Search Results for: printz

10 Sep 2017

printz authors in 2017

True confession: I almost missed the ALA awards announcements last year.

I was fresh from maternity leave, in the thick of juggling new daily routines, childcare, childcare related upper respiratory illnesses, returning to a job that I hadn’t done in 6+ months, and nursing a sweet baby boy at all hours of the night.

This is to say, I did not feel at all knowledgeable or prepared for the big announcements. I hadn’t read very many of the honored books (aka March: Book Three). I feel like I sort of skimmed over a year of children’s and teen lit.

Fast forward to September of 2017. I have a healthy, huge, active fifteen-month-old. While I have read Steve Light’s Planes Go about 45 times since Tuesday, I am still feeling less than connected with children’s books actually written this year (except maybe this one?)

So in an effort to at least quantify what I’ve missed out on in a year, I’ve decided to resurrect an old idea: gathering up the alums.

Does an award sticker beget more award stickers? I’m sure some intrepid blogger has gathered this data. But even if the stats are not on my side, I feel like the works of former winners and honorees – of, in this case, the Printz award – are a great place to start thinking about excellence in teen lit.

So without further ado, here is a hopefully somewhat definitive list of 2017 works by Printz award or honor winning authors. A reading list for the childless and otherwise ambitious unfettered; a reference point/pipe dream for the rest of us suckers.


Marcus Sedgwick – Saint Death and Mister Memory

Jessie Ann Foley – Neighborhood Girls

Nick Lake – Satellite

Benjamin Alire Saenz – The Explicable Logic of My Life

Elizabeth Wein – The Pearl Thief

Maggie Stiefvater – All the Crooked Saints

Deborah Heiligman – Vincent and Theo

M.T. Anderson – Yvain: The Knight of the Lion and Landscape with Invisible Hand

E. Lockhart – Genuine Fraud

John Green – Turtles All the Way Down

Mal Peet & Meg Rosoff – Beck

Helen Frost – When My Sister Started Kissing

Ellen Wittlinger – Saturdays with Hitchcock


16 Sep 2014

(not so) Premature Printz

When I started dreaming up this post, I was going to title it Premature Printz Predictions. Because I started crafting this post in June, only halfway through 2014.

Sometime between June and now, postulating upon potential Printz pics became… um… timely. So there you have it. I’m a procrastinator. A Printz Predicting Procrastinator. Okay, I’m done. Really.

Flashback to late 2013. I won’t go as far as to say I *called* Marcus Sedgwick winning last year’s award for Midwinterblood. I didn’t read the book, and I didn’t tell anyone my prediction or write it down or even call it a prediction in my own mind. What I do remember, quite clearly, is a moment where I gazed upon what I believed to be the primary contenders for the year’s award and wonder why nobody was talking about it. Sedgwick won a Printz honor for Revolver. Midwinterblood had a Horn Book star. Neither of these are guaranteed, or even likely markers of a potential winner, but both at once gave me definite pause.

But we were all still busy talking about Eleanor and Park, The Summer Prince, Fangirl, and Winger. Buzz books.

Blinded by the buzz? Or just having more fun talking about the fun books?

So this year, I’m wondering less about which books are sure-winners and more about which books we should be talking about and reading. Props, as usual, to Someday My Printz Will Come for their comprehensive longlist, which I consulted more than once while crafting this post. I’ve narrowed down the potential Printz playing field (SORRY) to the following categories:


The Alumni

Honored once, honored again? The Printz has only been around since 2000 – the pool of past winners is modest, and the pool of past winning authors even smaller. Does one Printz – either award or honor -beget another? These 2014 books are all written by previous awardees. There’s no reason that these books should win over other 2014 titles, but I feel like they should be on the table. A good place to start – a way to take the collective temperature of what is going on this year in YA.

I’ve only read two of these – The Impossible Knife of Memory and We Were Liars. I’m not sure Impossible Knife will stand up to the competition – Laurie Halse Anderson does maintain her well-earned reputation with her latest YA realism venture, but I feel like this one screams “Problem Novel!” a little too loudly to be a real contender (edit: says she three days before the NBA longlisted this one…)We Were Liars has a better chance – so well-constructed, with effortless literary allusions and such STYLE (sorry, E. Lockhart fangirl in the house) – but I think the reliance on such a sensational plotline (not to mention the relentless marketing push… FOR THIS ENTIRELY DESERVING BOOK *cough*) may be a distraction.

