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A Chair, A Fireplace & a Tea Cozy
Inside A Chair, A Fireplace & a Tea Cozy

My School Library Journal Battle of the Kids Books Picks

I have to be honest: part of me didn’t want to share my SLJ BoB picks because I didn’t want to let everyone know just how badly I do with predicting what people will or won’t like.

Here are my picks; or, rather, what I think other people will pick.

Round 1

Amelia Lost v Anya’s Ghost, judged by Matt Phelan: Phelan has written historical fiction, so my guess is Amelia Lost.

Between Shades of Gray v Bootleg, judged by Gayle Forman: Mentally flipped a coin, and picked Bootleg.

The Cheshire Cheese Cat v Chime, judged by Sy Montgomery. While I adore Chime, it’s not everyone’s cup of tea, so I’m playing it safe and picking The Cheshire Cheese Cat.

Daughter of Smoke and Bone v Dead End in Norvelt, judged by Sara Zarr. Common sense says realistic fiction author Zarr will pick Dead End in Norvelt. That type of thinking has led to wrong guesses before, so I’m going with Daughter of Smoke and Bone.

Drawing From Memory v The Grand Plan to Fix Everything, judged by Barbara O’Connor. For some reason, I have a feeling O’Connor will prefer The Grand Plan to Fix Everything. Why? I have no idea.

Heart and Soul v Inside Out & Back Again, judged by Sarah Weeks. I adore Weeks’s So B. It, and the way it was so particular with words, so that makes me think Weeks will go for the book in verse, Inside Out & Back Again.

Life: An Exploded Diagram v A Monster Calls, judged by Lauren Myracle. Myracle’s Shine made me cry; A Monster Calls made me cry; hence, I predict Myracle picking A Monster Calls.

Okay for Now v Wonderstruck, judged by Jeff Kinney. I’m going with the shallow thinking that since Kinney is an artist, he’s going to go with Wonderstruck.


Round 2. Where Things Get Tricky Because It Is All Predictions.

I have Marc Aronson judging Amelia Lost v Bootleg, two nonfiction books. ARGH. Based on Aronson’s own books, I’m going with Amelia Lost because of the way it is designed and how the mystery of what happened is presented to the reader.

The Cheshire Cheese Cat v Daughter of Smoke and Bone, judged by E. Lockhart. Even though I haven’t read it yet, my pick here is The Cheshire Cheese Cat.

The Grand Plan to Fix Everything v Inside Out & Back Again, judged by Jewell Parker Rhodes. Here I used the exact opposite reasoning and picked Inside Out & Back Again because I haven’t read The Grand Plan to Fix Everything.

A Monster Calls v Wonderstruck, judged by Chris Lynch. At this point, I stopped second guessing the judges and went with what made me cry. A Monster Calls.


Round 3: Where If I Did A Bad Job Guessing, This Could All Just Be Silly

Amelia Lost v The Cheshire Cheese Cat judged by Maggie Stiefvater. Stiefvater wrote about horses; The Cheshire Cheese Cat has animals, so that’s my pick.

Inside Out & Back Again v A Monster Calls, judged by Ron Koertge. Crying wins: A Monster Calls.

Round 4: The Big Kahuna Round.

Jonathan Stroud is going to pick between The Cheshire Cheese Cat and A Monster Calls. Somehow my convulted thinking has me including a book I’ve never read. But wait! A book comes back from the grave! And that book will be Chime, and Stroud will pick it, so Chime wins!!!

Or, it doesn’t. We won’t know until we know. What are your predictions, guesses, hopes?

About Elizabeth Burns

Looking for a place to talk about young adult books? Pull up a chair, have a cup of tea, and let's chat. I am a New Jersey librarian. My opinions do not reflect those of my employer, SLJ, YALSA, or anyone else. On Twitter I'm @LizB; my email is


  1. I’ve got Daughter of Smoke and Bone vs A Monster Calls in the final with Chime coming back from the dead. I think A Monster Calls will win it all, but I loved and adored Daughter of Smoke and Bone too.
    My personal favorites:
    Daughter of Smoke and Bone
    Life:An Exploded Diagram
    A Monster Calls

    I just can’t get over how wonderful this list is. Several of these books are very nearly perfect and I don’t understand why more of them didn’t win awards.

  2. Yikes, you only have to sit down with the brackets to realize how difficult this prediction is. I had particular trouble with Sara Zarr’s choice, on which everything seems to depend! If she picks DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE, which is what I decided, I have DAUGHTER going to the final round against A MONSTER CALLS, which would be a truly tough call for Jonathan Stroud, I think, and I’m guessing he’d choose MONSTER. (However, the other difficult early round to predict was Lauren Myracle’s, and if she picks LIFE: AN EXPLODED DIAGRAM, I think that one will win the whole schmear.)

    I personally voted for CHIME for the undead, knowing that it’s a magnificent work that some people have trouble with, and so it’s the one most likely to need rescuing from an early death. Did I miss an announcement that it won the undead round? The SLJBoB site is on the fritz today.

  3. I don’t try to predict it at all because I’m so bad at it. I just say what I would pick if I were judging that round and then go along for the ride.

  4. I don’t try to predict it either. But I’m hoping that Daughter of Smoke and Bone makes it to the final, by whatever means possible.

  5. Oh my GOSH! I hope your predictions don’t come true because so many of my loves will be left out in the cold! Trying to figure in the judges’ preferences does add in a tricky element that I didn’t even attempt to try and de-code. I can’t wait to see which books prevail!

  6. Paige, every book is a winner. I would love if Smoke & Bone went all the way.

    Elizabeth, they won’t announce which book comes back from the dead until the big kahuna round. We have to wait!

    Brandy, I wouldn’t be suprirsed if I got them all wrong.

    Melissa, it’s going to be interesting.

    Katie, trying to second guess what someone else will pick is tough. Some of my favorites fell to the wayside. we’ll see what happens!

  7. Did my family make up the term “Russian Beauty Contest” or have you heard of it? It’s when judges try to guess what the other judges will choose, rather than picking their own favorite. I can’t find that definition online, but that’s what we’ve got here!

  8. Elizabeth, that’s the perfect term! I don’t think I’ve heard it before.