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Someday My Printz Will Come
Inside Someday My Printz Will Come

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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Vincent and Theo: The Van Gogh Brothers

Before we get into Vincent and Theo, I want to acknowledge that the National Book Awards were announced on Wednesday evening and the winner for Young People’s Literature was Robin Benway’s Far From the Tree. I’ll be covering that one later in the season and I’ve been intrigued since before it was longlisted for the NBA. I’m adopted and periodically grumble about the lack of contemporary YA fiction with adopted protagonists. While I’m excited for the representation I’m also cautiously optimistic, as one usually is when faced with your identity as written by someone else. If you’ve already read Far From the Tree and have thoughts about its NBA win, let us know in the comments!

Okay, now back to those Van Gogh boys. I’ll confess that I can’t think about Vincent Van Gogh without hearing Don McLean sing “starry, starry niiiight…” or seeing Tony Curran’s eyes well up with tears in his brilliant portrayal of Van Gogh on Doctor Who. He is one of the most famous painters of all time and we all think we know who he was; brilliant, depressed, and unappreciated in his time. Deborah Heiligman challenges the conventional wisdom and offers a thesis of her own about Vincent: the story of Vincent is incomplete without the story of his brother, Theo.

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Gay Pride

gay pride

Today we have a two-fer! Are you in the mood for a quick nonfiction read? Or perhaps a fictional take on the Grand Tour? Maybe some history with a side of sass? Perhaps a rogue taking a hedonistic last hurrah before shouldering familial responsibilities? OK, I’m going to stop asking questions and just get on with this introduction. We’ve got a title with two stars, and a title with four. Both of these books have a definitive voice telling the story. Both of these are reads that will entertain you, and keep you thinking.  Do you think one of these books could walk away with a medal? [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…]

Thick as Thieves

Thick as ThievesSo, today’s post was scheduled to be about two new books in familiar worlds with thieves in them. But after rereading Thick as Thieves I decided to split them up — because really, both books (the other is Wein’s The Pearl Thief, of course) deserve full posts to themselves. Thick as Thieves delighted me when I read it for the first time, back in February, but I wanted to love it so much that I wondered if maybe I had loved it despite issues. After rereading it, I’m convinced I didn’t love it enough the first time around, because once I was past that first read to find out what was going to happen, I was able to sit back and really be blown away by Turner’s writing, which is frankly genius.

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Gem & Dixie

gem&dixieI had originally paired this read with another book (one that is now to be reviewed later) which happened to include sisters, but it was too fanciful and too light of a connection. I had even mentally titled that post “Hello, seestra,”  which delighted me, but as this week’s schedule fell apart, that title just seemed too flip, too light for this thoughtful read. So  instead we have a single book to examine, one with three starred reviews, and a place on the PW year-end list. This is absolutely and centrally a book about sisters, about how sisters sometimes can complete each other and still grow apart. It’s also about how families give us a place, and that place shapes our very selves. And it’s also a book that, despite being about the hard and harrowing ways our families can fail us, is a tender read.

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