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Pyrite Nominations Are Open!

Your fearless leaders have special socks! With crowns! To celebrate the Pyrite and because we are just that cheesy. Also, feet shots are trendy and we do like being on trend.

We are at roughly the 50% point for covering the contenda list*, and most of the year’s books are available to readers, so we’ve determined that the time has come (the walrus said) to launch our Pyrite Printz!

The Pyrite is intended to be fun, maybe even raucous, but it’s not just for fun.

Part of the RealCommittee’s process is culling the initial “list” (created through conversations and personal reading lists) down to a formal nomination list, and then, through in-depth discussion, further shrinking that nomination list to the shortlist.

We could just create a shortlist on our own. Certainly we all have a few books we think are the top contendas. But one of our major goals all along has been to make the RealCommittee process more transparent by emulating it as much as is possible via blog, so we need your nominations!

Nominations are open to all 2012 YA books, whether it’s a title we’ve already covered, an upcoming book from the contenda list, or one we haven’t even mentioned. Note: we are artificially limiting nominations to one per person for the time being, so think carefully about what you want to nominate and read through the list before nominating. This is not at all in line with the RealCommittee process, but we also have a lot more than 9 people likely to submit nominations.

A few other technical details: We might vote the list down at some point, much as the RealCommittee uses straw polling, with the goal of a tight list of 10 or so nominations to be revisited in early January (after all the contendas have been covered). We are hoping that everyone who chooses to go the distance with the Pyrite will read all the titles on the shortlist for those January discussions, which is part of why we wanted to get this going now. And then we’ll vote shortly before MidWinter, and see how our process compared to the RealCommittee’s. We will ask that you don’t vote unless you have read all of the shortlist titles, although we may also run an open vote, as we did last year, because it’s always interesting to see those results as well.

So (we say, finally getting to the good stuff) submit your nominations using the comments here!

*Click through for the original contenda list, organized by reason for contenda-ness. If you prefer organized lists, this version is alphabetical by author and subdivided by publishing date. The second version also is frequently updated with links as we write up books and is basically a table of contents for our 2012 posts.

In your comment/nomination, please include title, author, a 1-2 sentence annotation that generally describes the book, and a statement which references or draws on the official criteria to explain why the book you are nominating deserves to win the Printz. (This is effectively the same as the process required to nominate a book for the RealPrintz for both committee members and field nominators, although we’ve cut out the bibliographic data fields to make life easier.)

If you nominate a title we haven’t covered yet and would be willing to write far more than a paragraph or so in defense of that title, we are interested in running some guest posts, especially for those titles none of us strongly support. Just mention your interest in your nomination and we’ll be in touch.

(If we’ve already covered your nomination but you have a LOT more to say, we can run guest posts that counter or expand on what we’ve said in the January discussion period.)

Finally, please recognize that we are totally making this up as we go along, doing our best to find a way to create something that captures at least a little of the RealPrintz experience. This may or may not be exactly the right construction for the Pyrite, so let us know if you have any ideas on how we can improve this, especially as regards emulating RealCommittee experiences.



  1. Karyn Silverman says

    You all know my heart has been with Code Name Verity for months now, and I’ll be posting my reasons within the next week or so. But now there is a potential rival! I’m 3/4 of the way through Railsea by China Mieville, and it’s brilliant. So I am going to save my nomination for a few days. Or call blogger privilege and end up nominating both.

  2. Sarah Couri says

    I am going to be bold! And nominate:

    Title: Chopsticks
    Author: Jessica Anthony and Rodrigo Corral

    I had a lot to say in my post , so I’ll let that stand for the annotation/statement.


  3. Sophie Brookover says

    Ugh, I can only choose ONE. ONE! And I’m well behind on reading, so like Bjork, I miss them, but I haven’t met them yet (nobody can tell me that Carly Rae Jepsen did not steal and then refine this concept for her immortal line, “before you came into my life / I missed you so bad.”).

