This is a book I’ve been saving the whole season, saving until the end because I knew I’d love it and I wanted to savor it. I’m not alone in loving it — it has four stars, it’s on the SLJ Mothership’s year end list, and it’s fantasy, and there’s action, and there are pirates, and it’s atmospheric and beautiful, and there are magical reading powers, and that cover is so wow, and and AND! What can I say? Sometimes you feel like possibly a book was designed, down to a molecular level, to be a You Book. This is one of those times for me. But now that I’ve actually read it, and sat with it for a bit, I’m going to do my best and try to have a balanced take for our Printzly purposes.
There are so many great books, and every year we’re reading until the 11th hour to get in as many as possible. This year, between last minute reads and beloved books that didn’t seem like true contenders but deserve a shout-out, we find ourselves down to the final days before the YMAs with quite a pile left.
So here you have our last licks — not counting our three remaining biggies (Still Life with Tornado, The Reader, and Scythe), this post concludes our 2016 pile of books we still have something to say about. Whew! Nearly there.
While Morris-Printz crossover isn’t exactly common, it’s happened twice — in 2012, when Where Things Come Back took the double gold; and again in 2015, with sleeper hit The Carnival at Bray taking double silver.
This season, we pretty much flubbed our Morris coverage; the debuts we covered earlier in the season were largely not the debuts the Morris Committee shortlisted (exception: The Serpent King), and those we “predicted” were notably absent from the shortlist. But failing to predict the Morris is actually pretty true to form for us, as is this post: a last minute roundup of the actual Morris shortlisters, squeaked out shortly before the YMAs.
We are not a Morris speculation site, and the Morris has different criteria than the Printz, so our goal here is not actually to predict the Morris (which we’ll definitely fail to do!) but to look at how these already notable books — some of which were on our radar already — stack up in the larger and more specific Printz pool. Here goes!
It wouldn’t be January at Someday without roundup review posts galore! I’m nothing if not a stickler for tradition so we’re rolling into hump day with three nonfiction books covering three very different subjects: a man whose story might as well be myth, a complicated and unpopular war, and a pacifist turned spy. If there’s any thread connecting these three books it’s perhaps that none have been short listed for the YALSA nonfiction award, which demonstrates the depth of quality nonfiction for young readers we saw in 2016. With no shot at the nonfiction award, do any of these (appearing below in order of author’s last name) stand a chance at the Printz?
Lucy and Linh, in addition to being a quintessential coming-of-age story, is a novel about power, class, and racial microaggressions. It’s about the hard work of adjusting our sense of self when we land in an unfamiliar environment and it’s about finding peace through that process. Alice Pung delivers these themes in a package of well-paced narrative, lovely descriptive writing, and an earnest (although occasionally sardonic) voice.
If you can’t tell from that intro, Lucy and Linh is one of my favorite books of 2016 and a very strong contender for the Printz.
Actually, this is a romantic roundup, but rendezvous sounded catchier. In the context of Printz reviewing, romance has actually fared well in recent years with both the RealCommittee and the Pyrite Committee (aka: all of us). I’ll Give You the Sun was the Real and Pyrite winner in 2015, and in 2014 Eleanor & Park was a Real and Pyrite honor.
This context is important because it’s proof that professional readers are recognizing straight-up romances that are also literary. Today, Sarah and I are looking at three books that may (or may not) have what it takes to bring love back to the winner’s circle.
I’m going to cheat a little today, and deviate from our attempts to review in roughly calendar order.
Now that that’s out of the way, let’s talk about middle grade and YA and all ages and the fine line between the Newbery and the Printz.
We’ve had books on all ends snag awards, yes, but these are generally outliers (see: Navigating Early, Last Stop on Market Street, This One Summer). Generally, the Printz list is solidly YA, the Newbery middle grade, and the Caldecott goes to a picture book for ages 4-7. But here’s the thing: books aren’t nearly this clearcut in their appeal. And as always, we have a handful of books this year that seem tailor-made to defy easy age and award bracketing. Today I’m going to look at three of them (with an honorable mention of a fourth): Matt Phelan’s Snow White, Shaun Tan’s The Singing Bones, and Kelly Barnhill’s The Girl Who Drank Down the Moon. These aren’t the only potential line-blurrers: Joy’s Thanksgiving call for reader nominations raised Wolf Hollow (my honorable mention) and Some Kind of Happiness as possibilities, and the nonfiction this year is almost all on the cusp — and that’s just the ones I can name off the top of my head. But these three are the ones I see as having the most consensus as crossover books we might want to talk about, whether or not they actually have the legs to go the distance.
Oh, friends, I may not be the person to write this review — not least because I haven’t technically finished reading this quite short book. I mean, I’ve read most of it, and what I’ve missed, I have skimmed through as I was trying to get ready for this semi-late review. If I just waited to post until tomorrow morning, I’d have it all done and feel slightly more legit about this. But…if I’m being honest, finishing isn’t going to get me where I need to be to make a solid call on this one. Hartnett is a past honoree, and Golden Boys has four well earned stars — the writing is lovely, full of well-integrated motifs and gorgeous imagery.
I know, I know, I sound like the most ungrateful reviewer around, not appreciating all this bounty! We’ve talked before about preferences and baggage, and the difference between reading for yourself, reading for a collection, and reading for committee (all so different!). I am always someone who wants a lot of plot in my plot, who would prefer that characters run around — and maybe swing a vorpal sword while they run. But I recognize that’s not always what I will get in my reads. Case in point here! [Read more…]
Here’s my first nonfiction title of the year, coming to us from back in February! We’ve got four stars, some love in the comments of our original list post — and who doesn’t love history? (I mean, maybe not the peasants burninating in the countryside at the time, probably. They might have argued that history sucked.) Turner’s title is an intriguing example of narrative nonfiction. With so few sources, with so little to really go on historically speaking, Turner manages to fill in with a lot of details, related research, and intelligent guesswork. She paints a vivid picture adding in details to set the scene — blacking teeth, Samurai training, armor, and other aspects of life in feudal Japan. [Read more…]