"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=========

Sunday, February 11, 2018

My favorite YA titles of 2017. Will any of them win the Printz Award?

On Monday the Youth Media Awards will be announced at the end of the ALA Midwinter Conference. While I was a high school librarian I spent a lot of time promoting these award winners and tried to figure out the winners each year before the big announcement. This past year I didn't read as many YA titles that are potential Printz winners. Retirement was the reason. But of the books I did read, here are my five-star favorites. The quotes come from my reviews of these books. Click on the hyperlinks if you want to read more.

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
"If you truly want to help make our world a better place for everyone, you need to read The Hate U Give.

I will be shocked if The Hate U Give doesn't clean up when all the book awards are given out at the end of the year. In fact I will be surprised if it doesn't win them all: The National Book Award, The Printz Award, The Coretta Scott King Award, the Boston-Globe/Horn Book Award, The Morris Award, and The Walden Award. For that reason alone, you need to read The Hate U Give."

"It is possible that Jim Thorpe is the greatest American athlete to ever live. What makes this statement even more remarkable is that many, possibly most, Americans have never heard of him...
Will it win a book award this year? It very well may. Sheinkin is not unfamiliar with the award podium, having won the YALSA Nonficiton book award, a finalist for the National Book Award, a winner of the Seibert Medal, and a Newbery finalist for past books, it is possible this book will also be honored with an award, or two. Let's hope so. That way more people will read about Jim Thorpe and his amazing athletic endeavors."

"This YA book has heart, and I assure you it will touch your heart. Often it seems that YA novels deal with such small, first-world problems. That is not the case with The Uninterrupted View of the Sky.
This book opens the eyes of the reader to much bigger and life-threatening problems that exist elsewhere in the world. It does it gently and thoughtfully, with a touch of poetry, so the reader doesn't end up feeling clubbed over the head with the information. I highly recommend it for both teen and adult readers."

The Pearl Thief by Elizabeth Wein

"In case you think you recognize the name Julie Beaufort-Stuart, if you read Code Name Verity, a Printz Honor book published in 2012, she was the protagonist of that book who was working as a British spy and was captured by the Nazis. The Pearl Thief is considered a prequel of Code Name Verity, but it very easily reads as a stand alone, though we do see the beginnings of Julie's skills as a first rate snoop and the makings of a spy. It is a very different book from CNV, in a lot of ways I liked it better, and that is saying a lot. In The Pearl Thief we meet a girl who is just coming into her own. She is trying to figure out issues related to friendship and prejudice, class and privilege, sexuality and manipulation. In a lot of ways Julie is an unreliable narrator but as she learns things, we do too. I loved her voice and seeing things through her eyes. The climax, which comes very late in the story, was a shocker to me, one I didn't see coming at all. Amal El-Mohtar, writing a review of PT for NPR said this about the two books, "It's an enormously different book from Code Name Verity — but across time, space, and genres, they slip off their gloves and hold hands." Isn't that a lovely description?"

"Kay Frydenberg in her aptly named book A Dog in the Cave pulls together all kinds of research from paleontology, biology, and the social sciences on dogs and their relationship to humans. The book is fascinating." I told more people about this book than any other book I read this past year.

"I have been a John Green fan since I read his first book Looking for Alaska. He is so literate and adds so many quotes and thoughts from literature, this time there is is a lot of Shakespeare included, that I feel refreshed or renewed just reading his books. This book has a very serious topic, though, mental illness and its treatment, hence the on first page we find Aza thinking of herself as fictional.  It is very well done."

"I cannot begin to tell you how much I like this book. It is superbly written and researched. The photos added to an understanding of how much devastation was done to a race of people even though they were American citizens. I highly recommend it to all readers, not just to the target young adult audience. May this book serve as a reminder that we will never again do such a dreadful thing to our own citizens."

"I am so grateful for authors like Ann Bausum who continue to write about events from our past so that we can hold them up to examine and, hopefully, make some needed changes. After the election of 2016 when Trump was elected and the events that have followed it is very obvious that we cannot ever take out eyes off the prize. We must all hold voting as dear and not abdicate our responsibility to vote and allow others to do so, too."

La Belle Sauvage (#1 Book of Dust) by Philip Pullman

"One of the things that makes La Belle Sauvage so special is that it quite clearly gives a nod to children's literature that came before it. Set in Oxford, we are left with the feeling that Alice is likely to pop up at any time. And, as you know, C.S. Lewis lived and wrote in Oxford. The adventures into Narnia with the supernatural elements weren't far from my mind as I read this book, too. One cannot embark on a water journey without giving a small nod to the Odyssey. It is as if Pullman wanted his readers to know that this book, this series and his characters fall safely into the confines and rules of good storytelling."

All the Crooked Saints by Maggie Stiefvater

"What I like about All the Crooked Saints is all the magical realism that is used to highlight points. If you aren't comfortable reading magical realism because it confuses you, think about the magic as a literary technique that is showing the reader a truth without being obvious about it. On the the Bicho Raro Ranch all the Sorias are bound up in their own issues so much that they are living very small lives to the point that interacting with the pilgrims is dangerous. When Daniel Soria falls in love with a pilgrim he thinks of it as a death sentence so he wanders off into the desert to die. While in the desert he goes blind. Even as he feels the presence of the curse creeping up on him, he is given water by long dead family members who encourage him on. Now stop and think. Is he really blind? Is really given water by dead people? No. This is the magical part of the story. The reader has to take a moment to see the blindness and the thirst for what it is. He is blind to self and he thirsts for what his ancestors had---normal relations with pilgrims that didn't involve death. See? Reading magical realism is fun. It just takes time to let the brain kick in and help untangle the messages hidden within."

"This book is a treasure in its self. It is perfect for the young teen boy or girl who likes to read about real life adventures or who is obsessed with pirates. But it is also fascinating for anyone, adults included, who likes to read to find out new information about topics which they thought they already knew plenty."

Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor

"Strange the Dreamer is the first book in a new series. There is tremendous world-building, colorful (literally) characters, unique plots and twists, and a love story, to boot. The only problem--- it ends on a cliff-hanger. A big one, in fact. Argh! All I have been thinking about for the past few days is wondering how things are going to work out for Lazlo Strange and his love interest. Laini Taylor have you written the second book yet? If so, why don't you just go ahead and publish it right now? That would be really lovely and timely because I want to know what happens next and I want to know NOW!"

It is unlikely that the Printz committee will select one of the nonfiction selections but it has happened. I read so many nonfiction selections this past year as a Cybils judge and many of those books were my favorites of 2017.


  1. Of these, I've only read Strange the Dreamer, which I loved, and THUG, which was very good, but maybe a bit of a let-down because it was so hyped. I just started listening to Undefeated too. I've really loved other work by Green, Stiefvater, Pullman and Wein, so I still hope to get to all of their 2017 titles. The others on your list aren't familiar to me, so I will have to check them out for sure! I always love your recommendations.

    1. I doubt that Strange the Dreamer will win anything because of it being so clearly the first book in a series. But who knows?

  2. Love seeing some CYBILS books in there! Winners will be announced Wednesday. That is a list of wonderful books and I hope some of them win ALA awards tomorrow.

    1. Can't wait to find out what you and your team selected for Cybils.

  3. I just figured out that Uprooted is not available for awards this year as it was published late in 2016, making it eligible to the Cybils but not the YM Awards.

  4. I've only read one of them, and loved it. Philip Pullman is a favorite. I've heard lots of raves about several others, and not just from you!

  5. What a wonderful list. I must get to T H U G soon. SO many books etc. But all these look amazing.


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