Battle of the Books: Compare/ Contrast Two Newbery Contenders
Comparing similar and (not-to-similar titles) is the bones of the Newbery medal. I mean how else are you to determine the best title of the year? You need to see how it stands against everything else (and the criteria of course, always the criteria).
In last Friday’s post, Steven and I compared two popular 2022 fantasy books, OGRESS AND THE ORPHANS and THE LAST MAPMAKER. Today we are taking that exercise a little further by comparing two 2022 Newbery potentials in a game called “Battle of the Books.”
- Pick a potential 2023 Newbery contender. It can be one from our nomination list, but doesn’t have to be.
- Look at the Newbery Terms and Criteria and compare the two titles. You don’t have to discuss every category but at least one .
- Explain what one book does better than the other and why that book stands out.
The purpose of this exercise is to see how closely we need to evaluate the books and to look at how they compare against each other. It’s important to remember that all these books are being discussed because they redeeming qualities, now we’re seeing what stands out as the best of the best.
You could choose books in many ways: two books that are the same genre (like our battle of the fantasies), or books with similar themes, or two books that have a lot of nominations, or two books that have only one nomination….
I’ll start with two animal books: ODDER by Katherine Applegate vs. CRESS, WATERCRESS by Gregory Maguire. ODDER excels in characters, with a deep dive into the Otter’s personalities and thoughts while CRESS, WATERCRESS really showcases “unlikeable characters,” in a relatable way. Both have slower plots with deep character development. Overall, I say CRESS, WATERCRESS excels across the board.
Next, two titles with unique perspectives: A ROVER’S STORY by Jasmine Warga (which I thought was nominated but isn’t) vs. The PATRON THIEF OF BREAD by Lindsay Eagar. ROVER gives the reader the perspective of a Mar’s Rover and in BREAD we look through the eyes of a gargoyle. The presentation of ROVER is exceptionally strong with fluid transitions between characters. The dialogue is also phenomenal, particularly how the robots interact with one another. In BREAD, the gargoyle’s perspective is interesting, but I’m not sure if it adds to the story. The language used is decent, but the book particularly excels in development of plot and interpretation of theme, two categories that I think Rover also does well. Based on that I give A ROVER’S STORY the medal.
Please share your own thoughts in the comparison structure. Just look at one comparison per comment, but you can do as many comments as you wish. And comment on the comments of others of course…
Filed under: Book Discussion
About Emily Mroczek-Bayci
Emily Mroczek (Bayci) is a freelance children’s librarian in the Chicago suburbs. She served on the 2019 Newbery committee. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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