Ever since working at the children’s department in South Carolina, I selected titles that I hoped would be honored by the various committees…but never shared them outside of conversations with other kidlit fiends & friends. This year, I’m sharing my choices with all of you. And similar to the official (secret) voting in the ALA committees, I’ll select three titles for each award: a 1st, 2nd and 3rd choice for the award.
No longer the new kid on the block, the Printz Award holds a special spot among book awards: it “honors the best book written for teens, based entirely on its literary merit” each year. Receiving a Printz Award or Honor ensures an author readers for years and years to come. Look at almost any previous winners – including John Green, Gene Luen Yang, and Libba Bray among others- and you know they are forces to be reckoned with in the field of YALit.
My 2015 Mock Printz Awards
First Choice: The Boy in the Black Suit by Jason Reynolds
Wearing a black suit every day, Matt works at the local funeral home, looking for the saddest someone to walk in the door. He has to – it’s the only way he finds solace in his own sadness, now that his mother has passed and his father has turned into the newest (old) drunk. Finding Lovie in the parlor – someone who should be sadder than him, but isn’t – stymies him. Ultimately, though, Lovie gives Matt hope – hope in healing, hope in finding love, hope in dealing with his deteriorating home life. A powerful, compelling read.
Second Choice: Stand-Off by Andrew Smith
Sequels rarely stand alone. Stand-Off does. Having read Winger when it released in 2013, I’d forgotten the story of Ryan Dean, a precociously gifted teen at an elite New England boarding school. Quickly, though, i realized it didn’t matter: Ryan Dean’s now a 15 year old high school senior, bunking in a tiny room with 12 year old neurotic freshman Sam. The realistic boyness of life – dealing with his eager-beaver roommate, finding time for his hot girlfriend, worrying about rugby season, and working through the grief of his best friend – is infused with a wicked dose of humor and heart.
Third Choice: The Hired Girl by Laura Amy Schlitz
Austen and Abbot fans, rejoice: Laura Amy Schlitz has written this book for you…not me. It’s also for fans of happy endings, diligence, and girl-empowering reads…that’d be me. Joan dreams of escaping the hardships of life on her father’s farm, where she is forced to tend house, cook, clean, and serve her father and three brothers with little respect or voice. An unexpected windfall allows her to act on her dreams, where she ultimately lands as a servant girl for a rich Jewish family. Joan’s story, told in diary format, encompasses the love/loath relationship she has with her hired family, the confliction she has with religion, and the confusion she feels over first love. Her dedication, humility, and perseverance will resonate with teens and adults alike.