Tomorrow is one of my favorite librarian events of the year--the Mock Printz discussions, this year taking place at the Appaloosa Library in Scottsdale. There teen librarians will gather to discuss several books nominated as the best teen literarture of the year. After discussion we vote on the titles and try to select the one we think might win the actual Printz. This year, in my humble opinion, I think we read some great titles. I still don't have a really strong frontrunner and actually have no idea how I'm going to vote tomorrow, but the titles we'll be considering are:
Angry Young Man by Chris Lynch
Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys
Blink and Caution by Tim Wynne-Jones
Chime by Fanny Billingsley
Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor (loooved it--maybe this one?)
Family by Mikal Ostow
A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
Shine by Lauren Myracle
Tighter by Adele Griffin
Where Things Come Back by John Corey Whaley
I've already reviewed a few of these. The one that sticks in my mind at present is Where Things Come Back. As I read this tale of two brothers--one of whom goes missing, leaving the other in distress--I kept thinking how much it reminded me of John Green. Very similar humor, very similar character types, the kind to whom you get very attached.
Sometimes we get close to the real winner in our Mocks; sometimes we totally dismissed the winning title and/or honor titles. Some years a nonfiction book gets in there and we've never, in my memory, nominated or discussed one. This year there were two strong fantasy contenders--Daughter of Smoke and Bone (already noted my love for that) and Chime, leaving me wishing that YALSA would create a separate award just for outstanding teen fantasy fiction.
Try any of these books and you won't be disappointed. (Although I cannot speak personally for Blink and Caution as, shamefully, it was the one title I did not manage to finish in time.) They're all quite different from one another. Between Shades of Gray will break your heart. It will also make you understand the true horror of the saying, "Be careful or they'll ship you off to Siberia." Chime is a quirkily written fantasy whose writing style first irked me then won me over. Family is a novel in verse about the horror of falling under the spell of a bloodthirsty cult leader. Shine is the mystery of who nearly killed a gay teen in the rural South. See? Very different. But all winners in one way or another.