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Someday My Printz Will Come
Inside Someday My Printz Will Come

About Sarah Couri

Sarah Couri is a librarian at Grace Church School's High School Division, and has served on a number of YALSA committees, including Quick Picks, Great Graphic Novels, and (most pertinently!) the 2011 Printz Committee. Her opinions do not reflect the attitudes or opinions of SLJ, GCS, YALSA, or any other institutions with which she is affiliated. Find her on Twitter @scouri or e-mail her at scouri35 at gmail dot com.

Pyrite Redux: Days of Future Past

Next up in our countdown to the Pyrite: a conversation on science fiction, dystopias, big ideas, rancid politics, and the girls who have just about had enough — girls who chart the world’s meltdown. Taking a look at a dirty and distressing near future, we’ve got A.S. King’s Glory O’Brien’s History of the Future paired with Alaya Dawn Johnson’s Love is the Drug. [Read more...]

Sex and girls and stuff

We’ve got another round up here and this time, it’s all about the complexities and frustrations and amazing moments related to gender, sex, identity, hook ups, heartbreak, and true love. And who couldn’t use a little love at this time of year, amirite? Well, to be honest, these three books aren’t all about wuv (twue wuv); they are more about all the messy parts — the hook ups and doomed romances, the figuring yourself out, and the murder mysteries you might find yourself investigating from your family’s vintage record store. Although I’m not convinced that these titles are in the running for Printz medals,  I’m excited to share these books here; they have some really great moments. [Read more...]

Dreaming in Indian

Dreaming in Indian: Contemporary Native American Voices, edited by Mary Beth Leatherdale and Lisa Charleyboy
Annick Press, July 2014
Reviewed from final copy

I’m a day late in getting to this one because I just finished it. With no digital copies available, and my usual source without it in stock, I had to wait on a delivery. It was totally worth the wait, and I’m so glad it’s a physical copy (I don’t often say that, to be honest, but this is one gorgeous book; I enjoyed poring over the pages). I’m guessing that this will be a somewhat short review as a result, as I’ll continue to process…in the comments. :-) [Read more...]

Partial Non-Fiction Roundup Part Two

Hello! I hope your 2015 is going well! We are getting closer and closer to the big, Printzly reveal, you know. And in the interest of getting through a few more titles on our long (and always growing, it seems) list, here’s another nonfiction roundup. This time, we’re looking at three of the five finalists for Excellence in NonfictionIda M Tarbell, Laughing at my Nightmare, and Popular. (We’ve already checked out Port Chicago and the Romanovs aallllllllll the way back in 2014.) They all three show a wide variety of topics covered for teens in nonfiction, and also all three have compelling, particular perspectives on our world.

Ida M. Tarbell: The Woman Who Challenged Big Business — and Won! by Emily Arnold McCully
Clarion Books, July 2014
Reviewed from final copy

First up, we have Emily Arnold McCully’s biography on Ida M. Tarbell. With one starred review, we added it to our long list once it got the Excellence in Nonfiction’s finalist stamp of approval. It’s definitely impeccably researched, with clear writing and a balanced view of its subject — McCully doesn’t try to hide any of Tarbell’s 2015-unfriendly attitudes (her thinking on Mussolini, or her rejection of women’s suffrage, for example). McCully provides enough details and quotes from Tarbell’s writing, and does a fine job of placing Tarbell in her historical context. The text is bolstered by historical photographs. This isn’t the review-darling that the Romanovs and Port Chicago are, but it’s a strong biography in its own right, with as much to say about our the present world as about Tarbell’s.

Laughing at My Nightmare by Shane Burcaw
Roaring Brook, October 2014
Reviewed from ARC and then final copy

A book of my heart this year: the book I added to our list and then took off when it never got a starred review: Shane Burcaw’s Laughing at my Nightmare. I’ve been following him since Tumblr showcased his blog. I ended up taking it off the list after I read about half the book — it was mostly from the blog, which I’d already read. I figured that would be the end of it; I’m so glad the committee ignored me! Though I don’t think Burcaw has added much new content to the book — it is episodic and random in the way all the best blogs are as they publish, live — it still shows what a unique perspective he has, and still reveals his hilarious sense of humor. He’s always upfront about his experience with muscular dystrophy, but that’s never entirely the focus of his writing. Burcaw has a lot to say about life, and so what could tend to the Very Special After School Special is instead sharp and insightful. It’s a memorable read.