    Also, this must be brief, as I need to go pick up my daughter from school for trick-or-treating, in BOLD DEFIANCE of Governor Christie’s order to move Halloween to Monday (we are super-fortunate — my county was not hard-hit by the storm this week).

    Ok, ok, enough with the stalling: I’m going to go with DODGER, by Terry Pratchett, for the following reasons:

    Plot: is he not the master of plot? He never outlines! He just goes with the flow! And yet all the elements of this story click into place so beautifully but not in a forced way. Nothing is jammed in, just beautifully woven. Fantastic.

    Characters: real historical personages rub elbows with memorable, well-developed characters invented from whole cloth. But it’s not exactly historical fiction, either. It’s more alt-history, in the vein of Joan Aiken’s peerless WOLVES OF WILLOUGHBY CHASE series, but way less loopy.

    Themes: Ok, not as deep as Pratchett’s Honor-winning NATION, but still: history, truth/lies, community, identity, love.

    I will probably write more in a post later, but I think this is a good start for a nomination! Keep ’em coming, friends. Can’t wait to see what you come up with!

  4. Karyn, I’ll take care of the Code Name Verity nomination (did not dig Railsea myself, however…)

    Code Name Verity.

    Story: This isn’t really a plot book, but what plot there is is fantastically developed, particularly developed in terms of all the pieces pulling together–sometimes a couple times, in a couple different ways. And oh, the development of “Kiss me, Hardy!”

    Characters: Both main characters are expertly developed through their own first-person narratives and through Verity’s third-person narrative–and these three views provide compelling, complimentary, never contradictory, but distinct portraits of the characters. And the French boy, and the German woman who assists the interrogation–we see them twice, in such different contexts and directions, in ways that build to a believable, fully-fledged character, even though we (appropriately) never see them as whole people–neither do either of the girls.

    Themes: One of the most beautiful presentations of the themes of friendship and trust I’ve seen. I’d also like to point out the theme of our public selves, and our public relationships. I’ll go there: who WASN’T shipping/slashing the two of them? But it doesn’t matter if they were banging, or wanting to bang because this is a book about what they *show* of their friendship to the world, and if they were banging, they kept it under wraps. Which makes such sense! And the themes of truth and honesty and persepective were all masterfully created with the brilliant unreliable narrator.

    Voice: Again, this goes back to the beautifully written, entirely believable, absolutely unbelievable Verity, and the three narratives–two first-person and the internal third-person, all balanced and beautiful.

    Setting: Bleak and minimal and exactly as much detail as was needed.

    Not the most organized nomination ever, but I think I got my major points said. =)

  5. (Also, Sophie, I’m glad you’re okay!)

  6. Beth Saxton says

    Sarah covered my quirky one and so I’ll take another obvious one.

    Title: The Diviners by Libba Bray

    Summary: Evie’s modern ways are too much for her parents and she gets sent to stay with her Uncle Will in New York City. She gets drawn into a creepy murder mystery with an odd mix of friends who have secrets just like Evie’s.

    Printzy-ness: The Diviners excels particularly in setting, voice ,and plot. Bray succeeds in developing both the time and place to nearly be characters in the story themselves. Each of the sections of different characters has a distinct feel, and I think over the last few years we’ve seen how hard that is to do. At its base the book is a mystery, and it doesn’t suffer for the other elements, instead it’s well constructed. Bray’s descriptions often had me reading out loud at the language and style.

  7. There are SOOOO many books I want to nominate, but I’ll absolutely kick myself if this one isn’t in the mix:


    Synopsis: a young girl finds that she has the power to create selkies–humans out of the bodies of seals–and soon begins to use this power to sell wives to the men on her island. Over the course of several decades, we see the terrible implications through the eyes of many residents of Rollrock.

