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

Friday, January 24, 2014

1,2,3,4,5,6,'re out. Verity wins!

In Counting by 7s, the main character, Willow Chance, is a twelve year old genius with social issues similar to television’s Sheldon Cooper; the simplest of those is an obsession with the number 7. Being adopted and different, her world is stabilized because of her supportive parents, but when a tragic accident occurs, she must reach out beyond her comfort bubble to find a new network of family.  It’s a sweet story, often predictable, but the character of Willow is so likeable that it’s easy to overlook plot simplicities. It seems like an excellent read for Gr.6 or 7, but older readers who enjoy historical fiction will prefer Code Name: Verity.

This book, specifically the two female protagonists, continued to roam through our minds for weeks after putting the novel aside.  It’s actually difficult to give an appropriate summary without giving away the plot twists. Ultimately, it’s a gorgeously written story of two teen girls during WWII, one from working class folk and the other aristocracy, who together become active in the war effort, one as a pilot and the other a wireless operator. 

The author writes effortlessly about friendship, deception, and incredibly feats of heroism.  It’s beautifully researched even if we weren’t terribly interested in the history of specific airplanes (and perhaps skimmed through those sections), and this well-written world and characters are so riveting that we picked up the companion book, Rose Under Fire.

Having just finished teaching The Book Thief, Code Name: Verity has been the go-to book for our strong readers, male and female, so in our minds, it easily wins this battle.



  1. I am despondent on a Friday! I loved Counting by 7's and have used some of the language in the book as scaffolding for writing with my grade eight class. On the other hand, though I personally loved Code Name Verity, it is not a YA book in my opinion but a beautiful book for adults. Even going by the broad definition of characters who are under 18 - makes this still an adult book. The beginning was draggy for average readers (and frankly most of the adults in my YA book club didn't finish) but I did cry at the end...and now too.

  2. Wasn't "Code Name Verity" the one with 300 pages of "Meh", before 20 pages of "Finally"? I was surprised by this choice too. The students I know who have read "7's" love it.

  3. There is always one book in Smackdown that I had truly strong emotions about (and not in the good way) that continues to rise in the ranks. And Code named Verity is that book. I assumed it ended well, as I couldn't finish it. It was 300 pages of Meh...which is too many pages for me to invest in to get 20 pages of "Wow". It's Freak Observer all over again...sigh

  4. Chandra and I have not weighed in on this saga so I think there is still room for discussion as none has occured yet!

    Counting by 7s was a wonderful story with wonderfully wacky characters who work so well together. I loved the fact that there was hope that emanated from all of these characters. That optimism seems to be lacking from this world, and I felt good after reading it. What is wrong with reading a book like that?

    Now, Code Name Verity took me a long time to care about, and I admit, eventually I did, but I have to agree with Dia, that I do not think it is a YA fiction.

  5. Wait. Is there hope? Does this mean there is a tie and that there is still hope for Counting By 7s? Judges? Can we get a ruling?