School Library Journal's Battle of the Kids' Books is making me about crazy, and I get the feeling it's happening to other bloggers, too; the tone around the kidlitosphere is reaching frenetic. I have a bracket all made out, but every time I try to predict what's going to win, or what I want to win, I get jumbled. I've made markings on the bracket as to what I think will win, and separate markings for what I want to win, and I'm thinking about making a third set of markings for "what I think should win even though I don't really want it to". The matches are all difficult, and some are impossible.
Take, for instance, The Hunger Games vs. The Porcupine Year. It was my fervent wish that The Porcupine Year win the 2009 Newbery; it didn't even get an honor. On the other hand, any time I talk about The Hunger Games, I use the word "awesome" more times than is probably allowable by law. I had no doubt in my mind that The Hunger Games did not fit the Newbery criteria. But we aren't talking about the Newbery anymore. We can throw aside those constraints. So I don't know what to do. The Porcupine Year is a better book in so many ways, but... it isn't as awesome. What will win? What should win? What are the biases of the celebrity judge?
To my surprise, when I marked that match, I marked Porcupine to win and Hunger Games for my choice. I feel like I pushed my own sister off a cliff.
It's also humbling to find that I haven't read all the books, despite all the Newbery and Printz preparation I did last year. I read dozens upon dozens of books, but I still didn't read Ways to Live Forever, Washington at Valley Forge, Kingdom on the Waves, or Here Lies Arthur. (I haven't really read Graceling, but I read part of it and could see it Wasn't For Me, so when it didn't win any awards I put it aside; but I feel familiar with it enough to judge.)
Here are my picks at this point for what I think WILL win, except that I already know The Graveyard Book lost so even though I had that winning, I'm cheating and taking it out of the running.
Round 1: Kingdom on the Waves, Trouble Begins at Eight, Chains, Tender Morsels, Frankie Landau-Banks, The Porcupine Year, The Underneath, Nation.
Round 2: Kingdom on the Waves, Tender Morsels, Frankie Landau-Banks, Nation.
Round 3: Kingdom on the Waves, Nation.
Ultimate Winner: Nation.
What I WANT to win:
Round 1: Kingdom on the Waves, [Trouble Begins at 8], Washington at Valley Forge, Tender Morsels, We Are the Ship, The Hunger Games, The Underneath, Nation.
Round 2: Kingdom on the Waves, Tender Morsels, The Hunger Games, Nation.
Round 3: Tender Morsels, Nation.
Ultimate Winner: yeah, that's asking too much of me. Probably Nation. Yes, Nation. I think. Except I sort of want The Hunger Games to win it all. And I sort of think it will.
If you'd asked me what I thought would win and what I wanted to win, before I went through that process of considering match-by-match, I think I would have chosen The Hunger Games in both cases.
Abby has a great analysis of the first two contests.