Follow This Blog: RSS feed
Someday My Printz Will Come
Inside Someday My Printz Will Come

Let the Games Begin!

Not those games, although every other conversation I had today was about the Hunger Games trailer.

Image by Kasaa, used under Creative Commons licensing. Some rights reserved.

No, I mean the annual best books game. The lists! The awards! The moments of truth! And (my favorite), the Monday morning quarterbacking.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. We’re just at the very beginning of the process.

Here’s the scoop thus far: Library Journal’s Librarian’s Best has already appeared. Kirkus has released the adult list, but nothing yet for teen. School Library Journal and sister publication The Horn Book are mum so far, but that goes hand in glove with the general trend of children’s and teen’s best lists appearing a bit later than their adult counterparts (which I’ve always found funny, since we always have ARCs and F&Gs months in advance).

The two exceptions to this trend are the New York Times Best Illustrated Children’s Books, about which I care very little (but if you do, check out Calling Caldecott, where there’s been some discussion of that list and also some discussion of specific books on the list) and the Publisher’s Weekly “Children’s Fiction” (which ranges from upper middle grade to upper YA). So let’s take a look at PW’s list. With commentary, because otherwise you’d just look at it again over on their site.

I’m going to skip the obviously middle grade titles, except to note that I wish Small Persons with Wings by Ellen Booraem were YA, because I really very much want to read it!

From the YA end, we’ve got:

The Future of Us (Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler) – Really? I love both Mackler and Asher as solo artists, but this felt indulgent and 30-something and I just don’t get it.

Chime, by Franny Billingsley  – I’ve already said it all. Likewise A Monster Calls, which Sarah covered. They also cited Blink and Caution, about which I was somewhat tepid but which many of you loved, and Roth’s Divergent, which I think deserves a place on a best of the year list while not being a Printz contender.

Beauty Queens (Libba Bray) – If I ever wrest a copy out of the hands of my students (3 copies, all out), I’ll write something coherent, but I read it ages ago and didn’t take very good notes. Not sure it totally pulls itself off, but I think it’s satirical and smart and no one else dares go the places Libba Bray goes.

Where She Went (Gayle Forman) – Can I confess that I keep putting this at the bottom of the list? The first one just about killed me, and images from it haunt me still, so while I want to read this, I’m a little scared I’ll be a basket case again.

Legend (Marie Lu) – props for the best package of the year (that two colored printing is beautiful, and if you haven’t seen a final copy, get your hands on one). The story was good, but struck me as a little too much like the rest of what’s out there.

The Apothecary (Maile Meloy) – This really is middle grade, I think; everything I didn’t like stopped bothering me when I considered it as a children’s book, but as a YA title it’s full of flaws. So I should have skipped it, but I know it’s getting some YA love and wanted to clarify where I stand.

Between Shades of Gray (Ruta Sepetys) – I’m going to lump this with the also-listed Where Things Come Back, by John Corey Whaley. I have started both multiple times and am just not feeling them. However. Loving a book and recognizing its greatness from a literary perspective are NOT the same. I just need to find a day or two when I have more than 15 minutes at once to read to push past the not-feeling-it feeling and get down to the nitty gritty analysis end of things.

The Scorpio Races (Maggie Stiefvater) – Stiefvater is on my list of people I’d like to be when I grow up (I think I’m older than her, though, which complicates things). Have you seen those trailers she made for the Mercy Falls trilogy? Amazing. Also, she’s given a TED talk. Could she be more awesome? Oh, but I’m supposed to talk about the books. Right. My finished copy of The Scorpio Races just arrived today, so it’s on the near horizon.

Daughter of Smoke and Bone (Laini Taylor) – This is the post I meant to finish for today, but didn’t. But rather than blow my next post by saying any more here, I’ll let you wait until later this week.

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Boat of Her Own Making, by Catherynne M. Valente – I do think this is YA. I also think the title is entirely too long, but the book is entirely delicious.

Variant (Robison Wells) – Uh oh, I had this in ARC and let a student take it. Time to reel it back in.

How to Save a Life (Sara Zarr) – No one mentioned this back when we listed the contenders and solicited more titles, but the last few weeks I feel like I’m bumping into shout outs and love for it everywhere. Time to add it to the pile?

So that’s the list, and it increased what I need to look at by a few titles. I’m suddenly terrified of the rest of the lists that will be coming soon! There’s just no time for the number of fabulous books being published this year.

