Category Archives: Science of Baby

Hey, teachers! How about a BiblioBattle at your school?

Book fight in Tokyo!

I got this email a while back from Yumiko Kaigawa of Ritsumeikan University in Japan, where the BiblioBattle concept was developed. (Refresher: My book, Birth Day, finished third in the 2011 BiblioBattle in Tokyo. More on that here.)

“Thank you for introducing BiblioBattle! I hope there will be an opportunity in the US to have and enjoy BiblioBattle, anyone, anywhere. It’s a good for a reading and cultural exchange.”

I think that would be a great idea! BiblioBattle is a straightforward book-vs-book contest, in which contestants have five minutes to talk up the merits of a book they particularly love. A three-minute audience discussion of each book follows, and at the end everyone votes for the “champ-bon,” or champion book. There’s a concise, one minute YouTube video that describes the process. As an example of how the presentations look in Japan, you can view Mina Mizuhara’s Birth Day presentation at the Tokyo finals here. (It helps if you can speak Japanese, but you’ll get the gist of it regardless.)

I think this could be a great way to drum up reading interest in our sometimes book-averse U.S. students. The Japanese BiblioBattle has the feel of a polite poetry slam, and it could be developed along those lines in the U.S.

So, any teachers out there? Does this kind of program already exist in the U.S.? Want to give it a try at your school? Please let me know what you think.


Filed under Birth Day, Education, Science of Baby

Tokyo update: Birth Day and the Biblio Battle

"Baby Science" takes the bronze!

I can hear you out there (all five or so of you): “Hey Mark, what ever happened to that book contest in Japan last October? You know, the one where Birth Day (translated into Japanese as Baby Science) triumphed in the preliminaries over a 63 year-old Dale Carnegie self-help book and that Pokemon-like novel about satellites? How did the finals go?”

Well, thank you for asking! It went very well, and the Biblio Battle turned out to be a bigger deal than I thought. Hosted by Naoki Inose, Vice-Governor of Tokyo and a well-known author, the Battle is a national phenomenon and growing quickly in popularity. Organizers expected 400 attendees for the 2011 finals in Tokyo, and more than 1,400 showed up. (And many thanks to Yumiko Kaigawa, a reader from Ritsumeikan University in Japan, for filling me in on the details. Her boss, Dr. Tadahiro Taniguchi, designed the Biblio Battle concept.)

A Tokyo nail-biter!

Here’s how the Biblio Battle worked: more than 200 Japanese university students entered, each picking a book they were passionate about. Then, through a tournament-style series of book-on-book debates held at a number of universities, the titles were winnowed down by audience vote to 33 semi-final contenders. The final five duked it out on the big stage in Tokyo. Thanks to the hard work of Osaka University student Mina Mizuhara (you can watch Mina in action on YouTube), Birth Day/Baby Science finished third.

Although there were no medals or new cars awarded (none have arrived on my doorstep, at any rate), this is an honor I very much appreciate.

Oh, and the winner? A mystery novel titled “She Is No More,” by Yasuhiko Nishizawa. The plot synopsis, as mangled by Google Translate: “Kidnapping, abduction and killing of taking a look. Faint thoughts of youth are turned into grotesque and irreversible runaway love.”

I can’t compete with that…


Filed under Birth Day, Science of Baby

Winning the vibrio battle in Osaka!

Please participate unhesitantly!

I’m sort of big in Japan, to paraphrase Tom Waits…

Found this on the web–students at Osaka University engaged in a “vibrio battle [intellectual book review battle]” last week, and the Japanese edition of my book, Birth Day (title translates as Science of Baby on Yahoo Babel Fish), took first place in a preliminary round. Victory lap!

Looks like it was a pretty eclectic contest: among other best-sellers vanquished by Science of Baby is a 1948 book by Dale Carnegie, a Pokemon-looking graphic novel about satellites, and Communication Power is Pulled Out, which Amazon Japan says is about “the yawn egg utterance, etc.” (I do not trust Yahoo’s translation skills…).

That’s my book the students are pointing at, the one with the aqua cover. Not exactly a huge voter turnout, but I’ll take it.

The final vibrio battle is October 30th. I’ll keep you posted.

No mention of a grand prize as yet. Hopefully it’s not a bucket of vibrio.

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Filed under Birth Day, Science of Baby