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Someday My Printz Will Come
Inside Someday My Printz Will Come

Our 2016 Picks and Predictions

Before ALA, before the YMAs, before the temptation to Monday morning quarterback, let’s all take a moment to say thank you to the RealCommittee. The 9 members of the RealCommittee have worked tirelessly and read endlessly. Whatever choice they make is the right choice, and I for one can’t wait to find out what it is.

And in anticipation of Monday’s announcements, let’s acknowledge something else. It’s not a competition, because the RealCommittee is always right, but we know we’re keeping score: how well do we, both as individuals and as a Pyrite collective in cahoots with all you you, do at predicting the winners?

For the record, and based on a very quick look at just the last two years: In 2014, Joy and Karyn both predicted that the RC would recognize Midwinterblood, and Joy had Eleanor & Park on her personal picks. In 2015, Karyn predicted that the RC would recognize This One Summer and Grasshopper Jungle; Joy accurately predicted I’ll Give You the Sun and Grasshopper Jungle; and Sarah predicted I’ll Give You the Sun and This One Summer. (Of course, we also all featured How I Discovered Poetry as a personal pick or prediction, or both, and we were all wrong on that one, so we’re still not exactly batting a thousand.) But overall either we improved or the RealCommittee was more predictable.

Speaking of more predictable, in 2014 the Pyrite only had one title match to the RealCommittee’s selections (Eleanor and Park with an honor); in 2015, on the other hand, we were incredibly prescient; the Pyrite winner and the RealCommittee winner were the same, and we also voted for two honor books in the Pyrite that the RealCommittee recognized. Upward trend or statistical anomaly? Only this year’s results will tell.

Regardless of our accuracy, going on record about our personal favorites and also our predictions definitely ranks as one of our favorite posts to write each year. Read on for both our personal picks — books we can support and love love love — and our predictions, which are the books we think are most likely to be recognized, even if we don’t necessarily love them.

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Our 2015 Predictions and Picks: Loves and Likelies

One of the greatest joys of writing this blog is the chance to be spectacularly wrong* come the announcements. So here is our official post of both our personal picks — books we can support and love love love — and our predictions, which are the books we think are most likely — even if we don’t necessarily love them.

*Last year Joy and Karyn actually both predicted Midwinterblood, and Joy had Eleanor & Park on her personal picks. But otherwise, not so much with the accuracy.

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Pyrite Redux: Lifestyles of the Rich and Privileged

The ALA Youth Media Awards are just around the corner and that means that it’s redux time! Today we’re revisiting two 2014 favorites: Candace Fleming’s The Family Romanov and We Were Liars by E. Lockhart. [Read more…]

Predictions! Picks! Probable Mistakes!

Not that we ever get these right, but here goes.

Karyn’s Picks:

I’m going to start with the if if I had my druthers list: 5 books I both love AND support (mostly), in no particular order:

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Our Very Best & Most Excellent Guesses Ever For Tomorrow

(Housekeeping note: we are still compiling the honor book votes, so look for that post shortly.)

We’re going to make some predictions for tomorrow. They will, doubtless, be wrong: never has there ever been a cat so clever committee that didn’t surprise, well, everyone.

But we’re not just wildly guessing here either. Or, not entirely, anyway.

You may, perhaps, be thinking, Huh, didn’t they just do top 5s the other day? How is this different? The other day, what we listed were our individual picks. This time, we (in the Royal sense; today we’re speaking as a single blogging entity) are actually trying to anticipate the RealCommittee’s picks.

The RealCommittee process, as we’ve said before, is unique to each year, since every member brings their own sensibilities, preferences, and baggage with them. This means that it’s almost impossible to truly predict what a committee will select, because all of those elements that make up 9 individuals meld into something that has a personality of its own. In the end, there are a lot of excellent books that could wear the gold and silver this year, so the final decision can have a faint whiff of the arbitrary to those outside the committee — why this one and not that one, we ask? But for everyone sitting in that room, making the decision, the reason are many and completely clear.

So while we’ve been reading and discussing and reviewing in the context of the award all year, and we’d like to think that we have a not insignificant sense of the field, we’re bringing our own baggage to this prediction list, which means we aren’t just guessing — but we might still be way off base. [Read more…]

Pyrite Redux: Recently Reviewed Nominees

We’ve been bringing the Pyrite* books back up for a second round of discussion, but a number of them were discussed so recently — and with their Pyrite nominations in mind — that it seems silly to post again about each one.

However, we didn’t want anyone to forget what makes these books at the very top of the top of the year, so here are the remaining Pyrite candidates revisited.

When guest blogger Joy reviewed Bomb, she said “With descriptive language and clever plot juggling, Sheinkin creates the atmosphere of life as a wartime spy (or a bomb-building physicist); it’s dangerous and exciting. This effective world building and use of stylistic tools create a book that feels light.” She then went on to list some criticisms, and concluded by wondering if Bomb is more style than substance. However, this is the one nonfiction book that made the Pyrite shortlist and is dearly beloved by many. It’s also gotten a lot of love from the Newbery speculation crowd over at Heavy Medal. Printz pick or pan?

Ask the Passengers swept our live Mock Printz event, and seems to be the book everyone loves, although it lacks the splash of Code Name Verity. Sarah’s review praised almost every aspect of the book, especially the characterization. She also mostly predicted it will place in the RealPrintz when she said “I think this title could go far at the table.” Is she on to something? Is this the one that can win the consensus and take the Pyrite, and maybe even the gold?

