Friday, July 27, 2012

Best YA Novels: Classic/Historical

To Recap:
On Tuesday, I spend much of my day agonizing over my choices for NPR's "Best-Ever Teen Novels" voting.  You can see my process for creating brackets, as well as my fantasy bracket and discussion of fantasy choices here, my dystopian/magical realism/science fiction bracket here, and my contemporary bracket here.  Today is the final bracket: classics/historical novels.  I know that's sort of weird to lump together, but the math worked out, so, huzzah!

The Bracket: Classic/Historical

The Gut-Wrenchers: 

  •   The Jennifer Donnelly match-up (A Northern Light vs. Revolution) made me happy and sad at the same time.  I mean, it was cool that those books just fell in those seeds, but too bad that they couldn't both move on.  (If I'm really honest, I had to go back and pad out this bracket with a few books I read in school a million years ago and liked ok but didn't love.  Such is the inherent flaw of bracket-based systems.)  
  • Speak vs. the Anne of Green Gables series:  SO HARD.  But I've known Anne longer, and Anne was there for me time and time again (Occasional crazy temper in elementary school?  Check.  Being an ambitious but totally melodramatic teenager?  Check.  Struggling as a first-year teacher?  Check.  Long-distance relationship while you finish school and your husband-to-be is somewhere else?  Check.)  If I could nominate Laurie Halse Anderson for a compensatory Nobel Prize, I would. 
  • To Kill A Mockingbird vs. the Anne of Green Gables series.  For my money, To Kill A Mockingbird is the Great American Novel.  It just happened to go up against a Great Canadian Novel, which was the cause of its untimely demise.  If it went up against Code Name Verity...I mean, I really don't want to think about that (have you read Code Name Verity yet?) but it would have been a fairer fight, at least. 
The Upsets: 

  Weirdly, none.  I guess since most of these books have been around for so long, in some cases the cream has really risen to the top. That said, for a lot of these, it was really close.  Also, in this category more than any other, I think a lot of "OMG THIS IS THE BEST BOOK EVER" ratings were balanced out by a lot of "OMG MY STUPID TEACHER MADE ME READ THIS STUPID BOOK" ratings, which made the whole thing a little weird.  Seeds 1-3 are ones that are probably not assigned in classrooms too much so they may not suffer from that as much as the others.

The Votes From This Quarter (out of a total 10):

  • Anne of Green Gables series (winner)
  • Code Name Verity (runner-up)
Check back tomorrow for my winners and overall list!  And I'd love to hear where you disagree!  What classic/historical books from NPR's list would have made your top 16?  Which of these match-ups would you have called differently?

**CALL FOR GUEST POSTS: If you'd like to share your thoughts on any aspect of this NPR event--a bracket of your own, a discussion of your list, books you wish had made the list--email me at to set up a day within the next two weeks!** 

Other Brackets:
Dystopian/Magical Realism/Science Fiction


  1. Man, that last bracket is a killer. To Kill a Mockingbird is one of my all-time favorite novels, but as a redheaded Anne myself, the Anne books have a very special place in my heart. I think I would have gone with TKAM in the end, but it would have been a big internal debate.

  2. Right? So tough. Eventually I had to stop thinking about it and just listen to my gut.

  3. Wow. Just wow. Your matches amaze me. I think I would lose my mind trying to format this, let alone trying to choose between favourite stories. :)

    1. See, I love brackets. And spreadsheets, which is where this all started, but mostly I love brackets. Sadly, culture dictates that we only use brackets for things during March Madness (college basketball tourney) but I decided to buck the trend! But yes, there was a lot of shouting: "Arghhhh this bracket is trying to kill me!!!"


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