"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=========

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

My thoughts on a few potential Printz books

The ALA Youth Media Awards will be announced next Monday, Feb. 2, 2015. Prior to that time I will host a Mock Printz workshop here at GKHS where my 40+ readers will pretend to be the selection committee and select their favorite YA book of the year. Stay tuned for our results. They will be posted on January 30th.

My students read a lot of books this year in preparation for the mock Printz workshop, so many it is hard to keep them all straight. I compiled this chart to help me think through each book, to comtemplate to pros and cons of each book, and whether I think it is worthy of consideration for a youth media award.

Note, just because I don't think a book is Printz-worthy does not mean that the book isn't good or that it shouldn't be read. I liked all of the books on the list, just some more than others.

Printz worthy?
Jacqueline Woodson
Memoir in verse; historical-civil rights; learning disabilities
Poetry not that unique; Covering a time period in Woodsen’s life when she was a young child or pre-teen.
Yes, but I think there are better books.
Kwame Alexander
Concrete poems; very fast-paced storyline
Characters in middle school perhaps more likely to be considered for Newbery.
Yes, but this may be Newbery material.
Paul Fleischman
Information is timely and vital. Very readable.
Students are surprisingly uninterested in this book/topic.
Candace Fleming
On the short list for the YALSA Nonfiction Award; pacing very good.
Nothing spectacular about the writing.
Yes, but I hope it earns the YALSA nonfiction award instead.
Gail Giles
Two narrators with very different voices. Both are special education students, both living in foster care.
It has an important message about acceptance and friendship but story actually seems quite unlikely, especially the ending.
Half Bad
Sally Green
Imaginative plot and storyline
Writing good but not that spectacular; first book in a series which I think is a deterrent to the committee
The Islands at the End of the World
Austin Aslan
Very exciting plot
Inaccurate description of epilepsy
Corrine Duyvis
Very creative fantasy plot
Very confusing storyline between that world and this world and space in between.
No, but it should be considered for the Batchelder Award for books translated into English.
Cammie McGovern
OCD and living with facial deformities; characters are unique and fully flushed out; just when you think you know where the story is going it veers in another direction
Do all stories have to have a happily-ever-after endings even for such dire circumstances?
Yes. It should also be considered for the Schneider Family Award.
EK Johnston
Realism and fantasy mingled together.
Also the first book is a proposed series; the action portions in the fights between man and dragon weren’t very exciting or tense.
The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender
Leslye Walton
Magical realism; unique plot and strong writing. Symbolism abounds. On the Morris Award shortlist for debut authors.
Students are not sure if they can cope with the magical realism. J
Yes, this is one of my favorites.
Emily Carroll
Fabulous graphics; really creepy short stories.
A student favorite.
Kate Hattemer
The introduction of the long poem; a character driven novel with just enough action to keep the plot moving along. This was an early favorite.
Even with the marvelous long poem usage the plot has faded in my memory. Maybe not as special as I once thought?
E. Lockhart
The only mystery in the bunch. Like layers of an onion the mystery is revealed. Most students report they were shocked by the ending.
I, on the other hand, saw the ending coming and wasn’t shocked at all.
Yes, but it is not a personal favorite.
100 Sideways Miles
Andrew Smith
Quirky characters, unique plot, pacing good.
Questions about the accuracy of health information and the decisions the adults make around health.
Hmm. Can’t decide. Sorry, no help from me.
Mariko Tamaki
Fabulous graphics; the coming-of-age story seems to ring true. Of all the books I read for the Mock Printz, this one has increased in my estimation since I first read it. It just seems so right on.
Characters are pre-teens but the storyline is definitely YA.
 Jandy Nelson
Spectacular writing; story told in two voices; this book has a lot going for it-strong plot, artistic symbolism, teens dealing with feelings of grief, rivalry, artistic talents, sexual awakening. This is a favorite with the teen readers and with this blogger.
Critics say the book is over-written and the ending is tied up too neatly.
Yes, this is my favorite to win the top prize.
Glory O’Brien’s History of Future
A.S. King
Strong writing and imaginative plotting.
As distressing as the history of the future is the characters seem just resigned. Parts of this storyline just didn’t work for me.
Isabel Quintero
Latina character; coming of age. Plucky main character. On the Morris Award short list.
Too many issues, all of them huge: death, homosexuality, rape, birth of younger sibling, teen pregnancy, etc. My head is spinning to recall all the issues.
Yes, but I think this will likely earn the Pura Belpre Award.
Meg Wolitzer
Symbolism and relationship to Sylvia Plath’s Bell Jar. The ending was a shocker.
Much, much more could have been done with the symbolism. Writing not very stron
Grasshopper Jungle
Andrew Smith
Wacky plot---big lizard mutants taking over the world but the writing is fast-paced and fun. (Crawl inside the head of a teenage boy and what do you get?)
Lots and I mean lots, of foul language and sex. Too much really.
Hmm. I am so conflicted about Andrew Smith.
The Impossible Knife of Memory
Laurie Halse Anderson
Anderson’s reputation after writing Speak has her positioned to be in consideration for awards every book she writes; this book’s theme is the devastation of war: PTSD. A timely and needed theme.
I wanted more on PTSD and less on angsty teenagers.
A Time to Dance
Padma Venkatraman
Beautiful imagery written in verse; cultural and religious messages.
The story drags a little in the middle.
Yes, but I don’t think it will not get the love it deserves.

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