Smackdown Books 2018

Wolf Hollow
Salt to the Sea
The Serpent King
Optimists Die First
The Hate U Give
Orphan Island
Dan vs. Nature
The Female of the Species
Upside Down in the Middle of Nowhere
Paper Girls, Vol. 1
The Passion of Dolssa
The Distance Between Us
When We Collided
Louis parmi les spectres
Girl in the Blue Coat
Defy the Stars

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Bluefish vs All Good Children

We had a lively discussion and we all agree that Dia and Arlene should be smacked for putting an even number in our group!

Laura: Happy New Year! 
Well, ladies, Wendy and Laura agree.  We want All Good Children to move on (but like both well enough).  What say you?  Are we split and needing smack or presenting a united front?  We’re just about ready to post, but need to know what we can say about a winner in the end. 
Hope you’re all having a good first week back.  Now, this twin incubator is going for a nap…  J ( It would be worth being jealous of if I didn’t have every other pregnancy symptom in the book, too. )

Barb: I thought the beginning of All Good Children was a snooze-fest. I think it’s one of those books that starts slow and ends well. I couldn’t put it down during the last 40 pages. I feel when a book does that you tend to feel that it is better than it really is. I like the premise but not the execution. There are several books in the same genre that I would recommend before this one. I really enjoyed Bluefish but I’m not sure how many students would be interested. I thoroughly enjoyed Velveeta. So, do I pick the book that starts slow and ends well or the one I’m not sure students will like? In the end, I’m picking the one I like the best. Bluefish for me.

Laura: Well, Barb is making this interesting.  I agree with what she says, but here’s what I said to Wendy originally on that point:  I really liked Bluefish, but I think I liked it as a teacher and enjoying the story of learning to read and the allusions to The Book Thief.  I think All Good Children has wider appeal and equal merit.  Especially with all the market for stories of dystopian futures and the value of individuality messages. 
So, Mona, will you put in us in a knock-down tie or create a majority? 

Mona: Finally finished Bluefish, and sorry.  Knock down tie. J 
Loved the characters, the humour and the relationships in Bluefish.  I think that the appeal would be fairly wide, (but maybe more for girls). Easy to recommend to fans of The Perks of Being a Wallflower, or authors Rachel Cohn, Gayle Forman, John Green, Sarah Dessen...
I also liked All Good Children – I imagine that it would be easy to recommend to all the Hunger Games, Maze Runner, Gone, dystopia etc. fans.  Like Barb, there are many I would recommend before this one. 
I enjoyed both books, though I don’t think either of them will make it too the end.
My choice is Bluefish!!

Laura: Uhoh, all!  Who’s the best arm wrestler? 
Do you really think people who have not read The Book Thief would get Bluefish that well? 
I see your point about recommending Hunger Games, Maze Runner, Gone, etc before All Good Children, but I was picturing recommending it to those who had read all of the other choices up my sleeve. 
Hmmmm.  Maybe we should smack Dia and Arlene for putting us in a bracket with an even number of readers! 
Or do I count as three votes (me and the twins)?  Or does my baby brain cancel out my vote? 

Barb: I don’t think you need to have read The Book Thief to get Bluefish. My reasons for liking Bluefish have nothing to do with The Book Thief. I never jumped on that band wagon – not really a fan of that book. After thinking about it over the weekend I too believe John Green fans et. al. will like Bluefish. I laughed, I cried, I love Velveeta.

The thing that makes books like Hunger Games, Maze Runner, Gone, Legend, etc. really good is that they grab you  right from the beginning. All Good Children does not do that. Unless the student is really devoted I don’t believe they’ll make it to the good part. I probably wouldn’t have continued reading if I didn’t feel I had to.

That being said, I don’t believe either of these books will be the eventual winner so what we decide probably doesn’t matter. We are not allowed to have a tie so one of us will have to give in but it won’t be me J.

Laura: Well, Wendy and I spoke again yesterday.  Neither of us felt that All Good Children was too slow at the beginning.  The ending was most exciting, but that’s as it should be.  From the book jacket I knew that the inoculation program was coming and watching for that kept me engaged.  We both also really value the themes emphasizing a value for creativity in individuals and in society.  While we enjoyed Bluefish and liked Velveeta, we both felt we liked it as teachers.  We’re suckers for stories of a student learning to read and the triumph of literacy.  But we both still feel more kids would put their time into All Good Children. 
Either of you persuaded to change your vote yet?  You’re right in that we likely don’t have the end winner anyway.

Barb:  I like the idea of smacking Dia and Arlene!

I can't vote for All Good Children. We have a student (and avid reader) who returned it yesterday and said it was ok, “it drags in parts”. While I am not willing to change my vote I am willing to let Laura’s twins vote J

Mona: Me too.
All Good Children can go on with the twins blessings.

Wendy: I think the twins are already arguing. 
We were quite willing to be persuaded—we thought we would give it one more try!

By a vote of 4 (Wendy, Laura and the twins) to 2 (Mona and Barb), All Good Children moves on.


  1. That was an enjoyable post and the youngest vote we've had yet. Don't hate the bracket maker hate the authors that make your job so hard...

    1. Even number of voters, Dia! Really? But it has been the best smacking I've been involved in so far.

  2. I think it might be the funniest smacking I've read and I *love* that the twins are involved. Ahhhh...readers already! P.S. I don't think I can shoulder any blame as Dia makes the brackets!

    1. One more think I wondered about was the JH vs SH duking it out. Would the votes have been different if it were all JH or all SH people duking it out? I guess we will never know...

    2. That's a great question, Arlene. I loved Bluefish, and could EASILY see teaching it in a High School classroom (in fact, halfway through, I started taking notes on it, just in case I wanted to do so one day). It really is filled with material for a rich and fruitful conversation, and I think the writing on it would be great.

  3. Boy, I really loved Bluefish. Top three of the best YA I read this year, for sure. I have ordered All Good Children to give it a go!

  4. Exciting smacking going on here! Perhaps I'll have to try All Good Children again... I started it a few months ago, but was really turned off by a number of "casually" homophobic comments in the early chapters. Are these in any way accounted or answered for later in the book?

  5. Take heart: Bluefish can still be the zombie. :)

  6. Sigh. I already have three zombie picks. What to do?