Tuesday, April 2, 2013
The Sweet Spot
Once upon a time a slightly demented teacher wandered onto School Library Journal’s Battle of the Books and the idea for The Mighty Smackdown was born. I tell you this story as a warning for surfing the net when you should be marking and to set the stage for another lesson I have recently learned. A small circle of you know a nickname I sometimes go by…the Booktator. I confess when I really love a book I want everybody to love it and watching The Raven Boys go down on the last round was tough for me. I also watched (yes I’m that geeky) the Printz book honors announced and watched in horror as The Fault in our Stars was left holding no prize. When the Battle of the Books got started many a comment was lobbed at TFIOS. It seems the Nerdfighters were getting backlash from a crowd of uber-librarians who instead shouted their bridled (they are librarians after all) passion for Code Name Verity and Serafina. Still TFIOS walked on championed by one author reader after another until it lost in the finals to another Smackdown contender No Crystal Stair. While this went on I found myself thinking about what I want to read vs. what I think students will like. I also read thoughtful comments on all the books nominated (You really see little smack in this contest) and realized that all this thinking, reading and arguing about books is what I want to see my own kids doing. If you participate in or read this blog and you think….what? Are you kidding? Or now there is an opinion I can get behind then you are getting passionate about books and for that I am thrilled even (gasp!) when you are not sharing my opinion…really I mean it.
That said folks here is my pure Booktator moment: Inside Out and Back Again is a book I would use in my classroom to jump start reading and writing from the background knowledge of immigration. Many of our families have come directly from other countries and English as a second language is common. It is a good book not a great book. The Fault in Our Stars is clearly the book that needs to move on in this bracket. It is the best book I’ve read in the year. It made me laugh and cry sometimes in the same page. Uber librarians get over yourselves – this book is great. It falls in the Venn diagram middle of I like it and kids will like it – that’s the sweet spot.