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Someday My Printz Will Come
Inside Someday My Printz Will Come

The (Very Long) List

We’ve got a list. We’ve checked it twice.

(I want to make a naughty or nice joke, but really, naughty books just don’t make it on Printz contender speculation lists.)

We’ve considered buzz, that strange ephemeral thing that happens on Goodreads and Twitter, we’ve looked at stars (shoutouts, ever and always, to Jen and her amazing list, without which we would have no accurate data on stars and books), and finally we’ve gone over the list of previous winners and honorees to see who has new books out this year.

Whew!

Here’s our nonscientific methodology: the RealCommittee members have to start somewhere. Sarah and I both used all of the above selection tools, plus “I want to read this,” to determine what we picked up when we were on the RealCommittee. Here’s a little committee insider intel: Nomination numbers for Printz tend to be modest, because so much thought goes in before nominations happen, but wide readership is critical and lots of effort goes into laying eyes on lots of different books.

So each year we take all the books we’re hearing about, the books we want to read, the ones with three or more stars, and the ones by previously recognized authors. We toss in a few more books, for reasons scientific and gut-based. Then we start crossing things off. Most of the time, series books get crossed off early unless one of us thinks we can make a case for a specific title or just really wants to talk about it. Books one or two of us read and still can’t make any case for get put aside. We add more books as they get published/reviewed/read, and remove more books as we read more, and so it goes.

We have a spreadsheet, is what I’m saying.

The result is NOT a comprehensive list. Already in the comments on the first post of the season a few titles were mentioned that weren’t on our 2015 spreadsheet. We reserve the right to add books or remove books from this list, which right now stands as a promise — if it’s on the list, eyeballs will meet pages.

And we promise to do everything we can to never remove a book because no one has read it.

So consider this a start, and let us know what edits you would make already.

The List*, alphabetized by title, because really, isn’t that the way we think about most books?

100 Sideways Miles, Andrew Smith
Afterworlds, Scott Westerfeld
And We Stay, Jenny Hubbard
Angel Island, Russell Freedman
As Red As Blood,  Salla Simukka
Belzhar, Meg Wolitzer
Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teen Speak Out, Susan Kuklin, ed.
Black Dove, White Raven, Elizabeth Wein (moved to 2015)
Bombay Blues, Tanuja Desai Hidier
The Children of the King, Sonya Hartnett
Clariel, Garth Nix
Complicit, Stephanie Kuehn
Cracks in the Kingdom, Jaclyn Moriarty
A Creature of Moonlight, Rebecca Hahn
Dark Metropolis, Jaclyn Dolamore
Egg and Spoon, Gregory Maguire
Even in Paradise, Chelsey Philpot
Everything Leads to You, Nina LaCour
Falling into Place, Amy Zhang
The Family Romanov, Candace Fleming
Fat and Bones, Larissa Theule
Fiendish, Brenna Yovanoff
Freedom Summer Murders, Don Mitchell
Girl Defective, Simone Howell
Girls Like Us, Gail Giles
Glory O’Brien’s History of the Future,  A.S. King
The Gospel of Winter, Brendan Kiehly
Grasshopper Jungle, Andrew Smith
Hidden Like Anne Frank, Marcel Prins and Peter Hank Steenhuis
The Hit, Melvin Burgess
How I Discovered Poetry, Marilyn Nelson
I Remember Beirut, Zeina Abirachad
I’ll Give You the Sun, Jandy Nelson
The Impossible Knife of Memory, Laurie Halse Anderson
In the Shadows, Kiersten White and Jim Di Bartolo
Inland, Kat Rosenfeld
Isla and the Happily Ever After, Stephanie Perkins
Islands at the End of the World, Austin Aslan
The Killing Woods, Lucy Christopher (removed 11/30)
Kiss of Deception, Mary Pearson
The Last Forever, Deb Caletti
Like Water on Stone, Dana Walrath
Little Blue Lies, Chris Lynch
Love is the Drug, Alaya Dawn Johnson
Marina, Carlos Ruiz Zafon
The Mark of the Dragonfly, Jaleigh Johnson (removed 11/30)
A Matter of Souls, Denise Lewis Patrick
Never Ending, Martyn Bedford
Noggin, John Corey Whaley
On a Clear Day, Walter Dean Myers
One Death Nine Stories, Marc Aronson, Walter Dean Myers, & Charles R. Smith, Jr.
One Man Guy, Michael Barakiva
Otherbound, Corrinne Duyvis
Pointe, Brandy Colbert
Port Chicago 50: Disaster, Mutiny and the Fight for Civil Rights, Steve Sheinkin
Shadow Hero, Gene Luen Yang
She Is Not Invisible, Marcus Sedgwick
Side Effects May Vary, Julie Murphy
The Story of Owen, Dragon Slayer of Trondheim, E.K. Johnston
The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender, Leslye Walton
Taking Flight, Michaela dePrince
This One Summer, Jillian Tamaki and Mariko Tamaki
Threatened, Eliot Schrefer
Through the Woods, Emily Carroll
A Time to Dance, Padma Venkataraman
Tin Star, Cecil Castellucci
The True Adventures of Nicolo Zen, Nicholas Christopher (removed 11/3)
The True Tale of the Monster Billy Dean, David Almond
Two Girls Staring at the Ceiling, Lucy Frank
The Tyrant’s Daughter, J.C. Carleson (removed 11/3)
The Undertaking of Lily Chen, Danica Novgorodoff
The Unfinished Life of Addison Stone, Adele Griffin
The Vigilante Poets of Selwyn Academy, Kate Hattemer
A Volcano Beneath the Snow: John Brown’s War Against Slavery, Albert Marrin
We Are the Goldens, Dana Reinhardt
We Were Liars, E. Lockhart
West of the Moon, Margi Preus
Wildlife, Fiona Wood
The Winner’s Curse, Marie Rutkoski
The Witch’s Boy, Kelly Barnhill
Zac & Mia, A.J. Betts
Zane and the Hurricane, Rodman Philbrick

