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Battle of the Books

The 2010 Judges

M. T. Anderson is the author of several books for teens, including Feed (a National Book Award Finalist and the winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Award) and the two Octavian Nothing books (the first of which won the National Book Award and the Boston Globe / Horn Book Fiction Award, and both of which were Printz Honor Books). He has also written picture books and novels for younger readers, including the Pals in Peril series. Mr. Anderson was chosen as a judge for this contest because of his excellence in spelling and the alphabet. He is in the Bluebird reading group with Mrs. Frazetti. He has already colored two of the four books he may be judging.  (This just in! M. T. Anderson’s website will go live sometime on March 25th!)

Born in Flint, Michigan, Christopher Paul Curtis spent his first 13 years after high school on the assembly line of Flint’s historic Fisher Body Plant #1. His job entailed hanging car doors, and it left him with an aversion to getting into and out of large automobiles—particularly big Buicks. He made an outstanding debut in children’s literature with The Watsons Go to Birmingham—1963. His second novel, Bud, Not Buddy, is the first book ever to receive both the Newbery Medal and the Coretta Scott King Author Award.  His recent novel Elijah of Buxton received a  Newbery honor, the Coretta Scott King Author Award, and the Scott O’Dell award for historical fiction.

Nancy Farmer, recipient of the National Book Award (for THE HOUSE OF THE SCORPION) and three Newbery Honors, has made a living out of tossing characters to berserkers and homicidal drug lords. She is a patron of lost causes and enjoys hanging bird feeders just out of reach of squirrels. Her website is

Candace Fleming is the author of many critically acclaimed and bestselling books for children. Her most recent nonfiction books include The Great and Only Barnum, a Washington Post Best Book of the Year and a finalist for the ALA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults; and The Lincolns, winner of a Boston Globe-Horn Book Award and a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. She is also the author of The Fabled Fourth Graders of Aesop Elementary, a Bank Street Best Book of the Year. Her picture books include Imogene’s Last Stand, one of the New York Public Library’s Picks for Reading and Sharing; and Muncha! Muncha! Muncha!, an ALA Notable Book. Learn more about the author and her upcoming titles—including a biography of Amelia Earhart—at

Helen Frost began working with children at age 16. She has helped many young people find ways to speak of difficult truths in their lives through careful reading and writing. She has traveled widely and deeply, paying particular attention to language and culture. She lives in Fort Wayne, Indiana, with her husband Chad Thompson, a linguist who specializes in Native American languages.She is the author of five novels-in-poems, the most recent of which is Crossing Stones (Frances Foster Books/Farrar Straus and Giroux, 2009). You can visit her on the web at

Newbery Honor winning, New York Times bestselling author Shannon Hale started writing books at age ten and never stopped, eventually earning an MFA in Creative Writing. After 19 years of writing and dozens of rejections, she became a published author with The Goose Girl, the first book in her award-winning Books of Bayern series which also includes Enna Burning, River Secrets, and Forest Born. Shannon has also written the highly acclaimed Book of a Thousand Days, the Newbery Honor winner Princess Academy, and with her husband Dean, she’s written two graphic novels: Rapunzel’s Revenge, a Today Show “Al Roker’s Book Club for Kids” selection, and its sequel, Calamity Jack. Shannon lives outside Salt Lake City with her family and their pet, a small, plastic pig.

Angela Johnson lives in a very cold part of the country. Thus, she rarely leaves her house in the winter unless there is a free dinner in it for her or she is being chased out by some unknown entity who wants to watch able or read her collection of Gothic books. She loves to write and has won some awards (but is always looking for someone to impersonate her to accept them.

Cynthia Kadohata spends the average work day writing and wasting time in equal measure. She hardly ever goes anywhere because she hates to drive, so she orders almost everything over the Internet. Nearly the only time she leaves the house is to walk her Doberman. She has a raging caffeine addiction and drinks about seven cups of iced tea a day. She eats about ten carrots a day; on a recent occasion when she DID venture to the grocery store, the guy packing her groceries put his hand next to hers and said, “Look how orange you are!” She can’t walk through the living room because there are too many Lego minifigs and green army guys on the floor. Her six-year-old son and her dog have the energy of ten NBA stars between them — that’s why she needs caffeine. In short, her life is just about perfect.

