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Someday My Printz Will Come
Inside Someday My Printz Will Come

Round Up, Part Two

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

YALSA’s final nomination lists were posted last week.

We thought it’d be interesting to see what we are looking at here versus what Best Fiction for Young Adults and Great Graphic Novels will be checking out in January. (I am leaving Quick Picks off because the QP charge is so dissimilar to the Printz charge. And since Popular Paperbacks is retrospective, we can safely leave that list out, too. And until the short lists for the Morris and Nonfiction awards come out, there’s nothing we can say about those.)

Since we only looked at one graphic novel (Anya’s Ghost), I guess there’s not much to ruminate on there. We had thought about Craig Thompson’s Habibi, but since it was published adult, it’s ineligible for our purposes. While it is eligible for GGNT (they consider titles published for both adults and teens), it’s not a nomination. From having served on the committee, I can say that members read widely and most likely did consider it. While on the committee, we had many discussions about books that are great, and books that are great for teens. I would venture to say that Habibi falls into the first category but perhaps not in the second.

I also went through and compared our list to BFYA’s nominations list. The titles that we are considering as contendas but are not on the final nomination list are:

Imaginary Girls
Queen of Water
Across the Universe
The Returning

I haven’t served on BFYA, so I’m not going to speculate about why — at least too much! It’s worth remembering that Steampunk! and Across the Universe will be eligible next year, according to BFYA’s policies and procedures. I know that the committee has a massive reading load, so it makes sense to me to push end of the year titles to consideration for next year; that way the year really does get full, deep consideration.

However, it will leave the other three titles off — because according to the P&P, Printz titles no longer get automatically added to the BFYA list (well, I’m assuming so, because the practice is unmentioned in said policies and procedures).

Karyn noted just how few waves The Returning is making — so maybe that has something to do with that one?

And while Queen of Water did get more starred reviews (three of them), it’s possible that the based-on-a-true story aspect may be working against it for BFYA purposes? Sometimes a book that’s so topical, even when based on the truth, can feel a little preachy.

As for Imaginary Girls, I’ll admit, I’m a little flummoxed. I wouldn’t say lack of appeal, by any means (the story, the mystery, that cover…it may not be the most popular book ever, but I know it will have readers! It’s really a booktalk that practically writes itself). I wonder if its lack of resolve hurts it for BFYA? Karyn and I were hesitant to solidly back it as a prediction for Printz, with the caveat that we might feel different with a reread. In BFYA-land, readers have absolutely no time for the luxury of a reread. And, in my experience with committee work, if a book gets a couple of early readers that can’t support it, it can be hard to justify a nomination down the line. Especially in a situation like BFYA, where there are just SO. MANY. BOOKS.

So that’s my take on the nomination lists so far. But I’d love to hear yours!

About Sarah Couri

Sarah Couri is a librarian at Grace Church School's High School Division, and has served on a number of YALSA committees, including Quick Picks, Great Graphic Novels, and (most pertinently!) the 2011 Printz Committee. Her opinions do not reflect the attitudes or opinions of SLJ, GCS, YALSA, or any other institutions with which she is affiliated. Find her on Twitter @scouri or e-mail her at scouri35 at gmail dot com.


  1. So, ACROSS THE UNIVERSE has a Jan. 11, 2011 pub date, at least according to Goodreads, which would not make it eligible next year, or am I missing something? And while STEAMPUNK! came out in October 2011, other books that were published later (in November) are on the BFYA list, like Marie Lu’s LEGEND, and Asher and Mackler’s THE FUTURE OF US. I don’t think I understand the 16-month spread at all, can someone explain it to me? Is it because the committee has to have a physical book in its hands by November 1? But anything published by the end of the year has an ARC well before then. I just don’t understand the “reading load” reasoning behind pushing a good book into the next year for consideration, because it assumes that 2012 will somehow have fewer books. Is this like my substitute mail carrier, who leaves heavy catalogs at the station for the regular carrier to deliver when she returns to work?!

    • Sarah Couri says:

      Oh, thanks for checking, Elizabeth! The paperback pub date for Across the Universe is November 2011, and I didn’t catch that I missed the hardcover pub date, which is indeed 1/11/11. Which, yes, means that’s another book ineligible for next year on BFYA.

      Some later-in-the-year books are nominated and of course can make the list. It all depends on when and where committee members come across titles, at least in my experience. The committee doesn’t actually need the final, finished copy by November 1 — an ARC is acceptable.

      I think the 16 month spread can help lessen the reading load, at least in theory. It means that two committees are able to look at books from September-December of the previous year. As you note, there probably are not going to be fewer books each year, so with that overlap it’s possible to focus your reading by pub date.

      Clearly, it’s not a hard and fast rule (some book descriptions, book covers, or authors are just irresistible), but it does allow for (slightly more) targeted reading. Which is absolutely necessary, I think. I haven’t served on BFYA, or its previous incarnation, BBYA, so I’m not speaking from experience. But having watched friends serve, it seems to be that if there’s any way to triage the reading load a little, committee members can do a better job reading and evaluating titles.

  2. Jonathan Hunt says:

    I count 220 BFYA nominations. Wasn’t the whole purpose of going from BBYA to BFYA to cut down the reading load for this committee? I don’t think it’s happened . . .

    • Karyn Silverman says:

      Jonathan, Here’s my take on that (speaking as a veteran and past chair of BBYA): the issue was never what was eligible but how we mentored new committee members and how the nomination process works. Cutting it to only fiction just means the committee doesn’t have the pleasure of a varied reading diet.
      Elizabeth, I think the 16 month spread is because we didn’t actually always have ARCs available: some books don’t get them, especially books not from the big 6, so the overlap means there is a chance for those November and December books in particular. It doesn’t cut down on the overall reading load, of course, but it does mean that a committee overwhelmed with 220 nominations before two months of books even come out can rest safe in the knowledge that if they can’t even find time to look at the books, next year’s committee can. It spreads the load. It also means there is time to get the books into teen hands to test appeal– this September’s pubs are just trickling into my library, given the ridiculous length of time it takes vendors to get them processed– if I didn’t have ARCs and wanted teen feedback, knowing that I could it on my nomination until the next round was really helpful. Finally, it gives the committee something to read between MidWinter and the voting and the next month (or new members something to read in the months running up to the start of their term), as books typically start arriving in March (there’s a lag every year as new rosters go out to publishers). Otherwise there would be a month lost for everyone–based on my experiences, that amounts to about 20 fewer books I would have read!
      (I don’t read at that pace anymore, what with the whole parenting thing, and I also firmly believe that BBYA/BFYA is a task for those without children between 1 and 12, or those without day jobs, because the load is just that heavy.)

  3. I can see THE RETURNING not getting the initial attention or read needed, because it’s a quiet book. No easy pitch to the description; a hand-sell to readers; but I think it’s going to be one of those that when the right reader finds it? Pure magic. Perhaps it’s the best illustration of how different lists and awards serve different points.

    I am stunned that neither IMAGINARY GIRLS nor ACROSS THE UNIVERSE made the nominations and am off to click thru to see what else is there. Or not.

  4. Jonathan Hunt says:

    Yes, I think it was pretty clear to most people that are familar with the situation that the reduced focus would not equate to a reduced work load (and it hasn’t), but that is the primary argument that YALSA leadership sold to the membership. Personally, I think a change to the nomination process would have had the desired effect.

  5. “Queen of Water” absolutely was nominated! It is listed under Resau on the official nomination list.

  6. Thanks for the explanations, Sarah and Karyn. The 16-month spread makes sense now!

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