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Someday My Printz Will Come
Inside Someday My Printz Will Come

It’s Pyrite Time!

Here at Someday, we have a mission.

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!

Note: our process here is an imperfect copy.

Here’s the RealCommittee version: nominations open early in the year — February 1st, I believe. Committee members, who have already begun communicating virtually about those simple (hah!) little questions like “what is literature?” and “what makes a great piece of YA literature?” and so on, begin nominating any time after the nominations open. By the time Annual rolls around, they are already deep into discussions of the nominated books, and then they keep nominating as the year rolls on until MidWinter, when they discuss in even more depth and finally vote.

We don’t even start our speculating until September, and we’re only now opening the polls for Pyrite nominations, and we’ll only have them open for a week. Our process is artificial and shorter than the real committee’s. It’s also open to anyone who wants to play along, which we hope makes up for all the ways we get it wrong.

Here’s our process:

  • You may nominate up to three titles (RealCommittee members have no limit and might nominate from 0 to infinity. But they’re selective, so usually the numbers are WAY lower than infinity).
  • All 2013 publications designated YA are eligible,* whether or not they made our initial longlist or not, and regardless of whether we’ve written about them on Someday.
  • Nominations will be made via comments on this post.
  • In your comment/nomination, you need to include title, author, and a brief 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 suggest a book for the RealPrintz for field nominators, which is pretty much the same as the formal nomination form committee members have filled out in the past, although we’ve cut out the brief annotation and the bibliographic data fields to make life easier.) For those of you who write your own blog or post extensive reviews on Goodreads or elsewhere online, please link to all of those in addition to or in lieu of the brief “why” statement.

Once nominations close (on 12/22), we’ll narrow the nominations down arbitrarily (10? 15? Let’s see how many discrete titles get a nomination) for discussion and a Pyrite vote, which will happen shortly before MidWinter and the actual Youth Media Awards.

REMEMBER: The Pyrite is a mock Printz, done in good fun and with an eye towards shadowing, in some small way, the kind of reading and discussion the RealCommittee participates in. We are not affiliated with the actual Printz, although we think it rocks, which is why we do this. The RealPrintz is formally YALSA‘s Michael L. Printz Award for excellence in young adult literature and is sponsored annually by Booklist.

*Booklist listed Relish and March, Book 1 as adult titles with crossover appeal for teens. Booklist is the official ALA publication. This makes me go hmmm, but we’re still considering them both as YA for now. The RealCommittee would determine eligibility for these not specifically age-bracketed publications on a case by case basis, if they even come up for discussion; we already deemed Relish admissible by our reading (publisher listed it as 16 & up) and March is from a publisher that doesn’t do age groupings, but it seems to have been submitted to publications that are children’s and YA specific for review, which to me says it’s for our readers. However, see caveat below about how this is all speculation and I know nothing (Jon Snow).


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. 1. All the Truth That’s In Me by Julie Berry. Voice, voice, VOICE–this felt fresh and astonishing and like nothing I’d ever read before, and that was my reaction nearly 2 years ago when I first read it as a manuscript on submission (sadly for me, someone else was the lucky person who got to edit it). It still stands out as one of the most gorgeous and original pieces of writing I’ve read these past 2 years.
    2. Far, Far Away by Tom McNeal. Many authors reinterpret folk and fairy tales and/or weave them into a more contemporary story, but I have rarely seen this done so well, with such knowledge of the tales and their original context and cultural meanings and such good use of them in aid of the larger story that the author wants to tell. Jacob Grimm’s ghost as narrator could have been cringe-worthy; instead he’s one of the most poignant characters I’ve read this year.
    3. Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell. The aspect of this book that made such an impression on me is how incredibly well the author captures the emotional journey of both characters, and of their growing love for each other. As has been noted elsewhere on this blog, culturally we tend to dismiss romance in the same way we do comedy–even when well done, it’s not often thought of as being on par with a more serious work that is equally well executed. But it is rare to find a love story as beautifully and honestly realized as E&P is–one that explores each moment and nuance in that journey in a way that makes the reader feel every emotion like a punch to the gut.

  2. 1. Far Far Away by Tom McNeal. The theme of reality vs fairy tales that is very well explored through learning the ghost of Jacob Grimm’s past, the grittiness of the original tales, and the hope for a happy ending that doesn’t always happen in real life. I think the voice through the narration of Jacob Grimm’s ghost is also very strong.
    2. Midwinterblood by Marcus Sedgwick. I know in the recent discussion this was dismissed as a serious contender but I have to disagree. The theme of sacrifice is what stands out to me. As for the plot thinness, I found that the vignettes each have a strong sense of story on their own and as a whole they are interconnected but do not create a strong “plot” for the book, just enough to leave you wondering. I think this was done intentionally and is kind of the whole point, not a major flaw at all.
    3. Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick. Again, voice. I think Quick does a great job creating a realistic teen male voice here. We are really able to get into Leonard’s head, which I love. Though it is not a perfect book, I think it is a very strong contender.

  3. 17 & GONE by Nova Ren Suma. Emotionally and psychologically complex (theme, voice, characters), gorgeously written (style), and haunting (story)

    PRIMATES by Jim Ottiviani and Maris Wicks. The art is fantastic–approachable and distinct, with bold, rich colors (Illustrations, Design). And the text has just the right balance of humor, biography, science, and adventure (story, characters, style). And the theme of the connection between apes and humans is beautifully underplayed.

    PIECES by Chris Lynch. Character and voice: the narrator’s full character is hidden from himself, but his depths of anger and violence are well developed and motivated, creating a fully realized protagonist. Style: dexterous, vivid, often elliptical prose.

