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Someday My Printz Will Come
Inside Someday My Printz Will Come

All the Books!

Ok, not all the books, but a whole cluster of the titles that we wanted to cover and hadn’t gotten to yet, tidily rounded up in one post for your perusal.

In the last two weeks, I’ve read two more from the original contenda list (Pinned and Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe), one Morris shortlist title (Love & Other Perishable Items) and two dark horse candidates that were brought to our attention by readers (In Darkness and Various Positions).

Sarah will be sharing a few more titles tomorrow, but sadly, neither of us managed to read Andrew Smith’s Passenger, a late addition auto-contender. It is, however, beyond a long shot for the RealPrintz — book 2 of a series, and, based on the first chapter and some student feedback, impenetrable without having read the first book.

(But if you never read the first book, The Marbury Lens, and want a really disturbing, stark, and very well-written book to read next, pick it up, because it really is a powerful read.)

We’re also sad to say that two buzz titles recommended by readers never made it onto either of our piles — Monument 14, recommended by Jen Hubert of Reading Rants, and The Opposite of Hallelujah, recommended by Kelly of Stacked. These are two well-read critics, and Jen definitely has a nose for Printz winners, so do check out their respective reviews. Whether or not either of these titles are named on Monday, they are definitely worth seeking out.

Okay, enough housekeeping! Onto the last of my 2012 reading.

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Titanic: Voices from the Disaster (Is Not a Disaster)

Occasional guest blogger Joy Piedmont is back! She (unlike, say, Karyn) likes to read nonfiction, and has OPINIONS about it. Thoughtful, considered opinions. Making her a perfect candidate to guest write as we try to catch up on our nonfiction 2012 piles. So, with no further ado…

titanic2 Titanic: Voices from the Disaster (Is Not a Disaster)Titanic: Voices from the Disaster, Deborah Hopkinson
Scholastic Press, April 2012
Reviewed from final copy

What is good nonfiction?

I know, I know; you came for a review and I’m hitting you with the big questions right up front. Apologies.

Right, so, good nonfiction.

Actually, it’s what any good book is: engaging, honest (factually and/or artistically), moving. Reading isn’t just the consumption of information, it’s an act that must change us, even in a small way. Good books should force us to question, to cry or to shout; we should be moved. Good nonfiction can put you under a spell and make the real unreal. (And isn’t this the inverse of good fiction, making the unreal real?) Good nonfiction, like fiction, is transformative.

When we consider this in light of the Printz, there is no reason why nonfiction can’t be in the conversation, and 2012 has been a particularly good year for YA nonfiction.

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Middle Age Girl Power: Grave Mercy vs The Wicked and the Just

Grave Mercy and The Wicked and the Just are, in so many ways, polar opposites.

But how often do we see YA books set in the Middle Ages? Not very, which makes it almost impossible not to think of these in a compare and contrast essay. So that’s what you get.

Both feature strong female heroines, well defined settings, and a fascinating story. Oh, and divided nations (France/Brittany and England/Wales), strangely fitting since I’m putting the final edits in to the accompaniment of the election results rolling across the TV. But that’s about where the compare part ends, really, because mostly these are very different books.

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The Chaos (Epic Post!)

The Chaos The Chaos (Epic Post!)The Chaos, Nalo Hopkinson
Margaret K. McElderry, April 2012
Reviewed from final copy

Over at Heavy Medal a month or so back, in the comments, the question was raised about emotional v intellectual engagement.

In a nutshell: is it fair that we tend to preference books with which we engage emotionally?

In that discussion, Mark Flowers (hi, Mark!) of Cross-Referencing said:

None of this is to say that emotional reaction should be taken out of the equation, but if we are really going to evaluate a book, we need to look at the how and the why of those emotional reactions, not just the fact of them.

I’ve been holding that comment in my head. “I feel” is, after all, invalid in Printz conversations if we leave it as an emotional reaction. But the question of the how and why takes that reaction and allows it to become another path by which to examine facets of writing and assess excellence. How does the author engage the reader? Is the emotional engagement or lack thereof in some way a response to the particulars of the writing? And how do we unpack the writing to get at the heart of the how and why? Because that’s where we find meat worth discussing in the context of the Printz.

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Dying to Know How this Is YA

dying to know you 198x300 Dying to Know How this Is YADying to Know You, Aidan Chambers
Amulet Books, April 2012
Reviewed from ARC

Look, Aidan Chambers is an immensely accomplished writer. He was one of the early Printz winners, people write critical essays about his books, and he plays quite impressively with form in many of his novels. He certainly has a a steady command of his language, and while there are aspects of Dying to Know You I don’t like, when it comes down to it a lot of this is stylistic quibbling and reader preference, which is not a Printz-worthy argument.

Not stylistic? The decision to have this ostensibly YA book narrated by a 75-year-old man.

75. Let that sink in for a moment.

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The Obsidian Blade

obsidian The Obsidian BladeThe Obsidian Blade by Pete Hautman
Candlewick, April 2012
Reviewed from an ARC

I have a feeling this is going to be a short review, in part at least because I didn’t finish reading this one. Yes, we’ve gotten to my first DNF of the year (at least, my first public blogging about a DNF title; rest assured, there have been others). (Er. We all know that DNF is Did Not Finish, yes? I first saw Liz B use that acronym at Teacozy, so I’m assuming it’s a thing. A Thing, actually.)

Can I also just mention that I’m super bummed to out myself as someone who did not finish a Pete Hautman book? Because I would really prefer, as a fan, to be raving about this book — it’s science fiction! It’s full of action! It’s Pete Hautman! National Book Winner Pete Hautman! He will write any book and make it pretty awesome! Pete Hautman, people! [Read more...]

Radiant Days?

Radiant Days 198x300 Radiant Days?Radiant Days, Elizabeth Hand
Viking, April 2012
Reviewed from final copy (that I bought for myself the day it came out)

I’ve probably said this before, but by and large I love this blog. I love talking to intelligent, passionate people about books. I love disagreeing and I love having my mind changed. I even love, although sometimes the way we love shots for keeping us disease free, the way the responsibility of the blog makes me a more honest librarian, by which I mean someone who has to leave her reading comfort zone behind regularly.

But here’s what I don’t love: having to go on record talking smack about books I want to defend but in the end, just can’t.

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