Battle of the Books final round

It's almost over.

Fast, furious, contested, cranky, and apologetic, the judges on Battle of the Books have almost all had their say. It's been a wonderful glimpse into the minds of how people pick one book over another to "win."

A few days ago, my book, Marching for Freedom, beat out Tales from Outer Suburbia by Shaun Tan. Judge Walter Dean Myers put it this way.

Shannon Hale, who had judged Tales in an earlier round, had a completely different take on the book, and blogged about how her opinion was so different from Walter Dean Myers.

I've judged several award contests myself -- last year, I was a judge for the Battle of the Books (Chains vs. Washington at Valley Forge), and have also served on the LA Times Book Prize and National Book Award for Young Adults committees. I wonder if contests judged by authors are more subjective than those judged by librarians or book reviewers. American Library Association, for example, has very stringent guidelines for judges. From what I've heard about those quiet, well-behaved librarians picking winners (not that people are allowed to say much) there can be a lot of thumping on the table and shouting out the guidelines to defend choices and knock out others.

Thoughts, anyone? The bottom line for me is that contests create energy and excitement around books, and this is a good thing.

There's a new twist on this year's Battle, which is the Undead Poll. The Frog Scientist has made a run away Zombie comeback, and is up against Marching and The Lost Conspiracy.

Fascinating. Two illustrated nonfiction and one incredibly detailed fantasy novel. Results posted tomorrow- being judged by Katherine Paterson, this year's National Ambassador for Young People's Literature.