Oh! And let’s not forget that tomorrow will bring us the second award of the year (The Boston Globe – Horn Book awards were the first). Today, the National Book Award Teen Press Conference took place in New York City. And tomorrow, the winners (not JUST for the Young People’s category) will be announced. Can’t be there? No worries: this year, for the first time ever, they’ll be streaming the event so we can all tune in at 8 pm Eastern Standard Time to see who wins.

So, what did you think of the PW list? Which books do you think will show up on everyone’s lists, and which ones are outliers? How many have you read? Did I relegate anything to the middle grade pile that should be in the YA/contender pile?

About Karyn Silverman

Karyn Silverman is the High School Librarian and Educational Technology Department Chair at LREI, Little Red School House & Elisabeth Irwin High School (say that ten times fast!). Karyn has served on YALSA’s Quick Picks and Best Books committees and was a member of the 2009 Printz committee. She has reviewed for Kirkus and School Library Journal. She has a lot of opinions about almost everything, as long as all the things are books. Said opinions do not reflect the attitudes or opinions of SLJ, LREI, YALSA or any other institutions with which she is affiliated. Find her on Twitter @InfoWitch or e-mail her at karynsilverman at gmail dot com.


  1. Can’t wait for your SCORPIO RACES and SMOKE AND BONE thoughts!

  2. Ditto!

  3. Karyn Silverman says

    The pressure, the pressure!

  4. With THE SCORPIO RACES, DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE, and CHIME, I keep hoping this will be a great year for fantasy at the Printz. Those are my 3 favorite YA titles this year.

  5. Oh, gosh, I’m with you, Sondy!

  6. I really loved How to Save a Life. I had tears in my eyes at the end.

    I am currently reading The Scorpio Races and am loving that as well. I’m really glad, too; I adored Shiver but found the other two books in that trilogy just OK, and it’s nice to see Maggie Stiefvater back in top form.

  7. Mark Flowers says

    “I also think the title is entirely too long” – I couldn’t disagree more, but I’m kind of a sucker for long titles.

    In other news: INSIDE OUT AND BACK AGAIN for the NBA – fascinating. I felt sure it would go to CHIME or OKAY FOR NOW, both of which I think are far superior books. But I suppose the NBAs have traditionally had a soft spot for “important” books which fits IOABA better than CHIME. Oh well.

  8. Karyn Silverman says

    Ok, so first, about the NBA winner. Um, I haven’t read it. I ignored it as being a kids book. Do I need to read it now, or is it firmly children’s? I was hoping for Chime, but am going to swallow my sorrow and move on.

    Sondy and Elizabeth, wouldn’t it be so awesome to have a banner year for fantasy? But I fear it won’t happen. I think, much as the NBA likes “important” books, as Mark said, the Printz tends to like books that “transcend” genre or bend it. (Chime does this. I’m not sure Daughter does– it depends, maybe, whether you look at it as paranormal–definite transcendence in that case–or just fantasy. And I haven’t finished Scorpio yet. Another one I really like is Girl of Fire and Thorns, but I suspect that will be too classically genre to place, although the religious element might push it into different territory.) I’ve always thought that the reason there is more universal support for the bending or transcending genre books is that they often serve as genre for the non-genre reader; genuine genre titles sometimes scare away readers who feel uncertain with the tropes or norms.

    Or maybe I just like a lot of genre books and want a smart reason for why fellow librarians and committee folks disagree with me about some of them?

  9. Mark Flowers says

    Karyn – I’d say INSIDE OUT is on the border between J and YA, but definitely could get attention from the Printz committee if they’re in the right mood. You can read it in about 90 minutes – so it might be worth having read.

    The Printz and genre. I definitely agree that CHIME is solidly in the same place as (say) TENDER MORSELS or THE WHITE DARKNESS in that “transcending genre” category. But do you really see a distinction between DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE and something like MONSTRUMOLOGIST or NATION or HOUSE OF THE SCORPION. I love those books dearly, and think they do very interesting things with their genres, but I also think they belong strongly within horror, fantasy, and SF respectively.

    On the other hand, looking at the list of Printz winners and honors, it seems like they maybe go for one “genre” book a year, so perhaps you are right to be skeptical.

  10. Not to seem strange or anything for saying this so belatedly, but it’s not The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a BOAT of Her Own Making.
    It’s SHIP.

Speak Your Mind