Added after the initial posting of the list, but definitely worth discussing:

Brown Girl Dreaming, Jacqueline Woodson
Gabi, A Girl in Pieces, Isabel Quintero
Paper Airplanes, Dawn O’Porter
Poisoned Apples, Christine Hepperman
Why We Took the Car, Wolfgang Herrndorf

 

*It occurred to me today (Nov 3) that going back and linking to posts once they are up might be helpful, so I’m doing that retroactively and will try to maintain it going forward. I’ve also struck out a few books that one or more of us have read but none of can make a case for — however, if anyone would like to take any of the strikeouts on as a guest post, we’d be delighted.

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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.

Comments

  1. As usual, I’m way behind in my reading (although the spreadsheet is now up to date except for the September issue of the Bulletin which I haven’t seen yet). The only two I’ve read are We Were Liars and Creature of Moonlight which are both worth discussing. I expected to love We Were Liars more than I did, but I still thought it was excellent. My heart broke for those kids who were trapped by expectations and unnecessary strictures. The depiction of messy family ties did seem all too realistic.

    I liked Creature of Moonlight plenty, but it hasn’t stuck with me very well. I did think it had a thoughtful exploration of the ways in which female choices are often limited – both historically and in the fantasy world Hahn created.

    • Jen, your spreadsheet is a godsend for collection development and for educating staff (including me). I can’t thank you enough.

      • You’re welcome! I’m glad other people find it useful since it’s something I enjoy doing.

        And if no one else supports Creature of Moonlight I’d definitely be willing to let that one go off the list. It’s more something that if someone else had a really good argument I could probably be swayed to support it, not something I would argue hard for myself.

  2. I’m surprised to see The Cracks in the Kingdom on here, because to me it doesn’t stand alone. It was a wonderful book, don’t get me wrong. Brilliant, nuanced, etc. etc. I just think you need to have read the first story in order to appreciate this one. And then there’s another one coming I believe.

  3. I wonder if people might overweight the “stands on its own” criteria. I am the sort of person who will read series piecemeal and out of order, so I may have a bias there, but I think there are books of real literary excellence that shouldn’t be excluded just because they don’t stand alone.

    I’m saying this because I thought The Cracks in the Kingdom was SO much better than A Corner of White. I can’t say why I thought so — but all the disparate tones and flavors of the first book suddenly melded into something harmonious. I don’t think it’s going to end up being one of the best books of the year, in my assessment, but I think I wouldn’t be unhappy to see it get an honor.

  4. I would agree that Cracks in the Kingdom was a real leap above A Corner of White. I’m not sure this book will go very far with the committee, even without the “stands on its own criteria,” because I don’t think it’s blatantly angst-ridden enough. I feel books that win awards, much like movies that win Best Picture Oscars, always carry such baggage. I think Cracks in the Kingdom could go the distance to at least an honor as long as it’s not dismissed out of hand as merely humorous. Jaclyn Moriarty cleverly disguises very serious issues within a lot of (mostly comedic) layering, which I feel has a tendency to be brushed off among serious literary circles. I don’t want to hijack this into a Cracks in the Kingdom discussion though. Meanwhile, I’ve added a few of the things on the long list to my reading queue!

  5. Karyn Silverman says:

    Kristin, you’re such a cynic! Also, there’s lots of angst, it’s just portrayed in this oddly cheerful way, which is Moriarty’s stock in trade, as you noted. Honestly, I might yet remove Cracks from the list, but I also thought it was great, and it’s a solid platform from which to talk about series books.

    I did not like Creature of Moonlight. I forget why now; I gave it up halfway and passed it to Sarah.

    I was hoping more people would chime in with books to remove! This list really is very long…

  6. The Killing Woods by Lucy Christopher…hmm. It was quite good. The voice and characterisation were strong–and, for the most part, the plot was well done. (Except the ending. Original, but it cracked me up in a way that probably wasn’t intended.) However, I definitely can’t see it winning, or even netting an honour.

    Also, I am SO ANNOYED about Black Dove, White Raven. I don’t think I can wait till 2015. I know for a fact that Elizabeth Wein has completed the first draft. IT IS IN EXISTENCE. AND I CAN’T HAVE IT. Seriously, Elizabeth, you’re killing me here.

  7. Barbara Moon says:

    YES it is a loooong list. I was surprised at a few selections but very happy to see some terrific NF titles on the list.

  8. Barbara Moon says:
  9. Eric Carpenter says:

    Another vote for keeping Cracks in the Kingdom on the list. After We Were Liars it’s my favorite this year.
    Sadly, I think you can cross On a Clear Day off the long list, it was a bit of a mess and certainly wasn’t representative of the quality of writing Walter Dean Myers gave us during his incredible career.

  10. I loved CRACKS IN THE KINGDOM. I put off reading A CORNER OF WHITE for ages because I thought the whole colors conceit was so silly….then got completely hooked when I went back and actually read it, and the sequel is even better. I wasn’t terribly impressed with GIRL DEFECTIVE. It was good, but not great or ground-breaking. I put both EGG AND SPOON and THE WITCH’S BOY in that realm of “could be Newbery, could be Printz” but was leaning toward Newbery on both. I’d love to hear what others think.

    • Karyn Silverman says:

      I just read Egg and Spoon and I’ve bumped it up on my own shortlist as a result. It’s marvelous in all senses, plays with Russian mythology respectfully, and has a fascinating narrative voice. Lots to admire, and I really enjoyed it too. I would have put it on the Printz side, not Newbery, without a moment’s thought — there’s a maturity to the perspective and a cynicism that make it clearly YA to me. I think it actually has the potential to cross over to adult really well.

      • I agree with you, Karyn. It has a really classic feel and I was interested to read in an interview with Maguire that he told Candlewick if they didn’t think it was for kids, he would just take it to his adult publisher. The only thing I wish is that Maurice Sendak could have illustrated it.

  11. I just finished reading West of the Moon and think that one likely falls on the Newbery end of the spectrum. I suspect the same is true of Mark of the Dragonfly, although I had to return that one before I finished it. But after last year, my sense of Newbery vs. Printz may be very off.

    @Sam: I hear you on Black Dove, White Raven, but while we’re talking about Elizabeth Wein books we can’t have, there’s always Sword Dancer, which I’ve been pining for for YEARS. Someday.

  12. Yes I am quite cynical at times about books getting recognition, but I hope I’m proven wrong by Cracks in the Kingdom anyway! Such a cool book. I haven’t read Zac and Mia or I Remember Beirut, but both look really cool. Anybody else read those?

    I have to say I’m not disappointed Elizabeth Wein’s upcoming novel got pushed back to 2015. After Rose Under Fire, I’m a little gun shy about that author. Now I don’t have to feel guilty about avoiding it until next year! ; )

    Egg and Spoon looks pretty cool, but I’ve never read anything by that author, so I’m not sure what to expect. I haven’t read it yet, but I heard Going Over by Beth Kephart is supposed to be good, and it’s about an unusual topic: two teens who live on opposite sides of the Berlin Wall.

