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Someday My Printz Will Come
Inside Someday My Printz Will Come

The List, Revisited (and Shorter!), Plus Thoughts on Other Lists

Actually an order list, but a lists is a list, right? Also, for any fellow stationery geeks: that’s a Nemosine Singularity pen (filled with Noodler’s Squeteague and tuned by me) on a Levenger Circa notebook. If you’re going to make lists you might as well enjoy yourself.

Oh lists, we love you so!

And it’s open season for year end lists — PW’s early entry was followed by SLJ, and then Kirkus, NPR, the New York Times, and The Horn Book all joined the fray. Plus the Morris and YA Excellence in Nonfiction finalists (both YALSA awards, like the Printz) were made public. SO MUCH DATA. It’s amazing. So let’s take a look, crunch some numbers, and revisit what actually seem to be the real (for a purely speculative value of real) contenders of the year.

(As always, we are indebted to Jen J, whose masterful data collection makes all of our lives easier. Her spreadsheet of year-end lists can be found here; we copied it over and added stuff and deleted anything clearly too young and if any errors were introduced it’s definitely on us.)

Kirkus has the most generous year-end list by reason of being the longest, and I think The Horn Book Fanfare is the shortest (but also I think they may review fewer titles overall, does anyone know for sure?). Only a handful of books made all four library/trade lists so far — Brown Girl Dreaming, The Family Romanov, Rain Reign, This One Summer, We Were Liars, and West of the Moon. Rain Reign is definitely too young for our purposes; Brown Girl Dreaming and West of the Moon are on the cusp but coming up far more in Newbery conversation than Printz. Which means that we have three books that are firmly Printz territory with some serious critical and popular love behind them — notably, We Were Liars and This One Summer also received nods from the NPR and NYT lists (as did Brown Girl Dreaming).

Egg & Spoon, I’ll Give You the Sun, and The Port Chicago 50 (which received the Boston Globe – Horn Book Award, but didn’t make the Fanfare list, oddly) also have a great showing thus far, each on three trade lists and at least one of the other lists we looked at.

Which means if the Printz were purely a numbers game, we’d have an excellent shortlist (and for our in-person Pyrite Printz,** we’ll be discussing all of these): The Family Romanov, This One Summer, We Were Liars, Egg & Spoon, I’ll Give You the Sun, and The Port Chicago 50.

In the next tier, with three year-end nods each thus far, we have a much bigger crop of books: Belzhar (which is strange to me, given some of the books that didn’t get three nods — this is a solid book but there are definitely better ones); Gabi, A Girl in Pieces; Glory O’Brien’s History of the Future; Grasshopper Jungle (fewer stars than 100 Sideways Miles but more year end love — hmmm); Heap House; The Impossible Knife of Memory (see comment on Belzhar); The Night Gardener; The Story of Owen; and The Strange & Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender.

So with all of that data in mind, here’s our original list from September, revisited. Titles added after the original posting date are marked with an asterisk and comments follow most of them.

