Friday, March 15, 2013

SLJ BoB: Round One Reactions: Part One

I know I said I was going to wait until the end of Round One and only do one reaction post combined with my Round Two hopes and predictions this year. But then I realized that would be the longest post ever and that  there's a reason I always do two Round One posts. This works better for me.

It is a good thing that BoB usually aligns perfectly with my kids' three week Spring break. That way I don't have to feel guilty about checking it first thing in the morning rather than starting school.

Battle One Winner:
I was counting on Kenneth Oppel to make this decision. I get why people love Wonder and want to get it into the hands of kids. I have done my share of pushing that book-with mixed results. Bomb is an extraordinary work of narrative non-fiction, riveting and informative. As Oppel said in his decision: Intercutting multiple plot lines, Sheinkin tells of the story of the making of the atomic bomb with all the urgency and pacing of a Jerry Bruckheimer movie...Best of all, Sheinkin’s book is filled with all those small details that are the lifeblood of the best stories — and the details that novelists kill for when creating fiction! 

Battle Two Winner:
I was a little bit scared of checking the results for this one. I was going to be beyond displeased if it went the other way. I can't say I was impressed with Engle's written judgement despite my relief that she chose this book. That's because I felt like this was a contest between true excellence and good-but-not-special. I do like how Engle pointed out she was able to find humor, mercy, and poetry in Code Name Verity despite the horror and tragedy.  Best of all, there are traces of poetry.  In one notable dream scene, the statement, “I just want to go on flying and flying in the moonlight” made me smile gratefully, especially since the dream moon is green.  On page 28, the description of a pilot’s aerial view of Scotland is a passage so breathtaking that I felt as if perhaps I actually had received a volume of poetry after all.  And on page 252, I found my favorite line in the entire book:  “Must be lovely flying in peacetime.”

Battle Three Winner:
Kathi Appelt set the bar for decision writing high with her wonderful comparison of Endangered and Three Times Lucky. I love how she found the things they had in common and chose the book she thought did those things better. In many ways, both books are a celebration of the impressive tenacity of children.  Mo and Sophie make us think of the human spirit as a treasure. But at the end of the day, it’s Sophie who does this best.  At least for this reader.  In her overwhelming devotion to Otto, we see the enduring possible, even in the face of overwhelming cruelty. I predicted she would pick Three Times Lucky but was very happy to be wrong as I wanted to see Endangered move on.

Battle Four Winner:
This is really not at all shocking. I think it almost unfair to have this book in any competition of this sort and I like how Deb Caletti sort of pointed that out. I was surprised to find that she had never read his work, but not surprised that it had the effect it seems to have on everyone but me.
And then, something happened.  I care about books too much to tell you what, but it’s enough to say that right around page one hundred, things got serious.  Things got real.  Really real.  It was as if I was walking along on the ocean floor, tra la la, and then the floor fell away.  I had to set the book down and catch my breath.  I was a little afraid to pick it up again.  It was night.  I was in bed.  I said to my husband, “Well, he did it.”
“What?” Husband said.
“He made a Nerdfighter out of me.”

Round One continues on Monday with the battle between Jepp, Who Defied the Stars and Starry River of the Sky. My picks and predictions for the rest of Round One are here.


  1. The Fault In Our Stars didn't make me a nerd fighter either. I am just a nerd peruser.

    1. Lol. I like it. We should start our own group of semi-but-not-really-fans. That will be our names.

    2. Haha. Yes! We watched John Green on Craig Ferguson last night and Jeff asked, "So, is he like one of your favorite authors?" And I said. "No. I am more of a fan of him than his writing." That describes my sentiments well.