Off the Shelf: Conversations from the Cubicles: Young adult book madness

Off the Shelf

Betty: So: Everything, everything!

Kris: Hold up. We can’t start there.

B: What?! Oh, it’s that time of year again: March Book Madness!

K: Right?! I’m so glad you’re coordinating this takeoff of college basketball’s March Madness again.

B: Me, too. Last year was great with patrons and staff reading 16 junior books and voting for their favorites. We had brackets, there were head-to-head matchups, and finally there was one winner.

K: That was “The War That Saved My Life” by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley, a 2016 Newbery Honor Book and a wonderful historical novel about a disabled girl named Ada who leaves London with her brother to escape German bombings at the beginning of World War II and lives with Susan, a lonely woman who isn’t quite sure she wants to open her heart to children.

B: It was my favorite book of the competition last year.

K: Obviously not just yours because it won. And now this year is a whole new competition with the focus on young adult books.

B: I’m excited because there are so many amazing teen books. The problem was narrowing down the list to just eight.

K: One other new piece is that you’ve set up a reality vs. fantasy showdown, so there will be four reality-based books in one bracket and four fantasy-based books in the other bracket.

B: Then based on reader votes, one reality book and one fantasy book will face off for the championship, duking it out for bragging rights!

K: It’s going to be a tough competition. Don’t give away your No. 1 seed, but tell us about one of the fantasy books.

B: Nix crisscrosses the globe and travels through centuries in her father’s pirate ship in “The Girl from Everywhere” by Heidi Heilig. Using maps to navigate through time to places in history, Nix’s father is trying to get back to the time and setting of her birth to save her mother, who died giving birth to her. How this will affect Nix is unknown, and

Nix isn’t sure she wants to wait around to find out what will happen. I’m excited for the sequel coming out the end of the month. Now is it time for everything, everything?

K: Yes. I read “Everything, Everything” by Nicola Yoon right when it was published, and now it’s going to be a movie. Maddy is allergic to everything, so she has not left her house for years. Then Olly and his family move in next door, and when he and Maddy connect, Maddy is ready to risk her life for everything Olly can give her. I loved this romance with an unexpected twist.

B: I liked it too because it was unpredictable. One of the other reality picks is “The Serpent King” by Jeff Zentner. Dill, Travis and Lydia are outcasts stuck in a town short on opportunities, approaching graduation that could mean a beginning or an end. Dill has his music and a family legacy hanging over his head; Lydia is a popular blogger and one of the most self-confident teen characters I’ve ever read; and Travis lives in the fantasy world of his favorite writer. This one is about poverty, courage, and faith, and it is a heart breaker. It is understandable why it was on so many “best” lists last year.

K: All of the books you picked are highly regarded, and I can’t wait to discover my favorite.

B: Brackets with the head-to-head matchups will be going up in the next week.

K: Then pick your pair, and start reading anytime. Ballots for you to vote will be available the beginning of March. Stop by the Service Center to place a hold on a book or if you have questions.

B: Teens and adults are invited to participate in March Book Madness. Everyone, everyone!

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