Sunday, March 14, 2010

Sunday Salon - Battle of the Kid's Books - My Picks

This week kicks off School Library Journal's Battle of the Kids' Books. Here are my first round picks and the reasons, so to speak, why I made these choices.

1. Charles and Emma vs. Claudette Colvin
Now, I know Claudette already won an award but I have to hand her this match, too. Although both books introduced me to new information in different ways, I was more than captivated by the story of Claudette. Having Claudette's version of events interspersed with the history we all "know" gave it the extra edge. It made the history seem more present. So for this round, I choose Claudette Colvin.

2. The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate vs. Fire
I had the opportunity to Skype with Jacqueline Kelly and she answered quite a few questions for us, the most important being why the name Calpurnia. My predictions were wrong and it wasn't based on To Kill a Mockingbird. Of course this in no way turned me off to Calpurnia, I was an immediate lover of Fire and it still holds a place in my heart. Fire had romance and war and beauty and power. It was better than Graceling. Fire is my book of choice for this match.

3. The Frog Scientist vs. The Last Olympian
This one is a no-brainer: The Last Olympian. Cuz, I didn't read The Frog Scientist. I loved the action and adventure in TLO and thought it a fitting end to the series. I remember moving my name up on the hold list, er..I, never mind. I really loved it. That is all.

4. Lips Touch Three Times vs. The Lost Conspiracy
Again, I only read one of these books but, in this case, I didn't like it. So, Lips Touch wins this round. The Lost Conspiracy started out strong but quickly became tedious and predictable. I couldn't wait for it to end. My student reader felt the same way. Lips Touch to Round 2.

5. Marcelo in the Real World vs. Marching for Freedom
Marcelo wins hands down. I didn't read Marching for Freedom. Now, I enjoyed Marcelo but I didn't think it deserved all the pub it got. I thought it was predictable and the part with the secretary unnecessary. Anything But Typical was a much better book. Still, Marcelo wins this particular match-up.

6. Peace, Locomotion vs. A Season of Gifts
A Season of Gifts had it's moments. Some scenes were described so vividly I could see them, especially the young girl with the apron who was like Grandma Dowdel and when the boy was being bullied. Other than that I thought it was pretty out of touch. I also thought Locomotion was a far better book than Peace. I thought the emotions were more present in Locomotion and the writing more beautiful. That said, Peace wins the match because it was better than Season.

7. Sweethearts of Rhythm vs. The Storm in the Barn
Hmm, this one is tough. I haven't read either book in this match-up. This will not stop me from choosing. The Storm is my choice because it's so pretty. I have this one at school and the drawings were amazing. It advances in my poll.

8. Tales from Outer Suburbia vs. When You Reach Me
Ok, I'm back. I just finished reading TFOS. On the one hand, this book should be against The Storm in the Barn, since it's a graphic novel, or Lips Touch, since it's short stories. It's a beautiful book. Shaun Tan is an amazing illustrationist, er illustrationer, er illustrator. I mean the detail is amazing. The table of contents consists of small stamps with page numbers instead of prices and a small picture representing the story. The stories are simple on the service but as you read, you fall deeper into them. I loved Distant Rain, the story of unread poems. Words gathering in secret places and coming together only to be separated by storms and put together in new ways to be discovered by others. Beautiful. And Stick Figures: Who are You, WhyAre You Here, What Do You Want? These questions surround a brutality only seen on the school yard. Haunting. I loved this book. I want to own it. I like to look at it. I like re-reading it. Ah-May-Zing (did I use that word enough?). On the other hand, I have been an evangelist for When You Reach Me since I read it this past summer. I mean, seriously, I carried it around standing on corners (in the library) pointing at people and quoting lines from it. I called it for the Newbery without hesitation and everything else I read paled in comparison. I forced teachers and students and my own child to read it. None of them loved it like me. Crazies. This one is truly hard to call. But, despite everything, I have to give it to Tales. I have to. It's the better kid's book. Really.

Ok, that was tough. So, here are the books that I will send to the second round:
  • Claudette Colvin
  • Fire
  • The Last Olympian
  • Lips Touch Three Times
  • Marcelo in the Real World
  • Peace, Locomotion
  • The Storm in the Barn
  • Tales from Outer Suburbia
I'll be watching The Battle closely to see what the judges say. I'll pick my second round winners next week. I've gotta go read Lips Touch and Storm...
While you are waiting, check out the Peanut Gallery and, if you read this before midnight, go vote in the Undead round!


  1. You need to read The Storm in the Barn. I think it's just as good as Tales of Outer Suburbia.I definitely agree with you on Peace, Locomotion. Locomotion is a better book though I'm glad she wrote Peace.Marcelo and Marching for Freedom are both great reads. I have no idea which one to root for.

  2. I's very hard to choose from your pairs, but you've got me reading fiercely to determine my picks. Thanks for that.

  3. Vasilly - This week I'll be reading The Storm in the Barn and Lips Touch. I started Lips Touch today! I was not prepared to love TFOS. I can't wait to share Distant Rains with the English.

    C.Lee - Yeah! I can't wait to read your picks. I went into this totally biased for When You Reach Me...

  4. Marcelo in the Real World can't catch a break. I did read both books and I would've picked Stork.

    I haven't read Storm in the Barn. I loved Sweethearts of Rhythm. So I will go with that. Besides its Nelson and Pinkney.

    Though I am right there with you for Tales from Outer Suburbia. That book is crazy good.


Thanks for chatting! I love comments and look forward to reading yours! I may not reply right away, but I am listening! Keep reading and don't forget to be awesome!


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