Thursday, January 24, 2013

Printz Watch 2013: Wrapping Up, Part 2

Just a a few more reviews! The big day is Monday!!

So, Chopsticks probably doesn't have a really good chance at winning the Printz, but it is a really cool book that's gotten a lot of buzz, so I wanted to cover it.  Chopsticks is the story of Glory, a piano prodigy, who is drawn to the new boy next door, Frank.  The fun part of this story is that it's told completely in words, pictures, drawings, doodles, notes, postcards, instant messages, links to real youtube videos, and other mementos from their relationship.  It's a completely unique way to tell a story.  And as the story goes on, the reader wonders how much of it is true, and how the events that unfold are affecting Glory's fragile mind.

The way that the alternative format is done is brilliant. The design and layout are brilliant, and it's really easy to see yourself when you're looking at the different ways that people communicate with each other.

It's hard to say a lot about it without giving it away, so I'll just say that it's a great read and that here's an example of a page:

Get it at the Pearl Library or request it here.

Emily's Dress and other Missing Things is a book that I really enjoyed.  It did receive a starred review, but it really hasn't been talked about a lot, which I feel is just a shame, because it's great.  Maybe it's because it's hard to pin down, genre-wise.  Claire finds herself in Amherst (home of Emily Dickinson) a year after her best friend Richy disappears.  The stress of that (and of being a person of interest in the disappearance), and the trauma of her mother's death have messed her up a bit, understandably.  But even she doesn't really understand the compulsion that leads her to steal a dress from the Emily Dickinson house.  Along with Tate, the student teacher in her literature class, she tries to figure out what to do with the dress, while slowly uncovering clues about Richy's disappearance.

This one has mystery, a hint of romance (but not too much), but also, poetry.  It's lyrical and incorporates some of Dickinson's poetry, but Claire's work sums up how helpless and alone she sometimes feels, and it is lovely.  You'll like it, trust me.  Request it here.

Ask the Passengers is definitely worth a second look.  Not only did it get six starred reviews, its author, A.S. King nabbed  Printz Honor two years ago.  Astrid Jones feels alone in her family and her tiny town.  She feels lost and she is confused about her place in her family, her sexuality, her dad's desire to do drugs to check out, her relationship with her mother, what everyone else thinks about all of it. To deal with that, she sends love to passengers, 30,000 feet above her, that pass in planes overhead.

This is a story about love and acceptance, and it's beautifully written.  Astrid's voice is strong, even in her confusion.  She is struggling to find out who she is, and she's not afraid to ask questions--which is wonderfully refreshing in a teenage girl character.  She's upset to watch how people are put into boxes, so she questions and explores it.  It's not without flaws--especially Ingrid's parents.  You have to ask: can I suspend my disbelief to think that the things that these parents are in any way realistic? Are they really showing favoritism in such obvious ways? It's not my favorite King novel (if you still haven't read Please Ignore Vera Dietz, get on that! It's phenomenal!), but it's very good, and it's a strong contender for the Printz Award.  Don't be surprised to hear this one called out at the awards ceremony Monday.  Check it out here.

Look! It's my one nonfiction book that I read for the 2013 Printz Watch! But it's a great one.  A National Book Award Finalist and it's on the shortlist for the Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults, Bomb is a knockout.  It traces the discovery of the splitting of uranium atoms to the Manhattan project.  The race to build an atomic bomb was fraught with espionage, fear, and the beginnings of the Cold War.  Who knew that frostbitten Norweigan men were responsible for keeping atomic research out of the hands of Nazi Germany? Who knew that there was so much illicit information being passed to the Soviets about the research in Los Alamos?  This was such a thrilling and unbelievable read that I had to keep reminding myself that it was actually nonfiction!  There were so many larger-than-life personalities involved in this--military, presidential, and scientific--that it's hard to believe it really happened.

A nonfiction work has never won the Printz Award, but nonfiction has taken honors five times (the last time was in 2010).  I think Bomb has a shot at getting a seal.  Request it here.

Come back tomorrow when I make my Printz predictions and final comments!!