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Battle of the Books

And the 2013 Contenders Are…


Bomb by Steve Sheinken (Macmillan)

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein (Hyperion)

Endangered by Eliot Schrefer (Scholastic)

Fault in Our Stars, The by John Green (Penguin)

Jepp, Who Defied the Stars by Katherine Marsh (Hyperion)

Liar & Spy by Rebecca Stead (Random House)

Moonbird by Philip Hoose (Macmillan)

No Crystal Stair by Vauda Micheaux Nelson (Lerner)

One and Only Ivan, The by Katherine Applegate (Harper Collins)

Seraphina by Rachel Hartman (Random House)

Splendors and Glooms by Laura Amy Schlitz (Candlewick)

Starry River of the Sky by Grace Lin (Little Brown)

Temple Grandin by Sy Montgomery (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

Three Times Lucky by Sheila Turnage (Penguin)

Titanic by Deborah Hopkinson (Scholastic)

Wonder by R. J. Palacio (Random House)


  1. I think this may the strongest list the commanders have ever chosen. I do find it interesting that there weren’t any graphic novels chosen, but I cannot think of a graphic novel published this past year that I would put ahead of any of these titles. Right now I don’t have a favorite but I’m sure that will change as I read and consider the entire list. There are some fascinating first-round matches. Now, let the reading commence!

  2. Whoa! I feel up-to-date here. I’ve read and loved 11 of the titles and the other three are high on the tbr pile. Should be interesting! Thanks for running it all.


  3. Battle Commander Battle Commander says

    …. the thing is… We have not published the actual bracket… and it does not necessarily follow the title alphabetical order as you see on the announcement list. What would you consider the perfect bracket arrangement??

  4. Oops! I assumed the alphabetical order for brackets this year. I don’t know that there is a perfect way to do a bracket arrangement — all the titles are such strong contenders I’m not sure how I would choose brackets.

  5. Battle Commander Battle Commander says

    Perfection might be too strong a word for it — but, do you — all BOB followers — have your own preferred bracket arrangement? Remember, we have two sets of 8 titles — a top and a bottom bracket.

  6. Yip, only two books to go. So many personal favorites. I’d bet my first born that you have the Newbery medal up there as well as the Printz.

    It would be interesting to put VERITY and THE FAULT IN OUR STARS against each other and BOMB and SPLENDORS, as I feel those are the contests going on for Printz and Newbery. But then what do I know? I kind of like it when books that would never share the same shelves in a library go head to head.

    It is hard not to pull for VERITY as I couldn’t give it Newbery love.. I think I’ll be seeing who gets snubbed at the oscars and throw my devotion that direction.

  7. I like it when apples and oranges are against each other in the opening rounds — the commentaries from those sorts of matches are always fascinating to read.

  8. pretty much the titles one would expect, though I was hoping you guys would leave Wonder off the list.

    Also glad to hear that the bracket won’t be alphabetical this year. Back in the Fall I got really bummed when I realized that my two favorite books of 2012 were alphabetical neighbors and either CNV or BOMB would eliminate the other in the first or second round.

    As far as seeding techniques I think you could just randomly draw titles from a hat and place them in the bracket. That or create a seeding committee (Maybe it could include Jonathan and Nina from heavy medal; Sara and Karyn from Someday; and then add in Monica, Roger Sutton and Mark Flowers) which could vote on their favorites in order from 1-16 and then place them snake the results into the bracket with the traditional match ups: 1v16, 8v9, 4v13, 5v12, 6v11, 3v14, 7v10, 2v15.

    In an ideal or perfect my bracket would be as follows (not having read FiOS, Endangered, Jepp, or Seraphina i placed these 12-15 assuming even if I don’t like them that they are better written than Wonder):

    (1)CNV v (16)Wonder
    (8) Starry River v (9) Three Times Lucky

    (4)Splendors v (13) FiOS
    (5)Titanic v (12)Seraphina

    (3)Liar & Spy v (14) Jepp
    (6) Temple v (11) NCS

    (7) Moonbird v (10)Ivan
    (2)Bomb v (15)Endangered

  9. ElleLibrarian says

    Great list ! I just wish Twelve Kinds of Ice were on it, but there are many titles that I can truly get behind.

  10. Battle Commander Battle Commander says

    Eric — a seeding committee might be interesting… it did cross our mind! Jonathan and Monica are two of the three people (and Roxanne) who came up with the list so perhaps they should not be on the proposed committee then? For the future. Perhaps you and other long term followers of BOB can be involved for seeing next year?

  11. I only need to read three books! And thank you for giving me an excuse to buy Jepp Who Defied the Stars. My library has been annoyingly slow in getting a copy.

    As for the brackets….

    The alphabetical order does have advantages, the main one being everything looks on the up and up. (No one can accuse you have trying to manipulate the results. Not that I think you would-just saying that this way you completely avoid that appearance at all.) If you were going to do the brackets differently I think Eric’s suggestion is a good one. (Not drawing them from a hat-the other one.) ūüôā Knowing there is a varied group of people determining the brackets and that it is not discussion based but numbers based will help with that. Just make sure it’s a transparent process. (Again, I know you guys wouldn’t stack it to get certain results but this way we can avoid the argument ever coming up.)

