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Battle of the Books

The Eve of the Battle…

…and all is quiet.

We just wrapped up the voting in the Undead Poll and after consecutive years when it wasn’t even close–you’ll remember THE FROG SCIENTIST and A CONSPIRACY OF KINGS had huge insurmountable leads–we are happy to report that it was a very competitive field with no fewer than five books in serious contention and a late rush by one contender to close the final gap.  But all will be revealed later . . .

Now a word about our wonderful judges.  We were impressed, as we always are, with the talent that School Library Journal is able to recruit as our judges, but this year we cringed quite a few times.  Why?  Because we easily could have picked half of them to be on the other side of the fence this year: Matt Phelan for AROUND THE WORLD or Lauren Myracle for SHINE or E. Lockhart (er, Emily Jenkins) for TOYS COME HOME or Sarah Weeks for PIE or Sara Zarr for HOW TO SAVE A LIFE or, most nerve wrecking of all, Maggie Stiefvater for THE SCORPIO RACES.  So a big thank you to all the judges for their hard work and good grace!

For those new to our arena, here is how it works:

There will be a match pretty much every weekday until the final round.  The dates are all on the sidebar.

We post each match early every morning (as one of the two Battle Commander halves is an early riser).

Start commenting because:

  • it is fun;
  • it is illuminating;
  • as our Friends of BoB pointed out in their posts, it is the community developed here among all of you that makes this event worthwhile;
  • and this year we have a special incentive — our two sponsors, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and HarperCollins, are providing some cool giveaways.  Everyone who comments from now until the end of the Battle will be entered into a drawing for many cool things which include signed copies, t-shirts, totebags, and some great collections of books.

At the end of every battle week we will have a Peanut Gallery post — a collection of links and tweets to other commentary on the BoB.

It all starts tomorrow . . .


  1. I cannot wait. I think tomorrow’s match is one of the hardest to pick in the entire first round. I picked Anya’s Ghost but it was more of a gut feeling than anything logical. Amelia Lost was pretty close to a perfect work of nonfiction.

  2. I am excited to be following this for the first time. Even though some of the books are older for my readers I am posting the bracket, copies of the covers, my predictions, and then the judges thoughts in my library. I have read all but 2 myself and should be able to get those done before their rounds. Should be fun 🙂

  3. So exciting! Like Julie above, I’m busily finishing off my reading….

  4. I’ve made my picks! Now to get the school librarian and students to make theirs…

  5. Battle Commander says

    We love hearing about all of this!

  6. I’m not calling anything — I’m HORRIBLE at it — but I have my favorites. Can’t wait to see what happens!

  7. Battle Commander says

    This is exciting — to see those who have been BoB’s loyal followers and brand new fans post here! Remember, if you comment about the books or the Judges’ choices, your name is automatically entered into our giveaway drawing! Make sure that your user registration contains an email that we can easily contact you if you win!

  8. You mean I might get my hands on another t-shirt? I will then get to track down Gary Schmidt to sign his winning name. Just like I did with Betsy Partridge a few years ago:

    As for tomorrow: Amelia Lost cannot lose! Shish. Boom. Bah.

  9. Extra excited this year, since this is the first time I’ve managed to read all of the contenders before judging starts!

  10. I always consider the BOB to be the dessert for the Heavy Medal discussions. It is such great professional development to read the evaluations and the commentary. Then the search for the books begins. I haven’t read as many this year, so I really look forward to seeing how the battles resolve.

  11. I agree, Amelia Lost will probably win tomorrow, for its precise research, marvelous illustration program, and broad appeal. But Anya’s Ghost is a worthy contender – I am pressing that book into the hands of every teenage girl I meet who exhibits even a hint of surly!

  12. The Battle begins on my birthday and I can’t think of a better way to celebrate!

  13. I loved both of these books, but I think Amelia Lost should come out on top. It was just a wonderful book and a great biography. I thought it was very readable and definitely something kids will enjoy. I can’t wait for the battle to begin. This is my favorite event!

