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Someday My Printz Will Come
Inside Someday My Printz Will Come

Pyrite Time, Once Again

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Here at Someday, we have a tradition (this is year three) of a Mock Printz which, in a fit of serious humor,* we styled the Pyrite Printz. (Get it? Because Pyrite is like gold but not? Also, alliterative.)

As always, we are still (still!) reviewing serious contenders and reading away madly to catch up with all the surprise books (Carnival at Bray, anyone? No nook version and no copies at, count ’em, FOUR bricks and mortar stores).

But that’s us, and the Pyrite, my friends, is about you. So it’s time to get it started.

Here’s how this works. In the comments, you may nominate up to five titles. We’ll do some fancy data analysis (which is to say, counting) and post the results in a week, and from that, we’ll choose a shortlist that we’ll consider our nominations. Even if we have already discussed the titles, we’ll come back to them and discuss them some more, and then in January we’ll do some voting based on RealCommittee procedure.

How does this compare to the RealCommittee process in general?

Honestly, it’s a little weak, because our timeline is so strange.

The basic RealCommittee process: nominations open early in the year, usually just after the YMAs. Committee members can begin nominating immediately thereafter; in a nonscientific poll of past members, consensus is that there is a tiny flurry of nominations, then some digital discussion, and then another little flurry before Annual. After Annual, nominations are usually fewer and of higher caliber, because the discussion at Annual has done so much to establish what the current committee values. The nominations continue until not too long before MidWinter (my recollection is that they closed on 12/31, but I couldn’t swear to that), and then committee members read and reread like mad for that last month leading up to the big discussions.

Here, we have an artificially short process, but it’s so late in the year that the short nomination window is somewhat balanced. Also, real committee members can nominate as many titles as they want, but we’re limiting it to force some hard thinking and because otherwise this all gets unwieldy.

Here’s our process:

  • You may nominate up to five titles (again, RealCommittee members have no limit and might nominate from zero to infinity. But usually the numbers are WAY lower than infinity).
  • All 2014 publications designated YA are eligible, whether or not they made our initial longlist or updated longlist or not, and regardless of whether we’ve written about them here.
  • Nominations will be made via comments on this post.
  • In your comment/nomination, please 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 blog or post reviews on Goodreads or elsewhere online, feel free to link to any/all of those spaces in addition to or in lieu of the brief “why” statement.

Once nominations close (on 12/26), we’ll post results and narrow the nominations down to some reasonable number (10? 15? Let’s see how many discrete titles get more than one nomination) for discussion and a Pyrite vote, which will happen shortly before MidWinter and the actual Youth Media Awards.

*Humor, like beauty, often comes down to the eye of the beholder, so you might have a different word in mind here. I am sticking with humor.

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.

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. How I Discovered Poetry by Marilyn Nelson — The intersection of poetic form with colloquial/conversational style is interesting and well done, and lifts it way above the “prose with line breaks” verse novels I see. The themes are both universal (race, feminism, the cold war) and very personal (the difficulties of friendship when you have to keep moving from place to place.)

    Gabi: A Girl in Pieces by Isabel Quintero — The voice is incredibly strong. Gabi’s relationships with her family members, her friends, and especially her relationship with herself are developed with precision and compassion. It’s a book that can be angry, funny, passionate, and that can talk about serious issues without ever getting weighed down by moralizing or after-school-specialness.

    Egg and Spoon by Gregory Maguire — The plot is beautifully set up and constructed, full of things that nest inside each other, full of characters who double each other in interesting ways. The author’s development of the themes of justice and empathy is thoughtful and convincing, but it’s also a book that’s full of invention and wonder and humor.

    We Were Liars by E. Lockhart — Even as I hem and haw about the big twist, I keep going back to this for the strength of the prose, and the different strands that Lockhart develops — the worldbuilding around Cadence’s family’s privileged world, the fairy tale/Lear references, the questions of guilt and trauma and recovery.

    This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki — The themes of coming of age as a young women, and beginning to enter the world in which your sexuality starts to become both a strength and a liability, are really well done. The words and artwork work together to convey hugely nuanced character and emotion, especially in the relationship between Rose and her mother. The use of horror movies as a metaphor for sex — the thing you want to look away from and can’t look away from; the thing you enjoy in itself but also enjoy using it to prove yourself as cool enough and mature enough — is brilliant and original.

