Tag Archives: Printz Award

Musings on the 2015 Youth Media Awards

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Since I have been under the weather, I watched the ALA Youth Media Awards presentation at home on my laptop, clapping and exclaiming all by myself, except when my husband wandered into the room occasionally. I did not intentionally read for the awards this year, but as a collection development librarian, I was familiar with all of them and had read a good portion of the contenders, so of course I had some opinions.

CrossoverMy overriding thought is: “Oh, I am so glad I blogged a review of The Crossover just two days before it won the Newbery award!” My friend is the leader of a Mock Newbery Club, and this is one of her favorites, which is the main reason why I would ever read a sports novel in verse at all. Good job, Martha. Crossover also won a Coretta Scott King honor. My second thought on the Newbery Award is that the ALSC needs to have a big conversation on updating the Newbery Committee’s guidelines on the use of illustration, since El Deafo, a graphic novel, won a Newbery honor. I am delighted to see this very worthy book win an award, but I don’t think anyone else considered it seriously because it really is dependent on the illustrations, which conflicts with the Newbery Award definition. An important conversation to have.

RightIn other happy surprises, the Sibert Award went to a picture book! The Right Word was a favorite of mine, partly because it is about the thesaurus. Who wouldn’t love that? It is adorable and extremely informative, which is what the Sibert is all about! On the other hand, I did expect The Family Romanov to win more than just a Sibert honor. No Printz? No Newbery?

The Adventures of Beekle would not have been my choice for Caldecott, but my fellow librarian / blogger, Kerri, and her little daughter beg to differ at www.mlreads.com. Noisy Paint BoxThe Caldecott committee went crazy this year with six honor books! Some of my favorites among them are Sam and Dave Dig a Hole, The Noisy Paint Box (a picture book about the artist Kandinsky), and, again, The Right Word. They even chose a graphic novel for older children called This One Summer! Glad to see graphic novels being celebrated for literary excellence, and the publisher, First Second, is a slam-dunk choice for great graphic titles.

Grasshopper Jungle, the startlingly brilliant book that I mentioned in my Reading Roundup (that we all devoured but hesitated to hand to a child), won a Printz honor, and well deserved, too. This One Summer also won a Printz honor in addition to its Caldecott honor.

TruckI don’t usually wait for the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award for Lifetime Achievement with bated breath, but any mother of boys loves Donald Crews: Truck, Freight Train, and so many others. Mr. Crews has provided us with hours of enjoyment when my son was young, and I can’t even begin to count the number of times I’ve handed his books to library patrons.

Alex Awards are given for adult books that would appeal to teens. There are ten each year, and I am currently reading one: All the Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr (review soon, but I can tell you it’s gorgeous). The other one that I clapped for was The Martian, by Andy Weir, which was fantastic and will soon be a movie!

Ava LavenderMy biggest disappointment was that I felt that The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender did not get enough love. It was a Morris (debut award) finalist, but I thought it should have at least received a Printz honor. Well, there’s always next year for Leslye Walton. Also, although I was glad to see Rain Reign, by Ann Martin, win a Schneider Family Award for books concerning disabilities, I would have liked to have seen more decorations on that cover.

Lastly, though, how are they going to fit all those medals on the cover of Brown Girl Dreaming? Will we still be able to read the title? Congratulations to Jacqueline Woodson on writing such a beautiful memoir. If you haven’t yet, go out and get this one for yourself and your kids.

For all of the winners, go to http://live.webcastinc.com/ala/2015/live/.

Now to 2016! I’ve already started reading!

Disclaimer: Opinions expressed are solely my own and do not reflect those of my employer or anyone else.

Youth Media Award logo from: http://live.webcastinc.com/ala/2015/live/.

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My Printzables

ImageEarly on in the game, I realized that I would not be able to read everything I wanted for both the Newbery Award and the Printz Award, so I chose the Newbery. The books are shorter, for one thing, and I helped to run our library system’s Mock Newbery Club for five years before I became a selector, so I have more experience with that competition.

