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Someday My Printz Will Come
Inside Someday My Printz Will Come

Finding the Fun

If you’re in Boston, chances are you are probably not reading this post, you lucky people! But for all of us #alaleftbehind here are some digital options. Just because we’re not physically there doesn’t mean we need to be entirely absent. So what links do you want to keep open in your tabs?

Here, of course! We’ll be live blogging all the fun.

But maybe you need some pre-game action? SLJ is on it. Scintillating commentary has been promised! It starts at 6:30 AM EST and I, for one, am very impressed that one could be up/dressed/coherent at that hour, much less promising something scintillating, but we know Betsy Bird will deliver.

And the fun isn’t over until the post-game action is over, no? Again, SLJ has your back. Post awards seems a much more humane hour for analysis, reactions, and wrap-up.

For the middle — you know, the real, live Youth Media Awards?! We may not be in the room to sense the delicious, palpable excitement. We may not be there in person as ALSC and YALSA Presidents announce which books medal and which titles committees have recognized, but we do have another digital option: the live feed Monday morning at 8 AM EST.

I am pretty pumped for this.

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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Still Too Many Books, or, a Tale of Even More Hanging Chad

more books_2And we’re back with even more more books, in part 2 of our mega roundup of all (not really all) the books.

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So many books they never end oh god too many books (Hanging Chad part 1)

morebooks copyThis year is just full of books, and so many of them are worth talking about. Sadly, we’re not going to get to everything we hoped to read before Monday’s award announcements, despite valiant efforts.

I’m mourning Leavitt’s Calvin, loaded on my Nook but sadly unread; Seneca Village; Lizard Radio, with a premise so unusual that maybe I will read it even after I ought to be moving on to 2016 publications; and a handful of other books besides. Not to mention all the books reviewed by Joy and/or Sarah, a percentage of which I haven’t read and several of which are clearly among the top 20 or so of the year.

But enough crying over books unread, and on to the final titles we have squeezed in. We’ll run half of them today and the other half tomorrow, because otherwise this post would be out of control.

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Can Lightning Strike Twice?

prevwinnersPrevious winners, new books… Sometimes it means the magic has happened again, and a lucky (well, and talented) author will receive a second (or third) golden P sticker.

More often, the magic doesn’t happen again, but previous winners have a proven track record so it’s a pretty sure bet anything from a previous winner received at least a look from one or more RealCommittee members. Which means we, in our endless stalkery committee-emulating ways, also did our best to make sure we read everything out in 2015 from a previous Printz winner or honoree. And there were a lot this year.

We’ve covered several of these already (see: books from Almond, Almond again, Anderson, Bray, Lanagan, Mackler, Myers, Schmidt, Smith, and Wein), but not a few of the biggest ones. Until today (she says portentously).

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Pyrite: Fun with numbers!

pyrite-postI have to say, running the Pyrite this early in the new year is weird. That being said, many of you took a few moments during the last days of 2015 to vote for the books you think deserve a (fake) honor.

As we’ve seen in the past, there’s not a lot of surprise in this honor slate if you were paying attention to the vote for gold. (And by paying attention I mean studying that graph in the post, because I’m sure you all get as fired up about spreadsheets and charts as much as I do.) The real excitement with this honor vote was in the neck and neck races between the front runners.

Let’s get to the list, the ones that almost made it, and some more fun with numbers.
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Infandous

infandousInfandous by Elana K Arnold
March 2015, Carolrhoda Lab
Reviewed from final ebook

I’ve been on a bit of a strange kick here at the end of this season. Untwine and Moonshot in particular really blew me away, but didn’t pick up a lot of stars between them. Infandous is somewhat similar in that it got two stars and didn’t make a year’s best list — and I really loved it. Don’t get me wrong, we’ve talked before about the differences between stars and Printz votes, but…sometimes it does feel funny to be so rave-y about something that not every reviewer gave a star to. And I must acknowledge, as far as this specific title goes, I’m an easy mark; if you have a book on women, society, double standards, and fairy tales, then I’m pretty guaranteed to be first in line. So will this be a book that makes it to the final five? Well, for committee members who are most likely reading and rereading, that’s…hard to say. [Read more…]

Magic Realism x2 (Bone Gap and The Accident Season)

Happy 2016. I closed out the old year by frantically reading my way through a backlog of wonderful (and not so wonderful) books. Today, to start the new year on the right foot, I’m catching up on discussing some books I read ages ago but have been avoiding writing about.

Also! A week from today most of us will be in or en route to Boston, or else enviously reading #alaleftbehind tweets, so we’re in the homestretch! We’ll be reading and posting like mad all week and right on up through (and possibly past!) ALA.

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Honor Girl

honor girl coverHonor Girl, Maggie Thrash
Candlewick Press, September 2015
Reviewed from final copy

I was distracted while reading Honor Girl. The first two chapters orient the reader in the early days of the new millennium; there’s a list of celebrity crushes including Leonardo DiCaprio, Usher, and Justin Timberlake, our narrator is reading Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (and later, Goblet of Fire), and her favorite band is The Backstreet Boys. I spent most of the book trying to figure out if I’m older or younger than Maggie Thrash (as it turns out, I’m older by just six months). Near the end of the book a date is shown which confirmed my suspicion, but I had to read it a second time just so that I could experience the book without my self-centered curiosity getting in the way.

I’m mentioning this at the top of the review because those little references tethered me to the material in good and bad ways. I’ve never attended an all-girls school or camp, nor have I ever gone to a sleepaway camp. But I remember where and who I was in the summer of 2000. Being able to contextualize Maggie Thrash’s memoir through my understanding of myself at that time allowed me to fully appreciate how she captures a few months in her life when everything and nothing changed. It’s beautiful and nostalgic.

In our first round of Pyrite voting a couple of you gave Honor Girl your first place slot. With three stars and solid content to back it up, it’s not a longshot for the RealPrintz but there are a few things that will probably keep this one from the winner’s circle.
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Graphic Novels, redux

OK, I know I’ve already said it’s been quite a year for historical fiction (and, you know, I stand by that), but we’ve had some amazing graphic novels to read this year, too. I don’t know if we’ll replicate This One Summer’s total dominance at the YMAs (OK, maybe I’m slightly overstating there!), but I did have a rave for Nimona, and I’ve got some more excitement for two other titles here. How far will they go? Well, I’d be happy (though surprised) to see one in the final five, and ready to argue hard for the other. [Read more…]