Whether or not it gets pyrite, nickel (isn’t that the pyrite equivalent for silver?),  gold, or silver, The Brides of Rollrock Island wins the award for most hotly contested title of the year, at least around here. Karyn’s review was a great big waffle. She loved the language and the scope, but was left puzzled by the messages seemingly encoded in the themes and the plot. And the comments were almost equally divided, with no one seeming to be particularly swayed by anyone else’s observations and thoughts. Books we can talk about for hours are good, but when it comes to the Printz, consensus is key and a book this divisive often falls by the wayside. Will that be the fate of Brides?

The Raven Boys is a delicious fantasy and first in a series. And the same goes for The Diviners. Do either of them have what it takes to place despite the series issue? And the genre issue? Or are these heart books that will fall off the list as soon as the voting starts?

So that’s it, the last of the Pyrite Redux posts. Voting will begin today, so consider carefully your top three picks. And feel free to use the comments here as one last chance to sway the other voters. How persuasive can you be?

 

*The Pyrite Printz, or Pyrite, is the Someday My Printz Will Come mock Printz deliberation, and should not in any way be confused with YALSA’s Michael L. Printz Award, often referred to here as the RealPrintz or Printz. Our predictions, conversations, and speculation about potential RealPrintz contenders and winners reflect only our own best guesses and are not affiliated with YALSA or the RealPrintz committee. You probably figured that out on your own, but we like to make it clear!

Code Name Verity, Pyrite Redux

Karyn has been talking about Code Name Verity all year, starting with a teaser in her March 19th post (a post that wasn’t even about books we’d been reading, mind you).

And despite a few other top contenders, this is the one that seems to have all the love, pulling the most votes when we created the Pyrite* shortlist.

In her formal review, Karyn praised the craft of the novel: “The tightness of Wein’s grasp on her plot, her characters — all very impressive. That’s the piece most one-off readers will probably walk away in awe of, from a technical perspective, and it is awe-inspiring.” She also praised the wealth of literary references, which all speak to the plot and themes of CNV, and the thematic depths.

In fact, she concluded by saying “Simply put, best book this year.” Which is a pretty strong statement, especially given how often we tend to hedge our bets around here.

But even Karyn conceded that there are flaws here, and the comments discussion raised a number of them, most pressingly the question of plausibility.

Now that the year is drawing to a close, and the YMA’s are only days away, where do you stand? Is CNV still a serious contenda, for the Pyrite and for the RealPrintz? Or, having sat with the flaws raised by some close readers, has this slipped a bit in your estimation?

Discuss!

 

*The Pyrite Printz, or Pyrite, is the Someday My Printz Will Come mock Printz deliberation, and should not in any way be confused with YALSA’s Michael L. Printz Award, often referred to here as the RealPrintz or Printz. Our predictions, conversations, and speculation about potential RealPrintz contenders and winners reflect only our own best guesses and are not affiliated with YALSA or the RealPrintz committee. You probably figured that out on your own, but we like to make it clear!

Boy21: Feeeeeeeelings, a Whole Lot More Than Feeeeeelings

Boy21Boy21, Matthew Quick
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, March 2012
Reviewed from Final Copy

So, I should start this post by disclosing that I have a personal connection with this book and its author. I want to acknowledge my personal baggage (a topic that has been addressed particularly well in the comments to the most recent post about The Fault in Our Stars), which is:

  • I know Matthew Quick, and have followed his career with interest, because he was my sister’s favorite and most influential high school teacher,
  • I’ve had coffee and exchanged some tweets with him,
  • And he signed a copy of his first YA title, Sorta Like a Rock Star for my high school library’s collection.

All of which is to say, I have a great deal of affection for Quick, and for his books, and now that I’ve said all that, I think I can set it aside for the purposes of this review, in which I’ll make the case that his most recent YA title, Boy21, is a possible contender for a Printz Honor.

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Mock Printzing the Weekend Away

On Saturday, Someday joined forces with HVLA to host a proper Mock Printz.

(And speaking of mock awards, if you haven’t already, hop on over to Heavy Medal for the deets on their Mock Newbery. Riveting reading!)

Our first ever live Mock event was a little chaotic (we learn by doing) and completely fantastic. Joy is writing it up in detail (with voting breakdowns) for the HVLA blog, and I’ll link that as soon as it’s up, but we thought we’d share a quick snapshot immediately.

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The Brides of Rollrock Island

The Brides of Rollrock Island, Margo Lanagan
Knopf, September 2012
Reviewed from ARC

My first draft for this post, which sat in WordPress for two weeks, taunting me, read as follows: “So much to say! And none of it coherent!”

You know how I delayed and delayed writing about The Raven Boys? And then was kind of indecisive anyway? The same musical cue should play now, because I’m feeling the same way. Only more so.

Brides is, in so many ways, magnificent, but something doesn’t entirely gel (think of Misskaella, pulling those nodes of light together — and now imagine her missing one. It’s still magic, but it doesn’t actually produce the desired result.)

Do I think this doesn’t deserve the Printz as a result? No. Well, not exactly. I don’t know.

This is likely a top fiver based on any consensus polling of Someday readers, and I would not be surprised if the same were the case for the RealCommittee as well (remember, though, that I can’t be trusted with predictions because I am always wrong, so I probably just killed Brides‘ chances), but I am really conflicted just the same; this is a book I want to assess by sitting back and listening while other folks debate it, and through that let my own thoughts come to some conclusion. Sometimes it’s much easier to think responsively, because I need that collision of ideas to push my own thinking.

But it would be incredibly lazy to leave my assessment at “I don’t know”, so I am giving coherency a try. Also, although this is the first time we’re talking about Brides in depth, consider this the opening to discuss this one for the Pyrite* shortlist, and shout your thoughts in the comments.

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