Now I’m moving on to Purely Printz Postulation (…) but I don’t think the Lynch or the Myers are likely contenders. Like Ms. Anderson, it’s been a long time since either of these authors saw any Printz love and I don’t think there’s anything exemplary going on in either of their 2014 novels that would make them stand out. The Yang I’m a little iffy on as well because Yang didn’t do the artwork for The Shadow Hero.

Of the rest, I can’t really comment, except that I have a tingly Spidey-Sense feeling around The True Tale of the Monster Billy Dean.


The Morris Alums

I’m not really into statistics-related math, at least in my blogging-free-time, so please forgive me for making unsupported statements… however, I would hazard a guess that the Morris to Printz corrollation is not as strong as the Printz to Second Printz correlation. This could be because the Morris is a slightly newer award and, by nature, honors first-time writers; perhaps we will see more Morris to Printz winners as these new authors keep at it. However, I think that reading the latest work by Morris winners is another good way to get a feel for what is going on in YA in a given year – these particular books might not be Printz-worthy, but it’s likely that whatever wins will be at LEAST as good as this little stack.

I have sadly read zero of these books, so I have no firsthand insights on any of these particular books, but I could see Jenny Hubbard and Stephanie Kuehn making a Printz appearance this year.




The Otherwise Awarded

These authors are not Printz winners or honors, but they’ve still medaled in other divisions. Schrefer, Johnson, Sheinkin and Griffin are all National Book Award nominees. Sheinkin tore up all sorts of other awards with Bomb a few years ago, and both Sheinkin and Smith earned Boston Globe-Horn Book nods this year.

And what’s more, Schrefer, Sheinkin, and Smith just landed on this year’s National Book Awards long list! Holy cats!

Maybe too much buzz will work against these books in Printz discussions – that’s probably not a kosher thing to say about a supposedly impartial book award committee, but it’s still a possibility – but the Printz isn’t the only game in town. These authors have proven themselves elsewhere; they should surely be part of the Printz discussion.



Buzz Queens

These authors and books may not have any YA specific award pedigree (well, except for 100 Sideways Miles, now!), but they are the ones you’ve heard of this year, by authors who’ve built solid reputations. Wolitzer and Maguire earn accolades for their adult fic, so a foray into YA is worth noting – Egg & Spoon feels a little young-ish for YA, but I feel like that’s probably one of the more common ways we dismiss a book’s Printz-worthiness and then sometimes we get Navigating-Early-ed. Same goes for Brown Girl Dreaming. I’ll Give You the Sun and Afterworlds have a lot of industry buzz behind them, but will that translate to literary acclaim? A reader-friend I trust totally panned I’ll Give You the Sun, so we’ll see how that one does.

I’ve read Belzhar and Brown Girl Dreaming. While I enjoyed Belzhar a great deal, it feels like an awards longshot. Brown Girl Dreaming, however, feels like it could be a big winner in any category you want to put it in.



Wild Cards

The wild cards. The debut authors. The modest buzz. The starred reviews. The sleepers. I think these four books could have a shot at making the Printz list even though they don’t have the frenetic buzz that so often surrounds a YA novel. I’ve read The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender and it might have the right combination of fanciful literary language and magical realism that beguiles an awards committee. Gospel of Winter seems like the kind of quiet problem novel that might slip under the radar but could stand up to some of the more buzzed-about books. Everyone was talking Pointe when it pubbed in April for Colbert’s engaging story, multifaceted characterization, and socioeconomically and ethnically diverse cast of teen characters. This One Summer has been very warmly regarded – SIX STARS! – but I haven’t sensed that awards-push that surrounded, say, last year’s Boxers and Saints. Graphic novels have a tough go during awards season, but this one is definitely deserving. And six stars! Seriously!

So there you have it, guys – not any predictions, really, but a rough playing field for January’s awards. I think all that’s left to say is… um… get reading.


09 Oct 2013

Printz 2014 Contenders

Awards season! Awards season! Yay! Rah!

