Subscribe to The Horn Book

Murdoch v. Lu and First Round Win

I like the way Marie Lu (Seraphina v. Moonbird) and Catherine Gilbert Murdock (No Crystal Stair v. The One and Only Ivan) each find much in common between their contenders. (Especially Lu’s observation about the relationship between birds and dragons.) But where you might think that qualities in common might facilitate comparison, neither of these judges pits one book against the other. Lu’s “heart is soft” for Seraphina and that “in the end, the tale of Seraphina’s journey won me over the most.” Murdock writes “Young readers will delight in Ivan’s triumph. I however, delighted more in the triumph of a self-made grocer’s son who spread the joy of books to hundreds of thousands of disadvantaged souls.” Murdock also has a criticism of each of her contenders, but I don’t really follow her argument re No Crystal Stair, that like “many biographies” it makes its subject “too important” but then later in the same paragraph she states that she suspects “Lewis Michaux fostered far more controversy than is reported here.” Which is it?

These are both fine essays (and both notable for a lack of reliance on the first person) but I feel like each could have gone either way, with each stating which book wins but not offering any reasons beyond personal preference. This has been a common occurrence in this year’s matches (always?) and maybe that’s what’s wanted? But I was thinking back on our old friends Mr. Apple and Ms. Orange. True, comparing them to each other is pointless, but can’t you have an orange that is a better example of its species than a given apple is of its? Hey, don’t bogart that joint.

I’ll go with Murdoch for her liveliness (when before has a BoB judge used “va-va-voom”?) and more analytical approach.


The first round is complete, and I’m giving the win to Kathi Appelt. I really liked that way she didn’t just give us reasons both books were great but went on to explore what about her choice made it better fulfill the criteria she revealed.

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. Ah.. I see… so you are awarding one winner per round… that works — but it kind of does not follow the “bracket” concept, right? Or, are you going to pick a winner for Round 2? Then compare Round 1 and Round 2 winners to have one advancing against Round 3 winner? Then that winner goes against Big Kahuna?

  2. Roger Sutton Roger Sutton says:

    The problem with my initial “bracket” idea is that the judges don’t advance in the BoB, only the books do. So instead I’m going to have three finalists, one from each round. Will THAT work???

  3. I can’t wait to see your thoughts on the absurd amount of plot summary in today’s BOMB v. CNV judgement. I laughed out loud when i read “and if you haven’t yet read it, I won’t spoil it for you.” Really? If someone, somehow, hadn’t read CNV yet i’m pretty sure you spoiled everything. Was Julie’s cause of death really the biggest surprise? If you’re going to withhold something you withhold Maddie’s survival, you know the huge jaw dropping shock in the middle of the book!!!

  4. Whatever you’d like to do, Roger 🙂 It’s your blog and your project! My project is to make sure that all the posts get formatted correctly and things are done in a timely fashion. And watch for the readers’ reaction. And contemplate: To Summarize, or Not to Summarize?

  5. Yes and amen to everything Eric said.

    I am loving these, particularly the Batman comic every day. I look forward to seeing what you have decided to take issue with and include in the word bubbles almost as much as your commentary. Almost.

  6. Sam Bloom says:

    Aggggh, Eric wth?!? I had to look away this morning because I could feel spoilers coming in the BoB decision, but you just killed me with that!! (On page 120 of CNV)

  7. Roger, are the texts in the speech bubbles in Batman/Robin memes found or created by you?

  8. Roger Sutton Roger Sutton says:

    I make em at

Comment Policy:
  1. Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  2. Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  3. Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.

We are not able to monitor every comment that comes through (though some comments with links to multiple URLs are held for spam-check moderation by the system). If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.

We accept clean XHTML in comments, but don't overdo it and please limit the number of links submitted in your comment. For more info, see the full Terms of Use.

Speak Your Mind