SLJ’s Battle of the Kids’ Books: Quarter/Semifinal Wrap Up

Life: An Exploded Diagram vs. Wonderstruck: I have to admit that I really wanted Wonderstruck to win, just so we could have a battle of the artists. But it was not to be so. As judge Chris Lynch points out: “But despite the wonder undeniably struck by Brian Selznick, I have to go with Mal Peet on the strength of yer bleddy brilliant writing.” So, in the end writing wins out over art (though Lynch was, somewhat humorously, asked to “hate” Selznick by his artist wife…). I’ve been able to call half of the quarterfinal rounds, but I’m not so sure about the semis here: Which will win, a gorgeously drawn memoir or a brilliantly written novel? Too close to call.

Between Shades of Gray vs. Chime: First off: Maggie Stiefvater did NOT do what I expected her to do. Even though she wrote, “Ultimately, these two books both have their own sort of power. Chime’s is a personal sort: showing just how much damage we can do to ourselves. And Between Shades of Gray is about collective power: how filling yourself up with personal identity can be armor against everything but death, which is only the most obvious of enemies.” She went with Between Shades of Gray. I said earlier that I’m wondering whether or not that one can take it all. Now I’m not wondering: I’m pretty dang convinced. Even if it is Jonathan Stroud judging.

Drawing from Memory vs. Life: An Exploded Diagram: First off: judge Ron Koertge’s decision is brilliantly written. Seriously. That said, he went with Life, in the end. I know Liz didn’t like the book, but other than that (and the judges’ decisions, one round after another), I didn’t know much about this one. So, since I haven’t read either of the finalists, I’m declaring the final tomorrow too close to call for me. Unless, of course, it’s the winner of the undead poll.

Which is: Okay for Now. Which complicates things. It’s up against two books that have been blowing the judges away throughout the competition, ones that have been described as powerful and amazing. And yet, I think Okay for Now is just that: powerful and amazing. It’s been sorely under recognized this past year, for all its perfection.

Stroud could go any which way but loose in this (if there had been a fantasy, I’d be more sure on my feet), so I’m not even going to attempt to call it. I’m just going to say tune in tomorrow for the final decision. It’s bound to be pretty darn interesting.

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