I’m struggling to remain even semi-impartial here. This is a book that I loved reading. But when I put it on the list, I was pretty sure I was doing it because of personal reasons, not so much because I was ready to nominate and defend it as a contender. And now that I’m writing up this review, well, I’m fairly muddled. AS USUAL.
In my head, as I’ve written this post, it’s mostly been a series of exclamation points and the word “squeeeeeeee” interspersed with pictures from the book’s pages. I mean, that’s legit Printz discussion, no? With 6 starred reviews, gorgeous art, a meditative story line, it really seems like my work here is done and I’m only 57 words along in this review. But perhaps you need convincing? Or are just in the mood for a good gush? In the name of due diligence, let’s explore what’s making me go squee. We’ve got beautiful art, strong characterization and an emotional, summer-wandering plot with complicated themes adding texture and weight…I’m pretty much squeeing over the whole package of this spare-but-profound graphic novel. [Read more...]
Last year, we had a lot of great conversation about Elizabeth Wein’s Code Name Verity, which ended up with a silver medal. This year, we have its companion title, Rose Under Fire. With two starred reviews, will this title go the distance? I’m not so sure; I’ve gone through at least three different stages of thinking about this book. I think I’ve settled on “not likely.”
Don’t get me wrong, there’s a lot to enjoy here: The writing is beautiful, and the decision to keep first person diary style benefits this story. It allows for immediate, emotional connection with Rose, and also provides an opportunity to track the changes Rose undergoes through the course of the story. Her change in voice from part one to part two is abrupt and effective; you’re warily drawn in, trying to understand what changes have happened. And the polished writing of the third section gives the book a gorgeous, formal (but still emotional and effective) ending. [Read more...]
Short stories aren’t always my favorite – collections can be so uneven sometimes; I’d rather spend time in a big long novel. But Margo Lanagan seems to be trying to convince me that I – even I! – can love a collection of short stories. Yellowcake is everything you’d expect – a generally strong collection of stories full of beautiful writing; disturbing images; colliding, twining themes. It’s s strong contender, although I’m not totally convinced it will take a medal in the end.
Let’s talk about what’s good here first. The language, of course (“Styx water is sharp and bites inside your nose.”): effective, unexpected, powerful. Her carefully crafted dialogue provides clues and insights into her characters (Gallantine’s very few, studiedly casual, deceptively mild lines gave me chills, for instance). Lanagan is an amazing writer, and she does her usual awesome job here, too. [Read more...]
Karyn wrote about the long slog of winter break reading just before a conference/blog deadline. I understand her image, but I think I spend winter break/early January more like a muppet: waving my arms around in a flurry of indecision (and, sometimes, stress because I’ve put off so much committee reading. Blerg!); now’s the time when we’re supposed to be firming up our thoughts on books and able to talk intelligibly about the year as a whole and how any given title fits into it. (Uh, but no pressure, right?)
I actually spent a good portion of my own break trying to catch up, at last, on the nonfiction books on our contenda list. I got to read about deadly diseases (well, one), certain death in the Arctic (well, practically certain!), and a young woman’s experience of the civil rights movement. These are all strong books — engaging reads, beautifully designed (I think; I actually read two of these titles as ebooks, so I’m making a few assumptions based on what I saw on my phone screen and what other people have said), important and enduring subjects — so if the Printz process is about winnowing down, I definitely have my work cut out for me! [Read more...]
Can I take an unrelated-to-anything moment to say how pretty the new blogs are? We’ve been hearing a lot about the new look behind the scenes, so to actually see it — and see how quickly it all came together — is so exciting! Yay for nice, new things, eh?
Of course, I’m actually here to talk about A.S. King’s newest, Ask the Passengers. By my count, it’s received two stars and is included in the buzz portion of our contenda list (as a past honoree, King’s an auto-contender, meaning we’d look at anything she has out, no matter the number of stars). For today, I have a lot of raves and a few questions. Since it’s on our Pyrite short list and we’ll be talking about it again very soon, maybe you all can help me answer some of those questions! [Read more...]
With five starred reviews, this was an easy auto-contenda to spot. Rappaport looks at the active, heroic roles Jewish people played during the years of the Holocaust. She shares 21 stories — many involving teens and young children — of the Jewish Resistance that took place across Europe during the Second World War. In a year that has been tremendous for nonfiction writing for teens, this is an important title. It’s a memorable read, and it’s a beautiful book. In the end, though, I don’t think I would be able to make the case for Beyond Courage if I were sitting at the Printz table on the RealCommittee. [Read more...]
You know a book’s a big deal when the visiting public librarian gives it a shiny booktalk and then all the students want to do is keep hearing about that book, to the exclusion of all the other books said librarian brought. That book is this book: every day. Levithan’s latest has three stars, and is on a slew of year’s best books lists. It’s on our shortlist, too, so we’ll be looking at it again in just a few weeks. (I have to admit, I’m really happy about that, because I think that a few weeks of sitting with this book will help me digest it a little. I just finished it and I suspect that my enjoyment of it is clouding my Printz-vision. Well, that and the fact that I just plain enjoy reading David Levithan’s books.) [Read more...]
As a quick reminder, we only have a little time before our Pyrite Printz nominations close, so if you have a book that knocks your socks off this year, you should head over to the comments to let us know!
But the real purpose of this post is to talk about Jodi Lynn Anderson’s Tiger Lily. We’ve got a retelling of Peter Pan that focuses on Tiger Lily. I pretty much snatched this out of Karyn’s hands when it came and haven’t given it back. I wrote about Tiger Lily way back when, mentioning that I wasn’t totally sure about it as a contenda, but that I really loved the way it played with the source material (more on that soon!). At this point, it’s got four starred reviews, so it’s an auto-contenda. [Read more...]