100 Sideways Miles, Andrew Smith – 2 year-end lists, neither of them trade lists; we will be writing this one up soon
Afterworlds, Scott Westerfeld – 1 year-end list
*Althea and Oliver, Cristina Moracho – 2 lists; review to come
And We Stay, Jenny Hubbard – 1 list (Kirkus)
Angel Island, Russell Freedman (removed 12/1; young)
As Red As Blood,  Salla Simukka – no year end lists; we’ll still cover this if we can, but it’s dropped down in urgency
Belzhar, Meg Wolitzer – 3 lists, as noted above, 2 of them trade
Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teen Speak Out, Susan Kuklin, ed. – 2 lists
Black Dove, White Raven, Elizabeth Wein (moved to 2015)
*Blue Lily, Lily Blue, Maggie Stiefvater – 2 lists
Bombay Blues, Tanuja Desai Hidier – no lists; I’ll be writing up a few dark horses sometime in the next month and I’ll talk about this then
*Brown Girl Dreaming, Jacqueline Woodson – ALL THE LISTS. Also, as you know, the National Book Award. Only I didn’t think it was the best book ever. I will tell you why tomorrow or the next day. Then I will run away and hide.
*The Carnival at Bray, Jessie Ann Foley – 1 list and a Morris finalist, and one of the books that has jumped to the top of my pile
The Children of the King, Sonya Hartnett – no lists; Sarah is alone in her affections, it seems
Clariel, Garth Nix – no lists, rather to my surprise (it’s got nostalgia appeal, and it’s a late year publication, so I thought that would give it a bump but I guess not)
Complicit, Stephanie Kuehn – no lists
Cracks in the Kingdom, Jaclyn Moriarty – no lists
A Creature of Moonlight, Rebecca Hahn – 1 list, and it’s the long one, which seems about right — this just isn’t a book that’s going the distance
Dark Metropolis, Jaclyn Dolamore – no lists, but I could have predicted that; brief review to come
*Dreaming in Indian, Lisa Charleyboy and Mary Beth Leatherdale, eds. – 2 lists, making this another one that we didn’t initially have on our radar but which is now a priority read
Egg and Spoon, Gregory Maguire – 4 lists, and one of my favorites so I am looking forward to telling you all the reasons this deserves recognition
Even in Paradise, Chelsey Philpot – no lists
Everything Leads to You, Nina LaCour – no lists
Falling into Place, Amy Zhang – no lists, we’re dropping this one from serious discussion
The Family Romanov, Candace Fleming – 4 lists and an ENF finalist
Fat and Bones, Larissa Theule – no lists; this is another of my dark horses
Fiendish, Brenna Yovanoff – no lists; very brief review to come
The Freedom Summer Murders, Don Mitchell – 1 list; brief review to come
*Gabi, A Girl in Pieces, Isabel Quintero – 2 lists and a Morris finalist; review to come
Girl Defective, Simone Howell – 1 list; brief review to come
Girls Like Us, Gail Giles – no lists; brief review to come
Glory O’Brien’s History of the Future,  A.S. King – 3 lists; review to come
The Gospel of Winter, Brendan Kiehly – 1 list
Grasshopper Jungle, Andrew Smith – 3 lists; review to come (I keep putting it off because this book! It’s not easy to parse my thoughts)
*Heap House, Edward Carey – Kirkus and both the NYT and NPR lists, so although this is on the cusp of Printz territory we’re going to give it a look
Hidden Like Anne Frank, Marcel Prins and Peter Hank Steenhuis – 1 list
The Hit, Melvin Burgess – no lists
How I Discovered Poetry, Marilyn Nelson – 2 lists, one trade and one NPR
*How It Went Down, Kekla Magoon – 1 list, and we will be covering this late addition
I Remember Beirut, Zeina Abirachad – no lists
I’ll Give You the Sun, Jandy Nelson – 4 lists (inlcuding NYT and NPR); review to come
The Impossible Knife of Memory, Laurie Halse Anderson – 3 lists, although I really don’t understand the love. Significance sometimes trumps writing, though, and although I had a lot of issues with this as a work of literature, I do think it’s important
