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Someday My Printz Will Come
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Pyrite Redux: We’re All Stories in the End

At last Saturday’s Mock Printz, a Hudson Valley Library Associate book club regular, Susannah Goldstein, aptly called 2014 “the year of storytelling.” It was a dead-on observation that applies to so many 2014 books. Storytelling is certainly a theme that’s resonated with me this year. One major question books like How It Went Down and The Unfinished Life of Addison Stone ask is: who gets to tell your story after your gone? I’ll Give You the Sun and 100 Sideways Miles are both interested in individuals as authors of their own stories. Let’s take a second look at two books that also explore story and storytellers: Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith and Gabi, a Girl in Pieces by Isabel Quintero.

In Grasshopper Jungle, Austin uses story (and more specifically, historical context) to try to make sense of the very bizarre circumstances in which he finds himself. Smith’s first novel published in 2014 is jam packed with plot. In her original review, Karyn wrote that Smith’s novel is “…also a head-scratcher, genre-defier of a book.” Whether the giant insects, conspiracy theories, and weird science work or not seems to be a matter of opinion. What really shines here is Austin Szerba’s voice which is consistently written and fully realized. Smith is not as successful with the rendering of Shann, who is more plot device than person. Still, this is an audacious novel that sticks in your head.

Voice is also strong in the Morris Award nominee Gabi, a Girl in Pieces. The diary style allows Quintero an authentic framework for first person narration, and by most accounts, she handles it with aplomb. The novel explores  sexuality, identity, and body image, among other issues through Gabi’s documentation of her life. Last week Karyn noted that, “the voice is fantastic, and one we don’t hear enough.” Gabi’s poetry was also mentioned as a high point of the novel at the HVLA Mock Printz.

What’s your take, reader? How do Grasshopper Jungle and Gabi, a Girl in Pieces fare under the scrutiny of Printz criteria?

(And if you were curious, and you should be, a link to the quote in the post’s title.)

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. I am more conflicted about GRASSHOPPER JUNGLE than any book up for consideration this year. Andrew Smith is a fabulous writer and he can step into the brain of a teen boy as if he still is one. The literary technique of having the narrator writing the history of the world was genius. GENUIS. He is so authentic. But with the good comes the bad. Printz books should be books that librarians hand over to kids without a moments hesitation and I don’t think this book is appropriate for teens under 15, maybe even under 16. There is too much foul language and SEX. (For goodness sake, there was a rape scene that went unpunished.) I just kept wishing, as I read the book, that Smith had a toned down version of the exact same book for school libraries. I was just sure if I put this title on my Mock Printz list of book that I would be dealing with my first Banned/Challenged book situation. Sigh.

    Gabi, A Girl in Pieces is good but is it Printz good? It certainly attempts to tackle just about every problem known to teenagers today. Some of the problems/solutions seemed believable, others just seemed odd. For example, the friend gets pregnant and the boy ignores her. Months, later Gabi beats him up. The timing was just so odd. The father dies yet the pain didn’t seem real. on the other hand, I LOVED the poetry and the zine assignment. This book should win the Morris and is a shoe-in for the Pura Belpre Award, though.

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