This is not to say that I haven’t read for the Printz, however. I am more likely to read a Young Adult (YA) book on my own anyway, so it is not a burden to do so. The Michael L. Printz Award is given to the best book written for teens in each calendar year, and if you’ve seen the Hunger Games movies, you’ll know that YA authors are doing some great work and seeing substantial commercial success. The Printz Award is looking for literary quality, rather than popularity, though. One big difference between the Printz and the Newbery is that the Printz can be awarded to any author, regardless of nationality.

I’ve categorized all of the following YA books that were published in 2013 into four groups, along with some short comments. Almost all of those that I read have been reviewed on this blog. If not, there was probably a reason.

ImageGroup One: The Series. First of all, here are the books that I liked (or sometimes loved) very much, but I feel that they are so dependent on their prequels and/or sequels that they cannot stand on their own:

Across a Star-Swept Sea, by Diana Peterfreund (Second in a fun series.)

The Bitter Kingdom, by Rae Carson (Third in a great trilogy.)

The Clockwork Princess, by Cassandra Clare (Third in a fabulous trilogy.)

The Dream Thieves, by Maggie Stiefvater (Maggie never disappoints. Second in a wonderful series.  Complex characters.)

Etiquette & Espionage, by Gail Carriger (Fun series derived from her adult series “The Parasol Protectorate.”)

The Lord of Opium, by Nancy Farmer (So very literary. Wonderful, but dependent on House of the Scorpion.)

Quintana of Charyn, by Melina Marchetta (Third in THE trilogy. “The Lumatere Chronicles” is THE series for older teens and adults.)

ImageGroup Two: Not winners. Here is another list of titles that I just do not find literary enough for the award. Some of these are top contenders on other lists, but I feel that there are better titles this year. Although they are not my picks for an award, a few were very good reads. If you’d like more information about a title in this list that I did not review, let me know.

All Our Pretty Songs, by Sarah McCarry- So many drugs, and I can’t quite remember the plot.

Far Far Away, by Tom McNeal- I liked this, but not as much as many others did.

The Golden Day, by Ursula Dubosarsky- Characters too young; not enough character development.

The Kingdom of Little Wounds, by Susann Cokal- Absolutely not. This is an adult book—for adults with strong stomachs. What was Candlewick thinking? The characters are teens because they lived in a time when girls married at 13 and were happy to live to age 30.

More Than This, by Patrick Ness- Loads of fun, but derivative. Not as literary as others.

 Rapture Practice, by Aaron Hartzler- Nicely done memoir. I just liked other things better.

Reality Boy, by A.S. King- A compelling story by an exceptional author, but not a favorite this year. I loved her Everybody Sees the Ants.

Sex & Violence, by Carrie Mesrobian. Great character development with a weak ending. Much better than you’re thinking.

The Sin-Eater’s Confession, by Ilsa J. Bick- A rugged read. I could not get over the author’s bigoted depiction of Christians.

The Summer Prince, by Alaya Dawn Johnson- Oh, so pretentious. Many experts disagree, but I did not like any of the characters. It reminded me of the values expressed in Somerset Maugham’s The Moon and Sixpence: artists are exempt from “middle-class morality.”

ImageGroup Three: I ran out of time. Books that are on many top Printz prediction lists that I did not read, although I would like to, are:

Charm & Strange, by Stephanie Kuehn

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown, by Holly Black

Midwinterblood, by Marcus Sedgwick [Update! Please see review on January 26, 2014]

Picture Me Gone, by Meg Rosoff

Rose Under Fire, by Elizabeth Wein (Loved the first one.)

Winger, by Andrew Smith

I actually had some of these on my nighttable, but I just ran out of time.

ImageGroup Four: The winners! That leaves me with this list of six favorites for the year, two by one author!

All the Truth That’s in Me, by Julie Berry- Tense, gritty. Great main character in a unique story.

Boxers & Saints, by Gene Luen Yang- This is actually a pair of graphic novels based on the Boxer Rebellion in China, and it works incredibly well! Complex and surprising. Will the committee consider it one work?

