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Someday My Printz Will Come
Inside Someday My Printz Will Come

The Disenchantments

The Disenchantments, Nina LaCour
Dutton Books, February 2012
Reviewed from ARC

What does it say about a book when as a reader, I’m far more engaged by its themes and the questions it explores than the story or main characters? Or does it say more about me? This is what I’m grappling with as I complete my second read of Morris Award Finalist Nina LaCour’s sophomore effort, The Disenchantments.

Clearly, with three stars under its belt — from Kirkus, PW, and SLJ — this is a well-regarded title, and with good reason. Kirkus called it “hauntingly beautiful”, while SLJ’s reviewer pronounced it “contemplative but spectacular”, but while I’ll certainly buy beautiful and contemplative, I haven’t been haunted by this book at all. In fact, after reading it this winter, I had to undertake a complete re-read to remind myself of some major plot points.

[Read more…]

Beneath a Meth Moon

Beneath a Meth Moon, Jacqueline Woodson
Nancy Paulsen Books, January 2012
Reviewed from final copy

Remember how we talked about stars and the way a book can deserve a star for reasons that in no way correlate to Printzliness?

Beneath a Meth Moon could be Exhibit A to illustrate the gap that can exist between stars and the gold. This is a three-star book. The reviews mostly focus on the emotional impact of the novel (interestingly, the words “poignant” and “dreamlike” each appear in two reviews). And there is an emotional punch. In fact, it’s unavoidable given the 1-2 of a past destroyed by Katrina and a present destroyed by meth. But three stars for that one, admittedly significant aspect of the book does not, in this case, correlate to shortlist status because the virtues are counterbalanced by shortcomings that matter in an assessment of literary quality even if they don’t matter when it comes to emotional depth.

[Read more…]

Final Four

The Final Four, Paul Volponi
Viking, March 2012
Reviewed from final copy

I suspect this will be a short review (well, short for our usual average of 900-1000 words around these parts). But if you strongly disagree with me, I suppose the comments will make up for my brevity up here, right!? Paul Volponi’s The Final Four is an auto-contenda because it’s received four starred reviews. It’s a pleasure to read; I don’t dispute any of the stars or the reviews. But in the end, I don’t believe this will go the distance in Printzland. [Read more…]

I Think There Is No Contender

There Is No Dog, Meg Rosoff
G.P. Putnam’s Sons, January 2012
Reviewed from ARC

Can we talk about There is No Dog?

Because either this book misses its mark by a mile or I’m missing something.

It’s by Meg Rosoff, author of the 2005 Printz award winner how i live now, a book that blows me away every. single. time I read it.

It’s garnered 4 stars (Booklist, Publisher’s Weekly, Horn Book, and Kirkus).

(Admittedly, 2012 seems to be the year of multiple stars, but it’s still nothing to sneeze about.)

And it’s a book that leaves me feeling like the butt of a joke not unlike the cosmic joke that is the centerpiece of the book.

[Read more…]

A Little Bit of House Keeping

Remember how we mentioned we were going to talk about books in roughly chronological order, but then we not-helpfully-at-all listed them alphabetically by — of all librarian crimes — title?

Well, it’s occurred to us that those of you reading along might appreciate more of an indexed approach.

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Chopsticks

Chopsticks, Jessica Anthony and Rodrigo Corral
Razorbill, February 2012
Reviewed from Final Copy

Chopsticks is a particularly interesting item from the buzzed-about portion of our contenda list. It’s a fascinating format — available digitally and physically — full of arresting visuals and links to outside media. Although there are very few words on each page, the visual elements are all carefully chosen and placed. Analyzing the title feels like it requires a special vocabulary; it’s not quite a graphic novel; it feels most like a found scrapbook. [Read more…]

More than Paint by Numbers

Graffiti Moon, Cath Crowley
Knopf, February 2012
Reviewed from ARC

I [redacted but it starts with F and is something Ed might say] love this book.

I actually started this post once before, and I had nice things to say, but I was being a bit dismissive. It’s “sweet and light,” I said. Ah, the perils of only reading a book once.

Then I started rereading, and realized that this is a quiet treasure.

[Read more…]

Fly, Flutter, Fall?

The Butterfly Clues, Kate Ellison
Egmont Books, February 2012
Reviewed from final copy

This is indeed, just as the back cover promises, a very strong debut.

But I think it’s telling that even the blurbs mention its debut status, because this is a book that might be a solid contender for the Morris, but doesn’t rate for the Printz.

(I should acknowledge that I am making that very broad statement without actually having a list of 2012 debuts to consult, so, you know, sort of pontificating without evidence.)

I’m sure you’re thinking, wow, Karyn, tell us how you REALLY feel.

Here goes.

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You may have noticed that John Green wrote a book this year

The Fault in Our Stars, John Green
Dutton, January 2012
Reviewed from final copy

This is easily one of the biggest titles of the year — six starred reviews! Big time buzz! John Green! Previous Printz winner! Nerdfighters! — so we’ve been thinking about it for a while. Since this is a book from a former Printz winner and honoree, we knew we’d be reading it with our Printz glasses on. When you add the serious subject matter, the thoughtful treatment of said subject matter, the memorable characters, and the five-hanky tear-jerker of a plot, you know there’s a lot to talk about in terms of Printz-worthiness.

Hazel has terminal cancer. Augustus is a cancer survivor who has lost a leg to the disease. They meet in a teen cancer support group. It’s complicated and baggage-filled love almost at first sight. She doesn’t want to die on him; he wants to save everyone. It’s clearly a recipe for heartbreaking disaster. Their mutual love of (fictional) Peter Van Hauten’s (fictional) An Imperial Affliction gives the two an excuse for a road trip, but plot happens and PLOT PLOT PLOT. [Read more…]

Telling Tales

The Storyteller, Antonia Michaelis, translated by Miriam Debbage
Amulet Books, January 2012
Reviewed from ARC

This German import only received one star, and honestly, I’m not sure anyone is talking about it.

But I think this is an unsung, unnoted gem, and everyone needs to get a copy STAT.

And then read the book before you read any more of this post, because here be spoilers, and they would really spoil things. I am so glad I did not know what I was getting myself into when I started this, and I would hate to ruin the visceral experience of the book for anyone else.

So, in case that wasn’t clear enough: click beyond this point ONLY if you’ve already read The Storyteller. Or if you know you’ll never ever read it. (But then you’d be missing out.)

[Read more…]