Someday My Printz Will Come is back up and running and they’ve posted their Long List of titles they have deemed contenders for the Big Prize in January. I’m not sure what to make of this year’s YA crop. Last year there were some favorites, but the winner – Nick Lake’s In Darkness – was a bit of a dark horse. This year, I can’t even pin down any frontrunners, really, other than Books That Won Other Awards. And statistically, that’s probably even LESS of an indicator that those titles will win the Printz. Pretty sure the same book has never appeared on the NBA longlist, the Boston-Globe Horn Book AND the ALA awrds, but feel free to cross-reference that wild claim.

Here is a short round up on Printz-y type titles. Will you look at all these I have read? Aren’t you guys proud of me? I actually had trouble selecting some titles I still want to read because I am just a damn overachiever this year.

These ones, I have read…

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

This might be the closest to a favorite this year. I am in favor of this because A) I love when quiet contemporary romances get awards attention B) I love Rainbow Rowell. My review from way back when here. Which reminds me, I would like to do a re-read soon, maybe early 2014. I’ll pencil it into my agenda.

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

As I mentioned, I think I liked Fangirl more than E&P. However, I am skeptical of this book’s Printz legs, if for the only reason that it is indeed set in college. That doesn’t bother me, but I would think this might give a committee pause, especially when E & P is also on the table. I’ll be looking forward to the discussion on Someday my Printz will Come. Review here.

Far, Far Away by Tom McNeal

This has to be the most audience-bending book of the year. It is narrated by the ghost of Jakob Grimm, who speaks very much like a 19th century academic. Adult. But the story Jakob tells is about a young-ish boy who lives in a little town that feels like a fairytale. Juvenile. But there’s all sorts of ominous, potentially violent tension…. YA? I have no idea. Review to come.

The Kingdom of Little Wounds by Susann Cokal

The Kingdom of Little Wounds definitely has the literary legs to get Printz attention. Why do I keep saying “legs” in this post, like a that is a legitimate way to talk about books? Or anything? I don’t know. It’s 6:30 a.m. on a Saturday. My brain doesn’t have the legs to function yet. Here’s a post from when I was slightly more cognizant. Emphasis on “slightly”

The Lucy Variations by Sara Zarr

Read this for a professional review this year and really enjoyed it. Not that it’s relevant, but I think Sara Zarr is generally under-awarded. Not that ANY of the criteria I’ve been talking about is relevant.

Relish by Lucy Knisley

Alright, I liked this book. I like Lucy Kinsley’s work a lot. But I don’t think it’s going to be on the committee’s radar – it’s not published as YA, and I think the adult, nostalgic perspective is pretty un-YA.

The Summer Prince by Alaya Dawn Johnson

A complex dystopia/post-apocalyptic story about art and rebellion that acknowledges race. This books has a lot of strengths, but I’ve heard some talk that the world building isn’t accurate or respectful of Brazilian culture, so maybe that will hold The Summer Prince back? Longer review to come, perhaps

Winger by Andrew Dean Smith

Every awards committee loves a good boarding school book, right? Here’s my review for more on Ryan Dean West. Let’s also talk sometime about how there are very few boarding school books with female leads, okay?


These books have been added to my to-read list

Boxers & Saints by Gene Luen Yang

It’s Gene Luen Yang. It’s epic and graphic. It’s not one, but TWO books. Can anything stop Boxers & Saints? Well, the fact that it is two books might, unless one is clearly stronger than the other.

Charm & Strange by Stephanie Kuehn

Charm & Strange seems to be one of those problem-novel books in which the main characters “problems” may be either pathological or supernatural. I can get behind that. Like Justine Larbalestier’s Liar, or even Edward Hogan’s Daylight Saving. madness, though,

A Corner of White by Jaclyn Moriarty

Let’s talk later about how I don’t think I like Australian YA and why that makes me feel vaguely racist. I will say, though, after attending a conference this weekend where Moriarty’s editor talked at length about this book’s strengths, I have bumped it up on my mental to-read queue. It helps that I’ve had a copy on my desk for months.

Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick

Is this book on the list because of it’s literary merit? Or is Mr. Quick still having his post Silver Linings Playbook “moment?” Eh, who cares. I think he deserves a moment. Also add this to the list of Books I’ve Had On My Desk for Months.

A Moment Comes by Jennifer Bradbury

And now for something completely different: historical fiction set in India. Is this the kind of book I think I should read, or the kind of book I will actually read? Or both? Or neither. More importantly, is it Printz-worthy? Are any of these? Are we all just barking up the entirely incorrect tree and come January, a herd of Dark Horse YA Books will appear on the list? Are we done asking rhetorical questions?

