Follow This Blog: RSS feed
A Chair, A Fireplace & a Tea Cozy
Inside A Chair, A Fireplace & a Tea Cozy

2011 Printz Award

The Michael L. Printz Award for Excellence in Young Adult Literature is awarded for “a book that exemplifies literary excellence in young adult literature.”

This year’s winner is Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi, reviewed by me here. From my review: “Ship Breaker is breathless, non stop action, with barely room to breathe. Getting lost in ships, hurricanes, deadly infections, knife battles, and that’s just the first third! The world-building is done so seamlessly that it’s not noticed. Along the way, much is given to the reader to think about. This is set in the future, but all the big questions are about our today: the divide between the haves and have nots, the ecological impact of actions, the use of child labor, as well as questions about loyalty, choice, and fate.”

I loved this book; the plotting, the characters, plus all the “big questions” to discuss. It’s a perfect pick! In addition, the world building is — well. In some books, even those I may enjoy, you get the feeling that the world only exists to the extent that the characters do. Open a door you’re not supposed to and you get a a blank room. A character leaves a room and they disappear. With Ship Breaker you know… you open that door. The world will be there. The characters live and breathe, whether or not they are on the page.

Four honor books were selected:

Stolen by Lucy Christopher, Chicken House, an imprint of Scholastic Inc. 

Please Ignore Vera Dietz  by A.S. King,  Alfred A. Knopf, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books, a division of Random House, Inc.

Revolver by Marcus Sedgwick, Roaring Book Press, an imprint of the Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group.

Nothing by Janne Teller, Atheneum Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Division.

Congratulations and a big thank you to the Printz Committee: (info from YALSA website): Chair Erin Downey Howerton, Johnson County Library, Overland Park, Kan.; Jan L. Chapman, Cuyahoga County Public Library, Strongsville, Ohio; Sarah Couri, New York Public Library; Melissa S. Rabey, Frederick County (Md.) Public Library; Janet P. Sarratt, Gaffney. S.C.; Brenna Shanks, King County Library System, Issaquah, Wash.; Eva Volin, Alameda (Calif.) Free Library; Jamie Watson, Baltimore County Public Library, Towson, Md.; Rollie Welch, Cleveland Public Library; Sophie Brookover, administrative assistant, Infolink: The Eastern New Jersey Regional Library Cooperative, Piscataway, N.J.; and Gillian Engberg, Booklist consultant, Chicago.

I am now playing catch up reading the Honor Books. Expect reviews soon.

I look forward to reading all the books, because it makes the speeches so much more enjoyable.

So, what do you think? How many have you read? Agree/ disagree?

About Elizabeth Burns

Looking for a place to talk about young adult books? Pull up a chair, have a cup of tea, and let's chat. I am a New Jersey librarian. My opinions do not reflect those of my employer, SLJ, YALSA, or anyone else. On Twitter I'm @LizB; my email is


  1. I’ve read 3/5 – woo hoo, a new record! I loved Ship Breaker and Vera Dietz and enjoyed Stolen for the most part, though it dragged in the middle. Looking forward to getting Nothing.

  2. I enjoyed Ship Breaker but it was a case of heavy like, not love. I sometimes think we get so much buzz about certain titles — and their authors — that they’re shoo-ins for some kind of award — though I liked The Graveyard Book quite a lot for instance, it was again LIKE not love. Still, half the fun of the awards is arguing about which book should have won in YOUR opinion, and telling everyone about THAT book. More booktalking, either way. 🙂

  3. I am usually pretty current with in terms of having already read the winners of all the various catagories,but this year caught me napping, I guess. I have a lot of reading to do and look forwar to your reviews.

  4. I loved Ship Breaker and was so happy to see it win! I’ve also read Stolen and Revolver. Liked Revolver, but just couldn’t get into Stolen. I may have been influenced by how I was hearing so many people say they were swooning over the guy in Stolen, which still makes no sense to me (he is a kidnapper! Where’s the romance in being drugged and dragged halfway across the world because someone has a creepy fascination with you?!) Perhaps if I hadn’t read reviews like that before I read it, I’d have been more inclined to like it. Nothing is currently sitting in my bag of library books, waiting to be read.

  5. Lenore, I don’t think I’ve heard from anyone who has read all 5. 3 of 5 seems like the most! And everytime I hear/read someone say “I’m reading ‘Nothing'” I get a bit age seven, with the wordplay on “nothing/Nothing.”

    Tanita, half the fun is the discussion! So when people get a bit huffy about it either way (i.e., both “thou shalt not question the winners” and “these winners are always wrong”) I feel, OK, way to shut down the discussion! It’s interesting, but having sat on the ALA committees, it truly is a different reading experience because of the outside criteria imposed instead of what an individual likes. Which is a wordy way of saying titles can be award-worthy but not “loving it.”

    Alex, I read Revolver and now have 3 more to go!

    Angela, that is exactly what kept me from reading “Stolen.” The good thing about awards (at least for me) is that I’ll now read it…. But I really fear the swooning-over-kidnapper response and, fingers crossed, I will see what the committee. Which, I’m sure, did not involve swooning! And I giggle once again that “nothing” is sitting in a bag of books.

  6. I didn’t swoon over the kidnapper in Stolen. Just sayin’!

  7. Enjoy the giggles over NOTHING now because, I guarantee, once you start reading this bleak, grim, sad, scary, and hopeless novel, the giggling will stop for a while. This is one of those books that’s hard to forget. No matter how hard you try….

    Do you have an e-mail address where we can write to you personally? I wanted to share my thoughts about REVOLVER without spoiling the book for anyone else by posting my comments here.

    Peter (four out of five; hadn’t read STOLEN)

  8. Lenore, that’s reassuring.

    Peter, I’m looking forward to reading NOTHING in part because it got such a wide away of recognition: Printz Honor, Bachelder, BFYA, Quick Picks, and Notables!

    My email is (without spaces) lizzy.burns @

  9. I’ve only read Ship Breaker and Please Ignore Vera Dietz and enjoyed. I am looking forward to reading the others.

    I hoping I will love one of the three remaining books as much as Tales of Mad Man Underground which I read after it honored last year.

    This is the 2nd year my top printz pick didn’t make the list. Finnikin of the Rock. I thought my favored pick would at least honor.

  10. I didn’t love Shipbreaker as much as you did but agree the world built in it was certainly unique and quite interesting to experience. I’m excited to see Stolen on the list and I’ve heard fantastic things about the AS King novel which I hope to get to soon.

  11. I read Ship Breaker and marveled at his world building skills. I’m afraid I haven’t read any of the others, but that’s often the case with the Printz. I’ve usually read most of the Newbery honor books. Are they perhaps more predictable?

  12. Doret, my top pick was also FINNIKIN and I’m bummed it didn’t get at least an honor.

    Michelle, I don’t always like/love the Printz & Honors, but usually I can see what the committee saw.

    Loretta, I only read one of the Newbery books this year, ONE CRAZY SUMMER


  1. […] and reactions to the awards by avid children’s literature aficionados are scattered across the web. For this post, I wanted to share the experience of attending the awards in person. Honestly, I […]