Eleanor & Park, by Rainbow Rowell- Ripped my heart out. My emotions were completely engaged. Tremendous character development. This is my top pick of the year.

Fangirl, by Rainbow Rowell- A three-layer novel with great characters. Fun, engaging; engrossing story.

The Midnight Dress, by Karen Foxlee- Lush writing, beautiful setting, and a strong main character.

Out of the Easy, by Ruta Sepetys- A true coming-of-age story with an exceptional setting.

In summary, my favorite three, in order, are probably:

1)      Eleanor & Park

2)      The Midnight Dress

3)      Fangirl

All of these favorites are great reads for adults and teens, and these authors are among the best anywhere. Go check them out!

We’re making a party out of the ALA Children’s Media Awards at our library. Tune into the webcast here by 8:00 on Monday morning, January 27th. No matter which titles garner the medals, all the readers win!

Disclaimer: All opinions expressed are completely my own and do not reflect those of my employer, several friends, or the professional medal-watch bloggers. But we have fun.

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Awards Season Reading

OK, people, it’s time to get serious. No more adult literary novels, romances, or light reading about how your brain or pancreas may work or go on strike. It’s fall, and that means buckling down with the contenders lists and plowing through everything that could possibly win the Newbery or Printz Awards in January. Although I read children’s and teens’ books all year long– I just finished a favorite trilogy– I tend to concentrate on the top titles in the fall, simply because I would be devastated if a book won an award and I had not read it. How else could I support my outrage when the official committees choose the totally wrong books?

ImageFirst, the trilogy I just finished. I’ve reviewed the “Girl of Fire and Thorns” series by Rae Carson earlier in this blog, and I will just tell you that you will not be disappointed in this last volume, The Bitter Kingdom. At first, Elisa and her companions spend a bit too much time tromping around in the woods, but the action picks up and after many nerve-wracking decisions, action-packed battles, and romantic interludes, the series comes to a satisfying and just conclusion. Over the course of the three books, we see Elisa move from a confused and demoralized teenage girl to a confident and powerful queen. If you love a book with a strong heroine or want a great role model for your teenage daughter, you can’t do much better than Elisa.

Now on to the contender lists. I build up my lists from personal reading, reviews and purchases for the library system, our library system’s Mock Newbery and Printz Clubs, phenomenal friends, and the various blogs out there tracking the best of the best. So far, I’d say that I’ve read four titles this year that are contenders, probably for the Printz:

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Eleanor and Park, by Rainbow Rowell

Fangirl, by Rainbow Rowell

Out of the Easy, by Ruta Sepetys

All the Truth That’s in Me, by Julie Berry

Of these, my top pick might be Eleanor and Park, followed by Out of the Easy. Of course, that may change as I read along and follow blog discussions. I will also be visiting the Newbery and Printz clubs later this fall, and the teen readers there can be very persuasive—not to mention the brilliant club leaders, who have been doing this for years.

On my nighttable to read next are the following titles, all of which are considered worthy by one or more of the above sources:

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Rose Under Fire

 Counting by 7s, by Holly Goldberg Sloan

The Sin-Eater’s Confession, by Isa J. Bick

Rapture Practice, by Aaron Hartzler

The Lord of Opium, by Nancy Farmer

                                                      All Our Pretty Songs, by Sarah McCarry

                                                    Rose Under Fire, by Elizabeth Wein

Also on hold for me at the library, but not yet published (and no advance reader copies!) are:

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Flora and Ulysses, by Kate DiCamillo

Boxers & Saints (two graphic novels), by Gene Luen Yang

Fortunately, the Milk, by Neil Gaiman

Zombie Baseball Beatdown, by Paolo Bacigalupi

I wish I could read them all at once! As you can see, I have my work cut out for me. Although I may sneak in a random adult title or non-literary teen novel at some point, these books will comprise most of my reading list for the next few months. Won’t you come read with me, so that we can cheer or razz together this January?

Disclaimer: I read a library copy of The Bitter Kingdom. My opinions are solely my own and do not reflect those of my employer or anyone else.

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