Yes. Yes, we are.

02 Feb 2013

Michael L. Printz Awards, 2013

Awards!! Yay!!

What better a way to spend an hour on Monday morning than tuning into the livecast? Last year, I was commuting during the announcements, but this year I saved some special, boring data-related work tasks to do while I watched, and then BAM it was lunch – morning well spent.

Congrats to Rachel Hartman’s Seraphina for taking home the William C. Morris last week. Commenter Sarah pretty much insisted it would win, so I put it on hold, and then it won and I felt like a prescient rockstar, even though it wasn’t my idea at all. Shall we continue our ALA Youth Media Award Blitz with a little more YA? I think so…



In Darkness by Nick Lake

Have I mentioned how much I love awards? I do love awards, I do! In Darkness is one reason why I love awards – because even when you read and read and read and follow the buzz and there are books you just know are going to win… well, that awards committee is reading books that you’ve never even heard of. And those invisible books are awesome, so they win.

I had not heard of In Darkness, but I think I saw the phrase “drinking blood to survive” in a review, so I’m guessing intense, crazy, and awesome.


Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz

Well, well. We meet again. This winner was the one that excited most of my friends and colleagues – I can think of two folks who read it between Monday and today, work book-club picked it for next month… and I’m thinking about how I renewed it five times and it sat on the floor by my bed, unread for all five renewals.

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

Well, no surprise here! I haven’t read this. I need to read it. It is sitting within my arm’s reach right now. I could reach over and read it, I could! But I’m not, because I am writing this post and watching Girls for the umpteenth time and I don’t always make great decisions with my time. There you have it.

Dodger by Terry Pratchett

I also love awards because the books and authors that are New! and Flashy! and So-Good! often obscure those authors that have chugged along, writing books that aren’t full of flash, for years and years and years and continue to do so. Like Terry Pratchett. I’ve only read Nation which also won a Printz honor – and I liked it; long, wordy but not dense, playful, funny. Dodger apparently stars both Charles Dickens and Sweeney Todd, which sounds like madcappy fun.

The White Bicycle by Beverley Brenna

The dark horse of this year’s Printz. This is the third in a series, which means if you want to read it, you’ll have to get a hold of two other books first. And by “you” I mean “me” – maybe you are not such a series purist. This series is about a teenage girl with Aspergers, and in this installment, she travels to France on a babysitting job… which sounds like a book that I would love, so maybe I’ll start hunting down books one and two?

29 Sep 2012

Printz 2013 contenders

Awards season is upon us… I can smell it in the air. Just a few weeks away from the National Book Award noms, and then on into January and yeahhhh…

And what’s more fun than a little awards speculation? Following Someday My Printz Will Come, and they’ve put together a lovely “short-list” of books that earned lots of starred reviews. Aka, a nice reading list to look over before the awards are announced in January.

These ones, I have read…


The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

Almost everything John Green touches turns to Printz gold (or silver). This one is still on the bestseller list, 9 months later. Adults who don’t read YA have heard of it! Can Green’s latest (greatest?) further cement his Printz darling status? (Please ignore my snark, I wrote a long paper on this topic a few years ago, so I can’t help it).  My (not-so-snarky) review here.

Titanic: Voices from the Disaster by Deborah Hopkinson

Um, I loved this book, and I love when non-fiction gets awards. My review here.

Beneath a Meth Moon by Jacqueline Woodson

I’ve heard mixed reviews on this one from Woodson-loving friends and reviewers alike. I, on the other hand, am a Woodson-lover who can’t get enough books about drug addicts, so I’m somewhat biased. My review here.

Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson

The Printz is not kind to my favorite genre of books – the pink-cover brigade. Second Chance Summer made me weep, but I’m not sure even well-drawn sentimentality traditionally wins awards points.  My review here.

Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone by Kat Rosenfeld

Not sure this one was… enough for a Printz. That doesn’t make sense, but then again, I’m not on the Printz awards committee so I am allowed a certain level of nonspecific language.  I haven’t read a TON of debuts this year, so maybe I am talking out of my ass, but this one has William C. Morris Award written all over it.   My review here.