  2. I will nominate This One Summer also, which I think is a very strong contender. I have to say, besides that ????? I don’t know, the books with the buzz this year just haven’t caught fire with me. I like this blog as a go-to for top YA books, but it seems to be an off year (to me.)

  3. Karyn Silverman says

    Hmmm, almost no nominations. The holiday? Lack of interest?

    Here are mine: Grasshopper Jungle, Egg & Spoon, Love is the Drug, We Were Liars, and How I Discovered Poetry.

  4. If I’m allowed to cheat and not reference the criteria, I’ll nominate: Beyond Magenta; Gabi, A Girl in Pieces; Grasshopper Jungle; Love is the Drug; and I’ll Give You the Sun.

  5. I’m not sure how fair it is for me to give mine as I haven’t read that widely in YA, but whatever, here goes (in no particular order): Grasshopper Jungle, Egg & Spoon, A Volcano Beneath the Snow, This One Summer, How I Discovered Poetry, West of the Moon, The Family Romanov.

  6. I’ll nominate my top picks. I’ll Give You the Sun. The Crossover. We Were Liars. ThisOne Summer. The Family Romanov.

  7. I’d love to see The Family Romanov get a sticker, and also a book that’s barely been mentioned – The Unfinished Life of Addison Stone. I thought it was fabulous, and I didn’t think much was fabulous this year.

  8. I feel like I haven’t read enough, especially of the fall books (was out of the country for three months) but I’d say my top picks are: Love is the Drug, This One Summer, The Family Romanov, The Unfinished Life of Addison Stone and Egg & Spoon.

  9. Eric Carpenter says

    First choice is super easy. For me, We Were Liars stands above all other books this year and is my top pick for Printz.
    My next four in no particular order are: The Shadow Hero, Grasshopper Jungle, This One Summer,100 Sideways Miles.
    I really liked Riverman as well but I think it might be too young for Printz.

  10. My nominations are:

    And We Stay by Jenny Hubbard: This is a great character study with a strong voice and a beautiful integration of poetry. The musings on life and feminism are so thoughtfully done and there is a ton to think about here.

    The Vanishing Season by Jodi Lynn Anderson: This thoughtful meditative book beautifully blends two voices to create an eerie ghost story. Themes of love, friendship and the inevitability of some decisions are also handled very well here.

  11. Carrie Shaurette says

    My top four contenders so far: I’ll Give You the Sun (strong voice and narrative structure), This One Summer (the setting, style, and illustrations all create a strong mood), How I Discovered Poetry (theme, setting, and style), and Grasshopper Jungle (originality of story and authentic voice). I’m still reserving spot 5 for something wonderful that I hope to read in the next few weeks!

  12. The Family Romanov (also my top choice for Newbery, as I think it is perfect for the overlapping ages of 12-14, as well as for older teens); Gabi, A Girl in Pieces; I’ll Give You the Sun; We Were Liars; and Everything Leads to You.

  13. Gabi, I’ll Give You the Sun, This One Summer, Afterworlds, unfinished Life of Addison Stone.

  14. I’ll Give You the Sun, 100 Sideways Miles, Grasshopper Jungle, We Were Liars

  15. Anne Bennett says

    1. I’ll give You the Sun (prose, style, storyline, symbolism, characters, art. It has it all.)
    2. The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender (it is time for some magical realism to get the love!)
    3. A Time to Dance (beautiful poetry, cultural and religious information)
    4. Grasshopper Jungle (unique plot)
    5. This One Summer (this story has stayed with me…it is very true)
    I hope that Family Romanov wins the YALSA Nonfiction Award. It is well-done but not the best literature out there.

    I agree with statements about the list of books this year not being that spectacular. I think I’ll Give You the Sun is the only shining exception. It alone is spectacular in my opinion.

