For some, March Madness means watching college teams fighting to the finish in a yearly basketball tournament. But for kid lit fans, it hearkens the return of School Library Journal’s fifth annual Battle of the Kids’ Books (BOB). The online elimination contest that pits 16 of 2012’s best children’s and teens’ books kicked off today, March 12, with celebrated YA author Kenneth Oppel’s verdict: R. J. Palacio’s middle grade novel Wonder (Random) versus Steve Sheinkin’s distinguished Bomb (Roaring Brook/Flashpoint).
Oppel and many of the most popular authors writing for kids, comprise a panel of judges that will decide the contenders’ fates in a winner-take-all competition. The authors will read two books, and after close analysis will determine which title advances to the next round. This stellar group includes James Patterson, Franny Billingsley, Marie Lu, and Thanhha Lai. The judges have no easy task before them. They must decide between nonfiction and fiction, children’s and teen, historical fiction and contemporary works.
Fans can follow and comment on the action on the Battle of the Kid’s Books blog. There, readers can keep track of which favorite meets its doom or rises to the top by downloading the illustrated bracket. Readers also had the opportunity to save their darlings in the Undead Poll, which closed on Sunday, March 10. If a book meets its end early in the competition, it might have the chance to rise from the ashes in the last round, which will be judged by last year’s winner (and Big Kahuna) Frank Cottrell Boyce. He will choose among the Undead Poll winner and the last two books left standing. The grand prize winner will be announced on April 1.
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