Skip to main content

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.

Popular posts from this blog

Shorter Musings MG Fantasy

Here are some shorter musings on recent MG fantasy reads. Anya and the Dragon   by Sofiya Pasternack This book is fun. It is a book full of adventure, an obvious bad guy, some more complicated morally gray area characters, and a strong, brave heroine. It is also a book about friendships, community, and fighting for what is right. All things that usually work for me really well. While I enjoyed this, I did feel it was a little overlong and there were certain plot points at the end I didn't love. However, there were things I thought were done really well, such as Anya's Jewish faith and the idea that power needs to be challenged. In the end it was a middle of the road read for me, but it is one I will certainly be recommending to dragon and fantasy adventure lovers I know! R is for Rebel   by J. Anderson Coats This is tough because I usually really like Coats's books. I had such a hard time with this one though on so many levels. It's difficult to get into because t

TTT: Most Recent Additions to My TBR List

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly themed blog hop created by  The Broke and the Bookish  and now hosted at  That Artsy Reader Girl . This Week's Topic: Most Recent Additions to My TBR List From Most Recent to Least: What books have recently caught your eye?

Future Favorite Friday: June 2018

I take the 2nd Friday of every month to highlight some upcoming releases I am looking forward to that I hope are Future Favorites. Feel free to do your own post, just please link back to my blog and tell me about your post in the comments. Two Naomis  was one of my favorite reads of 2016 so I was understandably excited it's getting a sequel.  In this sequel to  Two Naomis , now that Naomi Marie’s mom and Naomi E.’s dad are married, the girls have learned to do a lot of things together, like All-Family Sunday dinners, sixth-grade homework, navigating the subway system by themselves, and visiting their favorite bakeries. Until sixth grade in a new school presents a whole new set of surprises and challenges. Trusting her gut has worked for Naomi E. all her life, and she figures that it will be an asset to her role as a Peer Mediator—until she realizes how much of the job requires the Art of Compromise, which she’s only just starting to get used to at home. Naomi Marie i

The Reece Malcolm List

The Reece Malcolm List by Amy Spalding surprised me. Enough people I trust enjoyed it so I knew I would like it, but wasn't expecting to like it as much as I do. It is a really great book that is fun and has real heart and soul too. Synopsis: Things I know about Reece Malcolm: 1. She graduated from New York University. 2. She lives in or near Los Angeles. 3. Since her first novel was released, she’s been on the New York Times bestseller list every week. 4. She likes strong coffee and bourbon. 5. She’s my mother. Devan knows very little about Reece Malcolm, until the day her father dies and she’s shipped off to live with the mother she’s never met. All she has is a list of notebook entries that doesn’t add up to much. L.A. offers a whole new world to Devan—a performing arts school allows her to pursue her passion for show choir and musicals, a new circle of friends helps to draw her out of her shell, and an intriguing boy opens up possibilities for her first love. But the

Serafina and the Black Cloak

Serafina and the Black Cloak  by Robert Beatty is a thrilling tale of mystery and adventure set at the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC in 1899. Having lived in Asheville and visited the house several times, there was no way I was going to pass up a chance to read this. (Also it's MG fantasy, always a bonus for me.) Serafina lives in secret in the basement of the Vanderbilt's spacious vacation home. She has lived there most of her life. Her father worked on the house as it was being built and is the mechanic who runs the massive generator and keeps the electricity going. Serafina is the chief rat catcher, slipping through the halls of her massive home secretly and quietly. She is light on her feet, sees well in the dark, and is quick enough to catch the vermin and keep them out. Serafina knows she if different and strange. Her father insists she stay hidden. But all that changes when one night Serafina witnesses a horrible crime. A little girl, a guest in the house, is fleein