Today we begin revealing judges. Here’s a hint for today’s: she was the very first EVER to win a Newbery Honor for her type of book. Find out who she is here.
Category Archives: Battle of the (Kids’) Books
We’ve announced the contenders and later this week will begin revealing this year’s judges (who are yet again awesome). The Battle Commander (myself, Roxanne Feldman, and Jonathan Hunt) and our SLJ operator Shelly Diaz can’t wait for this year’s battle to commence. Meanwhile please read Shelley’s “Primed for a Fight: SLJ’s 2016 Battle of the Kids’ Books Contenders Revealed” for an overview and a comment from me about the possibility of this year’s YMA honors changing the game going forward.
So we’ve got the contenders and we’ve got the judges — all are incredibly awesome. The contender announcement will be in a few weeks and I just can’t wait!
For anyone who is new to this, let me explain. Starting in 2009, over at School Library Journal, we’ve been doing a tournament-style book game. We choose 16 fabulous books from the previous year, invite 16 wonderful writers to judge, and then watch it take off. Every year is new and different. Since we select the contenders before ALA’s Youth Media Awards announcement, we are always curious how many end up among our contenders. And then, if we do have them there, how do they fare? Newbery winners, when they are among them, tend to not do so well — often they are out in the first round. No matter how famous you might be. Say in 2009 when Judge Jon Scieszka picked Sid Fleischman’s The Trouble Begins at Eight over Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book. (You can find that decision here.)
We have no criteria –the judges may and do come up with many different ways to come to a decision. Say Judge Lois Lowry who, handed the The Hunger Games and Octavian Nothing in 2009 wrote: “How, then, to choose? Maturely, I am basing my decision solely on petulance, vengeance, reverse nepotism, and payola.” (You can read her whole fabulous decision here — scroll down to find it.) Or check-out runner-up Octavian‘s creator M. T. Anderson’s smart judging of two Darwinian titles in 2010 here, memorably titled, ” DARWIN VS. TATE: MANO A MANO (with opposable thumbs.)”
Some judges do essays, some do other things. Say Judge Barry Lyga who began his 2010 Pen vs. Brush thus:
I drop two books on the table in the Turf Club. No big surprise. Bobby and I are always bringing things to read. We’re at the races four days a week, but we’re not degenerate gamblers. Sometimes an hour goes by before there’s something worth betting.
Sammy, another regular, picks the books up. Weighs them. The cover of Mal Peet’s Life: An Exploded Diagram features a lethal-looking rocket. On Allen’s Say’s Drawing from Memory, a dreamy boy in a blue sweater and blue socks appears to be flying.
“What’s the deal?” Sam asks.
“I have to decide between them,” I tell him. “It’s like a match race.”
We’ve been so fortunate with the writers who take on the judging roles. Some might surprise you. Say, Jeff Kinney who boldly decided between Schmidt and Selznick in 2012 and James Patterson who, in 2013 made a firm decision between Schlitz and Nelson. No Suzanne Collins or J. K. Rowling yet, but we can dream, can’t we?
Winners have been dystopias, graphic novels, fiction, nonfiction, and for many different ages. But it is really the journey, the excitement in seeing what the judges will decide and do that is what makes this so much fun. And, of course, it is a way to continue to appreciate books from the year before even as we become absorbed in those of the current year.
Every year is new and different. I urge you to check out the site, the previous battles, and get a sense of this incredibly wonderful thing I am so honored to be part of, SLJ’s Battle of the Kids’ Books.
Last week we announced the contenders for the 2015 BOB (AKA SLJ’s Battle of the Kids’ Books). You can seem them all here but I do encourage you to go to the actual post to see what others have to say about them and add in your own thoughts.
For those unfamiliar with the BoB, it was the Tournament of Books that gave me the idea of doing similar bracket-style event with kid books. Happily, the folks at School Library Journal liked the idea and so here we are, beginning our 7th year. Of course, the Battle Commander (that is Roxanne Feldman, Jonathan Hunt, and myself) have been at it for months in order to put together the final list of contenders. As noted here:
As to which titles finally are included each year – we won’t bore you with the details of the dozens of emails and negotiations between the three of them. Suffice it to say that they look both objectively and subjectively, considering fan favorites, awards, stars, and their own critical views, keeping in mind that no matter which two books are paired together no single title can be an obvious winner.
Of course, as is inevitable when such a list is made, blood is shed; each of the three has always had to leave behind favorites on this particular battlefield, but they always end up pleased with the range and diversity of the final list.
You can learn more in this article by Shelley Diaz. In addition to our contenders we’ve got a stellar list of judges who we will begin to reveal, one a day, on February 4th. Hope to see you there!