Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The Final Four

Sigh. I wanted Code Name Verity to win this, but I adore Bomb as well and it is nice to see a non-fiction title move on. I have to say though that I was saddened and angered by this decision. Not due to its outcome, but due to the way Donna Jo Napoli wrote it. It wasn't so much a comparison of the strengths or weaknesses of the books as it was two really long summaries with a short apples and oranges paragraph at the end that said nothing significant. (I was really hoping Roger Sutton would cure the judges of that ridiculous analogy.) If one of my students wrote this I would give it back and make them do it over. For two such powerfully moving books to be given such cursory treatment is just wrong. Also, "I won’t say how, because how is what makes this book such a powerful heart-breaker, and if you haven’t yet read it, I won’t spoil it for you." What was that??? Too late by that point.

Martine Leavitt mentions in her decision that she had a hard time feeling Sophie's emotions and connecting with her character in Endangered. While I felt the total opposite I love how this shows how different readers will find different things that speak to them in books. I felt more distance to The Fault in Our Stars. As I've said before this is because I can never quite shut out John Green's voice from my head when I read his books. I see and hear him in every word and it distances me from all the characters and action. Still I appreciate how tough the decision was that Leavitt faced and appreciated how she celebrated both books and discussed why she chose the one she did at length. I have been eating an egg almost every day for breakfast for half a century. Then I read this: “It’s embarrassing that we all just walk through life blindly accepting that scrambled eggs are fundamentally associated with mornings.” I determined to eat pizza for breakfast the next day, and eggs for supper. That’s the sort of thing a book should do. It should make you eat different. Be different. And I was. When I finished this book I was different. I love this.

 Thannha Lai may win the award for shortest decision this year. She discusses the strengths of both books and then makes her decision, but gives little reasoning for it. I thank Grace Lin and Laura Amy Schlitz for crafting such concrete, entertaining worlds.  But I’m told I must choose one, so I shall choose Splendors and Glooms.  Now I will quickly send off this review before I flip flop, again.

Paul Griffin may get this year's award for most wishy-washy judge and that's saying something as the judges haven't been particularly forceful this year. He did discuss the strengths and commonalities of both books and that's a good thing. Though flipping a coin to determine the winner is not such a good thing. If authors are being bullied into being judges to the extent that they're so stressed out they need to flip coins maybe SLJ needs to come up with a different process for selecting judges. So in the end we have two profiles in courage about underdogs who dare to follow their hearts.  One features a groundbreaking bookseller and literacy pioneer, the other a girl dealing with more than a dragon tattoo.  Which one would you choose?

Match One: Thursday, March 28
 Bomb: the Race to Build-and Steal-the World's Most Dangerous WeaponVS The Fault in Our Stars by Jone Green

The mercenary part of me wants to see The Fault in Our Stars win because I don't want it a contender for the Undead. The honest idealistic part of me can't settle for that though. I genuinely believe Bomb to be the better constructed book. So it is the one I hope moves forward.

Judge: Lynne Rae Perkins (The Fault in Our Stars)

Match Two: Friday, March 29
 No Crystal Stair by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson VS Starry River of the Sky by Laura Amy Schlitz
I don't really care which one of these wins. I appreciate both of their literary strengths greatly but as a reader don't love either one. Splendors and Glooms gets my vote though because I want a MG fiction to make it to the finals.

Judge: James Patterson (????? Splendors and Glooms)  


Anonymous said...

I KNEW Sutton would deliver on the Napoli/Leavitt thing! "So her criterion seems to be “which book seems more likely to stave off nuclear annihilation?” ALL RIGHT then." (Source)

So thank you, Roger Sutton, for making me giggle wildly in the middle of the children's room.

As of this morning, I'm a teensy bit hopeful about the Undead poll, as long as Wonder isn't...argh. Argh. (If it's No Crystal Stair/TFIOS/Wonder, I will cry and then I will be way less interested in next year's BoB.)

Brandy said...

Yes! I loved that line from Sutton.

I'm so with you there. Though a Splendors and Glooms/TFIOS/Wonder final isn't much more palatable.

Anonymous said...

I liked Splendors and Glooms more than you did, though I don't think it's a perfect book by any means. So I'd rather that than No Crystal Stair, which I haven't read. BUT STILL.