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

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

First, know this: I have no idea if this whole blog thing is actually going to work. It is true, I have never actually blogged before. There. I said it...out loud. But this time, I am moved. I am moved to say this: What is the purpose of this whole Smackdown thing anyway? Is it for us to read and enjoy these books all the while keeping our students in mind so hopefully we can pass some gem of a book onto them? Or is to find those books which we feel will most appeal to our kids and throw the rest out - no matter how freaking good the book is?
SOMEBODY PLEASE TELL ME! I need direction... I don't do well with ambiguity...
So I turn to our fearless leader. I ask her why? Why are we reading these books? Give me some criteria for choosing one book over the other? Sure it is easy when you have a snoozer up against something great. But what about when you have Gabi, A Girl in Pieces against The Crossover? What then??
Nothing. She gives me nothing but a small grin and a you-figure-it-out kind of talk. What kind of answer is that? sigh
So, I am trying to figure it out. I loved Gabi; I read it in one sitting. I found the characters to be authentic and honest. It is the kind of book that deals with issue after issue, but does so in a way that makes it all sound so real rather then checking off the standard issue list that seems to be so very popular this year. How can I not vote for a book that I love? Well...there are very few students I can give this book to in my class right now. I couldn't even book talk it to my whole class after spending a Saturday on the couch reading it. And then, there's The Crossover and Paranych breathing down my neck - threatening to turn my class full of basketball players against me if I vote against it. For me The Crossover was fine, but that's it - it was just fine. It was certainly not a sit-on-my-couch-and-read it-all-day kind of book. is a book I can give to my students right away. As a matter of fact, when I read it a few months ago, I did just that, and all of my kids loved it. But, alas, I did not. Which of course brings me back to purpose. What is the purpose of this whole Smackdown thing?! Argh!!
Ultimately, of course, my vote didn't matter anyway because my group voted for The Crossover to move on because it is a book we can all give to our students. And yup, that's right. I voted for Gabi, A Girl in Pieces because it is just that freaking good. If you haven't yet read it, you probably should - even if you don't have a student you can give it to.


  1. I may be that fearless leader you spoke of. There can't be criteria because these discussions come out of the ambiguity. Everything you wrote I agreed with and even voted for Gabi to go on. My students mature and move on and this is a book I think they should read; a few now, most later. It was a mentor text for other authors to see where an issue based, female narrator can go in YA literature. We didn't get the votes but we did get the discussion.

  2. I am really glad that I have worked with you for THREE YEARS and you actually do not know how to spell my name right LEESA. When shall I come talk to your 9s?

    1. HA ha! I always have to have the last word, Holli!! (Are you buying that one?)