I don't mean to brag, but I've always been slightly-better-than-average at filling out NCAA March Madness brackets. Battle of the Kids' Books, is totally new territory for me though. Each year book blogger Eric Carpenter puts together a bracket challenge for fans to follow along and make predictions. This year I'm taking my first go at it. But since I have no idea what some of the author judges will be taking into consideration, and no clue as to what kind of novels appeal to them as readers, there's nothing to do but sit back and have fun with it. So here are my predictions:
I'm picking AS EASY AS FALLING OFF THE FACE OF THE EARTH over THE CARDTURNER. In authors Lynne Rae Perkins and Francisco X. Stork (author judge) I see similarities in teen appeal whereas Louis Sachar is widely known for writing one of the greatest juvenile fiction novels ever, in HOLES. Call it a hunch . . .
I'm also taking COUNTDOWN over A CONSPIRACY OF KINGS. I know Megan Whalen Turner has a pretty voracious following, but I think COUNTDOWN has gotten enough buzz amongst readers this year to advance at least one round in this competition. (It wouldn't surprise me if the loser of this round rises among the Undead!)
I think (hope) Barry Lyga will choose THE DREAMER over THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE BARBIE. Although this is the pick I'm most unsure of, even though as you will soon see, I have THE DREAMER going quite far.
KEEPER seems like the type of book Susan Patron would dig, more so than HEREVILLE.
ONE CRAZY SUMMER is way too decorated to be knocked out by THE ODYSSEY in the first round, and I don't think Karen Hesse will look to stir things up.
Adam Rex does not strike me as a history buff, I could be totally wrong, but I just see him as an avid fantasy reader, therefore I think THE RING OF SOLOMON will be his pick.
Call me naive, but if there was a sure thing in the first round, it would be my favorite A TALE DARK AND GRIMM. R.L. Stine is its judge for crying out loud! If there was a book that was made for the Goosebumps and Fear Street creator to read and enjoy, it would be this book. Although, who knows what Mr. Stine will do. Maybe that's precisely why he'd throw people off by choosing THEY CALLED THEMSELVES THE KKK . . . I don't see it though.
I flipped a coin to finish the first round and came up with Mitali Perkins choosing WILL GRAYSON, WILL GRAYSON.
Laura Amy Shlitz will pick AS EASY AS FALLING OFF THE FACE OF THE EARTH because she is a great writer and I don't think she'll be fooled by the structure and display of COUNTDOWN. However, I don't think we'll have heard the last of Deborah Wiles' novel . . .
I also think Naomi Shihab Nye (poet) will take a whole three seconds to choose THE DREAMER over KEEPER. Sure KEEPER is written with it's own lyrical, poetic prose, but THE DREAMER seems to be a poet's book. If it can just get past that first round, I see it going very far.
I see Patricia Reilly Giff choosing ONE CRAZY SUMMER over THE RING OF SOLOMON.
And I see Pete Hautman choosing A TALE DARK AND GRIMM over WILL GRAYSON, WILL GRAYSON.
The Final Four:
Grace Lin will have a tough time choosing between THE DREAMER and AS EASY AS FALLING OFF THE FACE OF THE EARTH. I see her liking the latter but loving the former. In the end, I see Grace Lin more as a juvenile fiction author and think THE DREAMER speaks to her type of readers more than AS EASY AS FALLING OFF THE FACE OF THE EARTH. That's why I think she'll pick it.
As for Karen Cushman choosing between A TALE DARK AND GRIMM and ONE CRAZY SUMMER . . . I think ONE CRAZY SUMMER is just too decorated to walk away a winner here. It's my gut feeling that something other than ONE CRAZY SUMMER will win this. So now, is as good a time as any to fall by the wayside. A TALE DARK AND GRIMM will prevail.
The Big Kahuna Round:
At this time, COUNTDOWN will be revealed as the winner of the Undead Poll (with A CONSPIRACY OF KINGS coming in a close second). Richard Peck will enjoy having COUNTDOWN added to his small reading list because he's a historical fiction kind of guy, but in the end, will not choose it as the winner. He will be mezmerized by the sing-song prose of THE DREAMER but being a master storyteller himself, will be too blown away by Adam Gidwitz's Grimm Brothers re-imaginings.
A TALE DARK AND GRIMM will be victorious!