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Pyrite: Fun with numbers!

pyrite-postI have to say, running the Pyrite this early in the new year is weird. That being said, many of you took a few moments during the last days of 2015 to vote for the books you think deserve a (fake) honor.

As we’ve seen in the past, there’s not a lot of surprise in this honor slate if you were paying attention to the vote for gold. (And by paying attention I mean studying that graph in the post, because I’m sure you all get as fired up about spreadsheets and charts as much as I do.) The real excitement with this honor vote was in the neck and neck races between the front runners.

Let’s get to the list, the ones that almost made it, and some more fun with numbers.

This year’s Pyrite Honor list:
In parentheses you’ll see the number of votes each book received for 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th place.

Challenger Deep – 61 (6, 3, 1, 1)
Most Dangerous – 52 (4, 4, 1, 1)
Symphony for the City of the Dead – 52 (3, 4, 3, 2)
Cuckoo Song – 35 (4, 0, 2, 1)

In our vote for gold, Challenger Deep had 52 points to Bone Gap‘s 67, but that latter title had one more first place vote and three more voters; meaning the number of people supporting Bone Gap was only slightly higher but those folks wanted it for gold more than Challenger Deep. 

This time, turns out that Symphony for the City of the Dead had the most voters (12), but still only managed to tie with Most Dangerous, which had less support with only 10 voters but one more vote for first is what evened things out.

The other interesting numbers race was between Cuckoo Song and The Walls Around Us. Walls, with 32 points, wasn’t far behind Cuckoo Song and actually had 8 voters to Cuckoo‘s 7. The numbers are fun because this is where you see if a book is a consensus pick or buoyed by passionate enthusiasm from a few. I find this especially fascinating because we’re constantly talking Printz throughout the year, but here and in the Pyrite (and at the Hudson Valley Library Association’s Printzbery) we finally get to see real numbers to back up all the talk. And if you couldn’t tell already, I love logic. And spreadsheets.

Given the large gap between the tied second place books and third place, a RealCommittee would probably discuss if it would name a fourth honor book. After talking about this with Karyn, she said that based on her experience, the RealCommittee would need to consider the balance of the year’s list, in terms genre, gender, and age. Including Cuckoo Song brings a lot of things that the other books lack. It skews younger, it’s fantasy, horror, and historical fiction, and adds another female author to the list. Of course, for the Pyrite, we don’t have the time for that in-depth discussion, so your friendly Printz bloggers have made the executive decision to have (the maximum allowed) four honor books.

Have a look at the graph below (click the image for a larger version) and let’s chat in the comments!

graph of pyrite honor vote


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. Anne Bennett says

    Joy, Thank you for your hard work in putting this chart and voting together. I have predicted since I read them that this will be the year of the double nonfiction. I truly believe that the two books, Symphony and Most Dangerous, are equally good and are a statistical tie in my mind. We’ll see what the committee thinks. I will be happy if our whole PYRITE slate wins.

    Joy, do you know, or have the results from past year voting on the pyrite? I am wondering how well all of us do at putting our collective heads together and predicting the winners? Let me know. Thanks.

    • Joy Piedmont says

      Last year, we did quite well in terms of prediction. Our Pyrite gold went to I’ll Give You the Sun and honors went to This One Summer, Grasshopper Jungle, Gabi, a Girl in Pieces, and we had a tie for fourth and bent the rules ever-so-slightly to include both: How I Discovered Poetry and The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender. (

      The RealCommittee agreed with us on 3 of the 5 actual winners: I’ll Give You the Sun took REAL Printz gold, and they also awarded This One Summer and Grasshopper Jungle ( The other two books that rounded out the RealWinners were And We Stay and The Carnival at Bray.

      Going back further I’d have to do a little more digging but last year was very surprising in that we don’t always have a mock slate that matches the real winners. Like you, I would love to see two nonfiction books honored–last year I was so hoping that The Family Romanov would get in there. My worry is that the two titles may cancel each other out (much in the way that having two actors from one film nominated in a single category dilutes each actor’s chance of winning). As I mentioned above, the RealCommittee has so many things to consider when deciding their winners, including the gestalt. I think whether or not both Most Dangerous and Symphony win depends on the other books honored.

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