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A Fuse #8 Production
Inside A Fuse #8 Production

Funtime Recap: The Second Week of BoB

The first thing to remember is that you know nothing. Or at least that’s the lesson I’ve taken away from last week’s Battle of the Kids’ Books recap. Let’s go to the big board to see how I did.

Predictions for the past week made: 7

Correctly identified winners: 2

So I appear to be correct about 28% of the time. Hm… well, this week in the Battle of the Kids’ Books we’ll probably be seeing a lot more surprises.  Let’s see where I went wrong first. 

Match Six
Judge: Cynthia Kadohata
Books: Peace, Locomotion by Jacqueline Woodson VS A Season of Gifts by Richard Peck
Winner: A Season of Gifts

What I said: ". . . you don’t have to have read Locomotion to understand Woodson’s latest, and what’s more the book is speaking about very timely, difficult issues. I think Kadohata will have a special appreciation for that."

Funtime Recap Assessment: I’m sure she did. Unfortunately she also had a very strong appreciation for Peck’s writing. She says that he does what he does best, and maybe that wasn’t the case with Woodson’s book last year. *sigh* I did like Season of Gifts, so I can’t be too depressed. I wouldn’t have minded just a little extra loving for that Woodson title, though.

Match Seven
Judge: Anita Silvey
Books: The Storm in the Barn by Matt Phelan VS Sweethearts of Rhythm by Marilyn Nelson
Winner: The Storm in the Barn

What I Said: " I can see Ms. Silvey appreciating Nelson’s approach to history more than Phelan’s due to the format and the presentation."

Funtime Recap Assessment: I’m actually very pleased to be proven wrong on this one. I didn’t know what Ms. Silvey felt about the graphic novel format and predicted, wrongly, that she would be turned off by it. Not a jot! It appears that the woman has a taste for a good story, regardless of the format at hand. Her appreciation for the design of each piece is remarkably telling. She even takes time to describe the color of Phelan’s paper. Now THAT’s attention to detail.

Match Eight
Judge: Julius Lester
Books: Tales of Outer Suburbia by Shaun Tan VS When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead
Winner: Tales of Outer Suburbia

What I Said: "Maybe he’ll decide that When You Reach Me works better as a cohesive whole that the variegated parts in Tan’s novel."

Funtime Recap Assessment: Maybe, but he didn’t. Nope. He went with the Tan man, which is a fine choice. WYRM got plenty of loving thanks to the last Newbery committee. I think it’ll be able to handle not going home with the gold in this contest as well. I agree with the commenters who feel that Lester’s conclusion that the book is about time travel (and he doesn’t like it) is strange. Time travel is such a tiny part of the book. Heck, when I booktalk that puppy I leave out that element entirely. Ah well. Love me some Tan.

Round Two, Match One
Judge: M.T. Anderson
Books: Charles and Emma by Deborah Heiligman VS The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly
Winner: Charles and Emma

What I Said: "Mr. Anderson may find himself befuddled by the immediate similarities, but after some consideration he’ll fall under the Charles & Emma sway. You can’t help but love Calpurnia too, so he’ll sweat a little blood. But not so much blood that he changes his mind. He is, after all, better known as a teen writer than one for children for the most part."

Funtime Recap Assessment: Blood may or may not have been sweat on this one, but the outcome was the same. I pondered whether Mr. Anderson would be able to elude the siren song of a fellow YA writer. He argues it was all about the will they/won’t they aspects. "So, in the end, being a sucker for tension, I plump for Charles and Emma . Many others would go the other way. But isn’t it great: a race of whooping primates that can engage in argument about two heaps of vegetable matter with little black discolorations on their leaves – and care about the outcome?" Anderson’s may be the most amusing of the recaps thus far.

Round Two, Match Two

Judge: Angela Johnson
Books: The Last Olympian by Rick Riordan VS The Lost Conspiracy by Frances Hardinge
Winner: The Lost Conspiracy

What I Said: "I fully intend to see The Lost Conspiracy dance a tarantella all over Percy Jackson’s spine."

