Friday, March 23, 2012

Have you been following the SLJ Battle of the Kids books?

My favorite decision so far has been Jeff Kinney's. Partly because he did not choose Okay for Now and partly because he admitted that he hasn't read a book in over a year. All he does is listen to audiobooks. Oh, and partly because he didn't complain about having to choose a winner. I hate it when the judges do that.

However, the decision I am most looking forward to is the next one: E. Lockhart chooses between Chime and Daughter of Smoke and Bone. It's interesting because the books are actually well-matched: both supernatural romance stories with evocative settings and killer girl heroines. And E. Lockhart is sassy, so I'm pretty sure she won't disappoint me by equivocating.

I also hope she'll agree with me that Chime should be crowned. I loved the first two-thirds of Daughter of Smoke and Bone, but I lost interest when it went back in time to the epic love story. I respect non-linear storytelling, but the book lost its intensity and drive when it was no longer about solving the mystery of everyone's identity and reopening the portals between worlds.

Also, epic love is a little boring. I'm not sure why. But judge Sara Zarr seems to feel the same way. I loved what she said about it: "This kind of all-consuming Romeo-and-Juliet-impossible-love romance has become what is to me a less interesting version of a greater question: Can love that is not romantic be powerful enough to triumph and change circumstances and people (or angels, or chimaera) in meaningful ways?"

So I'm enjoying the Battle of the Kids Books, but in comparing it to the Morning News Tournament of Books, I do find it lacking in the commentary department. The judges give you their experience of the book, so I'd like the commentators to connect the decisions to trends and issues in the field of kidlit ... instead of just saying whether they agree or disagree.

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