  16. I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson – dual narration that really works, strength of structure
    We Were Liars by E. Lockhart – literary depth, quality of unreliable and often unlikable narration
    Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith – sheer uniqueness stretches boundaries of literary YA
    Glory O’Brien’s History of the Future by A.S. King – big ideas, big scope, never loses heart of characters
    Beyond Magenta by Susan Kuklin – a strong nonfic year, but this book means the most to teenagers I know and is strong all around.

  17. Scar Boys by Len Vlahos. He totally gets teenage boys and the girls who circle around them. Music, teens in bands, adolescent angst, all here, all great.

  18. This One Summer by Mariko and Jillian Tamaki – strong characterizations, setting, and it captures early teen years so perfectly.

    The Family Romanov by Candace Fleming – Fleming does such an excellent job of both laying the scene and creating a mood that I was totally hooked, despite already knowing the whole story well.

  19. Grasshopper Jungle, Love Is The Drug

  20. Glory O’Brien’s History of the Future by A. S. King was my favorite. I will be super disappointed if We Were Liars wins. I just don’t see what everyone else sees, I guess.

  21. I forgot to include How It Went Down on my list. Fantastic book, all the different perspectives done so well to give a full picture, and yet because Magoon doesn’t give definitive answers, it comes with the same disorientation that occurs when reading all the different views of a similar real-life situation. Just amazing.

  22. I do not think I have read all the Printz possibilities (Egg and Spoon and Revolution still on my list), but of the ones I did get to, Jandy Nelson’s I’LL GIVE YOU THE SUN was my favorite, for its evocation of the emotional intensity of teenage existence, and even more for its insights into those people who live only to make art; the creative process has rarely been presented in such an exciting and enthralling way. The plot was pretty terrific, too.

    I also loved THE CROSSOVER, for the way the language so stylishly mirrored its subject, and for its appealing characters and zinger of an ending.

    THE FAMILY ROMANOV was distinguished by the author’s incisive presentation of an impressive array of historical figures and excellent narrative pacing, if hobbled a bit by its focus on the two outstanding failures of the bunch. (But kudos to Ms. Fleming for making that case so effectively!)

    I would be happiest, however, if the Real Committee observed Stephen Colbert’s definition of YA (“A young adult novel is a regular novel that people actually read”, interview with John Green), and gave the Printz to ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE, with its compelling teenage protagonists, beautiful but accessible writing, and themes of moral innocence and obligation. Maybe there’s a chance….?

  23. 100 Sideways Miles by Andrew Smith
    Glory O’Brien’s History of the Future by A.S.King

  24. I, of course, have not read nearly as widely as I should have, and I don’t even have five titles I feel are worth nominating, but I’d pick I’LL GIVE YOU THE SUN, GRASSHOPPER JUNGLE, and 100 SIDEWAYS MILES.

  25. Mary Lou White says

    Still reading, but my favorites so far:
    I’ll Give You the Sun
    The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender (would be interesting to see it win both Printz and Morris as happened a couple of years about)
    This One Summer
    Vigilante Poets of Selwyn Academy
    Vango: Between Sky and Earth (probably unlikely since it is part of a series and does not stand alone but the plot soared and the characters, so full of mystery, leapt off the page)
    Anyone else seeing a trend of lots of magical realism? Love it!

  26. My top picks are:
    We Were Liars
    I’ll Give You the Sun
    Glory O’Brien’s History of the Future
    The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender
    The Story of Owen: Dragon Slayer of Trondheim

  27. I’ll Give You the Sun — gorgeous story, loved the characters, and strong themes.
    The Family Romanov — for a riveting story, and for making the political personal and vice versa.
    100 Sideways Miles — As with all of Smith’s writing, it’s all about voice here.

  28. Sarah Couri says

    Hmmm. Here are mine:

    A Volcano Beneath the Snow
    Beyond Magenta
    How I Discovered Poetry
    Love is the Drug

  29. The Summer Invitation by Charlotte Silver was my favorite of the year. A grand NYC adventure and characters that reminded me of some of my favorite childhood books.

  30. Glory O’Brien’s History of the Future – great concept, really stuck with me
    Grasshopper Jungle – bizarre and amazing
    The Lies We Tell Ourselves – Powerful
    Liv, Forever – fun read
    Noggin – Love the plot

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