Here’s the format: The Battle Commanders (Monica Edinger, Roxanne Feldman and Jonathan Hunt), children’s literature enthusiasts all, choose 16 of the best children’s and young adult books from the previous calendar year. Then they arrange the titles into brackets and recruit 15 celebrity judges, authors of children’s and young adult books.
SLJsBoB happens when the excitement of award season and its precise criteria has died down. Part of the fun of the contest is that the judges are given no criteria at all. They simply have to choose a winner between two outstanding books and explain their choice. Hilarity, agonizing and insight ensue.
These are the things I love about SLJsBoB:
- The Competition - Okay, my favorite books don’t have a great record, but the competition aspect definitely adds to the excitement. It’s fun to try to guess which book the judge will pick and then discover you know less about the judge than you think you do. It’s fun to figure out which book I would pick and how I would defend my choice, if I were a judge. And it’s fun to cheer for your favorites, all the while knowing (as the judges keep repeating) that each of the books is outstanding, and evaluating books is a subjective process. When favorite authors share my opinions it’s delightful, but it’s also fascinating when they approach a book completely differently than I do.
- The Comments - I feel welcomed as a commenter on Battle of the Books, and there is a sense that the judges’ posts are simply a springboard for hearing everyone else’s opinions.
- Sondra Eklund, Fairfax Regional Library