In the Shadows, Kiersten White and Jim Di Bartolo – no lists; the format is intriguing but we may not get to this one
Inland, Kat Rosenfeld – no lists, so we may skip it
Isla and the Happily Ever After, Stephanie Perkins – no lists, and if we’re going to cover something typically dismissed as a fluffy girly book, the Deb Caletti seems more important so although I love me some Perkins, we probably won’t get to this one after all
Islands at the End of the World, Austin Aslan – 1 list; we’ll try to get to it but none of us have read it yet
The Killing Woods, Lucy Christopher (removed 11/30)
Kiss of Deception, Mary Pearson – no lists; we’re dropping this one
The Last Forever, Deb Caletti – no lists, but lots of stars; see note on Isla
Like Water on Stone, Dana Walrath (removed 12/7)
Little Blue Lies, Chris Lynch – no lists
Love is the Drug, Alaya Dawn Johnson – 1 list (admittedly the long one); review to come
Marina, Carlos Ruiz Zafon – no lists, so I am sadly letting it go, although I have read a record number of works in translation this year
The Mark of the Dragonfly, Jaleigh Johnson (removed 11/30)
A Matter of Souls, Denise Lewis Patrick – 1 list
Never Ending, Martyn Bedford – 1 list; we’re still going to try to cover this one
*The Night Gardener, Jonathan Auxier – 3 lists, review to come
Noggin, John Corey Whaley – 2 lists (I’m keeping my mouth shut)
On a Clear Day, Walter Dean Myers – no lists
One Death Nine Stories, Marc Aronson, Walter Dean Myers, & Charles R. Smith, Jr. (removed 11/30)
One Man Guy, Michael Barakiva (removed 12/1, but it was awfully sweet)
Otherbound, Corinne Duyvis – no lists; my last dark horse
*Paper Airplanes, Dawn O’Porter – no lists
Pointe, Brandy Colbert – 1 list
*Poisoned Apples, Christine Hepperman – 2 lists
The Port Chicago 50: Disaster, Mutiny and the Fight for Civil Rights, Steve Sheinkin – 4 lists, the BG-HB Award, and an ENF finalist
Shadow Hero, Gene Luen Yang – 1 list, affirming why I love NPR. This is clearly not a darling the way Boxers & Saints was but it’s SO GOOD
She Is Not Invisible, Marcus Sedgwick – 1 list; review to come
Side Effects May Vary, Julie Murphy (removed 12/1)
The Story of Owen, Dragon Slayer of Trondheim, E.K. Johnston – 2 lists and a Morris finalist
The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender, Leslye Walton – 2 lists and a Morris finalist
Taking Flight, Michaela dePrince – no lists
This One Summer, Jillian Tamaki and Mariko Tamaki – ALL THE LISTS
Threatened, Eliot Schrefer – 1 list
Through the Woods, Emily Carroll – 2 lists
A Time to Dance, Padma Venkataraman – 1 list
Tin Star, Cecil Castellucci – no lists
The True Adventures of Nicolo Zen, Nicholas Christopher (removed 11/3)
The True Tale of the Monster Billy Dean, David Almond – 1 list
Two Girls Staring at the Ceiling, Lucy Frank – 1 list
The Tyrant’s Daughter, J.C. Carleson (removed 11/3)
The Undertaking of Lily Chen, Danica Novgorodoff
The Unfinished Life of Addison Stone, Adele Griffin – 1 list; review to come
*Vango, Timothée Fombelle – 1 list; review to come
The Vigilante Poets of Selwyn Academy, Kate Hattemer – 1 list; brief review to come
A Volcano Beneath the Snow: John Brown’s War Against Slavery, Albert Marrin -1 list
We Are the Goldens, Dana Reinhardt (removed 12/1)
We Were Liars, E. Lockhart – ALL THE LISTS
West of the Moon, Margi Preus – 4 lists; brief review to come
*Why We Took the Car, Wolfgang Herrndorf – 1 list
Wildlife, Fiona Wood – no lists
The Winner’s Curse, Marie Rutkoski – 1 list
The Witch’s Boy, Kelly Barnhill (removed 12/1 — too young)
Zac & Mia, A.J. Betts – no lists
Zane and the Hurricane, Rodman Philbrick (removed 12/1 — too young)