Julius Lester is the author of the Newbery Honor Book To Be a Slave (1969), the National Book Award finalist Long Journey Home: Stories from Black History (1972), and the Coretta Scott King Award Book Day of Tears (2006). He is also a National Book Critics Circle nominee and a recipient of the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award. His most recent novel, Guardian, was named a Best Book for Young Adults, a Cooperative Children’s Book Center Choice, and a Chicago Public Library Best of the Best Books. His picture book Let’s Talk About Race was named to the New York Public Library’s “One Hundred Titles for Reading and Sharing.” In addition to his critically acclaimed writing career, Mr. Lester has distinguished himself as a civil rights activist, musician, photographer, radio talk-show host, and professor. For thirty-two years he taught at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. He lives in western Massachusetts.

Jim Murphy has been lucky that a number of his books have received awards, which include two Newbery Honor Book Awards, a Boston Globe/Horn Book Award, and being a National Book Award finalist.  He was recently declared the 2010 recipient of the ALA Margaret Edwards Award for his significant and lasting contribution to young adult literature.  He has also been a judge in several literary events, including “Best Poem” at Jefferson Elementary School (Maplewood, NJ) and the National Book Awards. His proudest judging moment came during the final NBA deliberations when he combined sneaky Parliamentary Rule interpretations and frequent bathroom trips to delay the vote, thus insuring that yet another bottle of very nice Italian red wine would be consumed. He plans to do the same during his Battle of the Books deliberations. Jim blogs at jimmurphybooks.

Walter Dean Myers is the critically acclaimed author of Monster, winner of the first Michael L. Printz Award; Bad Boy: A Memoir; Patrol: An American Soldier in Vietnam, winner of the Jane Addams Children’s Book Award; Game; The Harlem Hellfighters: When Pride Met Courage; Ida B. Wells: Let the Truth Be Told, which received a starred review in School Library Journal, and Muhammad Ali: The People’s Champion. His most recent novels are Dope Sick, named an ALA Top Ten Quick Pick for Reluctant Young Adult Readers, and Lockdown. He is the recipient of the first Coretta Scott King-Virginia Hamilton Award for Lifetime Achievement and the Margaret A. Edwards Award, is the 2010 United States nominee for the Hans Christian Andersen Award, and the author of five Coretta Scott King Award-winning books.

Katherine Paterson was recently named the Ambassador for Children’s Literature for 2010-2011 by the Library of Congress. She is the recipient of the 2006 Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award and the 1998 Hans Christian Andersen Author Award, and a two-time Newbery Medal winner and National Book Award winner. Katherine Paterson lives in Barre, Vermont, with her husband, John, and is the mother of four children and the grandmother of seven. Visit Katherine Paterson on her website;

Gary Schmidt lives with his family on a one-hundred-fifty-year-old farm in Alto, Michigan where he splits wood, plants gardens, writes, and feeds the wild cats that drop by. He is the author of Lizzie Bright and the Buckminister Boy which was both a Newbery Honor Book and Michael L. Printz Honor and The Wednesday Wars, a Newbery Honor and an ALA Booklist Editors’ Choice.

Anita Silvey has spent 1/3 of her career as a reviewer and critic, 1/3 as a publisher, and a 1/3 as an author and lecturer. On good days, it means she has many different approaches to new books.. On bad days she suffers from multiple personalities. Currently teaching in GLSLIS and in the Children’s Literature Program at Simmons College, Anita recently edited a collection of essays from leaders in a variety of fields, Everything I Need to Know I Learned from a Children’s Book (Roaring Brook). As a round one judge, she wants to “pick a winner” that can go on to win the competition.

Megan Whalen Turner is the Newbery Honor winning author The Thief, The Queen of Attolia, and The King of Attolia.  The fourth book in the series, A Conspiracy of Kings, will be released by Greenwillow Books in March.  Growing up, her taste in books was limited for one entire year to the Black Stallion books by Walter Farley.  As a college student she learned from Betsy Hearne to judge books more objectively and read more broadly, but at some point she realized she was not a librarian and her tastes have grown narrow again. Now that she’s a judge, she’s willing to make an effort, but don’t expect her to say anything good about a book where the dog dies.

View the judges from other years:

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