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>She has a really good point.

>I like Jill Wolfson’s dissent about SLJ’s upcoming Battle of the Books, for which I am the Decider between Ways to Live Forever and Octavian Nothing II. Jill is right–the BOB provides more publicity for books which have already received plenty, and as a series of apples-and-oranges decisions, it doesn’t have a whole lot of critical weight. I think, though, you have to look at it as a game in which the spectators are the most important part, making their own predictions and choices and laughing at the judges. It wouldn’t work if the books in contention were worthy but little(r)-known. I’m in fact a little surprised that Ways to Live Forever is in there–it doesn’t have nearly the profile of the others.

Roger Sutton About Roger Sutton

Roger Sutton has been the editor in chief of The Horn Book, Inc, since 1996. He was previously editor of The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books and a children's and young adult librarian. He received his M.A. in library science from the University of Chicago in 1982 and a B.A. from Pitzer College in 1978. Follow him on Twitter: @RogerReads.



  1. >I read Ways to Live Forever a week or so ago and was VERY surprised to see it on the SLJ list. It just doesn’t seem at all in the same sphere as the other books.

  2. Anonymous says:

    >These beauty contests are all about stroking the ego for the people who judge and participate. The people who make books that I know are not this competitive about their books. These contests remind me of the (non) reality shows on TV that actually foster separation, humiliation and gladiator mentality. Why lay it in on children and their books ? If anyone is to be a judge of children’s books let the children decide.

  3. Anonymous says:

    >I love the idea of BoB and the chance to hear the judges be insightful and silly. Roger, my expectations are high. But I agree that the community of spectators is the most important part.

    I also agree with Wolfson that there is something not-right in the world of kids’ books. I wish there were a one-stop shop on the web for finding out about a wider range of books. I am speaking as a writer, but also as a reader and as the parent of readers. I find most of the librarians I know to be well-meaning, but useless. They only know about the very most highlighted books of the recent day. They seem tremendously burdened by other aspects of their jobs and they never seem to have read anything.


  4. ladydisdain says:

    >I’m with Jill. Sure, this is all supposed to be fun and games, but it IS going to draw still more attention to books that really don’t need another inch of column space devoted to them. I loved most of the chosen books and I’m still sick of hearing about them. Publishers don’t have a lot of money for publicity, so why not give some free publicity to books that actually need it?

  5. >There are usually a couple or three surprise, lesser known books in the Morning News Tourney, so I think you could sneak in some faves — but, no, it wouldn’t work if the entire “contest” was filled with unknowns.

  6. Anonymous says:

    >Yes, as noted above, thee affairs are just another way to enhance the status of the judges.

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