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Someday My Printz Will Come
Inside Someday My Printz Will Come

Finding Sleepers

bookbox Finding Sleepers

I’d like my book discovery to be this whimsical (and slightly reminiscent of the TARDIS, too!). Failing that, I’ll take any suggestions!
CC-licensed image “Book Exchange” by Flickr user oatsy40

Suggestions for 2013 books have been flowing in, and I’ve been thinking a lot about how we find books, and how we create the contender list that we post come the on-season in September.

(A brief housekeeping note: unlike our fellow award bloggers over at Heavy Medal and Calling Caldecott, we won’t go totally dark in the off-season, mostly because if we did, no one would ever be able to keep up with the reading when the on-season rolls around. So we’ll still be around, posting every week or two, from now until August, about what we’re reading and what we’re seeing and what we think may have Printz legs and, if we think there are any hard thorny questions about the Printz worth visiting or revisiting, possibly tackling those as well.)

(Edited to add: well, we kind of went dark because LIFE. But we’re not gone. We’re reading and thinking and we’ll post again one of these days soon and we love and miss you all a lot.)

So let’s talk about creating the contender list. And about crowdsourcing. And mostly about discovering the secret gems.

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A New Kind of Fairy Tale: Dust Girl

dust girl 197x300 A New Kind of Fairy Tale: Dust GirlDust Girl, Sarah Zettel
Random House, June 2012
Reviewed from ARC

Welcome to the Dust Bowl as you’ve never seen it before, peopled by lots more than, well, people, in a new series that covers some of the same territory as American Gods or The Flight of Michael McBride (sadly out of print, but a crossover treasure if you can find it). I don’t think anyone has done this sort of story in YA before, where the nearest readalike would probably be the not-actually-anything-like-this Far West trilogy by Patricia Wrede. Or possibly O Brother Where Art Thou, with its vague magic realism, and which I found myself thinking of as I read Dust Girl; it’s neither a book nor YA, but does seem to be familiar to lots of teen readers.

So we’re definitely talking original. Original in concept, original in execution, and (although it’s a funny word to use given the Dust Bowl setting) altogether fresh.

It’s also first in a trilogy, and if we know anything about series books, it’s that first books that make no bones about being first (as opposed to books that turn out to be first but weren’t apparently conceived, pitched, and/or branded as such) don’t tend to fare terribly well. Also, it’s (obviously) fantasy, which, statistically speaking, is another award black mark, although not a death knell.

But it’s pretty damn awesome. Does it stand a chance?

[Read more...]

More than Paint by Numbers

Graffiti Moon More than Paint by NumbersGraffiti Moon, Cath Crowley
Knopf, February 2012
Reviewed from ARC

I [redacted but it starts with F and is something Ed might say] love this book.

I actually started this post once before, and I had nice things to say, but I was being a bit dismissive. It’s “sweet and light,” I said. Ah, the perils of only reading a book once.

Then I started rereading, and realized that this is a quiet treasure.

[Read more...]

An Unnoticed Return

returning 198x300 An Unnoticed ReturnI love this one. It chilled me and made me cry—chapter after chapter, page after page.

And despite largely positive reviews (barring comments about likely lack of appeal), it’s received only one star and I haven’t heard a peep about this gem. I’m not sure anyone besides me and that handful of reviewers read it, and that’s a shame, because this is worth reading.

Fair warning: like so many of the books that number among the best written of the year, this won’t be a popular read. It’s a fantasy, I guess, but there’s no magic. It’s sort of historical fiction, but for a time and place that never actually was. It’s a novel, but it’s told in vignettes and the connections emerge slowly, so that it often reads more like interconnected short stories. It’s about a young man, except when it isn’t. I wouldn’t say it’s a genre-blender, which is a category often recognized by the committee, so much as it’s a book that defies the very idea of genre. [Read more...]