    • Barbara Moon says:

      I read I Remember Beirut. It is an extension/companion to Game for Swallows. Quite short and while interesting, I’m not sure that I would place it on the Printz shortlist.

    • I read Going Over and thought it was very good. It also had an aspect of Germany history–Turkish communities of guest workers–that I know very little about and I thought was incorporated really well.

      • Karyn Silverman says:

        I have it here in hopes of one of us getting to it. However, my super smart teen reader wasn’t impressed and had some convincing reasons. She tends toward negative assessments of most books, but has a slightly better track record than I do for predicting likely winners, so I tend to listen to her criticisms seriously.

  13. Hmm…I am far behind in my reading (I really needed to deal with all the books in my house this year), but I’m disappointed to see many more books on this list that I find unworthy of consideration than those that I would like to see on the table. CREATURE OF MOONLIGHT left me severely underwhelmed, as did FIENDISH, though there’s certainly something to be said about the killer atmosphere of the latter. While I enjoyed KISS OF DECEPTION, I don’t think it’s Printz-worthy for the entire length of its many pages and SHADOW HERO is, by far, my least favorite Yang title. TWO GIRLS STARING AT THE CEILING quite frequently felt like it was trying too hard to be titillating when, in fact, there just wasn’t much going on. WE ARE THE GOLDENS felt like a poorly done version of a familiar story and I spotted the secrets in WE WERE LIARS from miles away – though I wouldn’t take that one out of discussion.

    For me, 100 SIDEWAYS MILES pales in comparison to GRASSHOPPER JUNGLE, which is far and away my standout book of the year (from the admittedly small selection I’ve read). I’m in the midst of both EGG & SPOON and I’LL GIVE YOU THE SUN and I’d bet good money that the second will be giving GRASSHOPPER JUNGLE a run for my vote. I personally loved SHE IS NOT INVISIBLE and it’s strange because I think it’s a much more accessible book than MIDWINTERBLOOD but I think it’s much less Printz-worthy than that title. And I would definitely love to see POISONED APPLES as part of the discussion.

    Of course, I say all this having never been even close to correctly predicting a Printz, so take my words with a grain of salt.

    • Karyn Silverman says:

      I liked Fiendish. I’ll concede it’s probably not a contender in any serious way (although sometimes when I reread I rethink these things), but I think she’s an underrated writer and I like to give some props when I can.

      And really, only maybe 20 of these have serious legs in my estimation — and that’s generous. However, we do have to fill the blog somehow, so that means examining the way some books don’t have what it takes, or talking about the ways that a book can be excellent but still not a likely Printz contender.

      Or I guess we could post only once per week about only those top titles… I’d have a lot more free time!

      • I completely get including the ones we don’t think are serious contenders – just throwing in my two cents on what I’ve read!

        FIENDISH was my first read by Yovanoff and I’m not sure it convinced me to pick up her other works. I never write an author off after just one book, but I’ll be more apprehensive now.

        • Karyn Silverman says:

          Tell me more! I didn’t think it was as good as last year’s Paper Valentine, but I still definitely enjoyed it.

          • I think I might have discovered that “weird” is just not my thing. I found everything just a little too strange for my personal tastes. I also thought the ending was quite obvious and that made the pacing in the last part of the novel drag a bit. I cared less about Clementine than about the secondary characters. For me, the strengths were the descriptive writing and the ability to create a creepy atmosphere – though, ultimately, the story didn’t actually scare me at all.

  14. Oh, I missed Zac and Mia on the list. LOVED IT. It’s beautiful–not cliched, lovely details, good characterisation, strong narrative voices. I didn’t exactly fall madly in love with it, like I have with other books (*coff* Code Name Verity *coff*) but I have a lot of respect for what the author has done with it. However, I have a qualm about the American edition. The book is set in Australia, and all the dialogue and description was peppered with little references that just made the book feel so real to me. When AJ Betts sold it to the American market, though, the publishers changed the details and Americanised them. I haven’t read the American edition, but I think this will make the book less authentic. I feel that if the book is set in Australia, the details should remain Australian–otherwise, the sense of place is lost.

    • Karyn Silverman says:

      I thought it was still really Australian in flavor and place — I was expecting to see less Australian flavor based on this comment and actually checked to make sure I hadn’t actually bought the Australian version by mistake! (I picked it up at The Strand, so you never know…) Did you read both editions?

