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

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Echo, Echo, Echo, Echo…

Echo by Pam Munoz Ryan beats One by Sarah Crossan

Arghh…this was a hard one for me.  Both books were pretty good. Echo was broader in scope and had a lot of story to do with bits of history. It was linked by a bit of magic which cleverly wound everything up in the end; maybe too tidily.  Echo reminded me of other books like the Red Violin and the Accordion Crimes which also used an instrument as a way of portraying a long range story.

One was more modern, dealing with dilemmas of separating twins.  Kind of sad but unless you are a twin in that conjoined position, it was hard for me to identify with that kind of emotional closeness.  It is a case of unless you have been there you really cannot identify (like being a mom I guess.)  I am starting to get used to the free verse form so it has been a bit of an education for me.  The references to other conjoined twins were also kind of interesting.

Although both books were really good, I think for the sheer broadness of appeal I would pick Echo.

One is powerfully written and emotionally impacting. The insights into the realities of conjoined twins were fascinating. It's a bit like getting to read the articles in The National Enquirer without having the embarrassment of holding the Enquirer. 

Echo was better. I loved how the stories intertwined. I thought it was an effective choice to begin the first tale ahead of the front matter of the book. It immediately signaled that this book was different and got my curiosity up. It could have easily been labeled a prologue but I preferred this unique approach. 

I found Friedrich, Mike and Ivy to be believable. Their stories were compelling and the way they were told created quite a bit of tension. Although the reader in me hated how we were left hanging with each 'ending', it certainly contributed to my need to keep reading. 

Yes, the ending was tidy, but this is children's literature. At least the author didn't have them discover their shared history. And one final note, reading Echo made me want to find the harmonica hidden somewhere in the house and give the songs a try.

I read One first and was overwhelmed with the emotion that overcame me with the ending. I was, however, confused by the use of verse in this book. I was unsure as to whether or not the author used it for effect or to make it a less intimidating novel for young readers. Nevertheless, I found the book to be very captivating. Opening up a whole new world to me, I had never thought of the life of conjoined twins before, and if I had, I pitied them. I found this story to be extremely well written changing the way I see conjoined twins.  I could feel the torrents of raw emotion from the narrator and found myself sobbing at the end.

When I began to read Echo, I didn’t think that I would be overcome with the same emotion. I'd be lying though if I said I didn’t know what I was getting into before I started reading Echo. Knowing how many emotions you will be bombarded with doesn’t really prepare you for them! Nothing does until you’re sitting there yelling at the book for giving you too many feels, *yep, this actually happened*.  My one downside of this book, if you could call it that, would be some students might be afraid of its size. However, I would encourage them to look at it as 4 books within one...woven with a common thread...or a common sound. This was a tough decision for me. My vote is for Echo.
What a challenging decision!
It was very difficult for me to put both these books down. Actually, it was the most captivating and fastest reading I did this season. Both books really deserve to be at this point in the Mighty Smackdown competition. So thank you to the members of this club who pushed these two forward.

I learned so much from One and I felt that using verse was an excellent way of representing the emotions in a more everyday way of speaking. I know when I’m speaking emotionally I am a lot less formal because it just comes out raw and from the heart and soul.

But I did not vote for One! I echo my colleagues here at Ottewell and cast my vote for Echo. I found this book to be very creatively written. I could not wait to find out what happened in the end and when I did I wanted to start all over again.

What an excellent way to bring history alive!

Submitted by the Ottewell members

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