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Someday My Printz Will Come
Inside Someday My Printz Will Come

Morris + Printz?

In our frantic dash to the finish line, we’re taking today to look at the Morris finalists. A Morris nod has nothing really to do with the Printz slate, though there’s been overlap in years past. And a lack of a Morris nod doesn’t rule any author out for the Printz, either. They’re not correlative. But here in our little world, as opposed to RealCommittee, we use every tool at our disposal to make sure we’re not missing a title and have been able to spend at least a little time with any book the RealCommittee might be talking about — and there’s been just enough overlap in the past that it’s plausible, even likely, that the RC makes sure they take a peek at anything on the Morris shortlist.

We’ve already covered The Hate U Give (the most likely to overlap this year!) and Saints + Misfits, so today we have the remaining three titles from the Morris shortlist: Starfish, Devils Within, and Dear Martin. None of these were on our reading list prior to the shortlist announcement, because our other, very general marker is three or more stars — and these three all have under 3 stars. As we’ve said before, stars aren’t really a predictor for Printz — it’s just one of the ways we we whittle the list of all YA books down to a reasonable pile. As usual, we’ll be running through the books alphabetically. Ready? Click through for the fun! [Read more…]

We Need Diverse Books: Romance Edition

We’re in the mood for love today so we’ve got two reviews of YA romance for you. Both books feature couples who aren’t usually seen in mainstream romantic narratives, so regardless of their chances for the Printz (we’ll get to that in the reviews) they’re important contributions to the continuing effort to bring diverse representation to all kinds of stories which makes them worth checking out. But how about those other qualities that the RealCommittee will scrutinize at the table? Will either of these even be in the conversation?

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At the Edge of the Universe

At the Edge of the UniverseAt the Edge of the Universe, Shaun David Hutchinson
Simon Pulse, February 2017
Reviewed from ARC
Two stars

2017 is zipping along at a brisk pace and it’s hard to believe that it’s already time to talk Printz. This time last year, I was reviewing Shaun David Hutchinson’s We Are the Ants. Hutchinson’s latest, At the Edge of the Universe is a spiritual twin to his previous novel and today we’ll see if it has what it takes to be a Printz contender.

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Essential Maps for the Lost

Essential Maps for the Lost, Deb Caletti
Simon Pulse, April 2016
Reviewed from ARC

Girl meets boy. Boy loves girl.

Well actually, girl finds the boy’s dead mother in a lake first.

This isn’t your typical love story with a slice of grief. Deb Caletti hits all the targets for a melancholy teen romance without being redundant. Depression? Yup, but it’s done convincingly and without damaging inaccuracies. Secrets? Oh yeah. Big ones. Internal and external obstacles in our couple’s way? The aforementioned deceased mother.

Essential Maps does all the things that this kind of novel should do well with aplomb and style. For this, Caletti has earned three starred reviews. Every year I beat the drum for straight-up romance to be taken seriously when it comes to awards (and occasionally, I get my wish). Although I probably won’t set my cap at this “prince” for the Printz, it has many praise- and noteworthy qualities.
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The V-Word

v-wordThe V-Word: True Stories about First-Time Sex edited compiled by Amber J. Keyser
Simon Pulse, February 2016
Reviewed from final copy

So this year, I’m starting out with what I can only describe as the “out of left field contender of my heart.” I thought this would be a quick read that I’d be able to check off and move on from — maybe doubling it up with another title here. What can I say — I don’t always like stuff that’s shorter, and nonfiction is only sometimes my jam. And we’ve talked before about how it can be difficult to assess — and especially come to consensus on — anthologies and other mixed-author works. Working through each essay individually and then evaluating as a whole is hard enough on your own; persuading 10 other committee members to vote for an anthology can get tricky. So this is maybe also a shot-in-the-dark contender, but there’s so much that hits perfectly that I just can’t let it alone.   [Read more…]

We Are the Ants

We Are the Ants, Shaun David Hutchinson
Simon Pulse, January 2016
Reviewed from final copy

Have aliens been abducting Henry Denton since he was thirteen? Or has he been suffering from mental illness? Some days I believe the former; other days, the latter. But does it really matter?

Probably not.

We Are the Ants is about much more than the end of the world (although those doomsday scenarios were highly entertaining). Shaun David Hutchinson uses science fiction elements to get at themes that are highly realistic: grief, guilt, love, nihilism… actually, this book is packed with ideas and Hutchinson weaves them through a story in which the protagonist is largely passive.
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Thumper’s Dad (A Roundup)

Once upon a time ago, over on Heavy Medal, Jonathan very boldly (and wittily) ran a post with just a title and the cover of the book.

His point was that sometimes you just don’t have anything good to say about a book, so why say anything at all?

I’m not nearly as bold, nor are my opinions so strongly unspeakable, but today I’m aiming to be very nearly as brief with a crop of books that that just won’t go the distance.

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