My Book of Life By Angel by Martine Leavitt

This book I read for a professional review – I read it once and said, “Oh, book in verse, sad teen prostitutes, eh.” Then I read it again and it knocked me off my feet. It’s gritty, written in verse so spare there are barely any words on the page, and full of literary allusions – an impressive combination.


 These books have been added to my to-read list

The Storyteller by Antonia Michaelis

In this German-translated novel, protagonist Anna is in love with a troubled bad boy who tells pseudo-fairytales and may be a serial killer. Maybe I’ve been exposed to too much Christian Grey/Edward Cullen, but somehow I am not only tolerant of this plotline, I am intrigued.

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

Everyone from my close friends to review mags to blogs to awards committees to my little sister insist this is a must read. I’ve read about a hundred pages, but it’s a lot of historical for me. I should try to muscle through, because I think all this critical acclaim can’t be ignored.

Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley

I am not sure this one sounds like a true awards contender, but it sounds like a fun urban romp, a la Nick and Norah, worth checking out.

The Disenchantments by Nina Lacour

I really liked Lacour’s Hold Still, so I’ve been wanting to check out her sophomore effort for quite some time…

The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily Danforth

One of my nearest and dearest Boston friends (who is moving to Seattle in like, three days!! WAAAH!) gushed about this book, so it must be something special. However, I am not sure how I feel about “both my parents have died, but this book isn’t really about my parents being dead” books – it might beyond my capacity to understand how dead parents can coexist with any other sort of plot-point.

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz

Also recommended by my Why-Are-You-Leaving-Me-For-Seattle friend, and also the author of another book I loved last year – Last Night I Sang to the Monster. And if there was an award for best book cover of the year? This one would have to be up there.


24 Jan 2012

Michael L. Printz Awards, 2012

The ALA Youth Media Awards are like the Oscars to a highly specific set of highly nerdy folks like myself. Actually, I get kind of nerdy about the Oscar noms, too: both awards announcements send me immediately to my library to frantically place holds.

My favorite event? The Michael L. Printz Awards, given to young adult books that exemplify excellence.

And I was Quite pleased withthis year’s showing!


Where Things Come Back by John Corey Whaley

Very tickled about this one. It was my 3rd favorite book of the year, you see, and my favorite YA, hands down. Additionally, Mr. Whaley himself recently contributed some otherwise unpublished poetry to the online literary journal I intern with. Double excitement!


Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler & Maira Kalman

Again, I think I’ve name-dropped this book a few times here on the old blog. Last week, I spotted it on display at my library-of-employment and grabbed it (and probably narrowly avoided back injury – it’s quite the heavy tome). Later that same day, I listened to one of my professor’s perform a short dramatic reading of one of the later passages, a dramatic monologue by the protagonist, Min, in which she berates herself in highly specific, Very-Daniel-Handler-esque language for what seemed like 3 or 4 pages. I was entranced, and the book was already in my bag.

The Returning by Christine Hinwood

This one might be a little too fantasy-ish for my usual tastes, but on a strong review over at A Chair, A Fireplace, and A Tea Cozy, I did actually get through about 100 pages before Christmas. Kind of forgot I was reading it, but that is certainly my fault and not the fault of the book.

Jasper Jones by Craig Silvey

Alright. There’s always one book I haven’t heard of. Preliminary research shows that Mr. Silvey is a 30-ish-yr old Aussie with another novel under his belt, and that Jasper Jones has sold movie rights.Sounds promising…

The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater

I have talked about this book too much already… but yes, I liked it!

10 May 2020

read every word

In 2020, The Year of The Virus, it’s entirely justified to have abandoned your New Year’s Resolutions.

Luckily for me… I didn’t make any!

Just kidding. I wrote that and immediately remembered this page in my planner. Of course I turned my non-resolutions into resolutions. I wouldn’t recognize myself in the mirror if I didn’t. But it’s May and it’s The Year of the Virus so I forgot about #2 and #3 entirely.

I didn’t forget about #1, because while my personal and paid-employment life are entirely upended, 2020 has been and still remains

My Printz Year.

Yes, I have the (distinct, long-desired, overwhelmingly overwhelming) privilege of serving on the 2021 Michael L. Printz Award committee! Together with 8 other professionals from around the country, I have accepted the task of determining which young adult book published in 2020 is… the best.

