Tuesday, March 16, 2010

SLJ Round One, Match Two: Calpurnia on Fire

You'd think this would be obvious. In one corner, tween wannabe scientist Calpurnia Tate. In the other, Fire, a human monster with a side talent of mind control.

But Callie has spunk. And she's dealt with brothers. Multiple brothers. Plus a girl who doesn't want to cook or sew? Some may think that makes her a bad role model... but it's the type of role model that WINS HER ROUND OF BOB, BABY!

Nancy Farmer makes a tough choice. No doubt about it. But she not only has the guts to make that tough choice -- she also is unapologetic about why.

Are you sitting down?

No, really. Are you sitting down?

On Fire and why it lost: "It reads like a science fiction book, and that is a genre that depends on ideas rather than character. Even for a YA, though, Fire contained a great deal of violence, torture, mutilation and rape. I found the story depressing. If there had been one good friendship or love affair I could have forgiven it, but everyone seemed to suffer all the time. Fire should probably have been paired with another YA novel."

Whatever you do, don't send Farmer a copy of Tender Morsels. Meanwhile, violence, torture, mutilation, rape? Fire just jumped to the top of my "read it now" pile!

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© Elizabeth Burns of A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy


Sarah Rettger said...

Your thought process worries me sometimes, my dear. (Especially because that's so not what the book's about - but read it anyway!)

Anonymous said...

Wow...Calpurnia over Fire? I've read both and would have bet money that Fire would have won.

LaurieA-B said...

One phrase jumped out from the passage you quoted, "Even for a YA..." WHAT? IS THAT SUPPOSED TO MEAN?

OK, I guess she means, YA, as opposed to children's book. But still.

Peaceful Reader said...

I loved Calpurnia's spunk and think she should easily win out over violence, torture, mutilation and rape.

Miss Julie said...

I loved Calpurnia and I'm glad it won!

Angie Manfredi said...

This is the EXACT reason and perfect illustration of why I think this Battle of the Books is quite literally the silliest and biggest waste of time that exists. I don't even get any "check the famous authors writing about books!" enjoyment out of it. Calpurnia Tate versus Fire WHAT IN THE HECK? In what fathomable universe does that come anywhere close to making sense? Oh well, they're both books for people under the age of 20, what's the diff?! CT has a MAIN age appeal of 8-13 where Fire has a MAIN age appeal of 16-19. It's like apples and carburetors. They're both ... things? This idea that these matches are somehow equal or tell us ANYTHING about which book should "win" in "battle" is ridiculous and, honestly, down right nonsensical. What's the *point*?!

Fire should probably have been paired with another YA novel GEE, YA THINK!?! Seriously, it's a ludicrous thing.

Gwenda said...

I love Nancy Farmer's work, but this is the craziest reading of Fire I can possibly imagine. SERIOUSLY?

Liz B said...

Sarah, I confess I haven't read FIRE which made this so much harder to write up.

Amanda, given the outrage over this decision I can't wait to start FIRE.

Laurie, what's funny is that often I see comments that older books always trump younger ones because they are "better" (more complex or some such....ie the complaints that Newbery is always for ages 11 up, or Printz is always ages 15 up, even tho both also cover younger ages). So I kinda liked that this time, that "better if older" got turned into "better if younger."

Peaceful...you've given me some delightfully dark ideas for a possible Calpurnia fanfic sequel.

Miss Julie, I too liked Calpurnia.

Angie, I actually think I'm going to try a longer post to explain why I like SLJ BoB. It is partly that its silly...and it brings more attention to books that may not get it otherwise (like FROG SCIENTIST)... and I'm interested not in the authors, per se, but in how they approach their decisions.

Gwenda, I so have to read the book now! Maybe there was a different book called FIRE she read by mistake?

Anonymous said...

I haven't read Fire yet-- I DID read Graceling, so I know the basic style-- and I loved Calpurina and couldn't put it down even though I am very busy and distractible lately, so I'm not entirely sure whether to be offended (for Callie's sake) or amused by the outrage this decision brings out in people. Granted-- this is me going without reading Fire yet mind you-- I might have given it to Callie just because it seems to be the most REFRESHING choice-- yes, less dark, but also different from any other book out there. Whereas Fire seems to be an excellent high fantasy, masterfully done, but not particularly DIFFERENT. You can't easily categorize Calpurina.

I agree that the BoB is just fun, and about reading the author's decisions more than about who wins. After all, it's not like anyone's missing out on a big award or a lot of fame by losing. They're already winners just by being in the lineup!