Friday, March 8, 2013

2013 BoB: Round One

Battle of the Books begins on Tuesday!!!! My anticipation level at this point is pretty high. I get ridiculously excited about this every year. Usually I have one book that I love and want to see win, and one that I want to see go down quick. That is not the case this year. While I do have a favorite, I also have several other books I love in the battle. And I didn't loathe any of them. I sort of don't know what to do with that.

Here is a quick look at my rating stats for the 16 books in the competition.
5 stars: 5
4 stars: 9
3 stars:  2

That doesn't mean there is still not plenty of angst about favorites happening here. Because I do have definite thoughts about certain match-ups. And while there is no book inspiring the feelings of loathing in me that some in the past have, there is one I would rather not see win.

Anyway here are MY picks for Round One. And this  year I'm going to try my hand at predicting what the judges will pick as well. It should be funny to see how wrong I am. These predictions are in parentheses next to the judge's name.

Match One: Tuesday, March 12
Bomb: The Race To Build-and Steal-the World's Most Dangerous Weapon by Steve Sheinkin (my review) VS. Wonder by R.J. Polacio (my review)

My Pick: Wonder is a good book. It has excellent characterization and does wonderful things with voice and point of view. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. Bomb is a work of art as far as I'm concerned. It is everything narrative non-fiction should be and Sheinkin did things with plotting and pacing that many fiction writers could take a much needed lesson from. My hopes for this match up rest on Bomb.
Judge: Kenneth Oppel (Tricky-but I think Bomb would be a book that Oppel would appreciate so I'll go with that.)
Match Two: Wednsday, March 13
Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein (my review) VS Titanic: Voices from the Disaster by Deborah Hopkinson (my review)

My Pick: Code Name Verity was one of my top 10 reads of last year. If I was forced to narrow it down any further it would still make the top 5. I love everything about it: characterization, voice, plot, pacing, language. Everything. Titanic is a good work of non-fiction but I didn't really find it terribly distinctive or set apart form the multiple other books on the same subject. I'm pretty much going to hit the ceiling if it beats Code Name Verity.
Judge: Margarita Engle (Code Name Verity-because I can not fathom any other outcome.)

Match Three: Thursday, March 14
 Endangered by Eliot Schrefer (my review) VS Three Times Lucky by Sheila Turnage (my review)

My Pick: Endangered is an excellent tale of revolution and hope in Congo. I love how this novel has such a wonderful sense of place and paints the Democratic Republic of Congo in all its variant shades, good, bad, ugly, beautiful. Three Times Lucky is a fun over the top mystery centering in a small North Carolina town. This is another novel that has a great sense of place and where the setting is done incredibly well. Honestly I will be perfectly content whichever of these books win the day. It is hard to pick a favorite between the two, but if I had to-and clearly I do-it would be Endangered.

Judge: Kathi Appelt (I can see her choosing either one so I'll just predict the opposite of what I want since that so often happens and say Three Times Lucky.)

Match Four: Friday, March 15
  The Fault in Our Stars by John Green (my review) VS Temple Grandin: How the Girl Who Loved Cows Embraced Autism and Saved the World by Sy Montgomery and Temple Grandin (my review

My Pick: Temple Grandin is a fascinating story about a wonderful lady I didn't know anything about prior to reading this book. I found the story of her life and work to be interesting. I never really thought about the design that goes into slaughterhouses. I appreciate what I learned from this book. The Fault in Our Stars is a good novel. It's certainly not my favorite on the list, but I enjoyed reading it and flagged so many pages of quotes it looked like a porcupine in the end. And  yet...there is something about John Green's books I am not able to get fully on board with. I want to like them better than I do because I like him so much. This is another match-up I don't feel strongly about. I want The Fault in Our Stars to win though. Just by a little bit.

Judge: Deb Caletti  (The Fault in Our Stars-I will be shocked to the core if she picks Temple Grandin.)

