Daily Archives: April 2, 2011

SLJ’s Battle of the Kids’ Books’ Finale

This year’s Battle of the Kids’ Books has been amazing. I’m totally biased, of course, but I truly feel that each judge has written a remarkable decision essay.  For that is what they really are — thoughtful and carefully written articles, each on two books.  Some of the judges ended up going for books that you might expect of them (due to their own writing) while others did not. And each of the fourteen who judged the rounds leading up to this Monday’s Big Kahuna finale (judged by Richard Peck) came up with unique ways of deciding their matches. Here are tastes of each that I hope intrigue you enough to go (if you haven’t already) and read their decisions in total:

  • Francisco X. Stork decided to abandoned “fun” as a criteria and went for the match winner’s “elegant, readable, complexity.”
  • Dana Reinhardt decided that “there is just as much drama and adventure in a girl riding a rope swing over a pit of gravel despite her paralyzing fear because she wants to impress the brown eyed boy she loves, as there is in a newly minted king orchestrating the defeat of ten thousand….”
  • Barry Lyga split himself in two and wrote his decision as a One Act Play.
  • The match winner’s “lasting resonance of its narrative power” was what decided Susan Patron.
  • Dubious about the graphic novel format Karen Hesse was “… forced to retract my misgivings.”
  • Adam Rex called it on a footnote.
  • R.L. Stine was direct and blunt in his decision.
  • After contemplating character, setting, language, and plot Mitali Perkins made her decision on theme.
  • Shakespearean comedy made the difference for Laura Amy Schlitz who wrote in her decision that “Comedy is a celebration of human resilience.”
  • Naomi Shihab was won over by how a contender’s “… muscular and forward-moving, the lavish hum of place, waves, longing, wrap around a reader with hypnotic transporting power.”
  • An all-nighter factored into Patricia Reilly Giff’s choice as did finding the winning contender’s creator’s “… imagination dazzling.”
  • Pete Hauptman channeled his childhood self in his decision.
  • “One is soul-filling while the other satisfying. For me, I’ll go with the soul and I choose…” wrote Grace Lin.
  • Karen Cushman was gobsmacked!

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