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Someday My Printz Will Come
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Fanfare, YALSA, Times, Oh My!

medal-390549_640What a busy week it’s been!

Monday brought us the release of Horn Book’s Fanfare AND The New York Times’ Notable Children’s Books list.

Wednesday, the YALSA Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults (which I persist in calling ENYA even though I think that never really caught on the way I hoped) shortlist was released.

And today we have the YALSA Morris award short list!

So many fabulous books. Let’s take a look at the surprises.

From Fanfare’s fiction section, I count 5 books that I would consider true YA, and all of them are books we’ve covered or plan to cover. I am delighted to see two of my personal frontrunners for the Printz popping up here (Challenger Deep and The Walls Around Us), but really all five are highly lauded and hail from the relatively short list of exactly the books I expect to see all over the year-end lists. Horn Book also recognized two of the books we considered Printzbery fodder (Goodbye Stranger and The Hired Girl).

So that’s a comprehensive lack of surprising, except maybe for the fact The Hired Girl is trucking on despite the fairly high level of conversation about tropes, stereotypes, and ways we read.

Their upper end nonfiction looks a lot like I’d expect too — Drowned City makes another appearance, as does Most Dangerous. March Book 2 (which Sarah loved but which we think has book 2 issues that make it an unlikely Printz contender) also popped up, which is great. The one glaring omission is Symphony for the City of the Dead, which I fully expected to see on here. It’s ok, though, because it made Monday’s other list.

(What a segue! She shoots, she scores, she moves right on to…)

The New York Times Notable Children’s Books was released digitally on Sunday (print subscribers, you old school souls, you’ll see it this coming weekend), and it’s a bit less full of the expected, although mostly not breaking the mold. Again, only five YA were recognized (one of which we considered more MG). The two not-surprises are Shadowshaper and Symphony, making a comeback after the Horn Book snub (I don’t know why but I keep wanting to do a sports announcer voice). The two surprises are Six of Crows (what what? Total twist ending, as my millenial sister would say, although it does have three stars so maybe I jumped to hasty judgment about popularity and should take another look) and Becoming Maria. I’ve heard nice things about both, but not the kind of buzz that would have me predicting they’d place on such short lists.

Also notable is more recognition for Most Dangerous, here back on the middle grade pile (none of us have read it yet, but there’s quite a bit of back and forth on the age level).

Moving on, let’s look at more collections of five, the ENYA and Morris shortlists.

The Nonfiction award shortlist skews young this year. Most Dangerous continues its streak, along with Symphony — it’s looking more and more like these are the two most serious YA nonfiction contenders, and given how they are also the most mature in terms of readership, I imagine one of them will take the prize.

(Then again, I am a total ageist and haven’t even seen two of the other finalists, so I fully imagine someone will have a contrary opinion.)

And finally, the Morris! Another nod for Conviction, which probably needs to go back on my towering pile (or Sarah’s or Joy’s… all of us are reading desperately and cursing how good this year is). Also some love for the charming feel good Simon, yay! And The Weight of Feathers, which we have on our list and which Joy is reading. I’d love to hear thoughts on Because You’ll Never Meet Me, which is 100% new to me, and on The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly, which seems to be a proper dark horse — the sort of book that keeps cropping up, but no one is quite shouting about. It’s been on my radar all year, but never quite hits the top of the pile — time to rearrange?

The big surprise is that there’s no nod for More Happy Than Not. Per Joy, Silvera’s debut is a “beautiful character study with a great sense of place”. So she is sad. (She’s sitting beside me making faces. If only this were a vlog.)

So there you have it, this week’s fabulous list of lists. What surprised you?


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. I am convinced that the folks who placed MOST DANGEROUS on the middle school pile didn’t actually read it. It is fabulous but the interest area is really more high school or even adult. Did you notice CHALLENGER DEEP wasn’t on the NYT list? What was that about? Crazy.

    • Denis Markell says

      Don’t usually wade into these waters, but wanted to comment that my eleven-year-old definitely did read MOST DANGEROUS and loved it. I will leave to others whether books should be judged on where the publisher and author felt the book was most appropriate. And my son, though a strong reader is definitely not one to read adult non-fiction (unless its about video games, like CONSOLE WARS). Give Middle Grade readers credit. I’ve only read the first few chapters (hope to get to it after EVERYTHING EVERYTHING and CHALLENGER DEEP) but found it totally approachable especially within the context of the classroom. And it is totally relevant to what is going on in today’s world, with the distrust for the media at such a high pitch, as a reminder of when it MATTERED.

    • I agree that MOST DANGEROUS is better for high school than middle school.

  2. I’m beyond shocked that The Boys Who Challenged Hitler didn’t make the ENYA shortlist.

    Still, Most Dangerous should come out on top.

  3. I was shocked The War That Changed My Life didn’t make the NYT list. That’s still my top Newbery pick. I was thrilled to see Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda on the Morris shortlist! It’s my top Printz pick!

    • I’m posting my current Printz shortlist here, mostly for my own benefit. I’ve just about finished all of my Newbery reading so I’ll be turning my attention, for the rest of this month, to my rather large stack of possible Printz titles. But before I shift focus, I wanted to write down my list as it stands currently. I’m curious to see how much my list changes between now and January.

      My Current Printz Shortlist

      1) Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertali
      2) We Are All Made of Molecules by Susin Nielsen
      3) Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen
      4) The Boy in the Black Suit by Jason Reynolds
      5) The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness

  4. I’ll throw in a cheer for ENCHANTED AIR–it’s the only ENYA finalist I’ve read so far, but I’m pulling for it in all kinds of awards races. I think it has a broad age span; while its meditations on biculturalism are accessible to readers younger than YALSA’s mandate, I wouldn’t hesitate to give it to a high-school student, either. And while currency/relevance isn’t important in and of itself, the changes in US relations with Cuba this year did prompt the writing of a particularly informative author’s note at the end.

    And even though I voiced my hesitations about MORE HAPPY THAN NOT on its post, I was more surprised and sad than I expected to see it left off the Morris list. (But I’ve only read two of the shortlisted titles, and I trust the committee’s judgment.)

  5. Karyn Silverman says

    We’re all full of shock about what didn’t make various lists, but I still want to hear what folks think about some of the surprises that DID — Six of Crows, Because You’ll Never Meet Me, and The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly. Who’s read them?

    • I’ve read Six of Crows, and it’s great entertainment and very plot-y – by which I mean its sole strength is plot, and everything else in the novel, particularly characterization and pacing, is solely in service of plot – but it’s not a medal worthy novel, in my opinion. The plot is breakneck but not particularly distinguished, nor is it a very new sort of story. (I was reminded of a heartless Eugenides or the Tamora Pierce Briar novel that dealt with gangs and thieves.)

  6. Updated Best of List spreadsheet – now including Kirkus, Horn Book, PW and SLJ. I hope to add Booklist sometime this week, pending computer access (my home computer broke, sigh – I’ve always had sympathy with patrons who come to our Library to use computers, but am feeling it myself now!) and time amid family commitments and hosting finals week study sessions at the Library.

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