Match Five: Monday, March 18

Jepp, who defied the Stars by Katherine Marsh (my review) VS Starry River of the Sky by Grace Lin (my review)

My Pick: I only read Jepp, who defied the Stars when I did because it was a chosen contender for BoB. I was waiting for my library patiently. I am so indebted to BoB for choosing it because I was able to read it that much sooner and I loved it. I loved it far more than I ever imagined I would. I loved it for the Jepp and all the characters he meets. I appreciated the authenticity of the setting as well. Starry River of the Sky is a beautiful book. Lin is a master at this type of story. I enjoy this one even more than Where the Mountain Meets the Moon. I love the characters of Rendi and Madame Chang and the stories that they tell. Again the authenticity of the setting is a great strength of this book. I was able to feel like I was in that village and a part of what was going on. In the end this has to come down to the one I liked better though and that is Jepp, who defied the Stars

Judge: Adam Gidwitz  (Starry River of the Sky-he strikes me as one of the tricksy ones though.)

Match Six: Tuesday, March 19
 Liar & Spy by Rebecca Stead (my review) VS Splendors and Glooms by Laura Amy Schlitz (my review)

My Pick: Splendors and Glooms is a finely crafted novel. It won a Newbery Honor and I can see all the reasons why. I understand why people love it. I found it to be awfully boring in several places though. Not gonna lie. Liar & Spy is wonderful. Another one of those stories that just nails the voice and characterization. The mystery and twists are perfect. I'm loving watching my students devour this one. My pick is most definitely Liar & Spy.

Judge: Franny Billingsley (I'm positive she'll go with Splendors and Glooms.)

Match Seven: Wednesday, March 20 
  Moonbird: A Year on the Wind with the Great Survivor B95 by Phillip Hoose (my review) VS Seraphina by Rachel Hartman (my review)

My Pick: Seraphina is a high fantasy novel involving kingdom politics, music, and dragons. What's not to love about that? And love it I do. So so much. Moonbird had me more interested in the fate of a bird than I ever imagined I could be. Still. A book about a bird vs a book about dragons? I'm going with the dragons. My pick is Seraphina.

Judge: Marie Lu (Seraphina)

Match Eight: Thursday, March 21

 The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate (my review) VS No Crystal Stair by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson

My Pick: No Crystal Stair is a fascinating read. I loved the different voices in the narration and the way it read like a documentary film. I learned a lot form it and found it to be engrossing. And what can I say about The One and Only Ivan that hasn't already been said? This book has so much heart, a great voice, a wonderful story. There is a reason it won the Newbery to pretty much universal excitement. My pick is The One and Only Ivan.

Judge: Catherine Gilbert Murdock (The One and Only Ivan)

I will do a reaction post at the end of the round that will include my Round Two hopes and predictions. What does everyone else think? Predictions? Hopes? 


  1. STILL in shock that K.A. Applegate won the Newberry. But happy for her!

    1. It is well deserved. Ivan is a great book! Have you read it yet?

  2. I hadn't heard of this, so I appreciate the post about it! Some of the match ups seem a little unfair given the genres and interests of the judge, but it's a fun little process anyway!


    1. It is a lot of fun to follow!

      I know it can appear unfair, but the judges more often than not end up surprising everyone with their choices. I saw someone say yesterday that they think it's because they judge books in the same genre they write in more harshly. That makes sense to me. But sometimes they go with exactly what you think they might. It's why this is hard to predict and why I said I was going to be laughing at how wrong I am.

  3. Boy, you're doing great so far, Brandy! But I hope you're wrong about Jepp... Otherwise, I'm tracking with you on the second half of Round One. Good luck!

    1. lol-I think we may have been on each other's blogs at the same time. I just left a comment on your post. :)

      I won't be crushed if Jepp doesn't win. I'm fully expecting it. But I did love it oh so much. One of the few reads that have been 5 stars for me this year.