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Someday My Printz Will Come
Inside Someday My Printz Will Come

Did someone say something about egg on faces?

CC-licensed image by Wilheln

This morning we watched the ALA Youth Media Awards livestream (and please, can the stream enter the 21st century? Just a pan shot of the audience/committee members or two, a few interior shots for the Caldecott and Geisel and various illustrator awards? We don’t need much, but something more than the really not-exciting slideshow for the folks at home?).

And we were delighted!

Also, chagrined.

Because oh, how we did not call it!

The Printz Committee recognized the full four possible honor books plus, of course, the winner.

Here’s what we said about each of the books:

Winner: Where Things Come Back, by John Corey Whaley


The Returning, by Christine Hinwood

The Scorpio Races, by Maggie Stiefvater

Jasper Jones, by Craig Silvey (Confession: still unfinished on my nightstand)

Why We Broke Up, by Daniel Handler, art by Maira Kalman

Strangely, you might notice that the above list of five titles contains only four distinct links. That’s because we lumped two of the books together, and when I say we, I mean I, because I was the one who was all urg, arg, can’t finish this one, please inspire me.

(For the record, dear readers, you were not terribly loud on the protests. So while I take the blame for poor literary assessment skills not once but twice this year, I ask that next time, please, please, won’t you save me from the egg and just tell me to get over myself and act like a big girl and finish the damn books, dammit?)

On the bright side, we definitely called The Returning, or at least prayed for it, and didn’t exactly predict but did strongly support The Scorpio Races. And while our coverage of Where Things Come Back was perhaps not even remotely predictiony, we did say lots of nice things. Mostly nice. Sarah for sure said that it might be a different book indeed with a reread, which is almost exactly like saying it’s like a super serious, prediction level contenda, right? No?

So, boys and girls, what have we learned?

Well, as per Twitter:

But really, here’s the thing: there are 9 people on the Printz Committee. Nine people reading until their eyes cross. Exchanging ideas and insights, arguing, discussing, analyzing, and fully immersing themselves. In the end, nine people locked in a room, probably consuming vast quantities of sugar and caffeine, talking until the dust settles and a set of books rises to the top.

And that process is pure magic.

Did I see the flaws in Jasper Jones (just to take the biggest egg) and get stuck? Yes.

Did any of the committee members? Probably; no book is perfect, and someone probably saw flaws I didn’t see, too.

But they kept going. They held it up and looked again and again, and in the end they saw that the great outweighed any flaws, and that’s why they rock: because the committee pushes through their own baggage (I was tired! The chapters are really long!) and makes sure they are looking at each book carefully and above all objectively.

Because they rock.

These are brilliant books, and the RealCommittee deserves our applause, our kudos, and our thanks.

Thank you!

Now, if anyone wants to talk about their personal heartbreaks (without, we beg you, slamming the actual winners), comments are open for therapeutic purposes, so go crazy!

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. I must say that I am SO SO happy about these winners. Where Things Come Back! Jasper Jones! And, most of all, The Returning, because if any book really needed a nice boost and the recognition of a Printz nod, it was that one. I am a tiny bit heartbroken that Rotters is apparently never going to be acknowledged as totally ruling, and I was not a fan of The Scorpio Races (I feel like I must have been missing something with that one, because if I wasn’t the whole plot is… broken) but all in all this is my favourite lineup in years.

    I really enjoyed reading this blog. Is it going to stay around or was it only ever meant for this one Printz season?

  2. Tess – I am SO with you about Rotters! It was by far the best YA book I read last year. I re-read it in January because I managed to get it into our Mock-Printz. It held up just as well for me on the second read, if not better in many ways. It came in 4th, but I think it would have done better if more people had actually read it.

    I’m glad that Daughter of Smoke and Bone didn’t show – I never got what was so great and admittedly just reading the first page made me want to commit vile acts of violence, so I didn’t continue (I did spot-check reads on random pages, and they had the same effect). It came in 2nd in our Mock Printz.

    Where Things Come Back got 3rd. I liked it at first, but had big issues by the time I got to the end. The side story confused and annoyed me, and I felt that it was NOT tied in well at all. When I closed the book, my only thought was “what was the point of that?!” I too had issue with the lack of depth in many of the side characters.

    But so it goes. I haven’t read any of the honor books yet.

    And what about Okay for Now? It won our Mock Printz by a long shot.

    I’m looking forward to reading this year’s crop of contenders. I hope you keep up the blog!

  3. Thanks so much for the blog this season – it’s been good to keep up with other people who find this all as fun as I do.

