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Because yes, it’s November, and yes, we’re in the rapid dash to the end of the year, and yes, the Best of lists have begun with PW’s, which landed last week.
With only one list to look at, it’s not exactly about drawing conclusions, but it’s always interesting to see what we’ve all been talking about lined up against these lists.
First, the boring stuff: agreement. 8 of PW’s 16 recognized titles match our initial list of 25: Anna and the Swallow Man; Exit, Pursued by a Bear; The Lie Tree; My Lady Jane; The Passion of Dolssa; The Serpent King; Still Life with Tornado; and Unbecoming.
Possibly of note: of those 8 matching titles, I have or will cover 5, while the other 3 are on Sarah’s list. Which of us covers what is determined by any number of factors, but interest plays a part for sure, and I’m fascinated by the fact that none of Joy’s planned coverage is represented here — even though she actually tends to be the best predictor of winners among us.
This seems like the appropriate time to mention that we also have a secret list, the one we work off of — since obviously we read and write about far more than 25 titles — and a further 5 of PW’s list are on that secret list, meaning we fully plan to write them up: If I Was Your Girl; My Sister Rosa; Salt to the Sea (also the title that received the largest support in the comments on our initial list); The Sun Is Also a Star (which really SHOULD have been on the initial list of 25, and IS a Joy book); and Uprooted. However, My Sister Rosa we were considering dropping from our planned coverage list, because it struck me as entirely too reminiscent of The Bad Seed (Larbalestier’s inspiration) but didn’t exceed the inspiration. Now I’m thinking maybe we need to reconsider our reconsideration?
Now for my favorite bit when I dissect a year-end list: the books they skipped, and the books that weren’t on our lists at all.
On the skipped side of things, I’m most surprised not to see Burn, Baby, Burn: everyone I know who has read this has loved it, including one reader I consider an excellent bellwether for the books most likely to end up a Printz winner or honoree. I’m also sad not to see more diversity (of genre, content, or authors) in the list, and for that reason (plus, you know, excellent writing) it would have been great to see Chee’s The Reader recognized: author and protagonist of color, and a secondary world fantasy, so diverse on multiple fronts. (Incidentally, both of these titles were the YA Kirkus Prize finalists for 2016, although neither won.)
On the new-to-us as contenders side: Beast; Kids of Appetite; and Scythe. Beast and Kids each have two stars; Scythe has
only one — but doesn’t pub until the end of the month so it might still pick up some more five (clearly it did pick up more!). Beast I did briefly look into, but dismissed as one more retelling — although I love retellings, I confess to feeling burned out and more interested in books that seem to offer something new or different. Not very objective, I realize, but there it is. Kids of Appetite was sort of on our joint peripheral radar, but Mosquitoland had left us all with a sense of distaste, so no one was exactly jumping to read it. Scythe I imagine we would have added to our list eventually — once we realized it existed, so thanks, PW! — given Challenger Deep and Shusterman’s long and steady output.
So there you have it. What did you think of the PW list? What have you read, and what would you change?
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.
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