Saturday, March 29, 2014

Kids' Books March Madness: My Bracket is Busted

Well, I tried. I really thought that one of my trio of picks -- Flora & Ulysses, The Animal Book and The Thing About Luck -- had a chance to make it into the final, Big Kahuna round of School Library Journal's Battle of the Kids' Books. But, one by one, my hand-picked winners have fallen.

The first to fall was Flora & Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo, which lost out to Far, Far Away by Tom McNeal at the hands of judge Sara Mlynowski in Round One. Mylnowski concluded: "Flora & Ulysses might be an easy sell to kids, but Far Far Away blew me away."

 Going into Round Two, I was still confident, thinking that either "The Animal Book" by Steve Jenkins or "The Thing About Luck" by Cynthia Kadohata would go the distance. But, in Round Two, judge Tonya Bolden chose "Boxers & Saints" by Gene Luen Yang over "The Animal Book."  As Bolden summed up: "I found myself with an unenviable choice when SLJ asked me to choose between the works of two fine artist-writers: Gene Luen Yang’s Boxers & Saints and Steven Jenkins’s The Animal World, two works that are necessary, two works that will stay with me for years, two works I am sure to revisit.Which will I revisit first? Boxers & Saints."

Yet, judge Katherine Marsh kept my hopes alive when she picked The Thing About Luck over The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp by Kathi Appelt in Round Two. I was still in the game!

Alas, it was a short-lived victory. In the just-concluded Round Three, judge Robin LaFevers gave the nod to P.S. Be Eleven over The Thing About Luck. LaFevers concluded her selection remarks by noting: "While I was forced to pick just one of these books, you don’t have to. Anyone who reads both of them will be the true winner." Yes, that's true, but her selection leaves me with my bracket busted.

Wait! There's still a slim chance that I could get back in the game! On Monday, the Battle Commanders will unveil the winner of the "Undead" poll.
What's this, you say? Well, before this year's Battle of the Kids' Books began, folks were urged to vote for the book that they'd most like to see come back into the Big Kahuna round. As the Battle Commanders explain it: "The previously-eliminated contender that receives the most votes will be taken out of the grave to join the two other finalists for the final bout featuring our Big Kahuna judge, 'Typical' Jennifer Holm."

So, fingers crossed for Monday. I'd be happy to see any of my trio resurrected to battle it out with the other two finalists, Boxers & Saints and P.S. Be Eleven in the Big Kahuna round on April 1. Stay tuned!

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