March 19, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

“March” Madness: Congressman Lewis’s Graphic Novel Wins SLJ’s Battle of the Books

Bob2017_winnerThe acclaimed graphic memoir marches to victory once again, the latest in a long line of accolades. The ultimate win in SLJ’s ninth annual virtual book competition goes to the much-lauded final volume in the “March” graphic nonfiction series (Top Shelf) by Congressman John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell.

The third book in the memoir trilogy based on Lewis’s long career fighting for civil rights was chosen by Kwame Alexander, the March Madness–like Battle of the Kids’ Books (BOB) final author judge (aka The Closer). It faced off against the 2017 Newbery Medal–winning The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill (Algonquin) and the Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe Award winner and Printz Honor Book The Sun Is Also a Star (Delacorte) by Nicola Yoon.


Kwame Alexander,
The Closer

After praising the three finalists in the match, the Newbery-winning author of The Crossover explained his methodology in making his decision.

“With vivid, emotionally intense, jump-off-the-page black-and-white drawings as the fuel, Lewis’s book drives us through the tumultuous years of our country’s reckoning with its dream that all men and women are created equal….

Once upon a time, a poet made a decision that since there was no rubric for judging heart and pain and soul and love and vicious clubbing and death and love and magic and the audacity to hope, the criteria for judging the School Library Journal Battle of the Books would be, get this: remembering. In which, March: Book Three wins every time”

When The Girl Who Drank the Moonrose from the dead” on March 30 as a result of the crowdsourced Undead Poll, in which the previously eliminated title with the most fan votes gets to be considered for the final round, some BOB fans were hoping that the “Newbery Curse” would finally be broken. But that tradition continues. A Newbery title has GWDTM_Undead_smnever gone on to be selected as the top BOB title.

This year, for the first time ever, a team of students from the Dalton School in New York City followed along with their own Mock or Fantasy BOB, adding their comments on the judges’ decisions.

Though March Book: Three swept the 2017 literary rumble, the true winners are all of the readers who were able to delight in the 16 contenders–some of the best children’s books of 2016. See you next year for the 10th anniversary of the kid lit extravaganza.

See also:

Watch: 2017 Battle of the Kids’ Books Premieres First-Ever “BOBCAST” 

How Do You BOB?: Librarians, Parents Share the Ways They’re Celebrating Battle of the Kids’ Books

Tips for Creating a “Mock BOB” | SLJ’s Battle of the Kids’ Books



Shelley Diaz About Shelley Diaz

Shelley M. Diaz ( is School Library Journal's Reviews Team Manager and SLJTeen newsletter editor. She has her MLIS in Public Librarianship with a Certificate in Children’s & YA Services from Queens College, and can be found on Twitter @sdiaz101.

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