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Someday My Printz Will Come
Inside Someday My Printz Will Come

Predictions, or, Time to Vote!

Polling Station by secretlondon123 300x225 Predictions, or, Time to Vote!

CC-licensed image by secretlondon123

Ok, here it is, the moment you’ve all been waiting for.

(Well, we hope you’ve been waiting for it. Possibly with bated breath, or maybe on tenterhooks?)

Below you will find Someday’s short list. We looked at our own reading, other Mock Printz lists, reviews, and more to determine this final list of ten titles that we really think have what it takes to receive a shiny sticker on Monday.

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Books in Brief

I’ve been reading like  madwoman lately, trying to get through any books that anyone I know has mentioned favorably in the context of award getting. I have one more (Brooklyn Burning) that I want to finish and one review from our original contenda list left to post (Beauty Queens), and Sarah’s been working on a pile of her own, so we’ll get all that up this week. But MOSTLY what we’re going to give you this week is a Mock Printz of (y)our own. The list will post tomorrow, and we’ll give until probably midnight Wednesday to vote, and then do honor book polls with the goal to post all results by Saturday, just as the REAL committee is finishing their own discussions, decisions, and votes.

But I’m jumping ahead, because what this post is really about the last minute reading I’ve been doing.

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Definitions

Me: Ugh, I have to define Young Adult Literature for this blog post.

My husband: Huh. Is that why you’re making To/From gift tags by hand?

Me: Maaaaaaybe?

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How to Save a Life

How to Save a Life 199x300 How to Save a LifeThe 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?

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Between Shades of Gray

gray 150x150 Between Shades of GrayKaryn’s already talked about historical fiction. And a lot of people have been talking about this book (four starred reviews, nominated for Best Fiction and a big ol’ Newbery discussion at Heavy Medal), especially in light of the Morris shortlist recognition. Karyn’s also already talked about Morris and Printz — where the two awards overlap, and where they don’t.

So that pretty much covers the background. I thought it could be interesting to look at Between Shades of Gray with Printz glasses firmly in place. [Read more...]

Burning Bleeding Brilliance

girlfirethorns1 198x300 Burning Bleeding BrillianceA big thank you to all who encouraged me to take a second, closer look at The Girl of Fire and Thorns, which I did last week, just before the Morris Shortlist came out.

It’s really pretty marvelous. It’s full on fantasy—no urban or paranormal modifiers needed, no fairy tale retellings or alternate history to be seen. In fact, examined closely, there are tiny hints that this is a Pern sort of fantasy with a science fiction underpinning (this is a new world, one not meant for humans).

So, it’s straight up fantasy (aside from that tantalizing hint about the unknown backstory), but it avoids almost all the tropes: Elisa is not a spunky girl or a badass princess or a typical damsel in distress; she’s smart but lazy; destined for greatness but full of doubts—although also with enough backbone to push through them. She’s lousy at being a princess but she might just be an amazing queen, and the journey she takes from one pole to the other makes for some great reading. It’s also, from the characterization angle, difficult writing: a first person narrator, who needs to tell us all the ways she’s kind of a mess and all the ways she’s becoming fierce and fearsome, without become so telly that it becomes plodding and didactic is no small task to write.

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New Kids on the Block

woodpecker New Kids on the BlockI doubt this is news to anyone, but the Morris shortlist was released the other day.

Three of the five were on our original contenda list (although we’ve only discussed two so far), and a fourth was a late addition thanks to reader response when we first discussed (and almost dismissed) it (we will definitely be revisiting it now).

(The fifth was on the books that made a best of year list but that we had oops! missed pile, so NOW it’s on our list, twice over.)

This kind of recognition automatically puts a book higher in the public estimation. But does it actually affect or correlate with Printz recognition?

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By Popular Demand

woodpecker By Popular DemandYou asked for it, and you have been heard! When we posted our initial list oh so long ago, you clamored for this title! And then you asked for it again when Karyn posted her comparison of the PW, SLJ, and Kirkus best lists. And now here it is.

Only here I am, and I’m still mulling over exactly what I think of it. Like Imaginary Girls, it’s a book that, for me, would absolutely require a reread for committee purposes. I spent so much time worrying over Gabriel and restraining myself from reading the last page that reviews promised me would answer all my questions that, well, I would need another read to really digest it properly. It’s a novel with a lot of threads, and I’d be taking anther look at it to make sure that I really appreciated all of those threads…if I were actually serving on Printz. For our purposes here, and in the interest of getting through that Contendas list, well, I’ll give you what I’ve got. [Read more...]

Literary Fiction

papercoversrock 199x300 Literary FictionThere was a time, undergrad degree clenched tightly in my fist, literary criticism terms floating untethered through my every thought, when I loved literary fiction.

I don’t mean fiction that is literature, I mean Literary in the postmodern, smugly self-aware, consciously playing with literature and language sense.

Somewhere along the way, I lost all patience with this style of writing. Especially the self-aware bit.

So those of you who have already read Jenny Hubbard’s Paper Covers Rock will not be surprised that I had some difficulty with the novel.

I’ve tried. Oh, how I’ve tried. For two months, this is the book I’ve been reading between and in the midst of other, less aggravating books. I want to like it: it’s a boy’s boarding school story, and I often love that designation (A Separate Peace was a long time favorite). It’s short, and I’ve had the kind of fall where short books are a joy because I get to read them fast, so I can usually finish them before the flaws catch up to me. It’s got the tantalizing possibility of a teacher-student love story, which has held an icky sort of fascination since I came of age singing “Don’t Stand so Close to Me.”

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Round Up, Part Two

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

YALSA’s final nomination lists were posted last week.

We thought it’d be interesting to see what we are looking at here versus what Best Fiction for Young Adults and Great Graphic Novels will be checking out in January. (I am leaving Quick Picks off because the QP charge is so dissimilar to the Printz charge. And since Popular Paperbacks is retrospective, we can safely leave that list out, too. And until the short lists for the Morris and Nonfiction awards come out, there’s nothing we can say about those.) [Read more...]