Keeper by Kathi Appelt Atheneum/Simon & Schuster The Cardturner by Louis Sachar Delacorte Books/Random House Judged by Grace Lin
When I was asked to be a Battle of the Books judge I hurriedly became acquainted with all the original titles, as I was unsure which two books I would be choosing from. To save time, I listened to many of them on audio book while I worked on illustrations or commuted. One of the first audio books I listened to was Keeper. I have to admit, the audio book did not enamor me and I stopped listening half way though. I thought Keeper would be at the bottom of my list.
However, Keeper turned out to be one of the two books for me to choose from and, valuing the opinions of the esteemed judges before me, I knew I had to give the book another chance. So, with physical book in hand, I began to read.
And what a difference! When I read the book, suddenly the magic became apparent. I loved the slow unveiling of each story, the way the back and forth narratives seemed to echo the motion of the ocean waves that rocked Keeper’s boat. I found the fantasy elements of Yemaya and Jacque der Mer enchanting and I could feel the heartbreak of each character. Even the animals—the dog BD and the crow Captain had fully-realized personalities.
The blurring of myth and reality was seamless and the writing was poetic, yet always accessible. …