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Someday My Printz Will Come
Inside Someday My Printz Will Come

Previous Winners, Part One

Screen Shot 2018-01-03 at 4.44.13 PMAs the year turns, we thought we’d spend a few days looking back at previous winners, musing about the probability of a repeat medal for an author on this prestigious (and long!) list. Splitting the list alphabetically (which started with already 2-time winner M.T. Anderson last week), we get a couple of series entries, as well as a few independent titles. We hope you’ll jump in with your opinions in the comments!

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Landscape with Invisible Hand

Landscape with Invisible HandLandscape with Invisible Hand, M.T. Anderson
Candlewick, September 2017
Reviewed from ARC; five stars

It’s not fun to lose, and as readers, we don’t usually take pleasure in witnessing our protagonists suffer and fail at every challenge they face. Yet we also know that failure, yes failure, can be highly instructive and valuable. In Landscape with Invisible Hand, Adam does nothing but fail in the short vignettes that make up M.T. Anderson’s latest novel. It’s science-fiction satire that goes down easy but has a clear agenda. Anderson’s a previous Printz honoree, for both Octavian Nothing books, and he’s a consistently great writer, even if he isn’t winning all the awards every time out. Landscape doesn’t have the momentum of American Street or The Hate U Give but that doesn’t mean it can’t surprise us in February.

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When I am Through with You

through with you

When I am Through With You, Stephanie Kuehn
Dutton, August 2017
Reviewed from a final copy

Today I get to talk about one of my favorite authors, Stephanie Kuehn. She has a new title out this year, When I am Through With You, and it got some comment-love earlier in the season as one to definitely include on our longlist. It’s always so fun to dive back in with an author that you like; this time around, we’re looking at a title with one starred review. We have a story that ends up being a somewhat mixed bag, at least for me; it’s a psychological thriller combined with survival fiction — a group of teens working through a lot of trauma and feelings must survive a school camping trip beset by a blizzard. [Read more…]

Jane, Unlimited

jane unlimited

It’s time for another joint conversation about a book. We had a great time last time, and are hoping to have just as much fun again. These are the times this blog feels most like committee work, where we’re all at the table (metaphorically), and all ready to talk about the same book — but all coming with our own perspectives, our own perceptions of “literary” and “great” and “important”. We may not always agree, but we have the opportunity to really hear what we all have to say about a title. It’s in the conversation that a winner can be found. This time, we’re looking at a title that has had two starred reviews. [Read more…]

Long Way Down

Long Way Down coverThere’s a weird kind of bookending happening this year; we opened with the biggest buzz for early 2017 books belonging to The Hate U Give and we’re closing 2017 with the biggest buzz for the end of the year going to Long Way Down, two books that look at violence in largely black, urban communities from different directions. While The Hate U Give was about the violence perpetrated on young black men by the system, specifically police, Long Way Down tackles the violence perpetrated on young black men by young black men — which, ok, is still the fault of the system, because systemic racism has a long and ugly reach, but centers the story in a very different place. Bookends. So does that mean that Long Way Down is due for an award of its own? [Read more…]

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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Morris and Nonfiction finalists usher in the 2018 awards season!

It’s that time of year when the air is crisp and the breeze will send notes of pine and firewood past your nose. It’s also that time of year when all of the best-of-the-year lists and YALSA award nominations come out! In the past few days the 2018 Morris Award and Nonfiction Award finalists were announced. As usual, there were a few surprises with books we didn’t already have on our “official” nomination list (or the secret longlist we keep from y’all).

I’m particularly excited about these Morris finalists, so let’s start there. First, all of the finalist authors are women! Four of the five authors are women of color! In the press release, committee chair Sarah Julsonnet said, “The selected titles tackle heavy topics such as mental health, racism, violence, and privilege as well as relationships with friends and family and how they shape a person.” We’ve already reviewed The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas as well as S.K. Ali’s Saints and MisfitsDear Martin by Nic Stone and Starfish by Akemi Dawn Bowman had been on our radar lately so their Morris recognition means we’ll definitely be taking a look at them. Devils Within is a brand new title to me and the premise sounds very heavy; death and white supremacists are not exactly the topics I’m looking for at this time of the year but we’re definitely adding it to our list for consideration.

Dear MartinDevils WithinThe Hate U Give cover imagesaints and misfitsStarfish

Last year’s Nonfiction Award finalists definitely reflected the political mood of 2016, but this year’s finalists span a wider range of subjects. The 2018 Nonfiction Award finalists this year are:

#NotYourPrincess: Voices of Native American Women edited by Mary Beth Leatherdale and Lisa Charleyboy
Eyes of the World: Robert Capa, Gerda Taro, and the Invention of Modern Photojournalism by Marc Aronson and Marina Budhos
The 57 Bus: A True Story of Two Teenagers and the Crime That Changed Their Lives by Dashka Slater
Vincent and Theo: The Van Gogh Brothers by Deborah Heiligman
The Whydah: A Pirate Ship Feared, Wrecked, and Found by Martin W. Sandler

#NotYourPrincessEyes of the WorldThe 57 BusVincent and TheoThe Whydah

I reviewed Vincent and Theo last month, which is particularly striking for what it does with voice and narrative structure. As for its Printz chances, I’m starting to think that the adventurous style might be too divisive to achieve the consensus it will need to make it all the way. #NotYourPrincess, Eyes of the World, and The 57 Bus were already on our (secret) longlist–personally, I can’t believe that I haven’t gotten to The 57 Bus yet because it’s been on my to-read pile for a while now. Finally, we’ll be adding The Whydah to our list. It includes some first-hand accounts; when done well, that can be great and who doesn’t love pirates?

This is the time of year when awards season starts to feel real for me so I’m excited and I can’t wait for all the other lists! How about you? Did your favorites make the cut? Which of the new-to-us titles should we rush to read first?

 

*That is, it’s like this if you live in a cold-weather place; I don’t know what December smells like in warm weather. Sorry warm-weather readers!

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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