We’re about two weeks away from the YMA’s so it’s the perfect time to highlight some books that are flying under the awards radar. Both of the titles I’m looking at today have excellent character writing and deal with themes of violence and what people do in extreme circumstances. Neither book quite has what it takes for the Printz, but I was surprised that they didn’t show up on more best of the year lists. Thankfully, both are BFYA nominees so while I keep my fingers crossed, read on for why I think they deserve some kind of recognition.
It’s pretty simple: emulate the RealCommittee process as much as possible.
A large part of what we do is discuss books at a level we believe is similar to that of the RealCommittee — thoughtfully, seriously, with an insane attention to detail.
But the RealCommittee also nominates and votes on the books, which is the fun/pulse-pounding/exciting part, and so we have an annual Mock, or Pyrite, Printz here on the blog.
It starts NOW, so read on to nominate your top picks of the year, and may the best book win!
There’s a lot to discuss here. A lot of win and a lot of flaw, really.
Let’s start with win, which is the writing.
The writing is mature, sophisticated, free of unnecessary embellishments. There are marks of the author’s MFA; there is a style of writing that always seems to have the fingerprints of advanced writing coursework and workshops all over it. Words that fall like pebbles, and ripple outward, although you can’t always tell why. Chapters that read like short stories, the kind you might find in The New Yorker. Language that is deceptively simple. MFA writing.
One of the things keeping me busy is the launch of an annual outside reading project I do with my 9th graders, called Read, Write, Recommend, which involves independent recreational reading and Goodreads. It’s an awesome project and I am really proud of it and someday (someday!) I will write a whole article about it because it has been fantastic at getting students reading and talking about books.
Anyway, a huge part of RWR is the recommend element, and at the start of the year, many of the recommendations are in the form of reader’s advisory consults with me (later in the year, they’ll be recommending more to each other while I hover around holding up shiny new books). I love love love standing in the library with a dozen students crowded around me asking for books and asking have I read this or that or do I have something they’ll like given a past love of X,Y, or Z.
And as I’ve stood there passing out book recommendations and basking in the thanks the next day, I’ve been thinking about how books fall into a number of categories: