13 in 16

Alright..So this is the thing. Had a few hiccups in the plan and I didn’t read all 16 Tournament of Kids Books in 16 days.

I know. I’m so ashamed. So, so ashamed…

If you haven’t the faintest idea of what I’m talking about, here’s what’s going on. In honor of the Tournament of Kids Books at the Lawrence Public Library, I made the goal of reading all 16 books in 16 days. 16 in 16. Mostly I was doing this because the 16 books selected to compete were the top circulating books in our children’s department in 2011 and I had previously only read one (Harry Potter). Quite a big disconnect between what I’m reading and what’s being read.

But I did complete 13 of the 16 books in 16 days, and have what I think are some good reasons for not finishing the last three. 13 in 16 isn’t that bad after all.

Below are the books I read and those I wasn’t able to finish. Overall, it was a great exercise and am really glad I did it. I feel much more connected with with the interests of the kids who visit the library and have a better understanding of the books they just can’t get enough of.

Happy Birthday Bad Kitty by Nick Bruel

I really liked Bad Kitty. I’m familiar with the picture books, but this was my first time reading the young fiction series. It was actually really funny goofball sort of humor, and this particular book had interesting cat facts intertwined. Large type and lots of pictures, I look forward to recommending this series to readers ready to step up to chapter books.

Big Nate Strikes Again by Lincoln Peirce

This was one of the books going into it I thought was going to be “meh”. I was so wrong.  I loved this book. A cleaver and humorous book alternating between text and comic strip layout, Big Nate Strikes Again also integrates interesting historical tidbits. For example, main character Nate is working on a research project about Ben Franklin and starts to create his own take on ‘Poor Richard’s Almanac” with “Poor Nate’s Almanac”. Did you know Ben Franklin was also a cartoonist? I didn’t. Big Nate was by far my favorite title in the 16 in 16 challenge. Well, other than Harry Potter.

Geronimo Stilton: Mummy With No Name by Geronimo Stilton

Kids love Geronimo Stilton. Like the Magic Tree House series, they carry stacks of these books to their parents, pleading to checkout more. Personally, I’m on board with Geronimo. It’s not my #1, but it was a fun read with lots of colorful font types and pictures. I also liked that in the back of the book there was a how-to guide to throwing you’re own “Chilling Mummy Party”. It, also, is loaded with side historical facts relevant to the story being told.

My Weird School: Mr. Tony is Full of Baloney by Dan Gutman, illustrated by Jim Palliot

Eh… I can see why kids like the My Weird School series. It is goofy. I get it. But even so, I thought it was pretty flat compared to a lot of the other young fiction books in the tourney.

Junnie B., First Grader: Dumb Bunny by Barbara Park, illustrated by Denise Burkus

I’m 50/50 about Junie B. She’s alright. Don’t hate her, but I don’t love her. Like the My Weird School Series, I can see why kids would like reading this series. And if it gets kids to read books I’m 100% on board with that.

Ivy and Bean by Annie Barrows, illustrated by Sophie Blackall

I really liked Ivy & Bean. I thought it was a great story that young readers, especially girls,  could really get into. Really glad I finally got around to reading this great series by Annie Barrows, who also wrote the widely popular adult book, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society.

Summer of the Sea Serpent by Mary Pope Osborne

I’m already a fan of the Magic Tree House series, and Summer of the Sea Serpent is no exception. Kids learn so much from reading this series and enjoy it to boot; one reason why so many teachers and librarians are Magic Tree House fans as well.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Ugly Truth by Jeff Kinney

Diary of a Wimpy Kid The Ugly Truth was good. I didn’t like it as much as I liked Big Nate, but I liked it a lot. Author Jeff Kinney has harnessed an incredible voice that speaks to so many kids. Girls or boys. Old or young. And when I say old, I mean parents. Just the other day a dad was commenting on how he felt the scenarios in the Wimpy Kid series were just the kind of things he would get himself into as a child.

Dragonbreath: Attack of the Ninja Frogs by Ursula Vernon

This was another young fiction series I had never cracked open, but I’m glad I finally did. The illustrations are great and the story is equally so. And I now can see why so many kids had such a hard time choosing between Dragonbreath and Diary of a Wimpy Kid in the first round of the tournament.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling

This was the one book I had already read. The first time I read it was in high school, and like most who have been bit by the Harry Potter bug it remains to be the most loved series I’ve ever read. I’ve actually been surprised it is still doing so well in the tournament because it was one of the lower”seeds”, ranking number 15 in the top 16 most circulated children’s books in our library in 2011. The kids keep voting it into the front line and it continues to dominate.

Eleven by Lauren Myracle

I had never seen or heard of this book until I received the list of most checked out children’s books for 2011. The second of The Winnie Perry series, Eleven reminded me exactly what it was like to be an eleven year old girl. I thought it extremely well written, main character Winnie Perry lovable, and am thankful to have another solid book to recommend to middle grade readers.

Gregor and the Prophecy of Bane by Suzanne Collins

I read Gregor the Overlander some time ago, and remember enjoying it very much. I regularly recommend the series at the library, but I haven’t read beyond that first book. Gregor and the Prophecy of Bane, the second book in the series, was outstanding.

The ones that didn’t make it…

Fading Echoes by Erin Hunger

Warriors: Omen of the Stars: Fading Echoes is the second book in the fourth (FOURTH!) series of Warriors books. I had to read the prologue three times and the first chapter twice, because I had no clue what was going on. Hawkfrost, Ivypaw, Ravenpelt, Yellowfang, Jayfeather… all cats of clans I could hardly keep track of. So, I decided to return Fading Echoes in exchange for the first book in the Warriors series, Into the Wild. Hopefully, that will go a bit more smoothly.

The Icebound Land by John Flanagan

Not to the severity of  the Fading Echoes, but I also had a difficult time getting into The Ranger’s Apprentice, book 3, The Icebound Land. So I traded this one in as well, waiting for the first title of the series, The Ruins of Gorlan.

The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan

My problem with The Lost Hero was I waited to read it until the 16th day. It’s 551 pages. That’s like, Harry Potter thick. As a bookseller, I read The Lightning Thief, which The Lost Hero is a continuation of. An action-packed book laden with Greek mythology for today’s young reader. This was the first seed in the tournament and is still going strong in the brackets.

Below is the current progress of our Tournament of Kids Books bracket.

Looking forward to seeing who comes out on top!

image sources: lost hero, eleven, mr tony is full of baloney, dumb bunny, icebound landbig nate strikes again, harry potter, fading echoes, summer of the serpent, gregor, mummy with no name, ivy and beandork diaries, happy birthday bad kitty, dragonbreath, ugly truth


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