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the best thing on the kidlitinternet right now

School Library Journal’s annual Battle of the Books is fun… but Roger Sutton’s Battle of the Battle of the Books Judges is genius.

As the BoB judges – all authors of YA or children’s books – make judgements between two books, Roger makes judgements about their judgement. Although I like the idea of Book Battles (or any brackets that are not basketball related, actually), I always find myself skimming through the judge’s (always lengthy) reports to get to the good stuff – the results.

After reading Roger’s commentary for a few weeks, I think I know why – these BoB judges aren’t making arguments, they don’t let the books talk to each other, they don’t actively judge. Extended book summary, followed by “Oh gosh, how does anyone possibly decide between such amazing books?” and then a quick decision at the end that seems at best, personal, at worst, random. Roger’s meta-tourney calls everyone out on such bullshit.

I am probably not done with this topic. Relentless book praise is boring and makes the children’s lit world seem like one big cheering squad and not a legitimate literary atmosphere. At the same time, needless, arbitrary book hate is also damaging – there is nothing more obnoxious than a One-Star Goodreads review whose rationale seems to be “Ugh, that character should have just done Blah, Blah, Blah I couldn’t stand it!” There are a million ways to be a bad representative of a book – I have my own bad habits, I’m sure – but that doesn’t mean we can’t all strive to do right for the books we love.

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