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Someday My Printz Will Come
Inside Someday My Printz Will Come

Boy21: Feeeeeeeelings, a Whole Lot More Than Feeeeeelings

Boy21Boy21, Matthew Quick
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, March 2012
Reviewed from Final Copy

So, I should start this post by disclosing that I have a personal connection with this book and its author. I want to acknowledge my personal baggage (a topic that has been addressed particularly well in the comments to the most recent post about The Fault in Our Stars), which is:

  • I know Matthew Quick, and have followed his career with interest, because he was my sister’s favorite and most influential high school teacher,
  • I’ve had coffee and exchanged some tweets with him,
  • And he signed a copy of his first YA title, Sorta Like a Rock Star for my high school library’s collection.

All of which is to say, I have a great deal of affection for Quick, and for his books, and now that I’ve said all that, I think I can set it aside for the purposes of this review, in which I’ll make the case that his most recent YA title, Boy21, is a possible contender for a Printz Honor.

[Read more…]

My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece

Another guest post from Joy Piedmont, who is saving our bacon at this crunch time, as we realize just how many books we haven’t read yet!

My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece, Annabel Pitcher
Little, Brown, August 2012
Reviewed from an ARC

Annabel Pitcher’s debut novel has earned four starred reviews landed on Kirkus’ Best Children’s Books of 2012 and the Atlantic Wire’s YA/Middle-Grade 2012 Book Awards (in the “Most Deftly Handled” category). Originally published in the UK in 2011, this is a haunting story about how grief and hatred destroys families, told through the voice of a 10-year-old boy trying to make sense of it all.

Yes, that’s right. The protagonist is a 10-year-old. Which raises one question right off the bat: Who is this book for? Kirkus lists ages 10-14, while SLJ and the publisher list grades 7-10 (or ages 12-15, roughly). The content is probably best suited to young teens (13 to 15, much as SLJ says), but the voice is so young. Could this be a nostalgia read for that audience? (Do young teens read new books as nostalgia reads??) Does the youth of the protagonist make this more suited for the Newbery audience (of course, as a British import, this isn’t actually eligible for the Newbery at all), and not a true Printz contender? What do we do with these books that really are liminal — not J because of content, not YA because they’re too young? Would this have been better served written for an adult audience, like The Curious Incident of the Dog in a the Night Time or Room, where the thematic scope and young voice don’t pull in different directions, to the detriment of the novel?

[Read more…]

The Diviners: Divine, and the Bee’s Knees Too!

One of the best things about having progressed from new librarian to rapidly aging librarian is the opportunity to work with bright young things. Former colleague Clair Segal is now the library technology coordinator at an independent school in NYC, and has graciously agreed to guest blog for us once again, this time about Libba Bray’s The Diviners. (If you take a close look at the acknowledgements in The Diviners, you’ll see why we farmed this favorite out — conflict of interest, what??)

Also, after you read her guest post, if you find yourself thinking, “Hey, this girl is awesome!” you should go check out her blog, the aptly titled Awesomebrarian.

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Ask the Passengers

Ask the Passengers by A.S. King
September 2012, Little Brown
Reviewed from an ARC

Can I take an unrelated-to-anything moment to say how pretty the new blogs are? We’ve been hearing a lot about the new look behind the scenes, so to actually see it — and see how quickly it all came together — is so exciting! Yay for nice, new things, eh?

Of course, I’m actually here to talk about A.S. King’s newest, Ask the Passengers. By my count, it’s received two stars and is included in the buzz portion of our contenda list (as a past honoree, King’s an auto-contender, meaning we’d look at anything she has out, no matter the number of stars). For today, I have a lot of raves and a few questions. Since it’s on our Pyrite short list and we’ll be talking about it again very soon, maybe you all can help me answer some of those questions! [Read more…]

Roundup: Vaguely Paranormal

Paranormal fantasy, which is to say fiction with a fantastic angle, but not set in a secondary world, with at least one character who is not human or not, technically, alive, and a romance plot or subplot, continues to go strong.

(Even if we, as adults who have seen vast quantities of formulaic fiction pass us by, kind of wish it wouldn’t.)

I’m on my second generation of HS students reading this addictive but too-often derivative genre, and my tolerance has decreased a lot over the years. So I don’t read nearly as many of the books marketed toward the paranormal-loving reader base as I did, say, 4 or even 6 years ago. I don’t need to — I read the reviews, buy and display the titles, and let the buzz and pretty cover machines do the work for me.

But some of the books that (more or less) fall into this category are actually quite different from their cookie-cutter compatriots. We’ve had three of them (The Girl With the Borrowed Wings, Days of Blood and Starlight, and Monstrous Beauty) on our contender list from the beginning, and we have at least one reader seriously pulling for a fourth (Unspoken). I’ll be honest — all of these, for varied reasons, strike me an noncontenders for the Printz. But they all rock, so let’s take a look.

[Read more…]

Drowned Cities

The Drowned Cities by Paolo Bacigalupi
Little, Brown, May, 2012
Reviewed from final copy

So you know that Ship Breaker was the winner the year I served on the RealPrintz committee, right? And I can be a mature blogger — mature enough to admit that I wonder if my affection for “my” winner skews my reading of Ship Breaker’s companion book, The Drowned Cities. I know I’m not alone: four starred reviews, nice write ups in the lots of different newspapers…this is a book that’s getting a lot of love from a lot of people. It’s about to get some more love from me. [Read more…]

Little, Brown Preview

These are not the actual shoes. But this CC-licensed image (by nora/sskizo) pretty much captures the mood.

Thursday afternoon, all three of us were lucky enough to attend the Little, Brown preview.

While all previews are fabulous, the LB preview is perhaps a bit MORE fabulous. This is entirely due to the shoes. For those who don’t know about the link between Little, Brown and shoes—sparkly shoes, high heeled shoes, shiny shoes, and this time around, tweedy with a cork-heel shoes—do yourself a favor and next time you are at a librarian conference, find the inimitable Victoria Stapleton (Associate Director, School and Library Marketing) and ask her about the shoes. [Read more…]

Stuck, Part 2

CC-licensed image by minicooper93402

You wanted to know, didn’t you?

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How to Save a Life

The year is winding down, my cold has returned with a vengeance, and I’m all out of witty titles.

But there are still books to read! Books that are getting lots of lauds and lots of love and require discussion here.

Because these are the books that might wear the crown come January 23!

Or they might not.

Last week I took the time to read one our late additions to the contenda list, Sara Zarr’s How to Save a Life. It’s gotten four stars; notably, these are the most consistent reviews I’ve read in a long time. It also made both the PW and SLJ best lists. That’s a lot of love, and there’s no question that this is a compelling book: two broken teens who come together thanks to a rather unusual chain of events that has everything to do with the ways in which they are broken, and find that maybe they each have what the other needs.

But it’s also a little after-school special. And possibly too crowded: teen pregnancy, grief, and sexual abuse on the Issues front, and then dozens of smaller lowercase-i issues too.

So what’s the sweet spot between the poles of moving and messaging, powerful and PSA?

[Read more…]

The Thin Line between Love and Criticism

Oh, Daughter of Smoke and Bone, how I love thee.

And how it wounds me that I must now talk about all the ways in which you are not a Printz contender after all (says I, and won’t I be eating crow, with some pleasure, if the actual committee comes to entirely the opposite conclusion about that). [Read more…]