Friday, October 19, 2012

Printz Watch 2013: The Land Down Under

One of my very favorite things about the Printz award is its international scope.  Though it's an award given in America by an American committee, books from all over the world are considered to be eligible as long as an American edition is published during the consideration year.  Books like Meg Rosoff's how i live now, the 2005 winner, Kit's Wilderness, the 2001 winner, and Postcards from No Man's Land, the 2003 winner, were written by British authors.  A couple of international Honor books include Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging (UK), Skellig (UK), and Nothing (Denmark).

The international scope of the Printz is pretty far-reaching, but I would argue that perhaps Australia has one of the most influential group of YA writers on the planet.  Melina Marchetta's jaw-dropping masterpiece Jellicoe Road won the Printz in 2009 (and if you haven't read that one, I beseech you to. It's in my top two favorite books OF ALL TIME).  There have been seven additional Australian authors that have received Printz Honors (and one from New Zealand---hi, Elizabeth Knox! Only Kiwi on the list--represent!). Two of these authors have received multiple Printz Honors.  But this isn't surprising.  Australian YA is AMAZING and over here at the Pearl Library, I do my very best to collect as much of it as I can.  There are still some fantastic authors that haven't been published in the US (like Shirley Marr and Kirsty Eagar), but the ones that have American distributors here are on my shelves!

This year, there are three serious Printz contenders that have been imported from Australia.

Margo Lanagan has received two Printz Honors already.  She's known for writing haunting and slightly disturbing works of fiction.  These tend to skirt the line between magic realism and flat-out fantasy.  The Brides of Rollrock Island is about a remote ocean community in which men utilize the services of a local witch to draw their wives from the creatures of the sea.  Published in Australia as Sea Hearts, this book is every bit as unsettlingly beautiful as Lanagan's other works.  This book received five starred reviews. (See our last post for information about starred reviews!)  The language is beautiful, the characters are flawed and relatable, and you can't look away.  Is it Printz-worthy? Honestly, I don't know, but with Lanagan's history of awards, you better believe the Printz committee will be reading and rereading it.  To check it out yourself, click here.

Graffiti Moon may not have received any starred reviews, but I say forget about that because it's wonderful.  Lucy has just year 12 and before her life changes forever, she just wants to find Shadow.  Shadow is a graffiti artist that only works at night, and Lucy's artistic soul adores his work.  The entire book takes place in one night as Lucy tries to locate the elusive Shadow, with the help of Ed, the last guy she wants to deal with. But Ed says he knows how to find Shadow, so they spend an all-night search going from place to place and finding out more and more about Shadow.  But as the search progresses, Lucy finds out more about herself, her friends, and even Ed.  This book is just so lovely.  Cath Crowley captures the voices, the insecurities, the inner lives of her characters so well.  We have another one of her books, A Little Wanting Song (Aussie title: Chasing Charlie Duskin), and that, it just changed the way I look at my own self.  This lady's got chops.  Y'all, even if this book doesn't get a Printz nod, it deserves a read. Request it here.

Oh, Melina, MELINA, Melina.  If this woman wrote ingredients lists on cereal boxes, I'd read them, so you should probably be aware that there is nothing that I say about her or this book that will be unbiased or objective in the least.  Froi is a follow up to her insanely popular Finnikin of the Rock, in which Marchetta tried her hand at fantasy.  And suceeded beautifully, of course.  Finnikin worked as a standalone, but then she decided to explore the character of Froi in his own work, and it was just as lovely. (She's calling the series the Chronicles of Lumatere.)  I'll be totally honest and say that it's been awhile since I've read this one.  It was published in Australia about a year ago, and I couldn't wait for the US publication date, so...I ordered it from overseas. WORTH IT.  I'm currently reading the third book in this trilogy, Quintana of Charyn, which will be published in the US in March (yeah, I ordered this one from Australia, too. Obviously.).  Do I think Froi is Printz-worthy? Based solely on literary merit, definitely. It's received four starred reviews!  But the fact is, it's the middle book of a trilogy.  There's a lot of backstory, and there's a lot of buildup to the final book.  I loved learning about the history of Skuldenore, and about Froi's origins, and continuing the story of Finnikin and his family.  I loved it and I thought it was literarily excellent, but it doesn't stand alone as a single title very well.  If you read this one without reading the first book, you'd probably be lost, and I think that will count against it during Printz deliberation.  Still, start by reading Finnikin, then read Froi.  You know I'll have the last book on our shelves as soon as Candlewick publishes it in March.

I know this one has been a long one, but I'm utterly fascinated by the way that YA is written and received in other countries.  Pick up one of these Aussie books! You'll be so glad you did.


Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Teens' Top Ten Winners Announced!

The teens have spoken! Here's the list of this year's Teens' Top Ten winners. Click on the link to request the book from your CMRLS library. Next time you're at Brandon, come by the YA department with your smart phone and scan the QR codes to see the book trailers!
  1. Divergent by Veronica Roth
  2. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
  3. Legend by Marie Lu
  4. What Happened to Goodbye by Sarah Dessen
  5. Across the Universe by Beth Revis
  6. Cinder by Marissa Meyer
  7. The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater
  8. Where She Went by Gayle Forman
  9. Abandon by Meg Cabot

Friday, October 12, 2012

Printz Watch 2013: The Seven Stars Edition

When a young adult novel is published, it often reviewed in professional journals, like School Library Journal, Kirkus Reviews, Publishers Weekly, and the like. (These are the kinds of peer-reviewed journals that your teachers beg you to cite for your English papers!) These reviews are used by teachers and your local librarians to decide if a book is a good fit for our collection.  When the reviewer and the publication deem a book particularly excellent, they give it a "starred" review.  The books that get multiple starred reviews are a casual (though not ever definite) indicator to readers in looking for potential winners for awards such as the Printz.

