So I’ve been writing and rewriting a post on genre bias and the Printz for — I’m not kidding you — the past two weeks. But it boils down to a very drama-less post about a lack of genre bias in Printzland and how things seem to me to be fine. Which: good news for Young Adult Literature, but bad news for an interesting post, eh? [Read more…]
I flew to Anaheim, my suitcase packed with dresses, knowing intellectually that it would be the end of my term on the 2012 Michael L. Printz Award Committee, but in completely emotional denial. We’d all be having book discussion meetings, right? We’d be arguing passionately for the titles we thought best embodied the award’s criteria! Yeah! Um, no.
Fortunately, I quickly got my head around the notion of this being our time to celebrate our wonderful winner, Where Things Come Back, by John Corey Whaley and our amazing four honor titles, Why We Broke Up, by Daniel Handler & Maira Kalman, The Returning, by Christine Hinwood, Jasper Jones, by Craig Silvey and The Scorpio Races, by Maggie Stiefvater. Oh, YEAH, that’s what all these dresses were for — the four Printz events I’d be attending over the course of the weekend! [Read more…]
A long time ago, we started out thinking and talking about the Printz policies and procedures. And do you know what I said? What I typed, I mean?
Yeah, but who wants to be on a committee that picks a book everyone hates, y’know? I guess this is a good opportunity to talk about POPULARITY (since the criteria are yelling…) versus APPEAL. And whether either of those concepts have any business being in the conversation that is actually all about QUALITY.
Karyn pointed out the difference between popularity and appeal, and mentioned that appeal is, in the end, a pretty subjective concept. She also pointed out that at the Printz table, you have the luxury of stepping away from the question of appeal and just focusing on questions of literary excellence.
And then I stepped in and beat on the drum a little more about teen appeal and how that’s an important part of our work as librarians and shouldn’t we think of the teens WHAT ABOUT THE TEENS?? HULK LOVE TEENS, WANT TEENS TO READ NICE BOOKS. (OK, Hulk has nothing to do with this post at all, but we just saw The Avengers and so now all I want to do is type like HULK. WITH CAPS. SMASH SMASH SMASH.) Back then, we moved on to other parts of the P&P. Because we had a lot of words to cover and more thoughts to share.
But I’m still wondering: Can something be both really excellent and really boring? And, as my notes for this blog post so eloquently said, “appeal teens reading quality what is YA anyway arg halp!”
For the past few months, I’ve been circling around and back to two books.* I start reading. I stop reading. I start again, from the beginning. I get a little further. I accidentally leave these books at home instead of carrying them to read on the train; when I do have them in my bag, I somehow leave them on my desk instead of carrying them home again.
In between, I’ve read many other books, but for whatever reason, I am just spinning my wheels with these two.
As a result of all this (and possibly as an additional procrastination method) I’ve been thinking a lot about the difference between writing a blog and being an actual committee member. Mostly, I’ve been thinking about the sacrifices committee members make, and the amazing effort they put out to create a wonderful list of books each year.
Still with us after Friday’s mega post? Yay! This one tackles the second half of the criteria, and it’s actually a bit shorter.
So, picking up right where we left off… [Read more…]
The Printz is a funny animal. On the one hand, it’s loosely defined—no 90 page manual here. But at the same time, we all seem to know what it is when we see it (“it” being a book worthy of the award). How, with so little guidance, does each year’s committee come up with a winner and usually the full complement of four honor books? What is a Printz contender, and how do we know them when we see them?
The entire policies and procedures takes about 5 pages, the criteria just one. The criteria are the alpha and omega for committee members. We cited them frequently, and referred to them, brief as they are, numerous times throughout our discussions.
But they aren’t exactly black and white. In fact, almost every aspect is open to interpretation, making the criteria an exercise in decoding and application.
Let’s take it section by section — but be warned: this is one long post!
Once upon a time there was a Newbery blog, which discussed contenders both real and mock. And people loved it. (They still do: head here to see for yourself, unless you came from there, in which case, pull up a chair! Stay!). But some of those readers wanted something a little different. For those who wanted picture books and a discussion as much about the art as the language, Calling Caldecott came along to keep them reading and discussing happily into the future. Others of those readers served teens, and they wondered where they should go for the Printz speculation. And lo! Along came their Printz Charming, smiling and nodding and speculating, with reference to the criteria and eligibility.
So that’s it, the story of where we came from and what we’re doing. Both of us have served on the Printz Committee, and while no two committees are ever the same, we do have a sense of how this crazy process works (really well, in case you wondered). So here’s how it’s going to go: we’re going to read. We’re going to write. We’re going to scour other blogs, bookstores, review journals, and our friend’s and colleague’s brains. And each week we’ll talk about some of this year’s eligible titles, or the conversations around those titles. We’ll do our best to bring you the kinds of conversations and reflections committee members might be having. Hopefully, you’ll join the conversation too!
Welcome to Someday my Printz Will Come! Join us as we kiss—I mean read!—all the frogs in the pond.