Before we get to the polls, I wanted to share an adorable story with all of you: most of the songs and rhymes I do for my storytime are carried over from week to week, so there’s a lot of repetition. (When the new session starts in January, I will be planning out a whole new storytime which will stick through the winter/spring session.) We have been doing “This Old Man, He Played One” every week, and a rhyme with scarves that goes “Fingers like to wiggle waggle, wiggle waggle, way up high” (down low, side to side, etc.). “This Old Man” plays to limited success, but the wiggle waggling is the favorite of many children.
One of my regulars had to attend a different storytime because of his caregiver’s work schedule last week. When it ended, he came out of the storytime singing “wiggle waggle” to the precise tune of “This Old Man.” He also proceeded to remix some of the other songs he’d heard in that morning’s storytime, and his accuracy and pitch on the tunes was almost perfect.
This kid is just shy of three. It was the cutest remix I’ve ever seen.
Voting! Sorry this is going up a day later than expected – putting the polls together was more time consuming than I expected.
Round One, Part One: Fantasy
A boy wizard an his owl versus a girl and her daemon – both destined to change the world. Harry Potter deals with classism, The Golden Compass with religion – both take place in worlds of magic, and both have some of the most beautiful prose I’ve ever read. Haven’t read them? Read more about Harry Potter here and The Golden Compass here.
While different in tone, I Shall Wear Midnight and Sabriel both feature young women learning to navigate the strange powers they possess while maintaining their sense of self. Midnight has Pratchett’s singular humorous bent, while still managing to spring emotional weight on the reader; Sabriel is delightfully macabre with its sprinkling of necromancy and spirits. Read more about I Shall Wear Midnight here and Sabriel here.
Speaking of macabre…historical fiction meets monstrous entity in The Monstrumologist, while Hold Me Closer, Necromancer stars a teen and his realization that he has the power to raise the dead. Another matchup of humor versus poetic horror, read more about The Monstrumologist here and Hold Me Closer, Necromancer here.
Neil Gaiman versus a Neil Gaiman endorsed graphic novel, both starring adventurous young women who bite off more than they can chew. For Coraline, it’s getting involved with the otherworldly Other Mother; for Anya, it’s inviting the ghost of Emily home with her. Read more about Coraline here and Anya’s Ghost here.
Round One, Part One: Science Fiction
I like pairing classics, although it makes the choice a lot harder. All dystopian novels owe some of their DNA to The Giver, while A Wrinkle in Time melds hard science with interstellar travel and spiritual beings seamlessly. Read more about The Giver here and A Wrinkle in Time here.
Speaking of dystopias…both The Maze Runner and The Hunger Games are stories of survival in bleak futures, where the main characters are only working with part of the information. Thomas from The Maze Runner has more of an internal battle to fight, while Katniss struggles against forces outside her control. Read more about The Hunger Games here and The Maze Runner here.
I picked The City of Gold and Lead instead of the first book in the Tripods trilogy, The White Mountains, because the city as described is so vivid – clogged with pollution, heavy with increased gravity, the prose feels as oppressive as the story of alien domination. On the other side, you have the descriptions of the Battle Room, and the impending doom of alien invasion. Read more about Ender’s Game here and The City of Gold and Lead here.
Surgical perfection versus cloning and organ harvesting – this last match-up is a battle of medical oddities. Tally Youngblood eagerly anticipates becoming a Pretty, without a care or responsibility, until the truth of her utopian society is revealed, while Matteo Alacran waits for the drug lord he was cloned from to claim his organs. Read more about Uglies here and The House of the Scorpion here.
Round One, Part One: Realistic Fiction
The best in survival fiction, both voluntary and involuntary. Brian and Sam have been inspiring people for years with their tenacity, ingenuity and fortitude; Hatchet reveals that we are made of stronger stuff than we might think, while My Side of the Mountain explores the freedom of choosing to live your own life. Read more about Hatchet here and My Side of the Mountain here.
As a high school girl, these two series spoke to me on a pretty fundamental level – the girls featured went through and came out of so many of the same troubles I was having, and they did with grace (mostly) and humor (typically). The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants is definitely the more emotional of the two, but Georgia Nicolson provided much needed perspective on all the little things that felt like life-enders at the time. Read more about The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants here and Angus, Thongs, and Full Frontal Snogging here.
On the surface, these two classics don’t have much in common: Scout’s story of race relations during the Great Depression versus a group of boys degenerating into chaos alone on an island. However, both deal with the breakdown of society in the face of savagery – it is more literal in the case of Lord of the Flies, but Scout must also face the failure of justice and the violent results of human brutality. Read more about To Kill A Mockingbird here and Lord of the Flies here.
One of the things that makes great YA is the fearlessness to tackle the big issues. Both of these novels do so with tragic skill, whether it’s Eleanor navigating her abusive home and budding relationship with Park, or Hannah baldly laying out the decision to end her life. Both novels are sharp illustrations of the kind of literature that can be deeply affecting. Read more about Eleanor & Park here and Thirteen Reasons Why here.
Round One, Part One: Historical/Non Fiction
I didn’t actually realize until the moment that both of these are World War II narratives – the Book Thief tells its story from inside Germany, about the little rebellions people fought every day and how they can turn into something huge, while Code Name Verity is about spies and truth and camaraderie in Nazi-occupied France. Both feature girls that will break your heart with their courage. Read more about The Book Thief here and Code Name Verity here.
I confess – when the boys in my class were reading Hatchet, I was reading Julie of the Wolves. (We all read The Island of the Blue Dolphins.) Julie’s story, of adapting to life amongst the wolfpack and surviving in the bare tundra and reconnecting with her Eskimo heritage, captured me; Karana, alone on her island, made me examine the connections I made with other people. Read more about The Island of the Blue Dolphins here and Julie of the Wolves here.
The most popular pirate story ever written versus one of the most controversial novels still part of the school curriculum. Both feature voyages and unlikely friendships – Jim Hawkins sails with, and befriends, the bloodthirsty Long John Silver, while Huck meanders down a river with escaped slave Jim. Read more about Treasure Island here and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn here.
Blankets is a serene, emotional story about first love and reminiscing, while Stitches is the violent, disturbing tale of being lied to “for your own good” and the mental and physical damage that can do. While Stitches is more visceral, Blankets is more familiar – but both are the kind of story that sticks with you long after you’ve put it down. Read more about Blankets here and Stitches here.
These initial pairings were formulated using a very scientific method of what I thought was appropriate multiplied by process of elimination. The second round for all categories will go up on Saturday, and then I’ll close the polls next Wednesday and post the next round of match-ups. Feel free to debate heatedly in the comments! You can also vote more than once, so advocating for your favorites is encouraged. Tell your friends! Tell your librarian! Tell everyone!