Y'all, this is the year of the stars.

Three young adult books published in 2012 have gotten SEVEN starred reviews so far.  That is off the charts.  I have read all of them and here is a rundown:

John Green is always a good bet.  He won the Printz award in 2006 for Looking for Alaska.  His next book An Abundance of Katherines was a Printz Honor book in 2007. He tops the bestseller charts every time he has a book release and teens line up for his books.  He's a steady vlogger and he and his brother started the whole "nerdfighter" phenomenon.  Dude's got serious credentials.  The Fault in Our Stars is about Hazel, a cancer patient, and Augustus, a cancer survivor.  It is compulsively readable. And it's poignant, of course.  Anyone who can read this book without crying like a wretch might not have a heart.  That being said, it's awfully unrealistic in some places.  Hazel might be facing her own mortality on a daily basis and Augustus might be extremely well read, but good grief they're ridiculously erudite and mature for their age.  RIDICULOUSLY.  The author that they come into contact with is also a bit too...textbook, for lack of a better description.  All of that taken into consideration, the Printz committe will have many, many, many discussions about this book and it's obviously literariness.  Also, it hasn't been checked in at Pearl since it arrived, so you'll need to get in line to get it.  Click here to request it!

Elizabeth Wein wasn't an author I was extremely familiar with.  She's written some Arthurian fantasy which I haven't read.  However, Code Name Verity is far from fantasy.  It's historical fiction, and it's set during WWII.  As a little aside, I'm not a huge fan of war books.  I never have been.  I read mainly to escape, and I don't like to escape into the darkness of war.  But I keep seeing reviews and blogs about how unbelievably good this book is, so I picked it up and promptly read it in one sitting.  This is the story of two girls and their friendship.  Both of them met while doing pilot and radio training in England at the start of the war.  One of them, however, has been captured.  She is telling her story, and the story of her friend, to buy herself time in Gestapo prison, though she knows that the Nazis will almost certainly kill her as soon as she has finished.  People, this book is breathtaking.  Told from two perspectives, the intricacy of the plot reminds me of the great Melina Marchetta. Seriously, it's completely brilliant. The climax will shock you and if you're anything like me, you will weep. The relationship between these two young women is the center and the heart of this book.  Their friendship is strong and true and lovely to watch.  This quote from the book sums it up beautifully: "It's like falling in love, finding your best friend."  The Printz Committee will love this one, and I'd be shocked it if at least didn't get an honor.  Click here to request.  You won't be sorry.

So about as different from books about cancer and war as you can get, the last seven-star book is about dragons. Seraphina, named for the main character is a half-dragon.  She carefully keeps this fact hidden. The peace between her country of Goredd and the dragons has been carefully constructed, and though dragons can walk through her country in their human form, or saarantas, they are still deeply mistrusted by the humans.  The anniversary of the treaty between the two peoples is approaching, and Seraphina, who has tried so hard to keep to herself and keep people from suspecting that her arm is covered in scales, finds herself caught up in court intrigue, a murder, and thrust suddenly into the spotlight because of her talents.  This world is beautiful.  The rules and the culture is spelled out brilliantly by Rachel Hartman.  And obviously, dragons=fantasy but the idea that while they are in human form, they can understand and experience the full range of human emotion is so novel.  And the vibrant way that Hartman illustrates Phina's struggle to understand herself and her place is marvelous.  This one will have a sequel, which I am thrilled to read.  Will the Printz committe love it as much? I'm not sure, as fantasy has not been a genre that has traditionally received a lot of Printz attention.  But don't let the word "dragon" put you off.  This one is lush and literary.  Click here to check it out.

There's your seven-star far.  It's only October, and we still have two and a half months of publishing that's eligible for the Printz.  Something may be published next month that gets just as many stars.  If so, I'll keep you updated.  Be sure to stop by the Pearl Library or your local CMRLS branch to ask about any of the books I've talked about here.  Happy reading!


Thursday, October 11, 2012

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Printz Watch 2013!!!

Ladies and gentlemen, it's time again for a blog series that we at the Pearl Library like to call the Printz Watch.

The Michael L. Printz Award is awarded each January to the book that most exemplifies excellence in young adult literature.  The 2013 award will be awarded in January, and it will take into consideration all of the books that were published in 2012.  Some of my favorite books have been Printz Winners, like Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta (Printz winner, 2009).

Last year's Printz was so much fun! I didn't do well at guessing (though I did peg one of the honor books as fantastic), but I got to read and explore some YA that I may not have otherwise picked up. Click here if you'd like to flip through my entries from last year.  With the help of a School Library Journal-based blog called Someday My Printz Will Come, I'm busy reading away. I'm going to start reviewing (and guessing!) soon. If you have any suggestions, or if you think you can guess the 2013 Printz winner, leave a comment and join in the fun!  Even if you have no guesses, check back here frequently  To close, I leave you with a few covers of books (all available from your local CMRLS library!) that may be Printz contenders. 

Happy reading!!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Banned Books Week

The Pearl Library heartily supports the Celebration of Banned Books Week!  Some of your favorite YA books have been challenged in classrooms and libraries all across America. The following is a list of just a few of the books that have been challenged recently (this means that an effort has been made to remove these books from schools or libraries). Click the title to request below.