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What BoB Means to Sondy Eklund
I was delighted to meet Roxanne and Monica and Jonathan at ALA Midwinter Meeting, when I went to view a Notable Books’ committee meeting. I’ve long been so pleased about the way I’ve made real life friends via my own website, and how delightful it is to learn that I can also make friends from the other end – commenting on other people’s websites. I love the way blogs bring together people with common interests, in this case a love of children’s books. Monica and Roxanne asked me to tell what BoB means to me. I’m at a public library, and for now I’m not even working in the children’s department. But here’s what I love about the Battle of the Kids’ Books:
- The Books The Commanders do a fantastic job of selecting 16 titles well worth reading. Last year, I managed to read all the titles, and was glad I did for each one of them. The selections vary across the spectrum of good books from the previous year, including fiction and nonfiction, books for different age levels, and books in different formats. The first year, 2009, the judges’ deliberations regarding The Hunger Games convinced me finally to read it. The basic description hadn’t attracted me at all (Kids killing other kids in an arena? I was so not interested.), but once four different judges told why they found it compelling, I changed my mind. Of course, now that every child in the county wants to read it, I’m glad I did!
It’s fun to cheer for your favorites, all the
while knowing that all the books are outstanding,
and evaluating books is a subjective process.
- The Judges Oh, they pick such wonderful judges! If my favorite book isn’t always included, at least I can always find some favorite authors participating. They’re good at writing books themselves; can they also analyze good writing? It turns out they can.
- The Commentary What happens when you ask stellar children’s authors to choose between two outstanding children’s books – and explain their choice? All kinds of creative things.
- You’ve got Adam Rex using footnotes to compare The Ring of Solomon to Sugar Changed the World.
- You’ve got M. T. Anderson revealing authors’ obstruse way of talking about books as they stroll together in their vast estates. (He revealed ahead of time where Grandpa Green was envisioned.)
- In short, reading the judges’ commentary is almost as much fun as reading the books, and certainly more easily done in breaks on a busy work day.
- The Competition Okay, my favorite books don’t have a great record (Well, except for A Conspiracy of Kings winning the Undead Poll), but the competition aspect definitely adds to the fun. It’s fun to try to guess which book the judge will pick, and then discover you know less about the judge than you think you do. It’s also fun to figure out which book I would pick, and how I would defend my choice, if I were a judge. It’s fun to cheer for your favorites, all the while knowing (as the judges keep repeating) that all the books are outstanding, and evaluating books is a subjective process. It’s delightful when favorite authors share my own opinions, but it’s surprising in a fascinating way when they approach a book completely differently than I do.
- The Comments I definitely feel welcomed as a commenter on Battle of the Books, and there is a sense that the judges’ posts are simply a springboard for hearing everyone else’s opinions.
This is Book Discussion in a lively, entertaining context. Come on in! Observe, comment! Join the Peanut Gallery! The more the merrier!
Sondra Eklund never outgrew her love of children’s books, but didn’t start working in libraries until after ten years teaching college math. Living in Germany, she got a job at the American base library, and found her calling. After a lifetime of people misreading her name, she was delighted to learn that “Sonder” is a German prefix meaning “special,” and began writing www.Sonderbooks.com in 2001, before she’d even heard of blogs (combining books, writing, and computers — what’s not to like?). She is now a full-time librarian living in northern Virginia with a special interest in children’s books that she’s given up trying to contain. She still loves math, and is inordinately proud of what turns up if you google “prime factorization sweater.”
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