    Printz qualities: Voice and Style are as always Lanagan’s strongest suit. She almost writes in a language of her own, which she is able to manipulate with extraordinary ease. But really, this novel abounds in absolutely every Printz category: its Themes about sexuality, obsession, oppression, family, and more are deep and rich; the Rollrock Setting is incredibly detailed; the Characters are varied, flawed, and fascinating; and the Story is intricately woven through various character POVs.

  8. TeenReader says

    The results seem to be mixed on this one, but I really would like to see:

    Synopsis: Colby is shocked when his best friend Bev abandons their long-term plans, and as he goes on a road trip with Bev’s band, he examines what he wants from life and his future.

    Voice and style really stood out to me. No book I’ve read this year was better able to capture what it is like to be young, and the first-person voice was vivid and real. I also think it excels in story, setting, characters, and themes.

  9. Kristin Casale says


    Synopsis: Verity is an English spy writing out a confession to the Nazis following her capture in Occupied France. Is she really a traitor or is something else going on?

    The story is particularly gripping, but the style of the narrative and how it unfolds make this story really stand out. The characterization is great, as well, with Wein portraying a friendship that stands the test of a lot of things. The plot (you might say there isn’t one) is actually shown in how the narrative is strung together and how it unfolds. The theme was brilliant in its portrayal of female friendship, with chilling but also evocative setting on top of that. Seriously… the best YA I’ve read this year.

  10. I’m going to be boringly obvious here and nominate THE FAULT IN OUR STARS by John Green.

    Synopsis: Hazel Grace Lancaster, a girl with terminal cancer, meets Augustus Waters, in remission from osteosarcoma, at a support group for teenagers with cancer. The two of them fall in love.

    Printz-iness: So, so beautifully written. Every line is perfectly formed, every part of TFiOS is funny or heartbreaking or both. Hazel’s voice (sarcastic, melancholy, empathetic) is strong. The themes of love, individual worth and significance, and male and female ideas of strength are rich and well-integrated into the plot. The Amsterdam section struck some as unrealistic, but TFiOS isn’t supposed to be entirely realistic – the descriptions of Amsterdam come thisclose to magical realism, making what comes after it even more crushing. A lovely and unique book.

    • Karyn Silverman says

      Thank you, Tess! I called Sarah this morning and said, “It’s been 12 hours and no one has nominated TFiOS! How is that possible??” She basically said patience, grasshopper. So you have proved her right!

  11. I’ll nominate Keeping the Castle by Patricia Kindl.

    Synopsis: Althea is desperately trying to find the money to save her family home, the crumbling Crawley Castle, even if it means marrying into it. When her young, attractive, and most importantly wealthy neighbor Lord Boring returns to town from London, her plan launches into action.

    I loved the flavor of this book, as it perfectly captures the style of Regency-era romances. The characterizations of Althea, her step-sisters, and Mr. Fredericks in particular are fantastic and hilarious. The plot seems to evolve naturally, while also incorporating many of the staples of the genre. And it’s fun and light-hearted, which can be a rarity in award books!

  12. There are several titles nominated that I certainly second but am going with The Raven Boys because I think it should be included in the discussion. The “magical realism” that infuses the story is one of the book’s strengths. Characters are textured in such interesting ways. and the names! Who names a bird Chainsaw? The plot pieces fit together in surprising, yet totally logical ways.

    That said, this is just one of many titles that I feel could be a contenda. – just want to ensure in stays in the mix. So my nomination goes to Gansey & Blue and the remarkable interweaving of reality, legend, characters- both living & dead, and brilliant language that Stiefvater delivers.

  13. Oops, got so carried away, neglected submission rulles

    TITLE The Raven Boys
    AUTHOR Maggie Siiefvater
    SYNOPSIS. The lives of Blue, a girl whose kiss will kill her true love, and prep schoolmates, searchinf for a dead king, intersect and set in motion a series of potentially life-changing events.

    See above for my comments

    Just crossing fingers that the other titles that I would love to nominate will find a champion.

  14. Going with one we haven’t discussed here.
    TITLE: Personal Effects
    AUTHOR: E. M. Kokie
    SYNOPSIS: Matt is still struggling to come to terms with his idolized brother TJ’s death when the army sends home his belongings. Letters and objects make it clear that TJ had some secrets and Matt is determined to understand his brother–even if what he learns makes him question everything he thought he knew.
    STRENGTHS: Voice and theme. Matt’s voice grabs you right from the first page and never lets go. He makes some bad decisions but you always understand where he is coming from. Themes of loyalty, acceptance, personal responsibility and courage are all part of Matt’s journey and I think the author communicates them in a way that is believable, rather than didactic. In a year with many books that touch on issues of coming out and the acceptance of family and friends (such as The Difference Between You and Me, Ask the Passengers and The Miseducation of Cameron Post) I think this one really stands out.

  15. No one has mentioned this tour-de-force debut.
    TITLE: Various Positions
    AUTHOR: Martha Schabas
    PUB: FSG
    SYNOPSIS: 14 year old Georgia begins attending professional ballet school — a dangerous, body-obsessed place to begin with. Add to this her witnessing the sad dynamics of her parents’ marriage, wanting to please her ballet teachers, wanting to fit in with the other girls, wanting to be a “good girl” (while her body has other ideas), and her ambition — and the result is disaster. Georgia hasn’t the maturity and experience to keep on the right side of the line between fantasy and reality. As a result, she does great, irreversible damage to someone else, and maybe to herself.
    AWARD WORTHY: Various Positions will divide readers, because it doesn’t give the reader a main character to adore or cheer on . . . just one who is real. Reading is like being forced to watch the proverbial train-wreck. This will never be a popular book; it is too emotionally difficult and challenging, likely even distasteful for many. Nonetheless it is is superbly written and imagined; engrossing and heartbreaking. This is realistic girl-fiction at its best; more, this is a book that needs award notice; it will be overlooked without it.

  16. Allison McLean says

    Here is my nomination!

    TITLE: Every Day

    AUTHOR: David Levithan

    SYNOPSIS: A wakes up in a different body every day. His life has always been this. He doesn’t know why but he tries to live each person’s life respectfully for one day and then return it the way it was before. First do no harm is his motto. But then he meets Rhiannon and he starts breaking all of his rules, trying to find a way to be with her when every day he is in a different body.

    AWARD WORTHY: The themes of identity, body image and love is done extremely well. The characters were very, very strong. Levithan has A in the body of people from all walks of life, but these characters are not tropes or stereotypes. He makes each of them come to life and we feel along with A what it is like to walk a mile in their shoes. The plot is also very well crafted and the conclustion leaves you feeling it couldn’t have ended any other way.

  17. May I be so bold as to talk about one you have yet to talk about yet? Oh yes. Yes I will be.

    TITLE: Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone

    AUTHOR: Kat Rosenfield

    SYNOPSIS: Becca is ready to escape her small town, but when the body of an unidentified girl is found on the side of the road, the town — and Becca — are thrown for a loop. Who is she? How did she end up here? While the investigation looms, Becca questions whether or not she’s ready to make the leap from the place she’s always wanted to leave and risk it on her own elsewhere.

    AWARD WORTHINESS: This is a lyrical, voice-driven, and literary story that delves into what it means to pursue your dreams (or give them up for something else entirely). The setting is lush, and the mystery itself unfolds in a way that mimics Becca’s growth intellectually and emotionally as she considers staying in town or leaving for something Bigger and Better. Rosenfield doesn’t waste a word or description, and she masterfully handles telling the story not only through Becca’s perspective, but also through Amelia Anne’s before she is dead on the side of the road. This is a thoughtfully-crafted novel about choices and about life and death, as well as how life choices can impact whether you’re living or you’re dying. The book successfully twists reader perceptions when it comes to characters, too: there aren’t clear cut villains or victims (aside from Amelia) but rather, everyone in the story comes to be who they are through the choices they make.

  18. Since Miriam took Code Name Verity, I’ll nominate another favorite from this year. It hasn’t been discussed here yet, but I loooove it.

    TITLE: Seraphina

    AUTHOR: Rachel Hartman

    SYNOPSIS: Seraphina, a court musician, must navigate the tricky worlds of human and dragon politics in the kingdom of Goredd, while also keeping her own secrets and discovering who she really is.

    AWARD WORTHY: SERAPHINA has all the hallmarks of classic coming-of-age fantasy, but is presented in a fresh way, with plenty of room for discussion about issues like body image, multi-cultural (in this case mult-species) identity, and the use of power. The world of Goredd is beautifully formed, with a lot of attention paid to specific details which render it far more real than the usual pseudo-medieval fantasy setting. Seraphina herself is a wonderful narrator with a clear and vivid voice which makes the story seem contemporary and readable. Her journey is largely an internal one, but her decisions and actions have wider consequences. Without being presented in a heavy-handed manner, the themes of identity, place in the world and in a family, and personal responsibility certainly resonate with many of the concerns today’s teens face.

  19. Since Maureen took SERAPHINA, I’ll nominate:

    TITLE: Ask the Passengers
    AUTHOR: A.S. King
    SYNOPSIS: Astrid gives way her love (“because if I give it all away, no one can control it”) to the passengers in the planes flying 30,000 feet overhead. Her family seems to be falling apart, and everyone in her small town seems to have an opinion about who she should be. With help from her imaginary mentor, “Frank” Socrates, Astrid is trying as hard as she can to be who she is, and not who other people think she is.

    PRINTZ-NESS: Astrid’s voice is strong, consistent, and deep. She is a questioning teen in the truest sense of the word, not wanting what others think of her sexuality or her family or anything else to determine who she is. The small town setting is wonderfully depicted, as Astrid knows so much about it, even as she yearns to leave it. The bits of magical realism (Socrates, the airplane passengers) fit flawlessly into the story, helping the reader see Astrid from other angles. Beautifully written, funny, touching, and real.

  20. Are all of these books going to be on the final list? Or are we going to narrow them down further? I just really need to get reading!! 🙂

    • Karyn Silverman says

      In reply to @TeenReader;s Q, I think we will narrow them down, because we want a list everyone can hopefully make it through! I’m thinking we’ll leave it open though Thanksgiving weekend, then close it out and vote down as needed. That said, you might want to just start reading anyway!

  21. So Kristin Casale and I both nominated CNV (though I forgot a summary, whoops)–does that mean one of us gets another nomination? Because no one’s nominated DAYS OF BLOOD AND STARLIGHT yet…

  22. Alrighty, then!


    Karou and Akiva were star-crossed lovers dreaming of peace long ago–another lifetime, literally, for Karou. Now Akiva has killed Karou’s family and is once again fighting in the generations-long war of Seraphim versus Chimaera and Karou is doing what she can to keep the Chimaera alive and fighting. The war keeps getting more and more vicious.

    Style and Design:
    Everything about it is delicious, from the book design to the the epigraphs to the snarkily-written bits that made me burst out laughing and the beautifully-written bits that made me bit my lip in awe.

    It dredges into the deepest level of unstoppable, horrific war, without ever becoming truly hopeless. Many middle books in trilogies try this (think THE ASK AND THE ANSWER), but few succeed this well (only KESTREL succeeds better).

    No too-magical Prague to bring this into question! Two worlds, three lands with the suggestion of a fourth, all developed to exactly the extent that need to be developed.

    I admit Akiva’s still a but weak, but oh, Karou. And the secondary characters are equally lusciously drawn. And Zuze. Oh, Zuze. I want to give her all of the hugs and listen to all of her words and she is amazing.

    Love, war, friendship, inevitability, trust… it’s a rich theme stew, and the flavors are developed and balanced and nuanced.

    Apparently, based on all the food-words I used, I think this book is a feast.

    • Karyn Silverman says

      Miriam, I just finally got my hands on this yesterday, and it’s two books down in my queue (based purely on annoying deadline-driven reading needs), but you just compared it to Kestrel. Which — oh goodness, my excitement for Days just went off the charts. AND I want to reread the Westmark trilogy. Florian! I love Florian. Damn deadlines!

  23. I mean, Kestrel does it *better* because it’s *Kestrel* and *OMG KESTREL.* But… yeah.

  24. Other people who love KESTREL??


  25. I’m going to go with GRAFITTI MOON by Cath Crowley and fervently hope someone else will nominate GRAVE MERCY as I think both really are worth being featured.

    Title: Grafitti Moon
    Author: Cath Crowley

    Synopsis: On the night of her high school graduation Lucy hopes to find a street artist named Shadow, even if she has to get help from the last boy she wants to talk to. Ever. But as Ed walks Lucy through Shadow’s art, the night that promised to be a disaster turns into something else. In a city filled with missed connections and opportunity, Ed and Lucy are right where they’re supposed to be.

    Print-ness: Crowley’s writing is always so beautiful. I also think it’s a great coming of age story with nods to lots of artists and authors that add a smart dimension to an already great story.

  26. I confess that Seraphina is still my fav for the Printz, with The Diviners and The Brides of Rollrock Island as my two definite honor choices, but since those have already been nominated I would like to nominate Long Lanking by Lindsey Barraclough as another title that is worth re-reading and discussing.

    It has all kinds of potential in terms of readers’ advisory because it is creepy historical fiction that you can suggest to anyone (anyone that already likes to read) without worrying about gore, sex, cursing or other potential red flags. There’s a creepy old mansion, a creepy old church, and all kinds of creepy old atmosphere (shivering again, remembering!) and the story about an ancient evil could have been a mere melodrama, but I think the writing is sophisticated enough to be Printz-worthy:

    It is set in England in 1958. You get a strong sense of time and place without being hit over the head with it.

    There is actually a lot of “cursing” without any actual curse words, which is just one of many things that help to make the characters round and believable.

    It is told in three voices:

    Cora is a girl who has been sent with her little sister, Mimi, to stay with their great-aunt in the country while their father and mother figure out some problems in London.

    Roger is a boy that the girls meet when they arrive at Aunt Ida’s house, which is surrounded by a kind of moat. He and his little brother Peter become their friends as they go exploring.

    Ida Eastfield does not want want the girls here, can’t have the girls here, can’t have it all starting up again…

    The storytelling switches back and forth between the three voices in a way that contributes to the breath-holding pacing.

    There is lovely red herring or two, too.

    I’ll try to explain my reasons better if this makes it to our list of ten contenders. I hope it does!

  27. Well, drat. I just realized that I put an unnecessary “g” in the title above. The title of the book I nominated is actually Long Lankin. ‘Sorry!

  28. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz

    • Karyn Silverman says

      Hi Jenn, thanks for your nomination! We are asking for an annotation and a statement of why the book deserves to be in the running (with reference to the Printz criteria — the link is included in our original post) so please take a moment to write a comment addressing those! (Otherwise the nomination doesn’t make it into the poll.)

  29. Hannah Mermelstein says

    Title: Bitterblue
    Author: Kristin Cashore

    Synopsis: 18-yr-old Queen Bitterblue, bogged down with meaningless papers and court proceedings, starts to wonder if there is more to her kingdom than she is being told. As the novel unfolds, Bitterblue befriends criminals and uncovers the depth of pain caused by her father’s regime as she tries to make things right.

    Printz-worthiness: Cashore is an amazing world-builder with the ability to write about heavy topics of power, torture, justice and injustice using humor and creativity. Engaging and completely unique. Favorite character: Death the librarian (rhymes with “teeth”). This book is a sequel (taking place 8 years later) to Graceling and a companion novel (more than 40 years later) to Fire.

