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Someday My Printz Will Come
Inside Someday My Printz Will Come

Nonfiction! Finalists!

Probably you have all seen the shortlist for The YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction already, but just in case:

We’ve Got a Job
Steve Jobs: The Man Who Thought Different

(Click through for descriptions/why statements and cover art.)

Of  the five finalists, we thought We’ve Got a Job skewed a bit young (but will be posting a nonfiction writeup from sometimes guest blogger Joy Piedmont soon covering this and Titanic) and didn’t even consider Steve Jobs. Oversight? Or one of those books that is excellent within the narrower confines of genre but doesn’t compare in the wider net of Printz-eligible titles?

About Karyn Silverman

Karyn Silverman is the High School Librarian and Educational Technology Department Chair at LREI, Little Red School House & Elisabeth Irwin High School (say that ten times fast!). Karyn has served on YALSA’s Quick Picks and Best Books committees and was a member of the 2009 Printz committee. She has reviewed for Kirkus and School Library Journal. She has a lot of opinions about almost everything, as long as all the things are books. Said opinions do not reflect the attitudes or opinions of SLJ, LREI, YALSA or any other institutions with which she is affiliated. Find her on Twitter @InfoWitch or e-mail her at karynsilverman at gmail dot com.


  1. I haven’t read STEVE JOBS yet (don’t much care for biographies; don’t much care for Steve Jobs), but I’m having a hard time imagining either the Newbery or the Printz committee coming up with a list of five books I’m as excited about as these – unless one or both of them includes a couple of these titles. Great, great, great year for nonfiction.

  2. Jonathan Hunt says:

    I loved STEVE JOBS and I’m puzzled that it only got one starred review and no buzz. I’m in complete agreement that it will be very hard for the Printz committee to come up with five books that are better. We’ll see.

    • Karyn Silverman says:

      Really? These beat out EVERY work of YA fiction this year? I know it’s a banner year for NF, but I don’t believe these five are the top five books, bar none, of 2012.

  3. Jonathan Hunt says:

    What are your top five, Karyn? Mine would definitely include BOMB and MOONBIRD with strong consideration for TITANIC, WE’VE GOT A JOB, THE IMPOSSIBLE RESCUE, and A BLACK HOLE IS NOT A HOLE. STEVE JOBS is a bit unexpected, but I think it’s more YA than many titles like ABRAHAM LINCOLN & FREDERICK DOUGLASS, and I’m always happy to see a surprise.

  4. Jonathan Hunt says:

    Okay, sorry, I read that wrong! I thought you said these books beat our every work of nonfiction. Will respond to your point later.

  5. @Karyn – that’s not quite what I meant. My own top books (the ones that would win the Printz if I owned the world) are currently BRIDES OF ROLLROCK, ASK THE PASSENGERS, BOMB, THE DIVINERS, and TITANIC. After those come MONSTROUS BEAUTY, SERAPHINA, CNV, CHOPSTICKS, and WE’VE GOT A JOB. So, obviously, I think there could conceivably exist a Printz list that beats the NF list with fiction titles.

    What I meant was that I don’t expect that to actually happen. My experience with the Printz list has been that it virtually always includes one or two (or more :( ) books that I find nowhere near the quality of the best books of the year. So I think it likely that the final list will not be as full of quality books as this NF list.

    • Karyn Silverman says:

      @Mark, I didn’t think that was what you were saying, exactly, but I did think it was what Jonathan said in his agreement with your initial point! Thanks for the clarification, though — and how interesting that you agree so whole-heartedly with the NF committee. Now let’s see how the Morris does with the debuts…

      Jonathan, I am woefully behind on the NF. I’ve started Bomb, finally, and could see it making my top 5, but I don’t see it outclassing Seraphina or CNV, currently vying for the gold in my opinion; Titanic I like but have some reservations about — I’ll wait til Joy’s guest post goes up to say more (next week). Moonbird is in my near future. A Black Hole and We’ve Got a Job I just don’t think are YA, but we’ve had that fight countless times — maybe safer to agree to disagree and just wait with bated breath to see where the committees and year-end lists all fall with these cusp books? Regardless, even if I did just take them as YA, they wouldn’t be top 5 for me.

  6. Jonathan Hunt says:

    Karyn, I actually meant the same thing Mark did–not that the committee can’t come up with a roster as good or better, just that they probably won’t based on past experience. I think you can make a solid arguement that in 2010 the Nonfiction finalists were better than the Printz finalists. You might be able to make a similarly solid argument this year, depending on what the Printz committee picks.

  7. Jonathan Hunt says:

    I think you might make the same argument for 2012, too.

  8. It’s MOONBIRD that stands out for me as being perhaps too young. WE’VE GOT A JOB has more layers of sophistication to it, and some teen characters. But all of these (except STEVE JOBS, which I haven’t read and don’t know about) strike me as being on the younger end of the age range, with BOMB and TITANIC stretching to include more readers. Is there less nonfiction published specifically for mid- and older teens than fiction? Do 15-year-olds simply start reading adult nonfiction more often?

  9. @Wendy – there is indeed MUCH less nonfiction (especially narrative nonfiction) published for older teens. I suppose I could offer speculations as to why that is, but I have long since stopped trying to understand the publishing industry.

  10. Wendy, I believe part of the push for YALSA’s Award is to help showcase the YA titles and maybe get more of it. But yes, the year I was on the committee (Benedict Arnold), I noticed a lot of younger titles overall. Since it’s 12 to 18 it gets that old “if its published for 10 to 12….” question.

  11. Hey, sorry to go off topic for a second, but I’m always searching for Jen J’s spreadsheets buried in the comment section of this blog and Liz B’s blog–the spreadsheets where Jen keeps track of all the children’s starred reviews and all the “Best Books” lists–so I decided to put them in a place where I’d never lose them again. Click here!

  12. I’ve read all of these except Bomb (which I will get to soon), thanks to Capitol Choices (a DC-area group) considering all of them for our list. I wasn’t impressed with the Steve Jobs book at all, though I was in the minority, so perhaps there’s something I didn’t see. It just seemed serviceable, but nothing special. I don’t think there was any oversight in not considering it as a Printz contender.

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