Let us first note that both Adam Gidwitz (Jepp, Who Defied the Stars v. Starry River of the Sky) and Franny Billingsley (Liar & Spy v. Splendors and Glooms) break the mold by discussing their winning books first. Billingsley more so than Gidwitz, who devotes some 1200 words to the agony of choice and the meaning of goodness before getting around to the point. It reminds me of the kind of tap-dancing I used to do in college when I hadn’t done the reading. His discussion of the merits of the two books is however quite good, illuminating respective strengths and politely but forthrightly going after Jepp’s slow pace and overly ornate prose.
Speaking of which . . . . Billingsley’s effusions over her books makes me think of that scene in The Group where Libby starts going on and on about the Baked Alaska while the other wedding guests suddenly start feeling like they have someplace better to be. Still, Billingsley only wrings her hands over the agony of choice for seventy-five words before getting down to business. She is also good on the books’ merits (no de-merits, however) and is succinct about what guided her choice: “what I would have loved most as a kid.” In a contest like this one, it’s as usable a criterion as any. But while she thus chooses Splendors and Glooms, I sense her worrying about running into Rebecca Stead at the inaugural Random Penguin party and so she closes with a portentous flourish in the direction of Liar & Spy.
This is close to a tie OMG OMG HOW DO I CHOOSE THIS IS ART NOT A WRESTLING MATCH but I’m going with Billingsley because she gets the job done in one third the time of Gidwitz.