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Someday My Printz Will Come
Inside Someday My Printz Will Come

Guest Post: New Librarian Blues or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Printz

CC-licensed image by janetmck via Flickr

Today’s post comes to you compliments of Clair Segal, who I wisely hired pretty much before she even had her degree, just to make sure no one else would snatch her up. Clair is a great librarian. But she kept staring at me blankly when I started tossing around terms like BBYA or BFYA or Quick Picks or GGNT or Printz. And while the holes in her library education are mostly filled these days, Sarah and I thought it might be great to have her voice chime in with a much needed reminder about educating not only our teens and the public, but also our own library colleagues about what the Printz Award is and why it matters.

(I should also note that I might have been the one who hired Clair, or at least got her in for an interview, but Sarah is really the one who discovered her, when Clair was Sarah’s student in a Youth Services grad class.)

Clair raises some interesting points, and I am interested in hearing what others have to say about the underlying issue of the Printz being a stealth award to so many. The comments are open. So tell us, how do we spread the word and raise the profile of the award?

Ok, and now, with no further ado (finally!), here is Clair: [Read more…]

Strings Detached

“Timing is everything.”

It’s an adage. And a cliche. And the Achilles heel of Strings Attached.

The pedigree: 3 stars and an NBA-winning book already under the author’s belt made this one a solid contenda.

In the interest of full disclosure, I recognized the impressive qualities of What I Saw and How I Lied but never felt the love so many felt. So while I was looking forward to this one, it was on my pile for reasons of this blog rather than because I was dying to read it. I don’t think this affected my reading, but I am in a sharing mood right now. So there you go.

[Read more…]

This Dark Endeavor

So there are some things that we probably all know about Victor Frankenstein. Let’s make a list:

  1. Mad scientist.
  2. Ruthless determination.
  3. “IT’S ALIVE!”
  4. Questionable judgment. [Read more…]

What Are YOU Carrying?

Baggage Dept

CC-licensed image by Noel Zia Lee, via Flickr

Reading is an immensely personal experience. Except when it isn’t.

This conundrum is at the heart of reading for a committee, or list, or award. We talk about this a lot. Today, we will talk (in full paragraphs!) here, so that everyone knows what’s going on in our heads and can chime in.

Karyn: A (short) while back, in her review of Everybody Sees the Ants, Sarah talked about a wall she had hit (Lucky’s dad’s age) that caused a crack in her windshield (we’re gonna beat that metaphor to death by the time January rolls around, so consider yourself warned).

There is no such thing as an objective reader. It’s just not possible. We bring ourselves to the books we read. [Read more…]

For Whom the Bell Chimed

I keep starting to write about Chime. And then stopping.

(This is take 5.)

I’ve read a lot of books I really enjoyed thus far this year. And I’ve read a lot of really excellent books. Sometimes they’re even the same book.

But Chime was the first 2011 book that made me say wow, and a year later, it’s still making me say it. When I finished this (last October, having snagged a copy at a preview), I actually called up Sarah (who, I remind you, was still in the midst of her Printz term) and said, “I totally just read the 2012 Printz winner!” Sarah didn’t care, but I just kept babbling: I was giddy with the experience of reading Chime.

I don’t think I’m alone in my Chime love (6 starred reviews, NBA shortlist, and lots of generally great reviews). You can be sure the committee will be looking at this one (or, really, probably has looked, given the early pub date), and I would guess they’ll look pretty closely given the stars and the NBA nod.

Will it hold up?

[Read more…]

Ghost in the Well

We have one graphic novel on our current list of contendas. (Well, we wanted to consider Craig Thompson’s Habibi, too, but that was published for adults, which means it’s ineligible. Le sigh.) In any case, Anya’s Ghost is getting a lot of critical love (four starred reviews as of 9/1) and even has a blurb from Neil Gaiman!

The plot: Anya goes to a second-rate prep school and wants nothing more than to fit in. Well, if she could also snag adorable Sean as a boyfriend, she’d be great. And if she could lose a couple of pounds, that’d be fab. And if she could change her unpronounecable last name, life would be perfect. You know, she wouldn’t mind if people would stop associating her with Dima, another Russian immigrant at the school. And maybe if she had more friends than just Siobhan….but really, Anya’s a simple girl with simple wishes. Really. Until she falls down a well (long story, but you guys, it’s perfectly understandable!) and ends up with a new best friend: Emily, the ghost of a girl who mysteriously ended up down that well 90 years ago. We all know friendship’s difficult, but it’s even more complicated when your new best friend is dead. [Read more…]

Blink & Caution

CoverBlink & Caution has received stars from Kirkus and SLJ, and PW, a 5Q/4P from VOYA (per Books in Print), and the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award, plus it was just named a finalist for the Canada Council for the Arts Governor General’s Literary Awards.  So, you know, this book is no slouch.

And let’s get this out of the way up front: it’s a good book. It deserves praise.

But it’s flawed, and the flaws are literary in nature. And I’m mostly only going to talk about the flaws, because all those links at the start cover the good stuff really well and in great detail. [Read more…]

Imaginary Conversations

We thought we’d have a conversation about Imaginary Girls by Nova Ren Suma. It’s been getting enthusiastic reviews  (four of them starred), including a spoiler-free write up from the esteemed Liz B. And then we had a quick chat about it over the phone and we realized….we suspect that we totally agree, which may or may not make for an interesting blog post. Let’s see what we’ve got!

The plot: It’s about sisters Chloe and Ruby, who live in a small town in upstate New York. When Chloe finds the dead body of classmate London Hayes in the reservoir, she leaves her small town and her magnetic, larger-than-life sister to live with her absentee father. She returns to her town, and to Ruby, two years later to find things largely unchanged. Her mother is still the town drunk. Ruby is still Ruby, capricious and bold. But other things are very different—and only Chloe seems to notice. [Read more…]

I Coulda Been a Contenda

Pile of book packages

Book packages, via @sophiebiblio

That pile? That’s what it looks like when you are on a committee. Every day.

(I still reflexively check every package that arrives at school, conditioned by years of book committees. I think I got hooked on the rush. The packages are rarely for me anymore, but somehow, two years later, I still live in a constant state of anticipation.)

But with so much great material flowing in, plus even more out there waiting to be discovered, how on earth does one ever decide what to read?

Well, you can be a passive committee member and just wait for feedback from the rest of the committee. Or you can read whatever you want to read and just hope something great pops up. Or you can apply the super scientific method (there’s lots of science in this post!) and create spreadsheets and lists and notebooks, oh my.

[Read more…]

Life: An Exploded Diagram

I loves me some Mal Peet.

[Read more…]