Wednesday, January 6, 2016

(completely inaccurate) 2016 Printz Award Predictions

Tomorrow I'm planning on posting what I would *like* to win the Printz Award this year, but here are 10 titles I think *could* be announced next Monday*:

*I pretty much don't know what I'm talking about

The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma: Suma has been mentioned in Printz talk before, especially for Imaginary Girls back in 2011, but I think this is her most accomplished work (and best chance) yet.  The writing and mood are phenomenally well-crafted.  It definitely stands out in the field of contenders, and I think this would be a difficult one to overlook.

Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman: I know there are rarely crossovers from the National Book Award and the Printz, but this is such an amazing work, and Shusterman has been writing stellar YA novels for years.  More than any of his previous work, Challenger Deep has more of a sheen of "serious issue novel," has such a unique style, an uncommon and individual perspective, and such amazing writing, I think it's definitely an Award book.

Bone Gap by Laura Ruby: My favorite YA novel of 2015. I think it does everything extremely well. I don't think the writing is *quite* to the level Challenger Deep, but I liked it a lot more, and I think maybe it examines some of the most interesting themes of any YA book this year.  Not sure if the whole fairy tale/magical realism/what-actually-is-going-on thing will help it, but I thought it really made it a unique story this year.

Most Dangerous by Steve Sheinkin: I think one of the super well-loved YA non-fiction books of 2015 will be awarded Monday morning, and this is my pick (although it could easily be Anderson's Symphony for the City of the Dead instead). I don't think two will be named, it's been 5 years since a non-fiction book has been named at all, so I think one is the most we can expect (prove me wrong, committee). This one just seems a little more well-loved.

Out of Darkness by Ashley Hope PĂ©rez: I haven't read this one, but it sounds like just the relatively-obscure-book-by-a-respected-but-not-famous-author-about-super-serious-and-mature-themes that gets Printz honors.

The Tight-Rope Walkers by David Almond: This one hasn't been talked about much, but every journal gave it a starred review, Almond is a talented author that hasn't been awarded by ALA in a while, and I honestly believe this book has the goods and is the best thing he's written in quite a while.  I thought it was one of the most well-written books of the year, and I'd be very excited if the committee felt the same.

Mosquitoland by David Arnold: This one is super controversial, and I understand the controversy, but it's also well-loved in some corners. Grasshopper Jungle was also super controversial but well-loved by some. I honestly feel like several of the Printz books, especially for the last few years, have been considered controversial and even problematic (Kingdom of Little Wounds, In Darkness, Nothing, come to mind immediately). I don't know, I think the voice (while not really likable) is one of the most memorable of the year, and that might be what it needs, and some committees don't seem to be concerned about problematic content.

The Game of Love and Death by Martha Brockenbrough: I have not read this one either, but it has a distinguished-sounding plot, and a bunch of starred reviews.  I can't really explain it as a choice, it just makes my Printz radar go off!

The Hired Girl by Laura Amy Schlitz: This one skews young, but I fully except Laura Amy Schlitz's novel to be named in SOME category on Monday (probably more likely Newbery, but who knows). This feels like it could be a Navigating Early type of honor to me.  People who love it REALLY love it and she certainly can write.

Cuckoo Song by Frances Hardinge: I don't actually think this one will win anything, despite the multiple starred reviews and the wide love and the phenomenal writing.  Hardinge was one of my first MG/YA writer loves as an adult. I discovered her 10 years ago when Fly By Night came out (I just bought it because it had a cool cover - I didn't even read MG/YA books back then!) and I've read and loved each of her subsequent books, but, for a variety of reasons, her excellent novels haven't been discussed for awards very often (she's British and her books are right on the MG border, plus maybe it's the heavy fantasy elements, or the fact that her books read very young even though they deal with very mature themes and have very elaborate writing, but she just doesn't seem to be any committees' cup of tea).  Her books are being noticed and award more and more though, and this has been mentioned in several mock Printz awards, so I'm going to keep it on my list!  Think positive!

5 books I (mostly) love but don't think will be awarded:
More Hapy Than Not by Adam Silvera:  I really really loved this book, but it is a debut (as far as I can tell) and the fact that the Morris committee did not mention it, makes me wonder if it holds up to discussion and scrutiny as well as I thought it would.

Simon vs. The Homo Sapeins Agenda by Becky Albertalli: I love this book as well, and I think it deserves a Printz honor, but it reads slight and fun, and Printz committees hardly ever go for slight and fun, especially recently.

Drowned City: Hurricane Katrina & New Orleans by Don Brown: The Printz committee last year famously went for a graphic novel honor, but I don't see them doing so again this year.  I think this is probably the GN that has the best chance (although I do love Honor Girl too), but I don't think the writing, separated from the powerful illustrations, has quite the effect needed to push a GN to an honor.  Also, This One Summer is a coming of age novel which I think would be an easier type of story to make its way to an honor than a non-fiction graphic novel (even though it is quite well-written).

Shadowshaper by Daniel Jose Older: I really like this novel, but I just don't think the sentence-level writing is quite good enough for a Printz.  It's a fun and exciting story with a fascinating world, great characters, and even some good dialogue, but it is very exposition heavy, and I just felt like some (actually many) of the descriptions were extremely awkward.  A book I recommend a lot, but not one that I can see being awarded.

The Bunker Diary by Kevin Brooks: I may be way off base with this one, it's already won the Carnegie Medal, gotten some great reviews, and is certainly bleak enough for the Printz (Nothing 2.0!), but I just was wildly underwhelmed.  I felt like it skated through on shock and wasn't nearly as moving and profound as it thought it was.  A fascinating idea that I, personally, just thought was underdeveloped in favor of Lots of Disturbing Things that were included just because they were DISTURBING.

So that's my thoughts, I fully expect to be surprised on Monday, (which is one of my favorite things ABOUT the Printz Award) and to find some great new books to read, or new perspectives on some I've already read!


  1. Too funny to read this, "sounds like just the relatively-obscure-book-by-a-respected-but-not-famous-author-about-super-serious-and-mature-themes that gets Printz honors." I was just explaining the Printz to someone yesterday and used very similar terminology. :)

  2. I came back to this page because I wanted to quote the above sentence on a blog post and link back. That's when I saw something else you mentioned that catches my attention on re-read, "some committees don't seem to be concerned about problematic content." After looking at some of the winners/honor books, that does seem to be the case. I suppose there could have been heated discussion behind closed doors, but ultimately, when the awards are given, the concern must not have been enough or not enough people were concerned. :(


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