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Someday My Printz Will Come
Inside Someday My Printz Will Come

MOAR Morris

morriscoversWhile Morris-Printz crossover isn’t exactly common, it’s happened twice —  in 2012, when Where Things Come Back took the double gold; and again in 2015, with sleeper hit The Carnival at Bray taking double silver.

This season, we pretty much flubbed our Morris coverage; the debuts we covered earlier in the season were largely not the debuts the Morris Committee shortlisted (exception: The Serpent King), and those we “predicted” were notably absent from the shortlist. But failing to predict the Morris is actually pretty true to form for us, as is this post: a last minute roundup of the actual Morris shortlisters, squeaked out shortly before the YMAs.

We are not a Morris speculation site, and the Morris has different criteria than the Printz, so our goal here is not actually to predict the Morris (which we’ll definitely fail to do!) but to look at how these already notable books — some of which were on our radar already — stack up in the larger and more specific Printz pool. Here goes!

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Pyrite Time! Whoo!

CC-licensed image by Flickr user ideonexus

CC-licensed image by Flickr user ideonexus

It’s Pyrite time! Did you think we weren’t doing it this year? Nah, we just wanted to wait until we’d covered as much as possible of the year’s best.

Voting will happen in the comments. We’ll be doing our best to adhere to the RealPrintz voting procedures, as follows:

  • Any officially nominated book is eligible; in our case, that means anything that’s been written up this season, plus the handful of books we’ll be posting in the next week*
  • Voting for the winner books takes place first (the honor book vote will follow, and all books other than the winner will be eligible for the honor vote, regardless of whether they received votes in this round)
  • Votes are weighted, 5 points for first place, 3 for second, 1 for first — Be sure to number your votes! You don’t have to vote for three books but you can’t skip positions – if you vote for two books, they get 5 and 3 points, not 5 and 1 or 3 and 1.

Voting will stay open until midday Wednesday, with the goal of posting our Pyrite winner by Wednesday evening

Take a minute to read back through all our “nominations” this year or just vote away!

*TK this week, in some cases in very brief form: The Smell of Other People’s Houses; Rani Patel in Full Effect; Tell Me Something Real; Girl Mans Up; Merrow; Julia Vanishes; Steeplejack; Spontaneous; Beast; Still Life with Tornado; Scythe; The Reader

 

These Books Have Nothing in Common

screen-shot-2016-12-31-at-2-37-04-pmThat is, these books have nothing in common except their matching star count. But time is short and the books with positive reviews are many, so here we are, lumping them together.

Russo’s If I Was Your Girl was on our list from the very beginning of the year. It’s a love story with a trans main character, and never devolves into a problem novel, which is still relatively refreshing (and oh so welcome) when it comes to trans protagonists.

Kids of Appetite, on the other hand, was a late entry after it started showing up on year-end lists. It features a protagonist with an uncommon medical ailment and a character who maybe functions as a magical negro, and reads like Andrew Smith lite.

Needless to say, I only support one of these as a contender.

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Tales from Mother Russia

screen-shot-2016-12-31-at-12-56-45-pmWe’re back from a few days of rest, travel, and so much family, with yet another double post — always, as the year draws to a close, the double posts, because the good books just keep piling up. Today’s books in many ways have nothing in common — one historical fiction, absolutely realistic despite some stylistic flourishes that point to fairy tales, and the other contemporary fantasy. One is set in Russia and Sweden and England and a few points in between; the other in only a few square blocks of Brooklyn. One stretches over years, even decades when the framing narrative is considered, and the other takes place over three nights — although they are long nights, it’s true.

So what ties these two — Vassa in the Night and Blood Red Snow White — together? They share a mythologized love of Russia. They grow from Russian fairy tales, in one case because the protagonist has written a collection and in the other because everybody’s favorite wicked witch, Baba Yaga, is running a murderous convenience store that entraps our intrepid heroine.

Neither of these is a portrait of the true Russia, but both of them demonstrate the deep love affair people have with Russia, the fabled Mother Country, regardless of actual Russia, the political and geographic entity making front page news.

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The Rest of the Best

I’m a little late to the party, but more lists! More books to read! More surprises, and also more alignment around the standout YA titles of 2016!

We’ve already covered PW and SLJ (AKA the Mothership); now let’s look at Kirkus and The Horn Book from the trade side and NPR’s Book Concierge and The New York Times notable list from the mass media side.

(Obviously there are dozens more lists we could look at, and this is by no means comprehensive. If comprehensive is your thing, I heartily recommend Jen J’s spreadsheet for the trades, once she updates it, and for the list of all lists ever, Largehearted Boy is your guy.)

