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Someday My Printz Will Come
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National Book Award Finalists

And we have finalists! With yesterday’s announcement of the National Book Award Finalists in the Young People’s Literature category it’s really starting to feel like awards season. Last month, Karyn wrote about the longlist, observing that social conscience seemed to be a common thread among the nominees. Now that we’re down to five titles, her theory’s been reinforced.

Here’s the list… with commentary!

Eliot Schrefer, Threatened — When this made the NBA longlist Karyn wondered if we needed to re-add it to our Printz t0-read pile. Two stars, little to no buzz; we felt okay leaving it out but now that it’s an NBA finalist should we revisit that decision? If anyone has compelling arguments or defense, we’re all ears!

Steve Sheinkin, The Port Chicago 50: Disaster, Mutiny, and the Fight for Civil Rights The last time we covered Sheinkin, Bomb was his NBA finalist (along with Eliot Schrefer’s Endangered; hey, it’s like we’ve time traveled back to 2012!). Although Bomb didn’t win that year–William Alexander’s Goblin Secrets emerged victorious–it still won a kajillion awards and lots of praise. I haven’t read Port Chicago yet, but I’m certainly looking forward to it.

John Corey Whaley, Noggin — I was kind of let down by Noggin but as I noted last week, John Corey Whaley is a master of teen boy speak and his work in this novel is excellent.

Deborah Wiles, Revolution: The Sixties Trilogy, Book Two — It hasn’t been on my radar because it seems to skew young, but four stars! 

Jacqueline Woodson, Brown Girl Dreaming — Another one that’s most definitely middle grade so not on our Printz to-read list. It is, however, one of three books this year that’s earned six stars. Sarah already reviewed This One Summer and I promise we’re getting to that other six-star book next week.

Because the National Book Award is so different from the Printz it’s hard to speculate based on these finalists, but shiny awards are always exciting so let’s talk NBA. Thoughts? Outrage? Ambivalence? Is anyone else really impressed at how accurate Karyn’s “social conscience” theme turned out to be? (Yup, they all fit).

About Joy Piedmont

Joy Piedmont is a librarian and technology integrator at LREI - Little Red School House & Elisabeth Irwin High School. Prior to becoming a librarian, Joy reviewed and reported for Entertainment Weekly’s PopWatch. She reviews for SLJ and is the President of the Hudson Valley Library Association. When she’s not reading or writing about YA literature, she’s compulsively consuming culture of all kinds, learning to fly (on a trapeze), and taking naps with her cat, Oliver. Find her on Twitter @InquiringJoy, email her at joy dot piedmont at gmail dot com, or follow her on Tumblr. Her opinions do not reflect the attitudes or opinions of SLJ, LREI, HVLA or any other initialisms with which she is affiliated.


  1. Jonathan Hunt Jonathan Hunt says

    I didn’t feel BROWN GIRL DREAMING is any more middle grade than SKELLIG, THE HOUSE OF THE SCORPION, LIZZIE BRIGHT AND THE BUCKMINSTER BOY, or NAVIGATING EARLY. So while you decline to discuss it here I’m sure the real Printz committee will be giving it much more attention than most of the books you do discuss here over the course of the fall.

    Don’t get me started about NOGGIN . . .

  2. Karyn Silverman says

    Re: Noggin — Can I say it with you, Jonathan?

    I realized retroactively that I should have read Brown Girl back to back with the Nelson collection because the conversation is going to be affected by the fact that we have two works with some definite surface similarities in one year. Having failed at that, I did add it to my pile and am looking forward to it, although I keep asking and very few people I’ve spoken to think it has legs for the Printz. Then again, look at Navigating Early indeed.

    Now, the bigger question — what else do you think the RealCommittee will be giving attention to that we’re not?

    • Eric Carpenter says

      I wonder if the RealCommittee will look at THE RIVERMAN. Much like Lizze Bright, I think this skews to the lower end of the Printz and the middle to upper end of the newbery. I think 12 years old is probably the perfect age for THE RIVERMAN which does put it in the Printz realm. I was surprised to see it has only earned 1 starred review, as it seemed to be much talked about earlier this year.
      Like West of the Moon and The Night Gardener, The Riverman deals with storytelling but with a modern setting (late 80s).

      • Joy Piedmont says

        I’m so glad you mentioned THE RIVERMAN. It’s one of my favorite book’s I’ve read this year, and I agree that it skews to the younger end of YA. It’s not just because the themes are dark–although that’s certainly a major aspect–but the characters and story feel like a YA narrative. Anyway, I could so a lot more but I’m going to save it for a separate post. 🙂

  3. Brock Martin says

    I’ve read Brown Girl Dreaming and I wonder why I frequently see folks write that it is so definitively at a certain grade level. I can’t think of a book I’ve read in recent years that actually has a WIDER potential audience from middle grade up and up and up. So I actually think it could very well be Printz-eligible (albeit on the younger end, only because of the publisher’s decision of how it was labeled/marketed)

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