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SLJ BoB: Round One Wrapped Up, Round Two Hopes

Battle Five Winner:
I was rooting for Jepp, Who Defied the Stars but I truly loved both books and don't think either one has received enough recognition. It is also nice to see a MG pick move on to Round Two. Adam Gidwitz's decision went on and on and on. (I skimmed a lot and found myself wishing he would get to the point sooner rather than later. I have this feeling when reading his books too. His style of writing and my style of reading are just not meant for each other.) Still, gems like this one can be found: So the sentence-level work is very effective. Her chapters, and the stories that interrupt them, are also expertly crafted; Lin manages her pacing and our expectations so that each chapter break makes us smile or sigh.

Battle Six Winner:
Oh so sad. I love Liar & Spy. I still feel Splendors and Glooms is more book than is necessary and would have benefited from being shortened. Still it is a wonderfully Gothic and creepy, with an excellent villain. The best part of this battle was reading the decision because Franny Billingsley wrote it, and I will love anything she writes. Neither of you “out-counts” the other.  You are both terrific.  I have to go on my gut, choose what I would have loved most as a kid—that kid who was an unabashed lover of the gothic.  That kid who loved rough winds and intemperance and doors that really lock.  

Battle Seven Winner:
I love this book so much. We don't get enough new high fantasy of this ilk and wonderful world building. At least for me. I really enjoyed the way Marie Lu discussed both books together comparing their strengths and pointing out how similar they actually are. In the end she went wit the one she loved most and for the same reasons I chose it. But Seraphina. Oh, Seraphina. My heart is soft for this high fantasy of lyrical, musical proportions that soars with strong female characters and a wonderful overall cast.

Battle Eight Winner
I have to say I'm disappointed. Not because I don't like No Crystal Stair and don't think it's worthy (I do and I do) but because the MG books can't seem to triumph in this battle unless they are up against another MG book. I love  YA fiction but MG is equally good and worthy, often more so. Is this because the majority of the judges so far have been YA authors? It is sad that after Round Two is over there will only be one MG book left in the competition as the two left now are battling each other. Catherine Gilbert Murdock did write an excellently balanced decision minus the egocentrism and hand wringing we have seen from so many judges. Young readers will delight in Ivan’s triumph. I, however, delighted more in the triumph of a self-made grocer’s son who spread the joy of books to hundreds of thousands of disadvantaged souls.

Round Two Hopes and Predictions
(My judge predictions are in parentheses following their name.)

Match One: Friday, March 22
 Bomb: the Race to Build-and Steal-the World's Most Dangerous Weapon by Steve Sheinkin VS Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
The first match where two favorites face off. Both of these were 5 star reads for me. I'm not even going to pretend like I'm torn about this though. Code Name Verity all the way!!!!

Judge: Donna Jo Napoli (Code Name Verity)

Match Two: Monday, March 25
 Endangered by Eliot Schrefer VS The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
Two books that force their readers to face hard realities head on are up against each other in this match. I have to go with Engangered as the one I would pick were I the judge, because I never felt once like I was being manipulated into feeling what I was. I can't say the same for The Fault in Our Stars.

Judge: Martine Leavitt (The Fault in Our Stars)

 Match Three: Tuesday, March 26
 Splendors and Glooms by Laura Amy Schlitz VS Starry River of the Sky by Grace Lin
Very little thinking has to go into this choice for me. Starry River of the Sky is the one I want to see move on because it never bored me and had no characters that made me want to roll my eyes and tell them to get over themselves. (Looking at  you here Lizzie Rose.)

Judge: Tanhha Lai (I have no idea what she'll pick. Really. I'm stumped. Since I'm predicting this year I'll do what I do when I get stumped and go with the opposite of what I want. Splendors and Glooms)

Match Four: Wednesday, March 27
No Crystal Stair by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson VS Seraphina by Rachel Hartman
 This will be interesting. These books have more in common than you would think at first glance. Which do I want to see move on? Seraphina of course. Why? Dragons. Kingdom politics. Music. Excellent world building. Doesn't get any better than that.  

Judge: Paul Griffin (No Crystal Stair)

Anyone else have thoughts they want to share? Feel free to join me in complaining about the lack of MG love. Please. I'm not alone right? Though I suppose I can't really complain as I was quite happy with the results of several of the battles MG lost in. I'm a conflicted book lover.


Betsy said…
Yes!! Big complaints on lack of MG love. Sadness. But I'm totally with you on each of these hopes...... CODE NAME VERITY better win :-).
Brandy said…
I'm mostly sad Ivan got knocked out. I really wanted to see him beat the Newbery curse.
Christina said…
I predict this is going to come down to TFIOS and Seraphina. Though Code Name Verity might beat TFIOS depending on the judge.
Brandy said…
I agree that either TFIOS or CNV will win the top bracket. Then I think whichever one doesn't will come back to the final as the Undead winner. I have no idea what will happen with that lower bracket. I really thought Ivan was going to go the distance. Now I'm all messed up. I would love to see Seraphina keep going. I've never read Paul Griffin's books but it seems like he would be really impressed with a book like No Crystal Stair. I'll be overjoyed if I'm wrong.

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