Awesome responsibility, meet insane year! I was three months deep into the project of figuring out how to inject as much reading into my everyday as I could. There were schedules. Checklists. Holds lists. Spreadsheets. Publisher donations were starting to come in. Travel plans to attend ALA Annual for the first time since 2013.

So much has changed in the library world, the publishing world. There’s still a lot of uncertainty as for what means for us – me and the dozens of other award-givers in this strange year. Lots of possibilities, lots of “what if this…” and “what if that…” And, of course, the narrow purview that is my own world has changed significantly. I am working less than I was eight week ago, but I am caring for my children a lot more. I don’t have ten commutes a week and five lunch breaks. I don’t have publisher donations streaming in; I don’t go to the library to buy books and pick up holds every day.



At the end of the year, our task remains the same: to determine which YA book best meets the criteria of excellence.

And at the end of each week and month, our task remains the same: to Read All the Books.


I made a tiny, forgotten list of resolutions in January, but I also selected a theme. A mantra. It’s something I’ve told myself when I need motivation to focus on my book review reading. You don’t have to enjoy a book, you don’t have to savor it, you don’t have to understand it on a first read, you don’t have to decide what you think about it, or write the review in your head as you read.

You do have to keep the book open, and your eyes and brain on the page.

You do have to Read Every Word.


At the end of each and every day in 2020 –

days when my children wake up before six a.m.

days when the news makes me cry

days when I accidentally FaceTime my family for hours

days when there’s not enough coffee to keep me from an afternoon nap

days when I spend all day trying to sneak away from my family to squeeze in a mere hour of actual paid work

days when the dishes dirty themselves as fast as I can wash them

days when I never want this stay-at-home family lifestyle to end

days when I am longing for the humble blessing of my former life’s daily routines

days when I love books

days when I am sick of them all


my task remains the same.


02 Feb 2015

reading rockstar

This morning I woke up to a foot-ish of snow and the cold, hard reality that my employer was expecting me to show up at work. Also, a post-Super Bowl Too Much Food&Drink Not Enough Sleep situation. Read: grumpy as hell.

I did, however, make it into the office in time to watch the webcast of  the ALA Youth Media Awards. And wow, what a crazy set of awards. There were upsets! Some well-deserving sleepers! Some books I really disliked taking home gold medals! An arguably YA graphic novel on the Caldecott list, a graphic novel on the Newbery list, and six (SIX!!) Caldecott honors that still somehow managed to skip some of my 2014 favorites. Definitely a wild ride.

Now, because I am having such a crummy day, I am going to divert your attention from the authors and illustrators who put forth such an amazing crop of children’s and young adult literature this past year and brag SHAMELESSLY about how many of these freaking award books I have read. Seriously. Reader, I killed it.


  • I read the Newbery Medal winner – The Crossover by Kwame Alexander – and both honor books.
  • I read the Coretta Scott King Author Award winner – Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson – and one honor.
  • I read the Coretta Scott King Illustrator winner – Firebird by Christopher Myers and Misty Copeland – and one honor.
  • I read the Schneider Family Book Award for middle school readers – Rain Reign by Ann M. Martin.
  • I read the Pura Belpre Illustrator Award – Viva Frida by Yuyi Morales.
  • I did not read the Stonewall Book Award winner – This Day in June by Gayle E. Pittman – but I did read two of the three honor books.
  • I did not read the Geisel Winner – You Are (Not) Small by Anna Kang and Christopher Weyant – but I did read one of the two honor books.
  • I read the William C. Morris award winner – Gabi, A Girl in Pieces by Isabel Quintero – and one other honor book.


The only categories I completely whiffed on were the Pura Belpre Author Award and my beloved Alex List. Brag, braggity brag brag BRAG… but this is likely the only year this will happen, so thank you for indulging my self-indulgence and CHEERS to another great year of books!


15 Dec 2014

This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki


#10 This One Summer by Jillian and Mariko Tamaki

Boy, am I a sucker for a good Summer Read. Seriously. Throw the word “summer” in a book title and I’m in. I blame Sarah Dessen, Summer Sisters, and my parents for letting me go to summer camp.