    I’m definitely happy with Where Things Come Back as a winner. It was in my personal top 5 and I thought the two stories came together well in the end. I have to read The Returning now based on the good words I’ve read about it here and since it picked up an Honor. Jasper Jones wasn’t high up there for me, but I did like it and I’m not surprised to see it in the mix. Scorpio Races never caught on with me, but it’s good to see some genre diversity among the honorees. I love Daniel Handler (esp. The Basic Eight), so I was expecting to be really up for Why We Broke Up, but unfortunately it fell a bit short of my expectations.

    As for surprises, I really did expect to see Chime in there. It hit the right notes of an interesting story backed up with solid literary writing for me. I’m also really disappointed A Monster Calls didn’t make either the Printz or Newbery lists, though I’m not surprised it was left off of both.

    • Sarah Couri says:

      I just wanted to jump in with a “what Karyn said, above!” It has been so excellent to be a part of this conversation and I’ve had a great time reading and talking books with everyone. It’s so fantastic to share all the “what about…” and “yay, yay, yay” with a bunch of readers as smart and passionate as everybody here.

  4. I was also surprised to see both Chime and Okay for Now not even garnering an honor. Both were recognized by the National Book Award committee and were on most mock Newbery lists. And I was disappointed that A Monster Calls didn’t make either list. I admit I haven’t read any of the Printz books this year but I look forward to reading them all – I especially have been wanting to read Where Things Come Back so now it’s at the top of my list.

  5. I wonder if Jasper Jones would’ve felt more right as an Alex book instead of a Printz? In Australia it was marketed as an adult book, or at least, not specifically as a YA.

  6. The only one I’ve read is The Scorpio Races, and I approve of that decision, which makes me excited to get my hands on the rest of the bunch (my holds are on their way!) In the past I haven’t always loved all the honorees, but I’m always impressed by the variety and depth of the books.

  7. PS – I hope you do this again next year!

  8. The discussions here have been awesome: thoughtful, stimulating, civil. More, more, more like this.

  9. Oh, it was surprises all around this year — I was just pleased to have read two of them (Scorpio Races and Why We Broke Up). Some years the Printz committee chooses mostly books that I’ve never even heard of, but this year I had at least heard a little bit about all of these . . . mostly because of this blog, so thanks, you guys!

    I’m looking forward to reading the ones I haven’t read yet.

    I’m a little sad about Chime, and I also really love The Girl of Fire and Thorns (though I knew it was up against stiff competition for the Morris, and even stiffer competition for the Printz).

  10. I seem to be alone in this but I was really rooting for Shine by Myracle to get a Printz Award or Honor. And I figured it was a shoo-in for the Stonewall. I suppose I’ll have to read the books that ruined Shine’s chances before I stop sulking!

  11. Brokenhearted over Between Shades Of Grey. What a story!! Also Everybody Sees The Aunts, which is so inventive, unusual, and wonderfully written. Feels good to have my say. Now I’ll read the three winners I’d never even heard of.

  12. I’m thrilled with the winner. WHERE THINGS COME BACK reminds me a lot of ON THE JELLICOE ROAD, thematically as well as structurally, and while it doesn’t surpass it as my favorite Printz winner (I really don’t think anything could), it’s the kind of book that, when I finished it, I wanted to go back and read it again. That’s my favorite kind of Printz winner- the one that begs for more than one reading, and (hopefully) feels more and more like a full experience each time.

    I haven’t read three of the honor books at all, and I only got about 1/4 of the way through the other before deciding I wasn’t interested, so I guess I have my next few books picked out for me.

  13. Mark Flowers says:

    Perhaps we can rename the blog “Someday My BFYA Will Come”? The top ten list over there has: EVERYONE SEES THE ANTS, A MONSTER CALLS, BETWEEN SHADES OF GRAY, and SCORPIO RACES, so we seem to have done much better in predicting those . . .

  14. But Mark, CHIME won “our” mock Printz! CHIME is nowhere to be found in all of these library awards. I don’t rightly understand it.

  15. Mark Flowers says:

    @ Elizabeth – I know. Oh how I know. I continue to think it was one of a very small group of the best books of the year.

    I agree with Karyn that the committee deserves our absolute respect (my mom has been on the 2004 Printz committee – I know the work it takes), but I don’t think that precludes us second guessing them. I don’t care how much re-reading the 2010 committee did – there is no way on earth WINTERGIRLS wasn’t better than CARLES AND EMMA and PUNKZILLA. And this year, CHIME was just head and shoulders above so many other books – I have a really hard time seeing how it failed to be recognized.

    Oh well – I guess I just need to get on the Printz committee one of these days so I can hear everyone whining about the lousy choices my committee made 😉

  16. To me, the lack of a BFYA nod for CHIME is the thing that is incomprehensible. With respect to the Printz, I can see committee work and an inhumanly short list leading to all sorts of decisions that an individual, or public opinion, might not make. And my hat is off to everyone for their hard work. But the BFYA list is longer, and I think CHIME belongs there.

