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Changes part 2, or The Pyrite Printz

Pyrite! (CC-licensed image by Flickr user Pictr 30D)

So, remember when I wrote that whole post about changes?

And I mentioned that we might make the whole Mock Printz thing a bit more—what’s the word?—organized, planned, intentional this year?

Well, now we are ready to unveil that set of changes. Because we don’t just have a plan. We have a vocabulary.

Now all we need are some faithful readers to play along (that’s you, so get ready). So here’s the plan.

Actually, let’s start with the vocab. I like vocab.

Over in these here punny parts, we’re going to style the whole thing as the Pyrite Printz. (Please tell me you get it and this wasn’t only funny in my head. Sometimes these things are.)

As last year, we’ll have a contenders list; we anticipate anywhere from 30-50 titles on this list. Contenders are the books we think are worth looking at more closely. These are the books we can’t imagine the RealPrintz committee not reading, based (again, like last year) on a combination of the objective and subjective when it comes to selection criteria. Which is to say, good reviews and/or personal reading response from one or more of us or trusted friends, colleagues, and/or readers/commenters.

Unlike last year, we will also have nominations. Last year we had predictions (which were oh so wrong!), and we may still play that game of trying to guess the RealPrintz winners, but nominations will be for our own Pyrite process. Each of the three of us will nominate titles that are especially excellent when we start running longer reviews (in September). We also plan to open nominations to anyone playing along at home, with the idea that we can all be a big FakeCommittee together. We’re still working out details for how those nominations will work, but know this is coming down the line.

The timeline:

Between now and September 1, more or less, we’ll be posting approximately once a week (you probably picked up on this already), about books we are seeing, process, and whatever other somewhat relevant topics we land on. And along the way we will do our best to let you know what we’ll be talking about (and possibly nominating) come September to December. This way you won’t be caught in September with a list of 50 contenders of which you’ve read approximately none, unless of course you choose that path. In short, we are looking for a whole lot more audience participation, and the off season posts are in part designed to enable anyone who wants to be reading along with us. (You can also follow me on Goodreads, or follow any of us on Twitter and hope we drop reading hints, but this will be a whole lot more organized and will cover not just each of us as individual readers but also any early consensus titles.)

What we won’t be doing are reviews or discussions. Basically, comments like “I just finished Code Name Verity and it’s brilliant. Expect more in September and know that we should all be bowing down before Elizabeth Wein” are about as detailed as we’ll get until after the summer. (And yes, consider that a big fat hint that I will be nominating Code Name Verity on September 1st.)

Starting in September, we’ll post an actual contenda list and we’ll go back to the multiple great big fat posts examining the contenders in microscopic detail. And there will be spoilers and we will be ornery and pick apart excellent books and probably defend a clunker or two along the way. The initial contender list will be subject to change and all that, but hopefully a significant portion of it will be books that have already been mentioned during the slow season, although there will doubtless be some surprises in the year-end publications or additions due to October through December books racking up stars.

Between September and early December, along with the reviews, we’ll have nominations open (again, details pending but Pyrite nominations will definitely need to answer the RealCommittee nomination form questions). We’re aiming for a list of 10 or so nominations by mid to late December (we might have to vote the nominations down at some point if the initial number is much higher, much as the RealCommittee can straw poll in order to focus time and attention on the books that are real frontrunners). We’ll rediscuss the nominations after that (late December through mid-ish January), with hopefully lots of input from readers, and then…

(Drumroll, please. Like this.)

Pyrite season! The vote will be open only to those who have read all the nominations, and will as much as possible reflect the RealCommittee process. So if there is a vote that is not decisive, we will discuss again the merits and flaws of the top dogs. Votes will be weighted. Blood will be heated. And so on.

We are really excited to make this an inclusive process. If you think you might want to play along, won’t you please let us know in the comments? Even if you are usually more lurker than poster—especially if you are more of a lurker! We want to get a sense of whether we will be three or three dozen, or something in between.

