School Library Journal recently announced its first annual Battle of the (Kids’) Books contest, which will "pit" 16 of last year’s best books for young people against each other. http://www.schoollibraryjournal.com/
It's all supposed to be fun and Oscar-ish, a real buzz builder, I suppose. But come on! Really? I've been storming around the house all morning, cranky as hell, muttering to the cat and saying things like:
Do we really need one more meaningless contest that winds up deciding nothing? Which is better Octavian Nothing or Disreputable History? Red or Blue? Pizza or Spaghetti? Hasn't the Newbery already made this completely arbitrary decision once this year?
How many times do we need to hear about the same handful of books? Oh no, not yet another analysis of the joys of Graveyard Book?!
Is this really a meaningful use of space? We authors complain (rightfully so) about the shrinkage of review space in SLJ and PW, etc. There are no newspaper book sections left. Publishers have slashed their publicity budgets unless you've written -- fill in the names of the books mentioned above. So, what's the solution to informing the public about a new book? Hey, let's use the small amount of space available to write about Chains again!!
And how about all the awesome talent lined up to be judges. Jon Scieszka, Meg Rosoff, Tamara Pierce, Lois Lowry. I'd love to hear about their special finds, books that they loved that maybe didn't get the author's handsome face on the cover of every magazine around. But no, they will be weighing in on the same books that everyone else has already talked to death.
Okay, maybe my problem is that I'm an envious, cranky mid-list YA author who talks to her cat and has to fight for every bit of attention for her books. But I wish those who love books and writing and authors used their power to take this contest in a different direction. What about Battle of the Books that You Should Read but Didn't Even Hear About?