Thursday, April 23, 2009

What do you suppose Katniss and Abraham Lincoln would talk about? Don't you love wondering?

So many great summaries of what happened this week in Battle of the Kids' Books have been written that this is a bit redundant, but I guess here is where I get to express any irrational opinions I might have. (And really, I swear! I'm not taking this seriously.)

No surprise when Octavian Nothing beat out The Trouble Begins at 8, but Tim Wynne-Jones's judgment is definitely worth reading.

As I said in my last post, I was both disappointed and moderately surprised when Chains beat out Tender Morsels. Frankly, I don't think the two books are in the same class.

Another non-surprise when John Green preferred The Hunger Games to We Are the Ship. I'm one of the few, as far as I know, who was pleased when Frankie Landau-Banks lost to We Are the Ship in the first round, but The Hunger Games is... as I believe I've mentioned, awesome.

Nancy Werlin surprised me by choosing The Lincolns over Graceling... at first. I sort of thought she would be more interested in Graceling because she wrote Impossible (which is, quite possibly, my best-loved book of last year--it's the only one, and I should be hanging my head in shame, that I've bought a copy of); but then I remembered how Impossible, while it's indisputably fantasy, is told in a very straightforward of-this-earth manner. I can see why Werlin might prefer a book like The Lincolns (and as it happened, that very day I was in Springfield, Illinois; I can report that The Lincolns is carried at the Lincoln Museum gift shop in small quantities, but not at the Lincoln Historic Home gift shop). Her decision summary is a pleasure to read, especially because she included thoughts about how she might have voted if the previous contests had ended differently. I'm still not convinced that The Lincolns is a YA book at all, or a middle grade one, or anything; it transcends age range, and I don't remember anything about it that made it seem like a kid's book. In fact, the Lincoln Museum had it with the adult books. So I'm not sure how well it goes in this contest, and I'm curious about whether that had any effect on the ALA awards.

I'm going to say something pedantic: next week Octavian Nothing is going to be up against Chains. Both books are written by white authors and have enslaved African Americans for protagonists. Isn't there something odd and possibly subversive about this? I know, it wasn't a deliberate choice on anyone's part. And I know both books have been praised for their research and sensitivity. But--still. I have a vague feeling of discomfort. Anyone?

I only need one bracket this week; what I want to win is also what I think will win.

Match 1: Octavian Nothing vs. Chains. I think Octavian Nothing will win. The judge's statements have all sounded firm and been true to my mind, while the praise for Chains has been there, but hasn't been quite as strong, and I continue to feel sort of emperor's new clothesy about it.

Match 2: The Hunger Games vs. The Lincolns. This is a hard one to judge; I would have had an easier time if the second book were one of my best-loveds, I think. I no longer feel like I have any clue about who's going to exalt The Lincolns's virtues (of which there are many, of course). But remembering how I hardly slept one night because I was too busy reading The Hunger Games--and knowing how that story has been repeated by thousands across the country--I have to think the judge will choose The Hunger Games. I didn't lose any sleep over The Lincolns.

Ultimate Winner: I think The Hunger Games will blow Octavian Nothing out of the water.


Melody Marie Murray said...

I will be sad if The Hunger Games blows Octavian Nothing out of the water. The first is good, but the second is, in my eyes anyway, classic. Nobody's going to be reading The Hunger Games a hundred years from now.

Wendy said...

You like Octavian Nothing better than anyone I know, which sort of surprises me. I think you're probably right about which is more likely to be read in a hundred years (though I'm not at all convinced that that's true about Octavian Nothing, either), and that's why--in my mind, anyway--Octavian Nothing received a Printz Honor, and The Hunger Games picked up nada at ALA. But this is (ahem) a Battle Royale, not an awards ceremony... I just don't know what Lois Lowry is going to think. She generally goes for simpler prose, herself (although I think we all know the prose in The Hunger Games isn't exactly perfection), but I can see how, having written a dystopian book, she might have strong feelings about them and find The Hunger Games lacking. Or she could say "The Hunger Games is twenty times more exciting than my book!" and leave it at that. Or she could say "Anastasia would read and enjoy Octavian Nothing, but she would tell Sonya, Daphne, Meredith, AND Steve Harvey to read The Hunger Games. Katherine would have already finished it, and Sam would be swiping it from under her pillow." (Obviously, it goes without saying that Myron would vote for Octavian Nothing.)

Nancy Werlin said...

Wendy, it makes me really happy that you were moved to buy Impossible. And I was up most of the night reading The Hunger Games, too. We'll see what happens next week!

Nancy Werlin