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Someday My Printz Will Come
Inside Someday My Printz Will Come

We’re Making a List, Checking it Twice…

A list of lists, in fact! Because we’re almost halfway through December, which means that only Booklist’s year-end list is still to come. So today we’re checking in on Horn Book’s Fanfare and the Kirkus Best Teen Books list, which both dropped about two weeks ago, and as a bonus glancing at the NYT teen section AND giving you a link to a list of every list ever, so if you, like me, love looking through the lists and seeing whether you agree or disagree — well, this list of lists will have you covered for weeks of that kind of web browsing.

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Fantasy You Don’t Want to Miss, a Two-fer

Screen Shot 2017-12-05 at 9.55.31 PMLet’s talk about heart books. Because today I want to call your attention to two books that are long shots at best, but which I loved them dearly as a reader. More than that, despite the flaws that I predict will ultimately sink them, these are strong books that deserve close attention. Both are contemporary fantasy, one in the magic realism vein and the other in the send up all the tropes and take no prisoners vein. (Ok, that’s a pretty niche vein, but still.) Other than genre, their bisexual protagonists (something I didn’t put together until halfway through this review), and their likely distance from medal territory these don’t have much in common – but that’s ok, because every book deserves to be considered on its own.

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It’s Not Like It’s a Secret

Secret

It’s Not Like It’s a Secret by Misa Sugiura
HarperTeen, May 2017
Reviewed from a final copy

So today we have a realistic coming of age/first love story, and it’s sweet and especially earnest. With one star review, this isn’t a book that’s making major waves; but it’s important to remember that starred reviews aren’t really a predictor for the Printz award. There’s enough about It’s Not Like It’s a Secret that feels fresh and engaging that I could see a long conversation happening at the RealCommittee table. Will that be enough for a medal at the end of the year? WHO CAN SAY? (I am about to try to say.) [Read more…]

Midnight

Midnight at the ElectricI’ve been dragging my feet with this one. I have plenty of excuses: the holiday weekend, my son’s (minor) surgery, major new unit coming up at school that I need to plan for. But those are just hot air; I have managed to write up books under far less ideal circumstances. Really it was that the posts where I point out flaws in widely acclaimed books are my least favorite to write.

And yet I keep doing it! So once more into the fray, my friends.

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Realistic Roundup

Here on this holiday weekend (for some, but not for others, I know!), I thought we could have a brief whirlwind of a realistic roundup. We’ve already featured a grouping of funny girls, today we have a slightly smaller set of lady-centric fiction. They’re not all funny, but they are all realistic, they are all heartfelt, and they’re all here today. They run the range of zero to one star ratings. As is often the case with our roundups, they may not be titles RealCommittee may agree on, but that doesn’t preclude their inclusion in the conversation — they just might be titles that individual committee members come to the table to argue for. And remember — we’ve still got our Nominations post up, so make sure you speak up there if you have a book you want to champion! [Read more…]

The Pearl Thief

The Pearl ThiefI’ve been avoiding this review like the plague. I scrubbed my bathtub this afternoon in an attempt to not write this post, in fact, and I don’t know what my hang up is, really, except that this is not Code Name Verity but it is about Julie and so I have many feelings that have nothing to do with the book in front of me or with literary excellence and have only to do with the fact that I’m a little in love with a brash, fearless, fictional girl who died too young. So, baggage. On the upside, I’ve read The Pearl Thief twice now, and for me at least, it improves upon acquaintance. I think the first time it was the baggage at work; I wasn’t entirely reading The Pearl Thief so much as I was mining it for Julie. The second time, I read it for exactly what it was — a fascinating set piece, a tidy little mystery, a crafty study of class and race* and gender. And the formation of a young woman who, ok, is someday soon going to be the astounding protagonist of Code Name Verity but who is actually a fantastic character before that, and who can carry a book even for a reader who didn’t know what was coming down the pike.

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SLJ’s Best Books 2017

What a reading pile might look like, if sloppily staged

What a reading pile might look like, if sloppily staged

It’s nearing the end of the year, and all the year’s best lists are going to drop…soon! In fact, this year is so far along that the NBA will be announcing winners this evening (can you belieeeeeeve it?). It’s fun to take notes and make sure our reading lists are as complete as possible as we head to ALA countdown time. We’ve seen what PW had to say; now it’s the Mother Ship’s turn. SLJ released their year-end list earlier this morning, with 71 titles for kids and teens included. Click for more thoughts! [Read more…]

Saints and Misfits

saints and misfits

We are pretty random when we divide up our reading each year — sometimes there are books that we latch on to because “that seems like a Sarah/Karyn/Joy type book,” but that’s fairly rare. More often, it’s just an up-in-the-air kind of thing…and it generally works out. For whatever reason, I am pretty sure I am getting all the exciting and fabulous debuts this year. (Just my perception, of course, my fellow bloggers might disagree!) I don’t envy the Morris Committee their work at all, because this time around some of the reads I’ve been most excited about have been debuts. And guess what? We have another one today! This particular debut got three stars, and is one that I relished. [Read more…]

Funny Girls

Covers

Today is going to be one of those ALL THE BOOKS posts, loosely linked by being by and about women and featuring humor. Which is a pretty loose thread, but let’s roll with it. As is often the case with these roundups, we don’t think any of these are books that are likely to go the distance — but all are books we could see someone else championing, and that could easily be on the table for the RealCommittee, which means the conversation is open and a strong advocate might be all that’s needed. Perhaps one of you will champion one of these in the comments and be that advocate? We’re getting close to Pyrite nomination time, so now is definitely the moment to make a case.

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Fish out of water

A lot of young adult literature is about teens in unfamiliar situations and places. Sometimes the differences they experience are socio-economic, sometimes they’re cultural, and sometimes they’re magical. Fish out of water tales are usually easily relatable, regardless of the specificity, because most people can remember how they felt the first time they encountered something that was wholly outside of their lived experience up to that point.

Two February books—American Street and Piecing Me Together—have black teen girls narrating their lives in first person. Both have received lots of critical praise with five and four stars, respectively. More significantly, and the reason why they’re paired together, both books are by black women writing deeply emotional stories that their voices imbue with authenticity and integrity.

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