use more.
I had a sneaking suspicion that this would happen but since I have not even been able to get a look at the cover of the winning title, I could not make a reliable prediction. I WANT to read this book.
(Person, who is reading it from my local library, please return it, NOW. Waiting is hard.)
was a gasp-producing masterpiece of enlightenment and consciousness-raising. I may have chosen it,
Tomorrow, though, fiction will win out. Titanic
is a gripping revisit to the most famous maritime disaster of all time. But Code Name Verity
is ...I have no words to accurately convey this book's power.
So, it has come down to this. SLJ's Battle of the Kids' Books will end tomorrow. Kathi Appelt's Keeper and Jonathan Stroud's The Ring of Solomon meet in the final head-to-head match-up. But wait! What's this? A THIRD contender? Yes, Back from the Dead, A Conspiracy of Kings by Megan Whalen Turner has risen to challenge the two finalists.
And what sage of the writing world has the enviable task of choosing among these three??? It is Richard Peck
, Newbery winner and all round great storyteller. Whew! Better him than me, is what I'm thinking right now.
Ok, here's my take on these three books. I didn't read the Ring of Solomon
so it is a little crazy that I am cheering for that book. That's how powerful the character of Bartimaeus, the djinni, is. Stroud's humorous writing, the excessive but effective use of tongue-in-cheek footnotes and Bartimaeus' oddly honorable amorality, MUST all add up to a compelling read. My former partner-in-storytime, SC, has told me - and I trust her - that this book is better than all three of Stroud's Bartimaeus Trilogy
books. So that is the book I WANT to win. That is the book I think will win.
Here's why. A Conspiracy of Kings
is a marvelous adventure, well-plotted with characters the reader cares about. The world Turner creates is credible and detailed.Keeper
is a dreamy book with lush descriptions, not only of the seaside setting but also of the workings of the young girl's thoughts and hopes.
But neither of those books have as strong and as original a character as Bartimaeus. Bartimaeus is the quintessential lovable rogue - funny, powerful and unexpected. With all of his thousands of years of experience how could a handful of monarchs and a girl and her dog expect to compete? I'm just saying! Bartimaeus will rise victorious tomorrow - (I hope.)
The roster of books for the SLJ Battle of the Kids Books (BOTKB) has been announced. This is one of my favorite times of year because usually the list includes many titles I haven't read. Since I had to do an end of the year book review session in 2011, though, I have read most of the books on the slate. But, Not all of them! I am so excited.
I can tell you what is NOT on this list. Icefall by Matthew Kirby
didn't make the cut. (Shock and surprise and a head-shake of disbelief!) Nor did Stupid Fast by Geoff Herbach
, nor The Romeo and Juliet Code by Phoebe Stone
. What about How to Save a Life by Sara Zarr
(or all the other pregnant teen novels. There were a slew of those last year!)? Or Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater
What!!?? A book about flesh-eating horses from the Irish Sea didn't make the list?? Oh, well. There is no accounting for taste.
Expect frequent updates here for the Battle of the Kids Books because I think this is one of the most fun events SLJ and its staff does all year. Books for Kids Rock!
The completed Battle of the Kids' Books brackets - including judges - have been published. The first round is completely filled in. And for the first time in three years I suddenly understand how the Battle team pairs the books up - in alphabetical order. It is so simple, that it's brilliant. Sometime, the books in a bracket have similarities but even that is an accident. Sometimes, the books seem to have originated on two different spheres. It just makes the judges' jobs that more complicated and their rationalizations that more enticing.
Who makes up this team of diabolic Battle moderators? Are they demons, like the Game Masters in Homeward Bounders, or mere mortals with brains, bent and gnarled by years of reading? We might know their names but do we know them - their true selves? I fear not.
And yet, we follow where they lead, into the arena. (Cue martial music with lots of swords crashing on shields.)
In the Battle of the Kids' Books, Amelia Lost went up against Anya's Ghost today. The judge is Matt Phelan. I could prove my own clairvoyance and tell you who I predicted would win but....you know I already looked and you wouldn't believe that this is the way I thought it would pan out.
The winner is... Amelia Lost by Candace Fleming.
So, tomorrow, Between Shades of Gray
and Gayle Forman
must decide which book moves on to Round 2. I predict that Between Shades of Gray
will win. Let's see if I am right - tomorrow.
As for Kids Book Website Tuesday
- go around to Mo Willems website
for fun for all ages. Piggies, Elephants, Pigeons, Frogs and all manners of creatures abound. Mo Willems is always fun.
Readergirlz and Figment are planning a Rock the Drop event on April 12, 2012. It works like this. Get a book. Put the bookplate, below, in the book. Drop the book somewhere that someone might find it. It's like International Book Giving Day but more subversive.
So do it. Easy enough to share a good read with an unknown "friend".Battle of the Books: Daughter of Smoke and Bone
won its first round - as I predicted. I am buffing my chipped nails on my lapel as you read this. Don't forget to read the commentaries after Sara Zarr's thoughtful judging.
One of the comments to BoB's
post mentioned the artwork for today. I like the little bomb shelter sign that Dead End in Norvelt
so ineffectively uses as a shield. Thanks to RB for drawing attention to these graphics. So read EVERYTHING on the Battle's page; the decision, the commentaries and the comments. All fun, all worthwhile.
Monday's match. Hmmm. I haven't read The Grand Plan to Fix Everything.
It's hard to imagine that it is better than Allen Say's Drawing from Memory.