  14. OMG! AHHH! It’s almost here!! :startspostingpredictions::

  15. Yay! It’s almost here! I’ll have to bring my computer to PLA conference, just to follow this! I did throw my reading plans out the window to try to blitz through the last 3 books before the battle. I’m currently 1/3 of the way through Between Shades of Gray and think I may even pick it over Bootleg. I finished Dead End in Norvelt on the weekend, and though I’m happy about it as a Newbery winner, I don’t want it to unseat Daughter of Smoke & Bone in the Battle. I’m looking forward to seeing the judges try to justify their choices!

  16. I feel like I’ve been given a present every time March rolls around. I can’t quite believe that BoB manages to get away with having so much fun every year. Go all the contenders, but especially the upsets!

  17. DaNae! I forgot about my victory photo with your shirt plastered on me that you have posted on your blog! Def. get that shirt signed by all winners… it could be the most fantastic primary source artifact to come out of the whole contest. The Smithsonian will be begging for it in a few years!
    Let the good times roll, as we start off with fiction vs. nonfiction.
    C’mon, Matt….

  18. Yay! One of my favorite book events of the year, way more fun than the ALA Awards, because we all get to hear how great writers think. I realize I am behind in requisitioning many unreads from the library, so here I go to request, request, request!

  19. Battle Commander says

    Oh, the ALA Awards are wonderful to contemplate, too. So many people poured so much of their time and devotion into considering a VAST quantity of books each year to give us great collections of books to introduce and promote to young readers. BoB is here to entertain and hopefully to inspire great conversations — but it is never our intention to do battle against other established and highly deserving awards or award winners.

  20. Kathy Corbiere says

    Very exciting….I’m a newbie to SLJ’s BOB event. My Mock Newbery club members are reading and “battling” right along side me and we’re anxious to read all the posts as each battle rages. I’m all alone in my group for my love of “A Monster Calls” but I’m standing firm!

  21. Jennifer H says

    I’m so excited! I don’t think I’ve ever commented, but the incentive was a good one! I’ve been following from the very first year, but this is the first year I’ve had every book read (or will by the end of the night – Cheshire Cheese Cat, here I come!) by the start of the tournament.

    I’m finding it hard to pick my brackets – I can’t decide whether to pick what I want to win, or what I think will win… perhaps I’ll make two.

    My favorite part of this is the eclectic choice of books, I always end up reading books I wouldn’t have otherwise. My favorite surprise read that I didn’t expect to enjoy was Drawing From Memory. If only it wasn’t up against The Grand Plan to Fix Everything! I loved that book!

    One thing’s for sure, I’ll be up early tomorrow!!

  22. I can’t believe the Battle has finally arrived!!!!! I feel like tomorrow is my birthday + Thanksgiving. I’ve made all of my predictions and I think they’re wildly different than most, but I just had to go with my favorites. COME ON BETWEEN SHADES OF GRAY!!!! I would love to see Lina, her mom, Andrius, the bald man make it to the end.

  23. I’M SO READY!!!!! I managed to get all of the books read this year for the first time too. (I feel so much more invested.)

  24. Battle Commander says

    That is why we decided to release the book titles much earlier this year — so you and the young readers in your life would have a chance to read the contending titles before the Battle commences. It warms our hearts to see so many of you have read the books this year. We admire each and every one of them (and plenty that didn’t make it to the LIST) and hope that you will all enjoy the ride!

  25. Bummed I haven’t finished the contenders yet – I still have a bunch to go. I do have both of the first match read at least. I don’t have a blog, but I tweeted my pick/prediction and will continue to do so. I don’t tweet much and most of my followers are local friends who don’t have anything to do with children’s lit or libraries. I suspect they may be a wee bit confused 🙂 Anyway, while I would pick Anya, I’m going with Amelia for the win.

  26. Steffaney Smith says

    Cannot wait for Sy Montgomery’s judging comments tomorrow…so admire her writing skills and her Scientists in the Field series. Maybe she’ll convince me my library needs The Cheshire Cheese Cat after all……

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