    • Karyn Silverman says

      I finally read Primates, and I disagree so very strongly! I found it deeply flawed on several levels and would be disappointed if this one was recognized. There were design issues with font and narrative voice, lack of depth, a blurred fiction/nonfiction line, and an apparent support of/agreement with Leakey’s assertions about women and patience. Also if you don’t know the context some of it makes no sense (what did Birute sit in? Why was it a big deal when she saw the Orangutan walking on the way home? What happened to Dian?) but if you do know the context then the balance of science and personal would all come across as shallow.

  4. BLACK HELICOPTERS, Blythe Woolston. Intensity of voice, intensity of emotion, remarkable skill in choosing the just-right vivid and visceral details — and a remarkable lack of moralizing, whether to condemn the protagonist or ask us to sympathize with her.

    ROSE UNDER FIRE, Elizabeth Wein. Okay – it’s not as flashy as CODE NAME VERITY. But there is a lot of strong and subtle character work as Rose’s early dismissal of the rumors about concentration camps clashes with reality, and the thorny, difficult friendships with her companions are depicted with clarity and compassion. Rose’s identity and development as a poet are vital to the story and the poetry is much better than in most YA novels!

    ELEANOR & PARK, Rainbow Rowell. It’s easy to dismiss just how good Rowell is as a stylist because her prose isn’t flashy, but she’s one of those rare writers who can write teen dialogue that’s naturalistic while also being supple, graceful, and elegant. This is a romance that really feels like how I felt about romance in my teens: the heroism of loving someone, how you could love someone strongly enough to make you a better person. And there’s the way it manages to be a great love story while tackling class and race and family abuse in a really honest and stark and sad way!

  5. SORROW’S KNOT, Erin Bow. Full of lyrical, resonant prose, Sorrow’s Knot is a coming-of-age story, with mythic overtones. It has a wonderfully realized setting and scary monsters. But first and foremost, it’s a story of friendship and family and love, and the ways in which those both break our hearts and save us. (My review)

    ROSE UNDER FIRE, Elizabeth Wein. What Emily H said? Okay, more seriously, this one takes a nearly forgotten piece of WWII history and brings it to life, in the process bringing up questions of privilege, witness, courage, and many others. In addition, the use of poetry is masterful and imbues Rose’s narrative with a wealth of metaphor. It breaks my heart again and again, but in the end the people are what stand out as most memorable. (My review)

    CHARM & STRANGE, Stephanie Kuehn. This is a book about hard things, about family that is broken, in every sense of the word. But Kuehn never lets this overwhelm the story or characters. The prose is largely understated, except for the images through which Win processes his experience, but it is striking in its bareness. Win himself and the journey he embarks on are raw and vulnerable, but despite his pain and frustration there’s a sense of hope throughout. This is a story about friendship, about family, and about redemption, and it treats all of these themes with power and grace. (My review)

  6. BOXERS & SAINTS- what a great look at perspective and how it relates to and drives conflict. This is best captured by the Christian missionary, who in one volume seems practically evil, but in the other he’s not only justified but sympathetic. It’s all in our point of view; if only we were better at seeing things from the perspective of others.

    THE FINAL DESCENT- I realize it’s a long shot because it is book 4 of a series, but I think its strengths outweigh that. Great writing style– I could sit back and enjoy Rick Yancey’s skill with words all day. However, it is the characters and their relationships that really put this one over. Whether it’s Will and the Dr, or Will and Lilly, or even Will and his thug enforcer, each relationship is unique and fascinating. And what a final line.

    MORE THAN THIS- I love the way this book strikes the perfect balance between what to reveal and what not to in order to keep the reader thinking long after the final page. Three great characters and a world building that is slow yet deliberate and amazing. And again, what a final line!

  7. MUCKERS by Sandra Neil Wallace. Gripping, deeply moving historical fiction. Also funny and exciting. At the recent NCTE conference in Boston, Chris Crutcher was asked which book he’d most like to be remembered for. He laughed and mentioned two he didn’t write: one by Sherman Alexie, and MUCKERS. A valiant sports struggle in a racially divided Arizona mining town, circa 1950 (and a JLG selection).

    PERIOD.8 by Chris Crutcher. Fast moving and thought provoking.

    WINGER by Andrew Smith. Why can’t a Printz nominee be funny?

  8. I wish I had gotten to read more of the front runners this year, but as it is, there’s only two that really blew me away:

    The Summer Prince by Alaya Dawn Johnson for all the reasons articulated here:

    Charm & Strange by Stephanie Kuehn for the reasons in my Goodreads review here:

  9. I might be too late but I’m going to try to nominated a title anyway!

    September Girls by Bennett Madison, because of the evocative setting and dynamic characters but mostly because the way in which it examines what it means to be a boy and girl, a man and a woman is the most thematically rich text I’ve read this year.

  10. Karyn Silverman says

    My nominations:
    The Summer Prince, for reasons I’ll post about soon
    September Girls, for reasons I’ve already gone on and on about
    The Kingdom of Little Wounds, because I didn’t like it AT ALL but I keep thinking about it and I do think it’s worth discussing.

  11. Joy Piedmont says

    Nothing this year has blown me away, but here are the titles I think are worth discussion:

    Eleanor & Park (I’ve argued this one at length in my review and in the comments
    Chasing Shadows (Style, voice, theme.. I’ll hopefully elaborate on this one soon!)
    Far Far Away (I’m still conflicted about this one, but I think there’s a lot to discuss in terms of voice, story, and characters.)

  12. Barbara Moon says

    Boxers & Saints Laying aside the two book issue, the skillful blend of historical fiction and mysticism, the exploration of nationality, the use of images and text to create richly layered meaning.
    The Summer Prince The world building is incredible. But Johnson creates more than a world, it’s the brilliantly crafted society and complex characters that make this a standout.

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