Popular: Vintage Wisdom for a Modern Geek by Maya Van Wagenen
Dutton, April 2014
Reviewed from final copy

Another book with a very young — in this case, still a teenage — author! Van Wagenen used a vintage popularity guide to help her in her yearlong quest to find popularity in her Texas high school. It’s the kind of book that sounds like stunt writing — a little too good to be true, a little too much concept and too little content — but Van Wagenen is a charming narrator with a sweet story. And some of the details of the background work well to contrast the read with the cover/packaging; Van Wagenen includes details about rough neighborhoods, gangs, a school lockdown. With some unexpected grit, an endearing narrator, and a relatable situation, Popular has charm to spare.

So what does this leave us in Printz-land? (Or, more accurately, Pyrite Land round these parts and at this point of the year.) I don’t think either of these three will overtake Romanovs or Port Chicago (and I loved A Volcano Beneath the Snow, though of course that’s not on the table for ENF). Not to mention the many other nonfiction titles we’ve raved about/looked at/considered. I’ve got a repeat conclusion from last week — these are strong titles, but I wouldn’t bet money on them going too far in RealCommittee’s conversations. But what do you all think? And do you have any predictions for the Excellence in Nonfiction winner? Let’s talk in the comments!

Partial Non-Fiction Roundup

We’ve got a small list of nonfiction titles to go through today — all with starred reviews, and two on year’s best lists. These are all good non-fiction, solid reads. I liked them. Understand: these are no frogs here, and I enjoyed the kisses very much. Buuuuuut… I’m not convinced that they’ll be talked about in a major way at the Printz table. [Read more...]

Althea and Oliver

Althea and Oliver by Cristina Moracho
Viking, October 2014
Reviewed from final copy

This book really amazed me by being a story that is bigger and harder and rougher and rawer than I thought it would be. It’s been named for two year’s best lists, and garnered three starred reviews, so it’s not just me feeling amazed. Althea and Oliver is a debut book that went far darker than I expected, and did so intelligently and memorably. While it’s not a perfect read, the more I think about this one, the more impressed I am.  [Read more...]

Glory O’Brien’s History of the Future

Glory O’Brien’s History of the Future by A. S. King
Little, Brown, October 2014
Reviewed from an ARC

OK, can I confess something? When I’ve tried to describe Glory O’Brien, I’ve started to feel like maybe I’m Stefon because there’s a lot going on here. A LOT: bat drinking, dystopias, politics, graduation, a dead mom, warring families, reclusive fathers, feminism, slutshaming, art, hippies, and STDs. Like, where are the Furbies and the screaming babies in Mozart wigs?

Which is not to say I’m not taking this review seriously (Stefon is always deadly serious anyway, right?) — with six starred reviews, with three placements on year’s best lists, A.S. King’s newest is getting a lot of love. Only, while I loved the wild ride of this read at first pass, as I’m writing this review now, it’s not entirely working. The things I loved are still there, but I have some problems and questions that are making me think twice as I write.  [Read more...]

The Story of Owen

The Story of Owen: Dragon Slayer of Trondheim by E. K. Johnston
Published by Carolrhoda Lab, March 2014
Reviewed from final copy

You know we’re not going to get out of here without a Trogdor reference, right? I mean, that’s not in any way the point or even relevant, but it’s still burninating me up inside. Much like the countryside and all those peasants. Which doesn’t get us to the three stars, the three best of year lists (so far), or the placement on the Morris shortlist. The Story of Owen may not have thatched-roof cottages, but it is mostly full of fantastic fantasticness. [Read more...]

Hidden Like Anne Frank

Hidden Like Anne Frank by Marcel Prins and Peter Henk Steenhuis, translated by Laura Watkins
Published by Arthur A Levine, March 2014
Reviewed from final copy

Hidden Like Anne Frank is a collection of 14 stories collected by Prins and Steenhuis, translated by Laura Watkins. The chapters each read like memoirs; they’re all presented in first person, in the voices of the Dutch-Jewish survivors of the war. The stories present a range of experiences — some are about children as young as 3, while others are the experiences of older children — although there are a number of factors that they have in common (the idea of “sperre,” the temporary prison in The Hollandsche Schouwburg). The most significant commonality is that these are all stories of survivors, and so the stories include information beyond what we often think of as “the end” of the story. [Read more...]

A Volcano Beneath the Snow

A Volcano Beneath the Snow: John Brown’s War Against Slavery by Albert Marrin
Knopf, April 2014
Reviewed from final copy

JOHN BROWN TAKE THE WHEEL is probably not how you expected this review to start, but let’s embrace the unexpected and just go with it. With four stars and some rave reviews happening, Albert Marrin’s A Volcano Beneath the Snow is definitely getting some love here and there. [Read more...]