"Outside a dog a book is man's best friend, inside a dog it is too dark to read!" -Groucho Marx========="The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid." -Jane Austen========="I don’t believe in the kind of magic in my books. But I do believe something very magical can happen when you read a good book."-JK Rowling========"I spend a lot of time reading." -Bill Gates=========“Ahhh. Bed, book, kitten, sandwich. All one needed in life, really.” -Jacqueline Kelly=========

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Mock Printz...my favorites

Our Mock Printz Workshop is just around the corner. Just as the real Printz Award committee is preparing for their selection meeting the end of this month, my team of 50 high school readers are preparing for theirs.  They have been very busy reading, reading, reading... trying to figure out which book deserves top honors. The Printz Committee (American Library Association) uses this criteria as they make their selection, therefore we attempt to use the same:
Quality Literature. Published in 2012. What is quality? We hope the award will have a wide AUDIENCE among readers from 12 to 18 but POPULARITY is not the criterion for this award. Nor is MESSAGE. In accordance with the Library Bill of Rights, CONTROVERSY is not something to avoid. In fact, we want a book that readers will talk about. Librarianship focuses on individuals, in all their diversity,... As every reader knows, a great book can redefine what we mean by quality. Criteria change with time...What we are looking for, in short, is literary excellence. All forms of writing—fiction, nonfiction, poetry, art, and any combination of these, including anthologies—are eligible. The following criteria are only suggested guidelines and should in no way be considered as absolutes... Depending on the book, one or more of these criteria will apply:
  • Story
  • Voice
  • Style
  • Setting
  • Accuracy
  • Characters
  • Theme
  • Illustrations
  • Design (including format, organization, etc.)

Of the 25 books I read, here are my favorites: 

1. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green...very strong voice and story, unforgettable characters, the portion of the book in The Netherlands displays an unusually strong and beautiful setting; the theme, childhood cancer, is not one I have often (if ever) seen in YA lit. It is handled in a sensitive but not overly sentimental way. Even with all its hype this book deserves it. Grade: A+

2. Dodger by Terry Pratchett...compelling voice and point of view; the setting, Victorian London, seems to be accurate with comparisons to Dickens' works. Really strong and likeable characters. Pratchett inserts a kind of self deprecating humor to his writing that makes it a delight to read. Grade: A

3. Seraphina by Rachel Hartman...fantasy with a beautifully wrought setting, exquisite writing, and unforgettable characters, even the dragons. I could see the whole world that Hartman created in my mind's eye. Grade: A

4. Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein...set during WWII in both England and France; the story and plot were very strong, the voice of the narrators, which shifted in the middle of the book, allowed the reader to gain insights they wouldn't have if only told from one point of view. Grade: A-

5. Never Fall Down by Patricia McCormick...based on a true story of one person's experience during the reign of Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia; the voice of the narrator made the story. Grade: A-

6. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Saentz...of the five LGBT books I read this year, this is my favorite.  I was so beautifully written it felt like I was reading one big, long, beautiful poem. Grade: A- (Review Pending)

7. Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater...paranormal mystery (with a bit of romance thrown in); very strong writing with enough of a plot twist to make it different than the glut of paranormal books so popular right now. Grade A-

8. Dying to Know You by Aidan Chambers...the narrator, who never identifies himself; strong descriptive writing, and the growth of the main character all make this a strong contender. Grade B+

9. Ask the Passengers by A.S. King...very strong descriptive writing and a memorable and sympathetic main character are pluses for this LGBT novel. Very strong and compelling theme of love. Grade: B+

10. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews...unique writing design styles used throughout this book (movie script, journal, quizzes). What are the chances of having two excellent books about kids with cancer in one year?  My only problem with this one is the sheer volume of foul language. It compels me to give a reading disclaimer. Grade: B+


  1. I've only read 2 on your list (Seraphina and Code Name Verity) and enjoyed them. I've got the rest on my list to read and I look forward to reading them. I have a very strong feeling that Code Name Verity is a Printz contender.

    1. I agree that Code name Verity is a stronger contender,but that is what I thought about Between Shades of Gray last year. I was shocked that it wasn't even given an honor. It will be interesting to see who wins. There are lots of great YA books published this year. I'm keeping my fingers crossed The Fault in our Stars and Dodger.

  2. Great list and a great activity for your students. We should try something like this next year


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