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

Round 1, Match 1

And thus it begins: All the Truth That’s in Me v The Animal Book, Judge Vaunda Nelson

My prediction: “Having not read either one, I randomly picked The Animal Book.”

Was I right? YES.

BoB2014 MG R1 M1 Round 1, Match 1: All the Truth Thats In Me vs The Animal Book

My observations:

Nelson says, “I found similarities I hadn’t expected.” Nelson then went on to compare the two books based on those similarities, and ended up picking The Animal Book.

Nelson’s method — comparing two books that appear to have nothing in common — got me thinking about such comparisons based on what is similar, rather than on what is different. The looking for things that are the same, so that a judgment can be made.

Why do we do this? Why not say two things are wildly different, yet a decision can still be made?

And in looking for similarities, is an artificial narrative created just because we believe it’s easier to do apples to apples than apples to pineapples? Do we look for things that really aren’t there, to make sense of the world?

Do we see connection to control the chaos?

Enough deep thoughts.

I also liked that Nelson pointed out flaws with each books. None of this “oh, two perfect things.” No; realistically, as it always is, two things created by humans, so flawed.


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. Yeah, I think I would have said, the books are totally different, and I found the heart-gripping story more satisfying than the encyclopedic tome filled with gorgeous art. But I can’t *really* fault someone picking Steve Jenkins work for *anything.* His art is stunning.

  2. Leslie Klemm says:

    I’m still in the midst of both books. The Animal Book (on loan from the town library) is so eye-catching, so easy just to pick up and flip through, that I just may need to purchase a copy for home. All the Truth That’s In Me (received a copy at ALAN this year) is intriguing because of its style. I love the way the author just tossed me into a complex situation and is revealing everything in little chunks. It would be a tough call for me to pick my favorite right now.

    • Elizabeth Burns says:

      I have to say, I wished I had read the books because it is more fun when I’ve read both books.


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