Printz Predictions

Some of you may be familiar with the Printz award – it’s basically like the Newbery for young adult books.

I know there is a lot of discussion (that I have participated in) about the Newbery not picking awesome books, but even despite that, I generally think the Newbery picks make sense, even if I don’t, myself, care for them.

The Printz award, on the other hand, usually picks the most RANDOM things you can possibly imagine. I mean, really.

Sometimes, of course, they are terrific – I loved Jellicoe Road so much it’s probably ridiculous. And Looking For Alaska is truly well-written (although has some, um, pretty mature content). The Book Thief is hard to surpass.

But many, many, many of them are so WEIRD. The White Darkness was perhaps one of the worst books I read last year; I get depressed just thinking about it. Fat Kid Rules the World was so awful, I gave up after about fifty pages.And, while I deeply deeply love Georgia of Angus, Thongs, and Full-frontal Snogging, it is fluff at its best – this isn’t high literary reading here, people.

Which basically leads me to conclude that you might as well throw darts at a board full of the previous years books as correctly predict which books will win the Printz and Printz honors.

And yet, here we are at the half-way mark for the year and I’m going to make some predictions anyway. Because I like to live on the edge. And prove myself 100% wrong.

Also, I must say, this has been a fairly terrible year for Young Adult books. I read new releases like a FIEND after ALA and only a very few of them were at all noteworthy.

That said, I think these books might get some Printz note come January:

The Cardturner by Louis Sachar. Some writers are just a surefire winner. I haven’t read this one yet, but every review I’ve read of it has been positive and I love Louis Sachar. So, yes, I think this might have a chance.

Mockingbird by Kathryn Erskine. This book skews a little young, but they’ve picked short books with a younger audience before, so I think this one could have a shot. Not only is it well-written, but it could be considered an issue book and I think the Printz committees are often all about those.

Incarceron by Katherine Fisher. I’m currently reading this one and it’s not bad, but it’s long and complicated and the Printz committees do seem to love that. Also, it’s the first in a series and while that seems to hinder books for the Newbery, it doesn’t appear to do anything for a shot at the Printz. And it was originally published in the UK, which would disqualify it for a Newbery, but the Printz seems to take special delight in not disqualifying those titles (Jellicoe Road was a previously published in another country).


The Beautiful Between by Alyssa B. Sheinmel. This is probably the longest shot, but it was a tremendously good debut novel – the first book I read after ALA that I thought, “This is actually a really well-written book.” It’s quite short and it was just so unexpectedly excellent, with the plot not going where I anticipated at all. Plus, there are family secrets and death, both of which the Printz seems to love.

Dear heavens, let us hope the second half of the year has some better candidates. Because I’m really reaching here.

(If you want to see more Printz predictions, Kelly and Kim have done some great ones here).

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  1. I agree with you about the dearth of great YA fiction this year. All of the great stuff I've read this year has actually been published at least two years ago.

    Loved seeing your predictions!

  2. I'm also still flabbergasted that the Book Thief didn't WIN the award that year, and only got the honor. I mean, if they are talking literary merit, then that book should have taken it ten times over. I mean, I liked American Born Chinese, but come on…

  3. See, this is why I love books – everyone thinks something so different. I kind of liked The White Darkness, but I thought the Beautiful Between was totally meh. However, I have no idea what is going to get the Printz award. Can't be worse than Going Bovine though.

  4. I loved Jellicoe Road! I want to read Incarceron….I will be waiting to see your comments about it when your done!

  5. So slightly tangential…..I was at the library picking up some books that I requested and saw Going Bovine. I noticed that it had won the Printz award and so I thought, "this must be good" . However, on reading the side jacket, I had my doubts that this book was really for me.

    Now that I have read Elizabeth's review of it, I am glad I didn't check it out. Too bad. It seems like some years there are a lot of good books in the running and then some years there are not.

  6. Oh, a dart board. I knew there had to be an effective way of making Printz predictions. 🙂

    I didn't really care for Incarceron either, but agree it just seems like a Printz contender.

    My pick is Nothing by Janne Teller, and I will spend the rest of the year mentioning it whenever I hear/see the word Printz. Not a fun read, way too harrowing for me to actually have enjoyed reading it, but it's also the best YA book I've read this year. Also, I think there's a good chance a non-fiction book will be in the mix somewhere.

  7. Several people have made jokes about my secret life as a YA novelist, but I have to say the premise of Incarceron doesn't really draw me in. I'll be interested to see what you think of it when you finish. Also… thanks for helping me keep up to date on the YA world. I feel like I'm generally a year or two behind in my own reading, so it's great to get a sense of what might be on the awards radar and such.

  8. I'm with you on the total randomness of Printz winners. Maybe that was cause I couldn't even finish Going Bovine. 🙂 I kind of hope Incarceron gets some notice, since I adored it.

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