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Picks and Predictions

Will our crystal ball accurately predict the RealPrintz? (And yes, I know it's really a golden ball.) Image CC BY Pixel2013

Will our crystal ball accurately predict the RealPrintz? (And yes, I know it’s really a golden ball.) Image CC BY Pixel2013

Now that you’ve had a few hours to digest the news that this is our last time doing picks and predictions, and you’ve also had some time to consider your own thoughts for each category, let’s do this thing!

We’ll start with the definitions: Picks are the personal choices. It’s the slate of books you can support as contenders — but more than that, it’s the slate of your heart, the books that both exemplify excellence AND resonate for you. The books you want everyone to read. The ones whose inclusion in the official list would maybe bring tears to your eyes. Then there are predictions: Books you think WILL win, even if you personally would never choose them.

(Please note that this is not in any way like the RealCommittee process. They discuss and vote, vote and discuss; it’s about heads and consensus. But we’re in the speculation business.)

Jump below the fold for details and a quick breakdown of how we’ve done with predictions in the past.

Before we say anything else, we want to acknowledge that the members of the RealCommittee have been working their tails off for over a year. Their choice may not agree with our choices. We may harbor bitter resentment as a result. Next week, we might have some things to say (Like “YAY” or “why” or “what the hell happened to book X?”) — but they still made the right choice. And we can’t wait to find out what it is!

Now, a quick look back at how good, really, is our crystal ball?

Well, individually, we do okay, with Joy slightly more accurate than Sarah and Karyn: last year she pegged three of the five official winners! (Sarah had 2 on her list; Karyn had 1 prediction and 1 pick — Scythe — that went the distance to my surprise and delight.)  For the 2016 award, we whiffed on the honor books but all predicted Bone Gap; in 2015 we didn’t agree much but all averaged 2/5 of the winners; and in 2015, Joy and I both called for Midwinterblood, one of us with more enthusiasm than the other.

Collectively, on the other hand, we are BRILLIANT:

In 2017 although the Pyrite was wrong about the winner, three of our five top books were in the winners circle; in 2016 and 2015 the Pyrite accurately predicted the RealPrintz winner!

So can we do it again, one last time? Let’s try! Sarah, Joy, and Karyn will share Picks and Predictions in the comments, and we hope you all will do the same.

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. Meredith Burton says

    1. The Hate u Give, by Angie Thompson.
    2. The Language of Thorns, by Leigh Bardugo.
    3. The Bear and the Nightingale, by Katherine Arden, (I know this list is for YA, but since this is the “Picks” section, I just had to include it. I can see it possibly winning an Alex Award).
    4. Piecing Me Together.

    1. The Hate U Give.
    2. Long Way Down.
    3. Bull.
    4. The 57 Bus.

  2. Picks:
    The Hate U Give- winner
    Strange the Dreamer
    The Uninterrupted View of the Sky
    The Pearl Thief
    Genuine Fraud

    The Hate U Give
    Long Way Down
    The 57 Bus
    The Pearl Thief
    Thick as Thieves

  3. Karyn Silverman says

    This year is too good. So good that I really really don’t know what to choose, for EITHER category. Probably in 10 minutes I will regret everything I am about to commit to. PLUS I am still reading — I read Release yesterday (realistic bits A+, fantasy bits utterly not needed and really diminished the book for me); I’m skimming through We Are Okay today, and if possible The Marrow Thieves as well.

    Anyway. Picks:
    1. In Other Lands – Smart and it comments on an entire genre and the world, funny and fresh
    2. Long Way Down – Brilliant and literary AND topical

    And really I could stop there, because after these two there are like 10 books I could easily support, but those are definitely the toppest of the top. However, have three more picks, and I’ll throw my love behind books I think had smaller audiences and therefore are less likely predictions:

    3. The Careful Undressing of Love – Stunning language, haunting
    4. A Skinful of Shadows – I read this after our Last Licks post, and it was so good; it’s fierce and beautiful and compelling historical fantasy doing all the things Hardinge does well (language, theme, character, sense of place, weird creepiness).
    5. All the Wind in the World – Such a troubling, stunning, uncomfortable read.

    1. Long Way Down – I think at least one of the topically significant and also literary books from this year will get a nod tomorrow, and this is the one I predict; I think it’s hands down the strongest writing.
    2. Landscape with Invisible Hand – This didn’t work for me, but I think it worked for many, and there’s a lot to chew on. This seems like a book that can gather consensus at the table.
    3. 57 Bus – There is so much here, and (barring the poems that don’t come from Sasha and Richard’s stuff) it’s compelling journalism with enough literary flair to do the unusual and make it onto the Printz roster.
    4. American Street – I thought this was slow and kind of overstuffed, but it’s a book people keep talking about, so I believe it has a shot, although this is the one I’d be most disappointed by.
    5. Bull – A vibrant, lyric, contemporary retelling, with strong poetry (not just prose with line breaks) – this is an unusual book and I think stands apart as a result.