So that’s where we are… Pyrite nominations will open soon, so won’t you let us know how you’re leaning in terms of what deserves conversation and what you think you’d better read before 2/2?

**The Pyrite Printz, or Pyrite, is the Someday My Printz Will Come mock Printz deliberation, and should not in any way be confused with YALSA’s Michael L. Printz Award, often referred to here as the RealPrintz or Printz. Our predictions, conversations, and speculation about potential RealPrintz contenders and winners reflect only our own best guesses and are not affiliated with YALSA or the RealPrintz committee. You probably figured that out on your own, but we like to make it clear!

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. Poor Unfinished Life of Addison Stone. It’s my absolute favorite of this year. Unless it’s this year’s Printz dark horse, it doesn’t seem to have much of a shot 🙁

  2. Joy Piedmont says:

    I’m really sad that EVERYTHING LEADS TO YOU hasn’t made any year-end lists. It’s a really lovely story and I was impressed with the structure and voice.

  3. Anne Bennett says:

    Oh dear, thanks for the long and detailed report. Unfortunately, I spent the better part of the day going over the numbers and thinking to myself about the best of the best.

    So according to THESE lists these fiction books have peculated to the top: I’ll Give you the Sun, We We Liars; One Summer; The Impossible Knife of Memory, Grasshopper Jungle, and Egg and Spoon. New York Times ranks Egg and Spoon as middle Grade and it is the only fiction book on the list I haven’t read. My favorite for Printz: I’LL GIVE YOUR THE SUN.

    The other top books are nonfiction: Port Chicago 50, Brown Girl Dreaming, and Family Romanov. NYT identifies Port Chicago and Brown Girl Dreaming as Middle Grade books. That leaves my favorite for YALSA Nonfiction: FAMILY ROMANOV.

    And for Morris Award, it is time to give Magical Realism some love and select: THE STRANGE AND BEAUTIFUL SORROWS OF AVA LAVENDER.

    • Anne Bennett says:

      *I’LL GIVE YOU THE SUN (Not- I’ll give your the sun)

    • Joy Piedmont says:

      I agree about THE STRANGE AND BEAUTIFUL SORROWS OF AVA LAVENDER; however, it’s the only one of the nominees I’ve read, so take my opinion with a grain of salt. That being said, AVA LAVENDER deserves the recognition and if nothing else, I’m glad it was nominated.

    • Egg & Spoon is right around that 12-to-14 range, I think; I wouldn’t count it out entirely for Printz consideration, not when Navigating Early got an honor last year. High fantasy has a hard time with the committee, but it’s got some serious literary chops.

      • Karyn Silverman says:

        I firmly believe Egg & Spoon is a fully YA novel. I’m actually baffled by the middle grade designation. It’s definitely on my personal shortlist of the year’s best — I’ll be posting about it soonish, although I really need to get Grasshopper Jungle done first.

  4. So sad that THE TYRANT’S DAUGHTER won’t be discussed. This was one of my favorites of the year, and really like nothing else I’ve read.

    Can’t we give it a little bit of a boost back onto the list just for being such a timely diversity read? Oh, curse my wishful thinking 🙁

    • Joy Piedmont says:

      Could you say a little more about what you thought was special about THE TYRANT’S DAUGHTER? It wasn’t my thing so I don’t have much to say about it (part of the reason why we’re striking it from the list) but I’m curious to hear an alternative take.

    • For a “diversity read,” I felt like it was a very American perspective and not necessarily a very nuanced one. I think, especially for books dealing with the Middle East, we’ve gotta be careful about cultural imperialism and Western-centrism, and… it fell down for me on that level, and on a literary-quality level too.

      • What struck me was the way it expressed offered fresh a perspective on current events–an angle I hadn’t really thought about and hadn’t seen attempted in YA. It’s so hard to find contemporary war stories in YA period! The writing is admittedly spare, but I thought it stood up literarily, and did an admirable job drawing readers into a subject they might not be drawn to on their own. I’m actually shocked to hear that cultural imperialism was an issue for the previous commenter. The protagonist certainly had her American influences, due largely to her class background, but overall it was handled with nuance. It was a relief, for once, not to see the hijab bandied about as a simplified icon of all that it means to be middle eastern.

        • Karyn Silverman says:

          I thought she assimilated very quickly, and the stuff with the mom — losing the veil on the plane, for example — set up a US-is-better sort of implication (because in the text clearly it’s a relief to drop the layers and Westernize). There were a few similar issues/bits, although it’s been a while and I no longer have a marked up copy handy for specific references, and my overall sense from all of those small moments was that it was sensitively written but still betrayed itself as a book from an American perspective and thus came across an inauthentic.

  5. I wouldn’t bother being in a big rush to get to The Islands at the End of the World. I just finished it and wasn’t impressed. I thought it had a lot of potential, but there was a really strange paranormal twist that just didn’t do it for me. I won’t be reading the sequel.

  6. Susannah Goldstein says:

    I read Carnival at Bray for SLJ. I thought it was a strong debut, but not special.

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