  17. Eek, apparently CHIME ison the BYFR list. At least it’s on the final, corrected version. I can’t believe I missed it on this morning’s uncorrected version, which I scoured. I may, of course, be losing my mind.

  18. Well, you know I’m happy:)

  19. In case you were all worried about me, I figured out exactly how I’m losing my mind. I was thinking about the ALSC Notables list, which does not include CHIME. Which brings up another topic: I think I don’t fully understand the purpose behind that list, and maybe one of you can help me–it seems to have an educational component to it, although I don’t understand how that criterion gets applied to fiction (“fiction…that reflects and encourages children’s interests in exemplary ways”). BETWEEN SHADES OF GRAY obviously might encourage kids to explore a piece of history that not many people know about. But SCORPIO RACES? Encouraging an interest in Irish/Gaelic/Celtic folklore? Or, “reflecting an interest” in horses?! What nuanced purpose does this list serve that I don’t understand?

  20. Elizabeth, I don’t think you were wrong – when I glanced at the uncorrected Best Fiction for Young Adult list earlier, I remember noting that Chime wasn’t there and being really surprised. Looking at the final list, I see it there now and would have assumed I had just missed it the first time if it weren’t for your comments.

  21. I thought I might chime in here as it might be helpful in understanding why one book, particularly, was not selected.
    In our charge we are told to disregard popularity of a book, issues, controversy, and to embrace diversity. Further, we are told the following:

    “The following criteria are only suggested guidelines and should in no way be considered as absolutes. They will always be open to change and adaptation. Depending on the book, one or more of these criteria will apply:

    •Design (including format, organization, etc.)
    For each book the questions and answers will be different, the weight of the various criteria will be different.” (ALA Website-

    Upon reading Between Shades of Gray one of the committee members noticed that the word “genocide” was used in the book. The book is set before the word genocide even existed. Another issue was a Pearl Harbor reference (that is my recollection– it may have been another American base), it was our feeling that these people being so isolated would not know about the American military installations. These inaccuracies did play a part in the decision-making.

    I don’t think I can really say more, other than it was a wonderfully written book with a few inaccuracies that we couldn’t ignore.

    It is also important to note that the committee is merely searching for and recognizing the best books of the previous year that are examples of literary excellence. We are not charged with finding books that will lead students to explore topics of newly found interests, nor do we need to consider student interest. It is all about a book’s literary magnificence.

    This year was an incredible year for outstanding pieces of literature. In choosing our list, we also considered which books would stand the test of time. What would be think of our selection 5 years from now? Some of the books mentioned above ( in previous blog comments) were a little young for our charge. Other titles were close very closely inspected, but compelling arguments for our eventual winners brought us to consensus.

    We wouldn’t expect that everyone would see things our way, but we are happy with our list and hope that people will give these books a good read and experience them as we did.

    I hope this clarifies our purpose to some degree and helps some of you whose favorite titles didn’t make the list understand where we are coming from. We read so many books (and re-read) and had lengthy discussions about the merits of each of our titles. We battled for books we loved and sometimes lost. But in all, these 5 rose to the top. It is a beautifully poetic process. It is an epic quest and I’ll never forget the journey our committee took together.

  22. PS- sorry that was so long! 🙂 Thanks for indulging me.

  23. “I don’t care how much re-reading the 2010 committee did – there is no way on earth WINTERGIRLS wasn’t better than CHARLES AND EMMA and PUNKZILLA” – Mark, I haven’t read PUNKZILLA, but I would argue for CHARLES AND EMMA over WINTERGIRLS any day. I’ll trade you GOING BOVINE for WINTERGIRLS if you make a good argument, though! It’s so interesting to see which books some people completely approve of and others just don’t see as distinguished. My all-time favorite year for the Printz was 2009…just looking at that list of titles makes me sigh with happiness.

  24. Mark Flowers says:

    @ Jess – OK, I’ll make that trade! I didn’t want to bring up GOING BOVINE because I know how much some people loved it, but since you insist . . .

    Seriously, though, I don’t really want to nitpick specific decisions right now, especially from years past. I just wanted to make the point that regardless of how much work they do and how smart they are, every committee comes down to the specific tastes of its members, and I think it is perfectly fine to second guess them. I brought up the 2010 list because (huge amount of egg on my face) I haven’t actually read any of this year’s winners yet, so I *can’t* second guess them yet.

    Totally agree with you about 2009 – great year: and I’m not just saying that to flatter Karyn.

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