    But this year more than any other year I won’t be surprised if I am 100% wrong. It’s been an astounding year full of great books — the RealCommittee is probably done by now, but I bet they were sweating while they made their decisions.

    Also, for the Schneider, I am pulling for Turtles, and for the Morris, The Hate U Give. I don’t think I have a strong sense for any of the others, although I hope the CSK goes to a YA book — Long Way Down, American Street, The Hate U Give, and Piecing Me Together would all be excellent choices. Librarian of Auschwitz should have a strong case for the Batchelder, but I haven’t read any of the probably amazing picture books that are eligible so who knows. I’d be down with Beyond the Bright Sea for Newbery, but again I don’t really know the field — I just hope they don’t go Heavy Medal on us and choose a book that’s really more YA. For the Belpre, I’d bet on I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter or They Both Die at the End, unless the Bustle article referencing Mabry as a Latinx author is correct, in which case All the Wind in the World gets my pick if not my prediction.

  4. Joy Piedmont says

    We Are Okay – In 2017, the year of grief and loss, THIS was the book that did it best. Hands down.
    Landscape with Invisible Hand – I still can’t believe Anderson tackles cultural appropriation and colonialism in this tiny package.
    Long Way Down – I only caught up with this one recently and whoa, nelly is this my new fave. How does Reynolds create such rich characters with such economical and gorgeous language??
    Jane, Unlimited – I know, I know, it’s light and there are some inconsistencies BUT this is a major heart pick)
    At the Edge of the Universe – High concept + fully-realized characters = unforgettable.

    (Yeah, two of my picks have Doctor Who co nnections, so what? Is anyone surprised? I thought not.)

    American Street – Didn’t work for me but I think I could find myself persuaded.
    Long Way Down – If I wish *really* hard will it happen? (Is that how these things work?)
    Spinning – I think the art could push this one to the top even though to me, it was weak thematically.
    The 57 Bus – I keep going back and forth on this one, but the truth is, while it’s not in my top books of the year, I respect and acknowledge how much the writing has made me think.
    Thick as Thieves – I haven’t read it but I trust the Pyrite polls and the people have spoken.
    Landscape with Invisible Hand – It’s short so I think it’s easy to dive into multiple times which could help it’s chances in the end? Plus, it’s timeliness could help it, as I have certainly thought a lot about this book as the news unfolds and our politics devolve into more and more unbelievable scenarios.

  5. Sarah Couri says

    Hmmmm. I’m definitely starting with Picks, because then I can just go with my favorites and not even think twice.

    1. Yvain — I’m still thinking about it, still laughing about it, still can’t get over this art.

    2. The Hate U Give — this is the book everyone started the year talking about. We’re still talking about it, now. What else can I say?

    3. Saints and Misfits — I’m still pulling for a series here. I want to keep reading about Janna, and catch up with all of her family, friends, and community.

    4. Forest of a Thousand Lanterns — this is a bit of a cheat here, sort of. If you can really cheat by being HONEST ABOUT YOUR HEART, I mean. I *was* going to cover this here, but ended up deciding against reviewing it formally and fully here in the blog. But I did so enjoy reading it at the time, and it’s stuck with me even after the fact.

    And I think I’m going to end my picks there. There have been a lot of great books this year, but these are the ones I’ve read that I do keep thinking about, keep returning to. So my personal slate is a little short, but I feel strongly about each of them and could talk your ear off about all of them, too.

    Predictions (ugh, this is the hard part):
    1. The Hate U Give — OK, I CAN say more. I don’t necessarily think this will take gold, but I do think it will medal. What I keep coming back to here: this is a book that has a LOT going for it, and a lot of different ways for committee members to appreciate it. It invites consensus. Which is how this Printzly game is played and won.

    2. Long Way Down — I would love if this would get the gold.

    3. The Marrow Thieves — this is a gut pick, more than a head pick, but I do keep coming back to it, it feels new and fresh.

    4. Eyes of the World — it really is a marvel, it’s big, ambitious, and it achieves all of its lofty goals in story telling and dot connecting. I just feel that its buzz is on the rise, and RealCommittee will feel it, too. I guess this is a bit of a gut pick, too. It’s in the air, man. In the air.

    5. Thick as Thieves — for exactly the same as Joy, actually. I haven’t read it, but everyone else around here has been very clear. I trust you all! And I will enjoy reading it the next time I get to the library.

  6. Karyn Silverman says

    Joy: 2 picks were actual winners, but only one prediction. Takeaway: Your heart is wiser than your head.
    Sarah: 1 pick, but TWO predictions: you know what committees like, and I feel like there’s half credit for predicting nonfiction, even it was the wrong nonfiction.
    Karyn: 1 pick, 1 prediction, although when I finished We Are Okay (after posting my predictions and seeing everyone else’s) I definitely had a “Joy is right, THIS is the book” moment.

    • Sarah Couri says

      Hahaha, I am amused at the thought of half credit. But I’m really excited to have the time to take a look at We Are OK now.

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