February 1, 2012
Are you ready to see Brian Selznick duke it out with Gary Schmidt? Or Kadir Nelson rumble with Thanhha Lai? It’s time for SLJ’s Battle of the Kids’ Books (BOB) again, and this year we’ve got another impressive lineup of titles and judges that is sure to get your heart pumping as we pit 16 of 2011’s best books for young people against one another in a competition to determine the baddest of them all.
How exactly does it work, you ask? Think of a smackdown of books, where fiction competes against nonfiction, fantasy with historical fiction, and dystopias with romance in a winner-take-all battle. Over the course of three intense weeks, our star-studded panel of 15 judges—including Lauren Myracle, Matt Phelan, and Maggie Stiefvater—each read two books, consider them carefully, then decide which deserve to advance to the next round. Jonathan Stroud, last year’s BOB winner for The Ring of Solomon (Hyperion), is the final judge—our big Kahuna decision-maker. He’ll choose the grand prizewinner April 2.
Whether this is your fourth—or first—year joining us, this year’s brawl, which kicks off on March 13, is guaranteed to bring lots of fun to your classrooms, and to your tween and teen library patrons. As Lauren Downey and Summer Ogata—two of BOB’s most devoted fans—tell it, half of the excitement is watching the weekly dustup unfold and the other half is reading the judges’ smart, witty, and insightful decisions.
Downey and Ogata call themselves the Everdeen sisters, after Katniss Everdeen, the main character in Suzanne Collins’s The Hunger Games (Scholastic)—winner of the first BOB in 2009. The two are so enthusiastic about BOB that each year they’ve created three hugely entertaining YouTube videos about their favorite books and how they hope the feud unfolds. Ask your readers to do the same and we’ll be sure to promote their creations on our website. In fact, schools and libraries around the country love to incorporate the contest into their lessons and programming. A media specialist at Connecticut’s Greenwich Country Day School last year put together a laminated poster-size version of the brackets, complete with book covers, and taped it to the wall of her library’s entrance, along with a table display of all of the books. And an Atlanta-based, second-grade teacher ran a contest on his blog that allowed participants to accumulate points for predicting each correct match-up. Don’t miss this opportunity to engage your readers in some fun with their favorite authors and books. We can even boast having had Jon Scieszka, Katherine Paterson, and Walter Dean Myers—all of the National Ambassadors for Young People’s Literature—as judges in previous years.BOB is the brainchild of three educators: Monica Edinger and Roxanne Feldman of the Dalton School in New York City, and Jonathan Hunt, a school librarian in Modesto, CA, and was inspired by the Morning News’s Tournament of Books, a similar competition featuring the previous year’s best novels for adults.—SLJ staff