So I'm going with Drawing
as Monday's winner. HOWEVER, I might change my mind.
|So what happens next? Come on March 31st to see!|
I still have two passes to the Elizabeth Ellis performance on March 31st
at Northampton Community College. Listen to the interview and story at the link above. Honestly, she is so good we should charge TWICE as much as we are charging. Try something new.
Drawing from Memory by Allen Say
is victorious in SLJ's Battle of the Books
. I was right again. For some reason, I am a bit nonplussed. I wish there was some way that The Grand Plan to Fix Everything
could get the recognition it deserves. Well-written FUN books lack respect in the world of books. And that is not right because the fun books, the so-called "light" or "fluffy" books, are what keep a LOT of kids reading.
Anyone who has ever watched and delighted in the coincidences of a Bollywood film (or "fillum") will understand what is happening in The Grand Plan
. The heroine MUST reunite with her jilted lover. The friends MUST stay tight. And the lovely postal worker on his honeymoon MUST find a job in this Eden like village. Barbara O'Connor, the judge in today's BoB match-up, mentioned these coincidences and I think she was not sure she liked them. I LOVED them. These coincidences lifted me from my rather coincidence free humdrum existence to a place where the sun shines and birds sing and the crowds break into dance with colored scarves and bells on their ankles.
HOWEVER, Drawing from Memory
is, as Barbara O'Connor so aptly puts it, an "experience". I had tears in my eyes as I closed this book about Allen Say's journey to become the great artist that he is. I felt enriched and enlightened after I read Drawing from Memory
and I feel it would best almost any other book on this list. But I am at a loss for words to describe it. It needs to be read and studied and felt.
Both books take American readers into other cultures and climates. Imagine! A twelve-year-old is given his own apartment so he can go to school!!!! Monkeys take over a bakery!!! Reading is the cheapest way to travel. Tomorrow's match
is between Kadir Nelson's Heart and Soul
and Inside Out and Back Again
by Thanhha Lai. My vote goes to Inside Out and Back Again
Let's see if I am right.
I am crushed. I was sure that A Monster Calls would take this match. It is a masterful portrayal of the pain of watching a loved one suffer - the guilt, the fear, the resentment, the sorrow, the.... Of course, my personal situation may have made me overly appreciative of this book. My Dad hasn't died but cancer changed him. Sigh.
As for Life : an Unexploded Diagram
I can't say much. I could not get into the book. Was it written well? Yes. Was I a teeny bit intrigued by the characters? Um, no. So now that it has earned a Match 2 slot, I will have to trudge through it. Friends who read it tell me they are very glad they did. Hopefully, the second half is better than the first. This is the allure of BoB. I am encouraged to read books that I normally would eschew in favor of OTHER books because there are always OTHER books, aren't there?
It's Whatever Wednesday - a Wet Whatever Wednesday. I have a slate full of stuff to do today so...
I will just remind you to reserve your tickets for StoryFUSION
OK, here's my prediction for tomorrow's round. I liked both of these books but I wasn't enamored with either of them. I am going to choose Okay for Now
I felt that Wonderstruck
felt wooden compared to Selznick's triumph of The Adventures of Hugo Cabret.
That's probably a little unfair but life is not always fair and neither am I, I guess.
That said, Scholastic has put together a lovely webpage fore this book. Click here
to learn to fingerspell and to learn about constellations, too.
Too many neat coincidences in Okay for Now
, I thought. Funny how coincidences are fine and wanted in one book (The Grand Plan
) but can feel hasty in another book. HOWEVER, the librarian in Okay
is totally cool. Totally. And the artwork connection was intriguing.
So, which? Get on with it. Hmmmmm. Coin toss? Nah. I predict that Okay for Now
will move on to the next round. But now that I have been proved fallible I would not put any money down on this. Hey, is there a board in Vegas for this Battle? Does anyone know?
Tomorrow - over at BoB - Chime goes up against Daughter of Smoke and Bone. Now that the book I thought would go all the way has been kicked out, is it a little, um, self-pitying for me to pout and say I don't care which book wins? YES!! Yes, it is. I do have an opinion about this match.Chime
was the second most difficult book in this year's Battle for me to get into. (I still haven't finished Life.
I will. I promise.) Briony's stream of consciousness, anxiety-ridden narrative is so confusing. But I was so glad I persevered because none of her rambling is wasted.
On the other hand, I slipped into Daughter of Smoke and Bone
like I was sinking into a fragrant long-awaited bath. Ahhhh, what a lovely setting, ahhhh, what intriguing characters, ahhhh, blue hair. Isn't this indulgent? And then.... there was the battle-y part.Very Short Digression:
I am getting really really REALLY tired of battle-y parts.
Back to BoB; The battle-y part was followed by the heart-breaking romance part and the WHAT??!!! ending in Daughter.
That's a lot to pack into one book.
So, there you have it. Hard to get into but satisfying Chime
goes against seductive, action packed Daughter of Smoke and Bone.
I could toss a coin as one of our esteemed judges did. I could use my Chobani Oracle Cup and pull out the name. But this time, I think I will just predict that.... Oh, my, this is so hard.
I choose Chime
over Daughter of Smoke and Bone.
I think it was the battle-y part that pushed me over the edge. I suspect that excellent judge e. lockhart
, will have a more intelligent take on this match. And, as I say over and over, I will not be disappointed in either book moving on. StoryFUSION!!! So much StoryFUSION prep work going on.
If you don't hear much from me this week, that is why. Check the Storytelling page
for updates and schedules and stuff.