Alrighty, enough intro. Let’s dig in!

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The Lie Tree

The Lie Tree coverOh, The Lie Tree. For so long — since January, in fact, when I was lucky enough to get my hands on an ARC — I’ve been holding this up as an exemplar of great writing. Along with The Passion of Dolssa this has consistently held top billing in my head. It’s brilliant and unconventional; the writing is excellent; the themes unexpected: religion and science and feminism, oh my, with a lovely side of what it means to grow up.

And look, I still stand by this one as an excellent book. But after re-reading, I find I also have some questions. Let’s dig in!

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Railhead

railhead_cover_241x361Railhead, Philip Reeve
Switch Press, April 2016
Reviewed from ARC

Philip Reeve is underappreciated in the US. The Mortal Engines quartet was brilliant science fiction — pacy, philosophical, and heart-breaking. And then it was gone, apparently out of print. The prequel trilogy starring the incomparable Fever Crumb also failed to get as much traction as it deserved. Hopefully, the upcoming film of Mortal Engines will signal a rebirth of interest, and hopefully that will mean good things for Reeve’s latest, the unusual Railhead.

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The Thin Line

the-singing-bones-coverCover Girl Who Drank the MoonSnow White Ohelan cover

I’m going to cheat a little today, and deviate from our attempts to review in roughly calendar order.

Now that that’s out of the way, let’s talk about middle grade and YA and all ages and the fine line between the Newbery and the Printz.

We’ve had books on all ends snag awards, yes, but these are generally outliers (see: Navigating Early, Last Stop on Market Street, This One Summer). Generally, the Printz list is solidly YA, the Newbery middle grade, and the Caldecott goes to a picture book for ages 4-7. But here’s the thing: books aren’t nearly this clearcut in their appeal. And as always, we have a handful of books this year that seem tailor-made to defy easy age and award bracketing. Today I’m going to look at three of them (with an honorable mention of a fourth): Matt Phelan’s Snow White, Shaun Tan’s The Singing Bones, and Kelly Barnhill’s The Girl Who Drank Down the Moon. These aren’t the only potential line-blurrers: Joy’s Thanksgiving call for reader nominations raised Wolf Hollow (my honorable mention) and Some Kind of Happiness as possibilities, and the nonfiction this year is almost all on the cusp — and that’s just the ones I can name off the top of my head. But these three are the ones I see as having the most consensus as crossover books we might want to talk about, whether or not they actually have the legs to go the distance.

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Magical Realism

the-head-of-the-saint-coverA Fierce and Subtle PoisonMagical Realism is hot: It’s the label attached to last year’s Printz winner Bone Gap, and it’s been popping up all over the YA and MG scene for the past few years. This year, again, offers us a handful of books in the genre. I’ve read three so far that deserve to be in the awards speculation pool, and today I’m going to talk about two of them (the last one is a late fall pub so we’ll wait on that).

Magical Realism is realistic literature with fantastical or magical elements, but it’s something more, because that bare bones definition also covers a significant chunk of fantasy. If you extend the definition, two additional points are worth noting: first, the setting; and second, the way the magic is received. The top-billed magical realists are Latin American — Jorge Luis Borges, Gabriel García Márquez, Laura Esquivel, Isabel Allende — and their settings are Argentina, Colombia, Mexico, Chile. And in their books, the magic is not something apart — compare this to, say, Stiefvater’s Raven Boys quartet, where they all know the magic is strange, and, well, magical. Instead, in magical realist texts, the magic heightens the mundane and becomes an expression of emotion, rather than something characters step back and try to understand.

One of the two titles I’m discussing today reads to me like classic magical realism — no surprise, as it bears a dedication to Gabriel Garcia Marquez and is a Brazilian work, originally published in Portuguese and now translated into English. The second straddles the fantasy/magical realism line, but feels closer in its roots to magical realism than fantasy, so I’m going with the label.

Alright, enough introduction, and on to the books.

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Morris and Turner Contendas

Roundup photo by Flickr user Mike Mozart, CC license BY 2.0

Roundup photo by Flickr user Mike Mozart, CC license BY 2.0

Hello! It’s roundup time, today focused on contendas for awards other than the Printz.

One of these awards is a real actual award, the William C. Morris YA Debut Award; the other is imaginary but no less real in my heart. The Morris you all know about, of course, and we’ve been covering several debut/Morris contenders that we think are also Printz contenders; today I’ll be talking about some early 2016 debuts that I don’t think quite have the chops for the larger pool that is all YA, but are good enough to have been potentially on the table for the Morris committee. The other award I’m speculating about is the  imaginary — but needed! — Meghan Whalen Turner Award for Best Completed Series.

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