Each judge has been getting his/her due over at SLJ's Battle of the Books headquarters. Make sure you check them out! Which judge will judge which books? Say that 5 times fast!
Let the Battle Begin!
Amelia Lost by Candace Fleming
The full title of this one is The Life and Disappearance of Amelia Earhart. And there-in lies what sets this biography apart from others. Candace Fleming does an amazing job of interspersing Amelia's life (I can call her Amelia, right?) with the story of her last flight. She also uncovers some heretofore unknown facts about Amelia as well as that flight. At least, unknown by me.
Fleming opens by telling us that we don't know Amelia as well as we thought we did. Did we know that she was a marketing machine? That the "facts" we've always just known about Amelia's life are, at best, designed to make her appear a certain way. Fleming also tells us that there is a possibility tht something small, like learning to use a radio, could have changed history as we know it.
The book is filled with pictures and charts, including Amelia's first report card and an ad for some clothes she designed. Amelia even wrote magazine articles and gave lectures.
One of the final passages in the book talk about how George Putnam was afraid "the mystery of her disappearance would overshadow Amelia's legacy." And, unfortunately, his fears were realized, at least for me, until Fleming wrote this book. I conclude with the beauty of the title - Amelia Lost - we lost what she meant to us beyond her flight. Now we can remedy that.
Anya's Ghost by Vera BrosgolGraphic novel? Love it already. Brosgol's drawings are expressive; even the pages without words are full of emotion. Anya's totally in love with this guy at school but, of course, not the guy whose in love with her. She has this friend Siobhan who alternately helps her out and rags on her. Just like most friends. Anya's so distraught about the way her life is going, er not going, that when she ditches school she's not paying attention to where she's walking and she falls into a hole. And there's a skeleton down there! And the ghost of the skeleton! And when Anya get's rescued, so does the ghost.
At first Anya and ghost Emily are like, BFFs. Emily helps her with her homework and her boy problems. But, you know ghosts, they.are.never.satisfied.
"Are you...are you smoking a ghost cigarette?"
Soon Emily doesn't want to stay dead. Or at least not alone.
The Winner?What a complex pairing. Graphic novel murder mystery vs nonfiction biography. Both about girls whose names start with A. Amelia Lost brings to the forefront the rest of the story. We have a better idea of who Amelia Earhart was as a person, not just some soul who disappeared. In Anya's Ghost we take a trip back to high school. A time of trying to find out who you are and where you fit in. And avoiding the "wrong sort" of person and not turning down help. Even if it comes from a questionable source.
I enjoyed learning all about Amelia Earhart; how her hair wasn't naturally curly, how she went to live with her grandmother at the age of three to distract Grandma Otis from recent losses, and how George Putnam provided the opportunity for her to be the first woman, an American at that, to complete a flight across the Atlantic. But on second reading, I was a little bored. On the other hand, I was even more intrigued on my second reading of Anya's Ghost. This time I could focus on the drawings and when and how Emily and Anya changed throughout the story. I ended up giving a booktalk for Anya's Ghost on our school's morning news show. 3 copies were checked out before 11:30. The fourth wasn't checked out because I still had it. So you know what this means?
I give the go ahead to:
Anya's Ghost by Vera Brosgol