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Someday My Printz Will Come
Inside Someday My Printz Will Come

The Whys & Wherefores of the Printz Award, Part 1

I’m thinking if you’ve gotten as far as reading this blog, you probably know a little something about the Printz, more formally known as the Michael L. Printz Award for Excellence in Young Adult Literature.

But maybe not, because (and this is a matter of some concern for us) it’s not a well known award, although that situation improves every year. More than that, it’s not very well understood.

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Anticlimactic: I don’t believe in Printz Genre Bias

So I’ve been writing and rewriting a post on genre bias and the Printz for — I’m not kidding you — the past two weeks. But it boils down to a very drama-less post about a lack of genre bias in Printzland and how things seem to me to be fine. Which: good news for Young Adult Literature, but bad news for an interesting post, eh? [Read more...]

The Curse of the Serial Book, or Why Series Titles Get No Lovin’

Looking back at Sophie’s rundown of series books that have been recognized by the Printz Committee over the years, a trend emerged that seems to draw a line between shared universe vs. truly serial works. By and large, truly serial works have only been recognized at series launch, with two duology conclusions and one single middle volume as exceptions, and that one volume is a verse novel, which may—by virtue of verse automatically leaving so much unstated—be a different animal altogether.

So let’s stand back and consider what we mean when we say “series,” and why genuine serial series books are at a disadvantage when it comes to being named the finest work of writing in any given year.

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Printz 2012 Celebrations Whirlwind Recap!

IMG 20120623 184718 300x300 Printz 2012 Celebrations Whirlwind Recap!

Double Awards! So Fancy & Shiny!

I flew to Anaheim, my suitcase packed with dresses, knowing intellectually that it would be the end of my term on the 2012 Michael L. Printz Award Committee, but in completely emotional denial. We’d all be having book discussion meetings, right? We’d be arguing passionately for the titles we thought best embodied the award’s criteria! Yeah! Um, no.

Fortunately, I quickly got my head around the notion of this being our time to celebrate our wonderful winner, Where Things Come Back, by John Corey Whaley and our amazing four honor titles, Why We Broke Up, by Daniel Handler & Maira Kalman, The Returning, by Christine Hinwood, Jasper Jones, by Craig Silvey and The Scorpio Races, by Maggie Stiefvater. Oh, YEAH, that’s what all these dresses were for — the four Printz events I’d be attending over the course of the weekend! [Read more...]

Series, Schmeries: What’s the Big Deal?

And now, for the epic throw-down you’ve all been waiting for: series vs. stand-alone books! Dun-dun-DUNNNNN! I freely admit that I worked myself up into a rhetorical tizzy as I drafted this post. Last week, I cheerfully volunteered to write the first entry in our exploration of series vs. stand-alone titles. Let’s just say that I’ve lived to regret that nonchalant confidence.

Let’s go!

According to the song (and Omar Little, perhaps its most famous fictional interpreter), the cheese stands alone, but to be considered for YA literature’s highest prize, must a book stand alone, too?

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It’s All About Who You Know

Prada Luggage by Marcus Troy via Flickr user o5com used under CC licensing 300x180 Its All About Who You Know

An array of baggage for every reader. ("Prada Luggage" by Marcus Troy via Flickr user o5com, used under CC.)

Last week, I was lucky enough to host Paolo Bacigalupi at my school. He addressed a crowd of mostly high school students, and he, not to put too fine a point on it, rocked. He was kinetic and energetic, brought the audience right in, and had lots of interesting things to say.

And while I could devote a whole post to the awesomeness of the visit, what I really want to talk about is a very particular brand of baggage.

Last year, Sarah and I gave some thought to baggage, and ultimately concluded that it’s all ok because the committee ameliorates the idiocy of the individual.

(Have you noticed that this is an oft sung refrain? Committee work makes you really really believe in committees working, once you’ve experienced it working and seen how astounding it can be.)

We were looking at the baggage a reader carries, which is the obvious one. But there’s also the baggage that the author brings on board.

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HULK SMASH

7006096262 97d816160f z HULK SMASH

Get it? Get it, guys!?

A long time ago, we started out thinking and talking about the Printz policies and procedures. And do you know what I said? What I typed, I mean?

Yeah, but who wants to be on a committee that picks a book everyone hates, y’know? I guess this is a good opportunity to talk about POPULARITY (since the criteria are yelling…) versus APPEAL. And whether either of those concepts have any business being in the conversation that is actually all about QUALITY.

Karyn pointed out the difference between popularity and appeal, and mentioned that appeal is, in the end, a pretty subjective concept. She also pointed out that at the Printz table, you have the luxury of stepping away from the question of appeal and just focusing on questions of literary excellence.

And then I stepped in and beat on the drum a little more about teen appeal and how that’s an important part of our work as librarians and shouldn’t we think of the teens WHAT ABOUT THE TEENS?? HULK LOVE TEENS, WANT TEENS TO READ NICE BOOKS. (OK, Hulk has nothing to do with this post at all, but we just saw The Avengers and so now all I want to do is type like HULK. WITH CAPS. SMASH SMASH SMASH.) Back then, we moved on to other parts of the P&P. Because we had a lot of words to cover and more thoughts to share.

But I’m still wondering: Can something be both really excellent and really boring? And, as my notes for this blog post so eloquently said, “appeal teens reading quality what is YA anyway arg halp!”

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Stars in my Eyes (or, Starred Reviews vs. The Printz, round 2)

4688797296 1178e349f6 o 263x300 Stars in my Eyes (or, Starred Reviews vs. The Printz, round 2)

CC-licensed image ("Starry Eyed Gaga") by Flickr user mellydonut. A bit literal, but really, isn't this how we all feel when we read a really excellent book? Also? I find Blythe dolls weirdly compelling.

Between Roger’s piece way back and Sophie’s thoughtful assessment of stars in our playground, I’m not sure what more really needs to be said.

But never let it be said that I passed up an opportunity to air my opinions.

Last week, I read a Mary Poppins of a book.* It deserves a dozen stars. And it won’t, and shouldn’t, be considered by the 2014 Printz committee (the book is a 2013 pub. I had no business reading it. But… it was pretty! And calling my name. And sometimes we need to succumb to siren songs.).

Because perfect, or even merely really excellent, books are not always so big on the Literary. In this case, the writing is pitch perfect, which is not always a given in even a star-earning book. The plotting is tight. The characters are engaging. The world gets a big “mwah” for being so much fun and well established without any needless exposition. It’s well written, but it doesn’t, in the end, offer anything more than a diversion.

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Stars vs. Printz: Round One!

So, starred reviews and the Printz award. We’re going to cover this topic in at least two posts this year, so whatever I don’t address (or get dead wrong), Karyn will cover in a couple of weeks!

I’m a visual, list-making sort of person, so as I mulled over this topic this week, I found myself making a mental chart of how they relate, in terms of their functions as well as how they’re determined.

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Changes part 2, or The Pyrite Printz

Pyrite by Pictor 3 Changes part 2, or The Pyrite Printz

Pyrite! (CC-licensed image by Flickr user Pictr 30D)

So, remember when I wrote that whole post about changes?

And I mentioned that we might make the whole Mock Printz thing a bit more—what’s the word?—organized, planned, intentional this year?

Well, now we are ready to unveil that set of changes. Because we don’t just have a plan. We have a vocabulary.

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