    Eric, I completely agree with you about Wonder. It seems out of place here. While I very much enjoyed reading it and book talk it all the time, I don’t think it is in the same league with the other books on this list.

  12. “of trying to manipulate the results” not “have”
    Why I shouldn’t try to teach my daughter and play on the Internet at the same time.

  13. Darn! No graphic novel, or differently-formatted book (e.g. The Year of the Beasts or Chopsticks). Those always prompt such an interesting discussion from the judges.

  14. That’s a FINE looking list,. I’ve read 11 of them so far… can’t wait to tackle the rest. And figure out who I want to win. (That’s going to be tough this year.)

  15. Battle Commander Battle Commander says

    We will have a post soon about why we selected these and perhaps a sense of our long list which did indeed include a graphic novel and quite a few others that we reluctantly had to let go. It is never an easy process!

  16. Battle Commander Battle Commander says

    We being Roxanne, Monica, and Jonathan.

  17. Very interesting to look at this list knowing that Roxanne had a part in it’s making since she is also on this year’s Newbery Committee. (I assumed she would have had to step aside this year). What can we glean from the inclusion/exclusion of certain titles. For instance neither Monica or Jonathan have Wonder in their goodreads newbery polls (though Monica did give it a good review)…Does Roxanne have a soft spot for this one? Could the real committee be leaning this way? Should fellow Wonder-haters start worrying about Monday’s announcement? Is there such thing as OVER analyzing these things?

  18. Boy, Eric. I can almost feel your head reaching combustion point. ūüôā And BTW, there is no way TIFIOS is number 13. It is in the top four at least if not the top two, since, naturally, this in an purely non-subjective ranking process.

  19. Battle Commander Battle Commander says

    Eric, ha! I wouldn’t read anything re Newbery into this list. While some of these are personal favorites, we don’t just go for those. We try to put together a good list, 16 books that we feel can all hold their own against each other whoever the judge might be. We also try to go for variety, diversity, and so forth. So, yeah, don’t over analyze:) (And this is Monica not Roxanne writing. We’ve both been here this AM:)

  20. kristine a says

    I wish there would be a discount somewhere of buying the books as a group. Or I wish the publishers already had them in paperback, as I would run out and buy them right now. My current small-town library only has 3 titles, so I’m off to beg for them as new acquisitions or ILL. WIsh me luck!

  21. Great list! Danae…while I think an ideal bracket might have VERITY against FAULT in the semi-finals, I hate it when two of the clearly strongest titles end up side by side early on. I guess it’s part of the fun, but it makes me nauseous. (So do roller coasters).

    I do particularly like the brackets that put unlikely pairs together, because I think we get the most interesting justifications. You get some interesting pairings like that if you take a still somewhat random bracketing process and go “outside in” from the alphabetical order above:

    JEPP and STARRY RIVER (ooh, the stars align)
    LIAR & SPY and SPLENDORS & GLOOMS (ack! The ampersands align. Here’s my roller coaster. )

  22. Nina,
    I like your brackets though I would argue that the top half is stronger than the bottom half (or perhaps it’s because my favorites are in the top half! Oh well, I have a fair number of books to read this year so I’d better get started!

  23. @DaNae as I said i haven’t gotten around to reading another John Green fantasy so it may well move up a bit in my ideal seedings if/when I get around to it (to be honest of the four books i need to read this is the only one I didn’t plan on reading)….. I did LOVE the other cancer book of 2013 Me, Eart and the Dying Girl which I would probably place around 7 or 8th in this list.

  24. Great list! I can’t wait to see how they’re bracketed. As a YA person, it would be really great to see the YA titles not have to face off against each other in the first round and have half of them gone before things really even get started. Of course, that’s just me. Probably the best bracket is either a truly seeded bracket (based on the judges’ average ranking of the titles) or a randomly drawn bracket.

  25. Oh, this is going to be fun! Happy to see I’ve read half and many of the others were already on my to-read list; is it just me, or is there more consensus this year than in other years as to what the discussion-worthy novels are?

  26. TeenReader says

    I like Nina’s bracket, if only because I’d hate to have Bomb vs. CNV.

  27. ARRGGHH. I’m not saying how many I haven’t read, but I better get busy! I’d like to have some knowledge to cheer on these books! But I’m really really rooting for Bomb!

  28. mags_librarian says

    So exciting! Great list here (though I still need to tackle quite a few)!

  29. I’m so relieved that the list isn’t necessarily the contender order!! Two of my favorites are at the top! I still need to read 4 1/2 and can’t wait to make my first round and final winner picks!

    I’m going to mull over my bracket choices and post them a little later!

  30. Wow. Great list. Before the list was posted, I was sure that I would have read almost all on the list except for a few nonfiction books as my nonfiction reading was woefully light last year. Wrong. I’ve only read 8, though all the ones I haven’t read yet are on my TBR list. Guess I better get my requests in at the library.

