War of the Books

Valerie - 2nd row, black jacket, reddish hair / Renee - 2nd row on Valerie's left, pale dress, demonically glowering eyes / Myself - first row, red dress

I am a proud vocal member of the Eva Perry Library’s Mock Printz book club. We read the YA books published each year, and inform the world which one the official committee should award that year’s Printz Medal to. You have never seen such cheerful militancy.

It was with great trepidation and a secret stash of easily throwable food items that I attended our final meeting. Our 453 books were whittled down to two prominent contenders. At the hour-mark, armies formed in support of each title. Championing Paper Covers Rock, by Jenny Hubbard, I watched with dismay as former friends congregated around A Monster Calls, by Patrick Ness.

Valerie Nicholson, our courageous adult adviser,  facilitated a vote that unfortunately ended in a 12-12 draw. Battle-weary Valerie then proposed that we resolve the tie with rhetoric. Armies stampeded to opposite sides of the room, proposing more logical ways to break the tie –  improvised rap-offs, counting voters’ years of seniority in the club, fisticuffs. . .  I checked my stash of edible projectiles.

Enlisting the help of additional arbitrators Martha Choate and Lindsey Dunn, Valerie coerced us back into our seats. There was a minor skirmish between myself and club alumnus Renee Sherwood – she threw an NC State card at me, burning my UNC-affiliated skin, I lobbed a plastic coke bottle towards her, bruising her pride, she sucker punched me in the stomach, and then I decided to take the moral high road by plugging my ears and humming. A cease fire was quickly agreed upon when someone threatened us with duct tape.

The rhetoric began. Each exquisitely beautiful component of Paper Covers Rock – the thoughts the protagonist records in his diary , the poetry and prose he writes – create a rich character. . . Renee cut me off. Events in A Monster Calls, often play out unexpectedly, and yet are powerfully realistic. The most initially unrelatable characters develop unbelievable depth. . . I rebutted. Paper Covers Rock is rich in metaphor. Literally, the title refers to the game of rock, paper, scissors that ends with the protagonist’s friend jumping to his death. However, figuratively. . . well, let’s just say the group got it once they thought about it. The discussion raged on…

Honestly, the “monster’s” powerful arguments had me wondering whether I was fighting for the right book. Unfortunately, I had not been able to get my hands on one of our few copies of the book, so I hadn’t read it. I will rectify that tragic situation as soon as possible.

Hours later our fifth vote mysteriously turned out 12-13, in favor of Paper Covers Rock. I wasn’t then and am still not sure where that extra vote came from. However, slightly more than half the group rejoiced loudly.

You can check out Paper Covers Rock here or A Monster Calls here. I suggest both!

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2 Responses to War of the Books

  1. criscrissman says:

    I can’t imagine a more imaginative way to share this story, Rachel! It’s so much fun to read whether you were there in the midst of the “cheerful militancy” (love that totally unexpected match-up) or just wishing you were.

    I also really admire that you confessed that the other side was so compelling that you wondered if you were “fighting for the right book.” It definitely makes you to be a more “reliable” reporter because you are open-minded.

    Thanks for sharing this great story!

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