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Battle of the Books

Personal Favorites We Had To Leave Out


 We start discussing possible contenders in July, but begin reading much earlier. In fact we’ve already got some ideas for next year’s battle. In the fall, things rev up and our gdoc fills up with individual nominees and each of our comments on them. As three passionate individuals we feel strongly about our favorites and work hard to convince each other of their need to be on the list. Sometimes that works, and sometimes it doesn’t!  A similar process happens when two of us love a book and one of us doesn’t (one of which Jonathan mentioned in his YMA post). So all that said, here are some of those from our long list that we each were especially sad to give up.



In hindsight, it would have been nice to include THE INQUISITOR’S TALE and WOLF HOLLOW due to their Newbery Honor status and RADIANT CHILD due to its Caldecott status, but those are minor regrets.  But, boy, I sure wish that we had read SCYTHE before we had to turn in our list to SLJ on December 1st.



Adam Gidwitz’s THE INQUISITOR’S TALE, Jenni Holm’s FULL OF BEANS, Javaka Steptoe’s RADIANT CHILD, and Matt Phelan’s SNOW WHITE were big-shots I was especially sad to give up. My favorite dark-horse-that-stayed-in-the-barn was Mike Jung’s UNIDENTIFIED SUBURBAN OBJECT, timely with a terrific middle school girl’s voice and a unique twist. Other outlier nominees of mine included Anne Nesbet’s thrilling CLOUD AND WALLFISH, Philip Reeve’s riveting (pun intended) RAILHEAD, and Shana Corey and Red Nose Studio’s delightful THE SECRET SUBWAY.



It’s almost too ironic that I also felt like I had to “give up” RADIANT CHILD!  The balancing act of variations in themes and formats is always a tricky one.  Other titles that I dearly loved but could not quite advance them to the top 16 slate are: WILD ROBOT, a great title for younger readers that is an exquisite total package; SALT TO THE SEA, which my 8th grade students have devoured and completely affected by; and WE WILL NOT BE SILENT.  (Yay, it got a Sibert honor!)  This last one I definitely fought hard for but eventually had to give up. It is not only an important book given our current political and societal climate but also a masterfully written book by a nonfiction guru. One title that I adore but only encountered after the December 1st deadline is TALES OF THE PECULIAR.  Hope that it gains some traction, not only from the fans of Miss Peregrine’s series but anyone with an appetite for brilliant, short, and odd tales.


  1. The Wild Robot!

  2. Monica, I am also a huge fan of Jung’s UNIDENTIFIED SUBURBAN OBJECT, and Roxanne, I know so many middle school and high school students that have deep passion of SALT TO THE SEA. I thought it was outstanding.

  3. None of you mentioned PAX! Agh!

    • I adored “Pax!” Also loved the other fox book, “Maybe a Fox”. Wish one or both of those could have been contenders.

      • Battle Commander Battle Commander says:

        Pax was definitely in our original discussion due to its “star power” and the general love from all fronts.

  4. Thanks for sharing. It’s some consolation to know several of my favorites were in the running. Now to finish reading the chosen titles I missed.

  5. Jonathan Hunt says:

    Seeing/hearing this today makes we also wish we had taken BOOKED a bit more seriously.

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