  30. Title: Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe
    Author: Benjamin Alire Saenz

    What’s masterful and literary about this book is how keenly Saenz conveys the emotions of someone who’s deeply in denial about those emotions; how he takes two Mexican-American boys and explores the ways in which they’re different, as well as the ways in which they’re the same, touching on class identity, ethnic identity, and family; the gorgeous intensity of the Texas landscapes and storms; and how all of that is woven together into a book that’s about sexuality, responsibility, coming of age, and love.

  31. Thank goodness so many like minded folks already named many titles that I would have listed. So I’m going with the wonderful and woefully unstarred MONUMENT 14 by Emmy Laybourne. It’s about a group of kids and teens trapped in a Wal-Mart type store while the apocolypse happens outside in the form of extreme weather and escaped toxins from the local chemical weapons facility. I know what you’re thinking, but I believe that when it comes to awards, nonstop action is often dismissed in favor of deep and loving characterization, (and this book has both!) so I want to give it a shout out.

  32. And I would been torn between Monument 14 and the beautiful SAILOR TWAIN GN by Mark Siegel, but I wasn’t sure if First Second imprints were eligible as YA or if they were considered adult. While there are no teen characters in Sailor Twain, I think it has enormous teen appeal because of the romantic entanglements and well, there are also mermaids. Murderous mermaids. Love to know what the Printz gang thinks about the First Second imprint question.

    • Karyn Silverman says

      I have this book on the tantalizing “read after Jan 21” pile, because I assumed, based on price point, that it was intended as an “adult” publication (the YA price point on a hardcover is usually under $20). However, First Second is an all-ages imprint, so I’m not sure there is any clear guideline that would declare Sailor Twain eligible or not. Thoughts, all?

  33. Okay, now all of my Personal Top 6 have been nominated except THE GIRL WITH BORROWED WINGS and I’ve used my nomination so someone else has to. Yes?

  34. AMERICAN BORN CHINESE was published by First Second.

  35. I’m looking at First Second’s Spring catalog and they have all the Juvenile/YA titles clearly marked with age ranges.

    I don’t have a copy of the catalog that had SAILOR TWAIN but we at Adult Books 4 Teens reviewed it, so I can only assume it was listed as adult, since that’s our primary criterion for review.

  36. I am quite convinced that SAILOR TWAIN is adult even if First Second doesn’t have age designations or, more vitally, there is teen appeal to it. Which I’m not wholly convinced of, even though appeal has nothing to do with Printz. In any case I found that it had adult sensibilities and characters and situations and perspective that didn’t seem teen to me at all.

    • Karyn Silverman says

      TK, I haven’t read it yet, but Jennifer has been VERY compelling in her arguments in real life! And she usually has quite the eye for these things (and pretty much called last year’s Printz winner, so we may all want to go read Monument 14 RIGHT NOW), so between that and the AB4T review, I’m convinced that there must be some YA appeal. But I haven’t read it yet, and as you pointed out, appeal doesn’t matter for the Printz anyway.

      Jen, I’m afraid the evidence is mounting that you were right not to spend your nomination on an ineligible book.

  37. Jonathan Hunt says

    The book: BOMB by Steve Sheinkin

    What it’s about: The Race to Build–and Steal–the World’s Most Dangerous Weapon.

    Why it should win: It’s rare that a nonfiction book can best novels at their own game, but this one does so. Plot, character, setting, style, and theme are excellent here–and, then, there’s the degree of difficulty: it’s all true.

  38. Joy Piedmont says


    The title pretty much sums it up: Greg Gaines begrudgingly befriends Rachel, who has leukemia, and is Greg’s only friend besides Earl, his foul-mouthed, movie-making partner. EARL deserves to be in the Printz conversation for a few reasons, but most importantly is voice. Andrews has a great ear for dialogue and toes the fine line between quirky/clever and twee/obnoxious. On top of that, the writing is highly stylized, yet packed with character development, all of which creates this familiar story–dying girl helps boy come of age–told in a fresh way. Overall, the story just rang true, the characters are authentic, and the plot development is flawed, but I still bought into it.

