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

The Rest of the Best

I’m a little late to the party, but more lists! More books to read! More surprises, and also more alignment around the standout YA titles of 2016!

We’ve already covered PW and SLJ (AKA the Mothership); now let’s look at Kirkus and The Horn Book from the trade side and NPR’s Book Concierge and The New York Times notable list from the mass media side.

(Obviously there are dozens more lists we could look at, and this is by no means comprehensive. If comprehensive is your thing, I heartily recommend Jen J’s spreadsheet for the trades, once she updates it, and for the list of all lists ever, Largehearted Boy is your guy.)

Alrighty, enough intro. Let’s dig in!

Going from shortest list (The New York Times) to longest (Kirkus), we also move from least surprising to most surprising, which is probably the law of averages at work, or some other mathy truism I only half understand.


The Times has 6 YA books, all of which we have or will cover here (note: if we’ve already written it up, I’m going to helpfully link to our review). So much for that. Actually, we can say a few other things: it’s a really white list, with only Nicola Yoon and her characters breaking that up, but it’s got an interesting diversity of time and place, from medieval Provence (yay Dolssa!) to now, and not one but two books (the other being The Serpent King) in which religion plays a major theme, which has to be some kind of record for a list this short.

Equally brief, with a total of 14 titles recognized but only 6 YA, we’ve got Horn Book’s Fanfare. Dolssa gets another shoutout, which I note because right now it’s my frontrunner for the Printz; also another nod for The Sun is Also a Star, which is clearly the top romance this year despite its flaws. Fanfare’s only outlier is Moriarty’s magnificent A Tangle of Gold, which totally deserves the nod but as the closer to a quiet series hasn’t gotten much attention outside professional journals.

The other major media list I like to look at, NPR, is a bit more surprising than the Times, and also displays an interesting relationship to the idea of age bracketing — of the 12 YA books on their list (which is long and broken up into all sorts of great categories), only 8 were tagged YA, while 4 others were in graphic novels (March Book 3, which was also on the Fanfare list and SLJ and PW AND Kirkus – consensus much?) and fantasy and science fiction. Hmmm. Surprises here: And I Darken, which had good pre-pub buzz but doesn’t seem to have held up for anyone I know (I didn’t actually read it, though, and beware hearsay…). Also surprising is that they agree with me on the awesomeness of The Dark Days Club, which is nice. They did not recognize my beloved Dolssa, but they did include The Lie Tree — as fantasy, weirdly, even though, as discussed, it reads much more like historical fiction. Then they had three other books we haven’t and weren’t planning to write up, and I’m interested to know if anyone thinks these have literary chops or just massive commercial appeal: The Girl From Everywhere, by Heidi Heilig (which I read and loved); Labyrinth Lost, by Zoraida Cordova (which I want very much to read but doesn’t seem to be getting award buzz, so I was going to save it for after we go dark); and finally one I had never heard of: Fear the Drowning Deep, by Sarah Glenn Marsh (which sounds right up my alley on NPR’s write-up, but the SLJ review comps it to Twilight and calls it a paranormal romance, so maybe not).

Finally, let’s talk about Kirkus. As the longest of the trade lists, it’s always always always the most startling. Which is funny because I review for Kirkus, so I feel like I should not be caught off guard every time by books I’ve never even heard of. And yet.

Kirkus recognized several of the titles that are starting to gather some consensus — I won’t list them all, but The Lie Tree, The Sun is Also a Star, and March Book 3 have emerged as the most consistently recognized. They also namechecked a lot of quieter but worthy books, some of which we’ve covered here, or will be writing up (for example, but not comprehensive: Georgia Peaches; American Girls; The Steep and Thorny Way; Vassa in the Night; Girl Mans Up) and some of which we haven’t covered (for example, again not exhaustive: Riverkeep; Gemini; True Letters from a Fictional Life) — as always, if you’ve got opinions on these, shout in the comments.

And of course and as always, Kirkus noted SO MANY books no one else is talking about. Here are the new to me titles: Merrow, by Braxton-Smith; Property of the State, Cameron; Bleeding Earth, Ward; Keep Me in Mind, Reed; Last Seen Leaving, Roehrig; SP4RX, McDonald; All We Have Left, Mills; Bloodline, Jimenez; This is Not the End, Jordan; Rodent, Lawrence; and The Memory Jar, by Hook. If you’ve read any of these, won’t you speak up??




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’ve read and love Merrow–eerie, gorgeous, with an unreliably narrator and a great setting. Pair with The Lie Tree and Hannah Moskowitz’s Teeth.

    • Karyn Silverman says:

      Intriguing! I will have to see if I can squeeze this in, on top of Kids of Appetite (halfway through, don’t love, but voicy as hell), Rani Patel, and Scythe.

  2. Kirkus doesn’t explain the FINALISTS. I think I found only two of them: Burn Baby Burn and The Reader. Is that what you noticed, too? From those two they will name a winner? Not sure I understand their system.

    Merrow just came onto my radar yesterday so I am pleased that Mimi says it is good. One more to try and cram in before January 23rd.

    • The way the Kirkus prize works is that everything they have starred within their eligibility timeframe (November 1-October 31) is considered a nominee. This year that was 515 titles in the young reader’s literature category. From those nominees 6 finalists are selected: 2 picture books, 2 middle-grade books and 2 teen books. From those 6 finalists a winner is selected.

      This year’s finalists were: Thunder Boy, Jr and Freedom Over Me in picture books; We Will Not Be Silent and As Brave As You in middle grade and The Reader and Burn Baby Burn in teen.

      This year’s winner, announced on November 3, was As Brave As You.

      Judges this year were Elizabeth Bluemle, Deborah D. Taylor and Jacqueline Woodson. Judges are to consist of a bookseller or librarian, a Kirkus critic and a writer.

      See this link for general information on the award:

Speak Your Mind