Funtime Recap Assessment: Spine tarantellaed!  And how!  Like most folks who follow this battle, I skip to the end of each decision to see the winner and then jump back to read the decisions.  In spite of knowing the outcome of this one, Johnson had me scared during her recap for a little while, but in the end she made the stellar decision.  I think it’s pretty clear that in this year’s BoB, the book I’m fighting for tooth and nail is LoCo. 

Which Means That . . . .

The next few matches may play out in this fashion:

Match Three
Judge: Christopher Paul Curtis
Books: Marching for Freedom by Elizabeth Partridge VS A Season of Gifts by Richard Peck
Winner: Marching for Freedom

Clearly I’ve be underestimating Peck’s influence on the judges.  So far he’s managed to charm the socks off of Cynthia Kadohata.  Can he do the same to Mr. Curtis?  Curtis is a historical fiction man himself.  He may well understand how hard it is to tell a good story without throwing in a flying saucer or a magical leprechaun.  Both he and Peck deal with meticulously plucked words.  Yet so too do Ms. Partridge, and her book is one in a million.  Peck has the easy advantage against books that are merely good.  Can he beat something original and one-of-a-kind?  My thinking says no.

Match Four
Judge: Shannon Hale
Books: The Storm in the Barn by Matt Phelan VS Tales from Outer Suburbia by Shaun Tan
Winner: Tales from Outer Suburbia

The last time I said that Phelan’s book wouldn’t win I was playing against my heart.  There’s a bit of that with this decision as well.  I could see myself being entirely wrong when it comes to Ms. Hale’s decision too.  Maybe she’s going to like the simplicity of Phelan’s storytelling more than the potentially disjointed nature of Tan’s tales.  Still, I can’t help but think that Tan’s originality will win him over to her.  She’s a fantasy writer and both of these books are fantasies.  She’s done graphic novels herself and Storm in the Barn is a graphic novel.  Just the same . . . my heart says Tan may end up on top with this one.

And So . . . .

That would mean that we’ll see these two potential decisions

Match One
Judge: Megan Whalen Turner
Books: Charles and Emma VS The Lost Conspiracy
Winner: The Lost Conspiracy

For the first time, LoCo isn’t the surefire winner.  Can its magnificent sprawling text compete with how well Charles and Emma puts every word exactly where it’s meant to go?  Turner understands fantasy, but that may well mean that she has even more respect for the difficulties that come with writing nonfiction.  I love my LoCo, so that’s where my heart goes, but I’ll be on the edge of my seat awaiting Ms. Turner’s final decision.

Match Two
Judge: Walter Dean Myers
Books: Marching for Freedom VS Tales from Outer Suburbia
Winner: Marching for Freedom

Granted the ONLY reason I’m saying this is because I see a great deal of respect being paid to Partridge’s book.  If this decision is made between these two books, I have no idea how Walter Dean Myers will react to Mr. Tan.  This could be potentially be the strangest decision of the BoB.

Big Kahuna Round
I confess to you that I cannot in good conscience guess who the zombie winner might be because I think I was already told.  So with that in mind the two final books could be . . .

Judge: Katherine Paterson
Books: The Lost Conspiracy VS Marching for Freedom
Winner: The Lost Conspiracy

Because sometimes I just wanna see my baby win.

Let’s see how we do!

About Elizabeth Bird

Elizabeth Bird is currently the Collection Development Manager of the Evanston Public Library system and a former Materials Specialist for New York Public Library. She has served on Newbery, written for Horn Book, and has done other lovely little things that she'd love to tell you about but that she's sure you'd find more interesting to hear of in person. Her opinions are her own and do not reflect those of EPL, SLJ, or any of the other acronyms you might be able to name. Follow her on Twitter: @fuseeight.