  39. So hard to pick just one! Jonathan covered Bomb for me (Taking one out of my consideration pile – thanks!) After much debate I’m leaving behind Monstrous Beauty (I fear I am too biased – plus I could never pick it apart the way we will have to for shortlist titles – looking for the tiniest of flaws in order to choose one excellent book over another) and Grave Mercy (Sigh. I loved this, but decided my nomination is better literarywise.) for:

    TITLE: The Drowned Cities
    AUTHOR: Paolo Bacigalupi

    SYNOPSIS: Climate change has turned what used to be Washington D.C. into a drowned city constantly fought over by rival militias mostly consisting of child/teenage soldiers. Mahlia and Mouse are orphans just trying to keep their heads down and survive until they encounter Tool – a killing machine on the run from the militia currently in charge.

    Setting: Utterly and frighteningly believable – Bacigalupi paints a future that seems possible and is based in logically brainstorming how people would react to cataclysmic climate change partly based on how people have reacted throughout history. The concept of miliatias populated almost entirely by teens would be far less horrifying if it hadn’t happened before and wasn’t currently happening in some places.
    Characters: Mahlia isn’t always likable but she is a fully realized person whose actions are driven by the motivations Bacigalupi builds from her past. In Mouse/Ghost and Ocho, Bacigalupi shows clearly how teens get brought into and caught up in the militia life – an important addition for the richness of the themes explored here. Tool is an amazing accomplishment; he doesn’t think like a human and isn’t motivated by the same things humans would be.
    Theme: This is the biggest strength here. Bacigalupi uses his speculative world to explore real human issues that face the world now. Sarah mentions several of these in her post: What does it mean to be human? How do humans come to commit atrocities and still consider themselves human? What is survival worth? What is power worth? Is it better to stick to your morals if it means you die or better to bend so that you can live to fight another day? What and who are the casualties of war? Bacigalupi explores all of this while telling a rip-roaringly good war/survival story that doesn’t flag or slow down one bit under the burden.

    I keep coming back to two words: amazing and horrifying. Bacigalupi does them both – I don’t like horrifying war stories, but I would read this again for the setting, the characters and theme. The Drowned Cities deserves a seat at the Printz Discussion table.

  40. Title: TEAM HUMAN
    Authors: Sarah Rees Brennan and Justine Larbalestier

    Description: The world of Team Human has the same fascination with vampires as our own, but the vampires are real. Mel, however, is not a fan, and thinks her best friend’s obsession with vampires is ridiculous. Then a vampire decides to start attending her high school, and she meets a human boy who was raised by a vampire family, and begins to realize that life is a lot more complicated than she had thought.


    Voice: Each author has a distinctive voice in her own right, but they have managed to create a new, unique voice that has a bit of each and feels unified and compelling.

    Setting: The world is fully-realized and believable. There is a lot of vampire history and background that is explained when necessary but not annoyingly info-dumped.

    Characters: The best part! I really grew to know and care about the characters. Mel is flawed in a realistic way, but still extremely likeable, and she manages to grow believable throughout the novel.

    Theme: This book is about growing to understand other people and their motivations, even when those people are in opposition–and the execution of that theme is subtle and well-done.

    That doesn’t really explain why the book is so great, but I really like both authors and found that I liked their collaboration even better than their individual works.

    Author: Deborah Hopkinson

    What it’s about: The story of the Titanic, from before it sails to after it founders, from the point of view of people who were there.

    Why it’s Printz-Worthy: Beautifully organized so that the facts fall into place without distracting from the narrative arc. Compelling characters, with a particular emphasis on young people. Fluidly written so that a fairly long book reads very quickly. Lots of helpful tables (now that errors in one have been corrected from the first edition) and well-selected photographs. This is a solid piece of scholarship that seems to be making the case for the Titanic’s value as an interesting narrative subject and a historically significant event to Titanic-skeptics.

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