    In spite of still having to read half of the list, I do have one close to my heart and another sentimental favorite that I think may get knocked out in the first round based on the wildly varied reviews I’ve read.

    Are you going to have the Kid Commentators again this year? I thought they added a lot to the process. Such thoughtful and reasoned responses.

    This is so much fun. As always, thank you to everyone involved for all your hard work in putting this contest together and running it.

  31. Jennifer H says

    Hooray!! I look forward to BoB all year long! I’m woefully behind, with only 5 books read (there’s nothing like a good excuse to go to the library!), but I’m thrilled to see Bomb and CNV!! And equally thrilled that they won’t necessarily go against each other in the first round! How will I ever pick an undead between the two of them??? I suppose I’ll wait and see how the brackets turn out and hedge my bets then.

    Thanks for a great reading list!!

  32. Woo-hoo! Great list! And I’ve read ten of them! And my hold for BOMB just came in, so I’ve begun it, and I already had ENDANGERED on hold. It’s nice feeling on top of the contenders. (I attribute that to joining Capitol Choices last year.)

    As for brackets, I’d take the seeding approach and try to put the strongest books in opposite halves, next strongest in opposite quarters, and so on. How to choose which are the strongest? The Peanut Gallery would love a chance at it!

    However, I kind of like the random alphabetic approach. Though starting out with Bomb vs. Code Name Verity IS kind of awful.

  33. Wonderful list! So glad the brackets are not in alpha order this year. I’d hate to see one of my two favorites out on the first day of the Battle. Off to the library for my to-be-reads.

  34. What a battle-worthy list, and what a great year for bookworms! I can’t remember another year when so many books managed to hit the “important” note so adored by educators as well as the “appealing and gripping” note necessary to kids. Cases in point – WONDER, ENDANGERED, FAULT IN OUR STARS, I could go on…

  35. Battle Commander Battle Commander says

    Eliza, we hope to have some sort of kid participation again this year. Still working out just what it will be.

  36. Yippee! That’s great news. Thanks, Battle Commander.

  37. Okay, I just had a little fun making a seeded tournament based on my personal rankings, and then fiddling with it so books too similar don’t face each other in the first round. (No nonfiction together, for example.) Here’s what I came up with. (You can figure out my favorites!)

    Round 1: Code Name Verity vs. Jepp, Who Defied the Stars
    Round 2: Starry River of the Sky vs. Endangered
    Round 3: The One & Only Ivan vs No Crystal Stair
    Round 4: Seraphina vs. Temple Grandin
    Round 5: Bomb vs. Liar & Spy
    Round 6: Three Times Lucky vs. Titanic
    Round 7: The Fault in Our Stars vs. Wonder
    Round 8: Moonbird vs. Splendors & Glooms

    I’m looking forward to seeing what you decide!

  38. The cool thing is that it’s completely impossible for you not to have two strong books in the final round, because all are strong books. (I can think of one exception in my own mind, but you made a good case for even that one, and I know anything that gets that far will be strong.)

  39. First, where’s Chickadee or Lions of Little Rock? There are two books on the list I would trade for these two! And I was not a fan of Chickadee.

    Anywho, if you are not doing a seeding list, my favorite challenges would be:
    Bomb vs Moonbird
    Code Name Verity vs Jepp, Who Defied the Stars
    Endangered vs One and Only Ivan
    Fault in our Stars vs Seraphina
    Liar and Spy vs Three Times Lucky
    No Crystal Stair vs Temple Grandin
    Splendors and Gloom vs Starry River of the Sky
    Titanic vs Wonder

  40. TeenReader says

    If seeding is a consideration, it would be interesting to have a peanut gallery vote. People could rank from favorite to least favorite, skipping the books they haven’t read, and then the average rankings could determine the seeding. I still do see a lot of merit in the randomness of the alphabetical, despite the horrifying prospect of being forced to lose one of my two favorites on Day One.

  41. Hi! So want to Run this with my MS studen5ts but not sure best way to do it! I have 35 Nooks used for book clubs and will fill them up with these titles. Of course ones seeds are posted I will create a bulletin board and post on our website but I’m not sure where to go from there except for kids routing for their favorites.Would love some ideas!

  42. Battle Commander Battle Commander says

    Deb, this is great. Please keep us informed as you go. Anyone else doing this with kids? We’d love to know.

  43. Battle Commander Battle Commander says

    Deb, this is the OTHER head of the Battle Commander responding to your query. One of the things you can do is to have your students read a pair of the books, or 4 of the books that belong to the same sub-bracket so when they see the judge’s decision, they will be able to voice their informed opinions — whether they agree or disagree with the judges. And if your school or parents allow students to follow and comment on public blogs, they can even post their thoughts on the outcome. Or you can have some discussions with them and post their opinions on the BoB pages. We would love more young people involved with BoB and this is great and exciting news!


  1. […] plenty of time to prepare we are announcing the contenders today. ¬†So go here to find out this year’s picks! (And if you want to know a bit more about how we made those selections go […]

  2. […] from fantasy to nonfiction to wicked good romance‚ÄĒagainst one another in a winner-take-all online elimination contest kicking off on Monday, March […]

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