Follow This Blog: RSS feed
Someday My Printz Will Come
Inside Someday My Printz Will Come

So how about that NBA longlist?

NBA Young People's Literature longlist - book cover thumbnails

10 books.

6 YA, 2 nebulous, and only 2 middle grade.

7 of the recognized titles already on our own initial list.

I’m pretty happy with this NBA longlist, I must say!

I’m also pleased to see the 60/40 split in favor of female authors for a nice change of pace. It’s still way whiter in terms of authors than it could be, but 20% not-white authors is better than average for recognition in awards* so that’s something?

*I need someone with real number crunching patience to chime in if I’m wrong. I’d like to be wrong on this one, and maybe last year’s Printz is the start of a larger trend of general diversity in terms of who and what is recognized, but looked at over time, I suspect the tendency has probably been white and male.

I am also, selfishly, pleased that a few personal favorites made the list: Walk on Earth a Stranger, Bone Gap, and Simon Vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda were all high on my list of books I genuinely enjoyed, although I’m not sure Simon runs as deep as, say, Bone Gap. Most of the others I haven’t read yet, although I plan to — even the nonfiction.

Shortlist predictions? I’m going with Symphony for the City of the Dead, X, Challenger Deep, Bone Gap, and The Thing About Jellyfish, which has a stunning cover. What say you all? And — because it always makes for a good conversation — what’s not here that you wish was?

(For more about the National Book Awards, including all the fine print and also all the other categories, visit



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. Challenger is by far my favorite (endure the early confusion, the payoff is magnificent). Surprised that All the Bright Places wasn’t included. I’d like to have seen the following (but I’m not surprised they were left off): The Darkest Part of the Forest, George, Fuzz Mud.

    • Karyn Silverman says

      Tell me why The Darkest Part of the Forest. I am a huge fan of Black’s but found this one comparatively weak, and in a year with some great fantasy (The Scorpion Rules is brilliant, to name another that wasn’t on the NBA list off the top of my head) I just don’t see Forest rising to the top.

      • Honestly, I’m bias. There’s just something about Holly Black’s story telling that I really enjoy. Also, a dark, eerie fairy tale that has gorgeous, complex characters – a female warrior, LGBT teens, a horned boy, offbeat parents – the merging of fantasy and modern time, in beautifully depicted settings (I love the woods; see Fuzzy Mud). All of this in a mostly cohesive story that was simply fun to read. What’s not to like? I know it’s not perfect so I’m not surprised it wasn’t on the NBA list but it’s on my top 10 for 2015, so far anyway.

  2. Jenna Friebel says

    So thrilled that BONE GAP is on there. That book has stuck in my mind more than any other this year and is my top contender for Printz. I really enjoyed SIMON but am pretty surprised to see it on this list. It didn’t strike me as being truly exceptional. Thinking of other light-hearted coming-of-age romance stories, I found DUMPLIN’ superior.

    Side note, is NIMONA eligible for Printz when it was a webcomic first?

    • Karyn Silverman says

      That is an excellent question. My guess is that this piece of the P&P will be the critical factor:

      “Titles that are self-published, published only in eBook format, and/or published from a publisher outside of the US will not be considered eligible until the first year the book is available in print or distributed through a US publishing house.”

      Webcomics aren’t explicitly noted but seem covered twice over (self published and e-only), which makes me think this should be eligible this year. The committee chair and the YALSA folks are the ultimate authority, but it’s hard to imagine them not coming to the same conclusion.

  3. Eric Carpenter says

    I was most surprised by the absence of Rebecca Stead’s GOODBYE STRANGER. I thought that it was a NBA no brainer. (and a dark horse a Printz Honor if the committee wants to skew young)
    I’d guess the short list will include Most Dangerous, X, Symphony for the City of the Dead, Challenger Deep (my favorite of the list), probably Bone Gap.

    • Karyn Silverman says

      I LIKED Goodbye Stranger, but I didn’t love it the way some do, and it definitely felt young to me (yes, I know, the older sister, but I thought she was the weakest part of the novel in many ways).

  4. BONE GAP remains my strong favorite so far, (still have plenty of reading to do), liked CHALLENGER DEEP a lot, but hoping that THE WALLS AROUND US gets some award attention, too.

  5. I have not read Symphony for the City of the Dead, but it may be this year’s Family Romanov, given that some people question if Shostakovich’s symphony really was written about Hitler’s invasion. I’d be interested in seeing if Anderson addresses the idea that Shostakovich was also writing about Stalin’s terror…

  6. I have read Symphony for the City of the Dead and I would say that Anderson addresses Shostakovich’s experiences with Stalin’s terror at length. I can’t remember how specifically he connects it in relation to the symphony but overall he does a phenomenal job at teasing out when we know something is fact and when it is a guess, an assumption or the narrative pushed by a certain power.

  7. I saw the longlist announcements right after I finished (and loved) Walk on Earth a Stranger. I almost never read widely enough to catch the NBA finalists so I’m pretty pleased to have read two this year (the other being Bone Gap which I feel like is also very worthy of the attention it’s getting)

  8. I’m reading BONE GAP now. I listened to X on audio.

    The one that is taking a good chunk of my time at present is Carson’s WALK ON EARTH A STRANGER. I wrote notes, by chapter, as I read it. I focused on the Native content, but also noted other things as I read. In italics you’ll see my questions about the content. I loaded all of it on my site and am doing a lot of background research for the review itself.

    • Karyn Silverman says

      I just gave a quick read to your reading notes, Debbie. A lot to think on (I’ll need to go back and read them again, I think). I really adored the book and was genuinely impressed at the fine line I saw Carson walking, having a main character who lives in and is shaped by the racism of her world but is also pushing back (that moment with Free Jim is fantastic — Lee tries to intercede, and is called out for it, because that’s just another example of white privilege and problematic behavior). For what it’s worth, as reader (white, adult) I never once thought the depictions you call out, always voiced by despicable characters, were meant to be anything other than problematic; by having characters who we don’t admire or like as readers say and do the things that perpetuate stereotypes, it seemed clear that those stereotypes/attitudes/behaviors were also meant to be read as awful. I also thought the ways that Jefferson tries to code switch and pass but is deeply conflicted and sometimes contradictory was similarly intentional and points to what it means for him to be conditioned to hate his own heritage. None of this speaks to the points you raise about accuracy, nor is it the only way to read the text, but I did want to reflect that I read it as a text trying to engage with the difficult conversation rather than one perpetuating the problem; certainly I felt some discomfort with many of the same passages you point to in your post, but I thought I was lead to feel that by the text. (Whether it succeeds is of course yet another question.)
      (I did have a few teens read this one already, so I will definitely see where they landed — did they notice, did it hit them as uncomfortable, etc.)

Speak Your Mind