  15. I hope EVIDENCE OF THINGS NOT SEEN by Lindsey Lane is given some consideration for the Printz. It’s a debut YA contemporary about a teenage boy who goes missing in a small Texas town, told from about 20 different perspectives of people who knew him or were somehow affected by his disappearance. I thought the writing was stellar, the POVs were all distinct, and there were some really thought-provoking elements. (I will forever be haunted by Karla.)

    • Karyn Silverman says:

      I have an ARC of this so I moved it from the probably won’t get to pile to the read if at all possible pile!

  16. No love for Gabi, A Girl in Pieces? One of my favorites this year. I think Zane and the Hurricane, Rodman Philbrick is more on the Newbery side of things. I found The Undertaking of Lily Chen, Danica Novgorodoff a bit on the adult side. Perhaps this year’s Relish? Love the diversity on this list, btw!

  17. Karyn Silverman says:

    Additions and subtractions:
    Based a bit on buzz and mostly on stars/critical consensus, we’ve added Althea and Oliver (Moracho), Because They Marched (Freedman), Blind (De Woskin), Frida & Diego (Reef), Gabi: A Girl in Pieces (Quintero), How It Went Down (Magoon) and Poisoned Apples (Heppermann) to our spreadsheet. We haven’t seen all of these yet so shout if any are too young or otherwise should fall back off the list.

    We’ve struck through Zane and the Hurricane for reasons of being too young, but we might talk about The Night Gardener, which skews up very nicely — it also works as a middle grade, but I think different audiences can take different things away from it. I’m still debating West of the Moon, because there are some aspects that felt really young and some that felt old. I’m going to take a look at Mark of the Dragonfly still, but if it reads young in every way I might set it aside; with all the additions we want to make sure we’re prioritizing the most likely books from the pile!

  18. Karyn Silverman says:

    I think I’m ready to let go of a number of books on this list unless anyone can give me a compelling reason not to — Kiss of Deception (struck me as derivative/standard issue fantasy); The Killing Woods (I was bored and put it down about 80 pages in); The True Adventures of Niccolo Zen (fun but I don’t think it will go the distance, although I’ve read the whole book); and Zane and the Hurricane (it’s on the very cusp of the bottom end, and I think we have crossover books that have more crossover appeal — The Riverman and The Night Gardener are two we do want to talk about).

    However, new books keep shouting for attention. Anyone have opinions on any of the following?

    The Wrenchies – looks harrowing and interesting, one star so far

    The Young Elite, Marie Lu – I was ready to dismiss this as good but formulaic based on the Legend trilogy, but three stars is a fair amount of critical accolade.

    The Vanishing Season
    , Anderson — It’s on my shelf. It’s BEEN on my shelf. Also three stars, which it’s had for months yet somehow this book just keeps falling off my radar. Is this some kind of premonition or should it be on our list?

    Vango: Between Sky and Earth, de Fombelle. This is one I am only hearing about from Jen’s starred review list. It’s a work in translation and it’s long, and it sounds insane. Anyone read this?

    Althea and Oliver, Moracho – three stars, and I have a copy on my desk. How far up the to-read pile should it be?

    Blind, Rachel De Woskin — another no buzz, three star book. Where are they all coming from?

    And then there’s the nonfiction pile: Because They Marched, Freedman; Everybody Paints, Rubin; Eyes Wide Open, Fleischman; Frida & Diego, Reef – If we’re going to see bling on nonfiction, my money is currently on The Romanovs. Any of these likely to give it a run for its money?

  19. I think you’re free to remove The Children of the King by Sonya Hartnett. It’s a nice piece of magical realism mixed with historical fiction, but it skews too young for the Printz.

  20. Karyn Silverman says:

    I just added the following text to the original post, but putting it here so it’s all linear and time-coded and such:
    *It occurred to me today (Nov 3) that going back and linking to posts once they are up might be helpful, so I’m doing that retroactively and will try to maintain it going forward. I’ve also struck out a few books that one or more of us have read but none of can make a case for — however, if anyone would like to take any of the strikeouts on as a guest post, we’d be delighted.

    Then I went ahead and struck through Niccolo Zen and The Tyrant’s Daughter.
    I’ll also add a few latecomers as we go forward/review them.

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