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Napoli v. Leavitt

We’re onto the second round of the BoB, with Donna Jo Napoli choosing between Code Name Verity and Bomb, and Martine Leavitt adjudicating Endangered v. The Fault in Our Stars. Napoli has already been called out for including spoilers to Code Name Verity (while, hilariously, saying “I won’t spoil it for you”) but I don’t think spoilers should be an issue, one way or the other, in this kind of competition. Just read the damn books already. More of a problem is the far too long summations of her contestants without much attendant critical discussion. After invoking the apples and oranges (“or diamonds and emeralds”) she chooses Bomb because it “reveals an important truth that desperately needs to be faced , or we are doomed.” So her criterion seems to be “which book seems more likely to stave off nuclear annihilation?” ALL RIGHT then.

Leavitt does a great job. With not too much plot and with enthusiasm to spare, she was personal and specific, finding very different things to appreciate in both books. She compares them on a common point, that Hazel and Augustus in The Fault in Our Stars pulled her in while Sophie in Endangered “felt far away,” and she makes a critical point to suggest that her reaction is not just a feeling: “Perhaps it was that Schrefer named emotions rather than showing them.” There’s a little shuck-and-jive about “being picky,” but we can tell she didn’t, or didn’t pretend to, flip a coin. Leavitt wins.

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. As much as I dislike the Fault in Our Stars, I have to agree. I may not have been thrilled with the choice, but I can’t fault (haha) Leavitt’s reasoning. I was very bored while reading Napoli’s judgement. I already read both books, I don’t need a plot recap.

  2. Sam Bloom says:

    I agree, Roger. This one was a definite no-brainer. Looking forward to hearing your thoughts on Paul Griffin’s decision today, which felt pretty darn long-winded.

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