I picked up Mariko and Jillian Tamaki’s This One Summer a few weeks after I returned from my week at the beach, and it was like I’d stepped back into Summer Vacation Land. This graphic novel opens with a series of gorgeous spreads depicting Rose’s arrival to her family’s vacation home – a cottage at Awago Beach where Rose has spent most of her childhood summers. Rose is our protagonist – a gangly tween who wants little to do with her hippie-ish parents who are struggling with something they don’t speak about. Maybe she wants nothing to do with her slightly younger summer friend, Windy, either. Rose’s posture speaks volumes – she’s all loose jointed and indifferent, her eyes often looking just away from the other characters in a frame, like she’s hoping something better might come along.

Both the dialog and the intricate and evocative art work contribute to just bafflingly good character development in this graphic novel. Sometimes I feel like even graphic novels that don’t star superheroes tend toward trauma, violence, and Big Stories. This could be the nature of the graphic novel format – it’s easier to tell visual stores that involve characters who… oh, you know… move around. But so many of my favorite novels are the interior stories, the books that could never be made into movies. Finally, the Tamakis have captured my favorite breed of quiet, introspective coming of age stories with words and text in this excellent graphic novel. The characters in This One Summer are just as nuanced and distinct as any coming of age novel I’ve read, and Rose’s journey from the last dregs of childhood to the very beginning of adolescence is just as complex.

During one summer, Rose confronts many scenes that put her face to face with the way that adults really live. The guy at the video store maybe knocked a local girl up. Her mother has another miscarriage. She’s confused about becoming an adult, and afraid about it, but she’s also beginning to emulate it. This impacts her relationship with Windy immensely; Windy is younger, on the the other side of the divide between child and teen, and shows no interest in the kind of things that Rose seems fixated on. Rose pushes Windy around a bit, but Windy has a remarkably – and believably – strong sense of her own character. It’s a classic complicated friendship, but I want to say I’ve never seen a novel handle the nuances of a relationship between older and younger friends quite so adeptly.

What I am trying to say is: this is a graphic novel that is doing things I never dreamed graphic novels could do. It’s an entirely different tone than what I’ve grown used to. The only comparison I can draw is to Craig Thompson’s Blankets… which, from me, is a HIGH compliment – his latest was my #1 in 2012 – and alsooooooo…

I might like This One Summer better. Shh.

I would really not be surprised whatsoever if this showed up on the Printz list in January.

27 Sep 2014

2014 or gtfo

As much as I aspire to be content in the present moment, focused entirely on the work at hand today, this morning, this minute, I just really am not a zen meditation lady by nature. This lends a certain “TIME. IS STILL MARCHING ON” tone about this blog, I know. But heaven help me, there are just too many books to read and ideas to discuss and places to visit and things to do and blargh did I mention I’m turning 30 in less than six months? I’m turning 30. So there’s that.

This morning I am thinking about December. I am thinking about December of 2014, when I will be busy writing blog posts and book reviews and Christmas shopping and traveling and what have you, and then all of these magazines and newspapers will start publishing those juicy “Best of 2014” lists. I will be left, yet again – year after year – wondering how I could have missed so many great books and wondering what the heck I was even reading this year and wondering if I will die without having read The Best Books of 2014.

So maybe a preemptive strike is in order.

Like my big fat Printz posts, the following lists are pure gut instinct and baseless speculation. I asked myself what young adult-ish books I’d be remiss to not have read this year. What books are the must-reads, not because they are better than any other books, but because they have been at the heart of the 2014 reading conversation? I’ve narrowed it down to two lists – the Everyone Must-Reads and the If You’re Into YA Realism Like I Am Must-Reads. Some I’ve read, some I haven’t. Along with the National Book Awards long list, I’ll probably try to squeeze a few more of these into the last quarter of the year, lest 2014 go to complete and utter reading waste.

Alos, leave me suggestions if you have them!!

 The Must List

– read these in 2014 or gtfo –


1) Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson

2) I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson

3) The Great Greene Heist by Varian Johnson

4) We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

5) The Port Chicago 50 by Steve Sheinkin

6) This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki

7) Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith

8) The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson


 The YA Realism Must List

– if realism is your genre of choice, then you should read these –


1) Noggin by John Corey Whaley

2) Pointe by Brandy Colbert

3) Far From You by Tess Sharpe

4) Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins

5) Everything Leads to You by Nina LaCour

6) Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson

7) 100 Sideways Miles by Andrew Smith

8) The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton

9) The Crossover by Kwame Alexander


(I promise to stop making lists of the same 20 books in a different order soon. I really promise!)