Battle of the Kids Books were announced this week, I have been reading - quite a bit. I picked up Anya's Ghost, Bootleg, and Drawing from Memory at the library. In the meantime, a listserv I belong to reminded me of the works of Victorian writer, Edith Nesbit. So I downloaded The Story of the Treasure Seekers. The book was so much fun- to say nothing of cheap! ($.99) - that I managed to download The New Treasure Seekers for free. (The Gutenberg Project has made lots of public domain titles available for e-readers.)
Anya's Ghost AND The Story of the Treasure Seekers almost at the same time. This is a pairing that would baffle the most thoughtful and discerning judge. Six motherless children fight to reclaim the former fortunes of the "House of Bastables" by engaging in thoughtless and harmless - at least in the mindset of the times - highjinks in one book. Narrated in a peculiarly realistic child's voice, The Story of the Treasure Seekers reads almost like a melodrama. For one thing, no single family could possibly concoct the series of harebrained schemes that this family does. The child narrator allows Nesbit to lampoon a variety of conventions of Victorian England. Nesbit is almost always a fun read.
On the other hand, there is the graphic novel about Anya, whose immigrant background makes her painfully self-conscious. She falls down a well and discovers a skeleton - and a ghost. When she is rescued, she accidentally brings one of the ghost's bones with her - and the ghost follows. At first, the ghost seems to be exactly what she claims, a poor teen whose family was murdered and who fell into the well escaping from the murderer. And she helps Anya in a variety of ways - with tests and even romantically. But, boy is she bossy! And creepy! When Anya learns the truth about her new friend, it just might be too late.
So, judges tell me, which book should win this odd pairing? I thought I'd choose Nesbit at first - for old time's sake, maybe. Perhaps, it was the innocence that accompanied all of the Bastables silly antics that made me want it to be the winner. There was the clever way that Nesbit allows her naive narrator to spring "truths" upon the reader while the narrator seems oblivious to it all.
And graphic novels are not eloquent enough for me, sometimes. The scene where Anya catches the most popular girl playing look-out while that girl's "boyfriend" is making out with another girl in the bathroom - it seemed stark. I am a word person. I wanted more to be said.
But that scene - and Anya's reaction to it - spoke more to me than I expected. Anya's Ghost tells an engrossing story - a frightening story - about a girl whose decisions have not always been "good" ones. The starkness of that scene, the visual confusion of the party the scene was part of, Anya's reaction, they all worked. I can learn to like this graphic novel thing, I think.
My final choice would have to be Anya's Ghost by Vera Brosgol.
That said, I have no idea how Anya's Ghost will do when it is comes up against Amelia Lost as it will in the first match in the Battle of the (Kids') Books. That's a weird pairing, too, although both books have flying in them.
So, while I wait for the REAL battle to commence, I can wage battles of my own. Let's see, maybe I should re-read A House at Pooh Corner while I re-read Between Shades of Gray. Nah! no contest, there. I know which book would win THAT match. But, wait, now that I think about it...