Despite the fact that the world of Children's Literature already has The Newbery and Caldecott, the O'Dell and the King, the Andersen and the Wilder, there are always new ways to recognize and reward outstanding books for kids and young adults. Two of the most recent efforts--and certainly the most permissive of audience participation-- are the Cybils and the School Library Journal Battle of the (Kid's) Books.
This year marked the fourth year of the Cybils (Childrens and YA Bloggers Literary Award,) in which the best literature for children and young adults, across a wide range of categories and ages, is recognized. The books are nominated by the public during a two week period in October, and then whittled down by a dedicated group of bloggers, with the winners announced on February 14th, which conveniently enough is Valentine's Day (sweethearts and sweet books--a happy combination!) Regular readers of this blog know that I served as a panelist for the Non-fiction/Informational Picture Book category, which involved my colleagues and I reading over 70 titles, which we then narrowed down to 6 for consideration by a second round of judges. It's a fabulous experience and one I highly recommend to bloggers who care about great books for kids. This year's winners include titles which have already been recognized by top awards, books which flew under some radars, and books which will get a chance for a second victory lap in the SLJ Battle of the Book tournament.
The Battle of the Books (can I just call 'em 'Bob'?) was instituted last year and was an absolute hoot. School Library Journal enlisted the service of top authors and experts in the field to read two books, select one winner, and then send it along to the next round. The final winner was determined by non-other than two time Newbery Medalist winner Lois Lowry. Elizabeth Bird, in her ever impressive Fuse #8 blog filmed a highly amusing--and equally informative--video to announce the titles and participants involved in this year's tournament. Watch it here. This year's battle has initiated a new element--the audience participation element--called the Zombie Round (gee, topical much?) In this new facet of the tournament, a favorite title which was knocked out in an earlier round has a chance at renewal through the magic of readership voting.
As with last year's BoB, I have already read a handful of the books up for contention, so I feel I can follow the proceedings with a certain amount of prior competency. If I had to pick a winner now--I couldn't possibly! Last year I was so impressed with the analysis of the books, how seriously the judges took their duties, and just how gosh-darn fun the whole thing was, and I can't wait for this year's BoB to begin! Mark your calendars: March 1st is when it all starts. Folks on Twitter will be able to follow the progress at @SLJsBoB. Be prepeared to discover some new and exciting titles for your To Be Read pile.
And finally, for anyone who is not already following The Top 100 Children's Poll, again, on the Fuse #8 blog, then you really want to get on over and see how your favorites are doing. As she did with last year's Top 100 Picture Book Poll, Elizabeth Bird has put together a blogging tour-de fource. She isn't just listing the books but providing critical and cultural analysis of the titles. She's up to 46, and none of my top ten has yet to make an appearance. Either I picked some real winners, or my odd-ball reading tastes have named me for the nerd I am.