And thank you. We are having a blast and we very much appreciate those of you joining us in this discussion of books and awards and the minutiae of young adult literature-with-a-capital-L. We couldn’t do this without you, and we wouldn’t want to do it without you.

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’d love to play along–but aside from reading and voting, I’ll probably mostly be lurking.

  2. I want desperately to play along but will most likely fail you.

  3. This sounds great! I’m so excited to participate.

  4. Karyn Silverman says

    Just to reassure all of you who might be thinking commenting is mandatory if you plan to participate– it’s not! Lurking is completely a-ok, but hopefully we will at some point say something that gets you so heated at our absolute wrongness you will be driven to speak after all. Because as long as we are modeling RealPrintz behavior, we might as well model the contention that sometimes drives the best conversations. It’s just like book club: when everyone is all love love love, there is not much fun to be had in the discussion.

    And there is no failure (Beth, I’m looking at you!). Merely life getting in the way of reading, which happens to all of us. In fact, by our own rules, neither Sarah nor I would have been allowed to vote last year (I STILL haven’t finished A Monster Calls, and Sarah hadn’t read The Returning when we voted). So this is as much to make us all accountable as to make you all accountable. And you have the option to opt out, although remember that the mandatory reading-to-vote pile should only be about 10 books deep.

    And the one thing I failed to mention is when we will post our first big reading roundup of what we’ve been reading and what we think is likely to go the distance to contenderness at this point: in two weeks, per our very very detailed plans. Right around the season 2 premiere of Game of Thrones, not that I’m counting days or anything…

  5. I will absolutely play along! Just filled out the “recommend a purchase” form on my library’s website for Code Name Verity 🙂

  6. I will certainly play along! Can’t wait till September.

  7. This is excellent. Thanks so much-this will definitely help with collection development purposes. I don’t mind so much not having read the winning books by the time the announcements are made, but I do mind not having the books in our collection and available to patrons and staff on the day of the announcements. I know that it happens, but I prefer it not to happen. I have a better track record with the Newbery and Caldecott, but the Printz frequently catches me by surprise.

  8. Oh, and I will play along!

  9. Pyrite Printz is a great name, and I’m looking forward to following!

  10. I hope to play along, but I have yet to finish a list in a timely fashion (Heavy Medal, Battle of the Books, etc.), so may not make it in the end.

  11. I’ll play along!

  12. Count me in! I just started Code Name Verity and so far I agree. Can’t wait to see what other contenders come up.

  13. I’m so in. I guess anyone still reading after the awards is already there, right?

  14. Would love to join in. Midway through Code Name Verity!:)

  15. Sarah Flowers says

    I plan to play along, and I just started Code Name Verity last night!

  16. Well, you see now, the librarians have an unfair advantage over the mere mortals. You all read fast already. You don’t need ARCs to give you an added edge.

  17. I want to play along for sure. This is going to be so much fun! I love what you are doing here. Depseretely waiting for my library to get a copy of Code Name Verity.

  18. I ordered Code Name Verity from England (the book depository) – with all the buzz, I couldn’t wait for the U.S. publication!

  19. Every year I seem to miss two or three of the likeliest contenders, but I’m definitely hoping to play along this year!

  20. Mary Beth Rossetti says

    Very excited to play along at home!! Woohoo!

  21. This is going to be a great year! I’m in.

  22. I’d love to play along!

  23. I’m in!

  24. One of my favorite blogs to follow – thanks to you all and welcome Sophie! I plan to play along as best I can. Just submitted request for Code Name Verity. Yippee!

  25. Karyn Silverman says

    Oh yay! All this enthusiasm is doing my soul good.

  26. I’d love to play along and I hope to read the final 10 (so easy to say in April!)

  27. Oops! I hadn’t gotten used to the fact that you’re still posting. (Unlike Heavy Medal) But catching up posts (better late than never!), I’ll definitely hope to play along. I say “hope” because I’m not sure if I’ll get the final list read, but I will definitely try.

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