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

Gray v Chime

School Library Journal Battle of the Books, Round 3, Match 1. Between Shades of Gray v Chime. Judge: Maggie Stiefvater

Stiefvater’s post may be my favorite because: cookie dough. That makes everything better. Also? She rereads books she already read. There is a world of difference between reading selfishly (that is, solely for oneself) and reading for an external reason (such as an award).

What Stiefvater likes about both books is what I like about both books! On Chime: “Briony has a long way to go as far as accepting herself, and that character arc is what Chime is all about.”

When talking about Between Shades of Gray, Stiefvater’s favorite character is mine, also: “Lina’s mother was my favorite character in the book. She remains the person we all hope we can be in a disaster: kind, resilient, ultimately decent.”

Ultimately, Stiefvater selected Between Shades of Gray: “Between Shades of Gray wrecked me and changed the way I looked at things, not just the first time I read it, but also the second. Not many novels can accomplish that.” One cannot argue against such a personal reaction to a book.

I’d like to make one tiny observation; I’m sure a lot of people assumed that since the judge writes fantasy, the fantasy title was a guaranteed win. I have a personal theory about historical fiction: that it’s a version of fantasy. No, really. Like fantasy books, historical fiction looks at societies and characters unlike our own. Unlike fantasy, it can sometimes be easier to read historical fiction because we believe we “know” these people and places because it’s history, and we know our history, and the names and dates and countries are familiar.

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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 lizzy.burns@gmail.com.

Comments

  1. Sondy says:

    The second year of the battle, when there was a contest to pick the winners, I went with the books most like the ones the judges wrote. All those picks were wrong. Now I tend to think they will pick the book least like the ones they write. My suspicion is that it’s easier to see flaws in the books like their own. Anyway, that method worked out great this year. (Though my own picks were the ones I liked best.)

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