Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Day 2: The battle wages on

Today's contenders were A Conspiracy of Kings by Megan Whalen Turner and Countdown by Deborah Wiles.  Talk about comparing apples and oranges.  "A Conspiracy of Kings" take place in an ancient kingdom and is filled with strategy and political wrangling and battles and intrigue, kidnapping, slavery and clever maneuvering AND it kept me on edge the whole way through.  If you've read the other books in the series, you will appreciate how the friendships between Eugenides, the king of Attolia, and the Sophos, the young king of Sounis, change after Sophos ascends to the throne. The connection between Sounis, Attolia, the third kingdom of Eddis and the threat of the Mede against all three has as much to do with personalities as it does with borders and battles. I need to read the rest of the series now.

Deborah Wiles wrote an absorbing account of a young girl's loss of a friend against the background of the Cuban Missile crisis in the 1960s.  Countdown sandwiches the day to day life of 6th graders and their families with news clips, photos, quotes and biographies of the major players during the 1960s.  Civil Defense drills and plans for a bomb shelter indicate how frightening the stand-off between the United States and Cuba was to the people who lived through it.

So which of these very different books will move on to the next round?  I would have had a very difficult time choosing.  One book is full of long ago intrigue and adventure.  The other book hits close to our daily lives and helps put what is happening today in context.  Both are written masterfully and the stories are absorbing for very different reasons.

Dana Reinhardt, the judge of this match, chose Countdown.   Countdown  will go up against The Cardturner  when Round 2 begins in a few days.

Tomorrow, Pam Munoz Ryan's lyrical book, Dreamer, goes up against The Good, the Bad, the Barbie by Tanya Lee Stone, a complete history of America's favorite doll.   I'd hate to be the judge of that match-up.  The only things these books have in common is their bookiness! 

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