Let’s Talk About the Printz Award, my library’s Mock Printz, and how you can join in

Every year the American Library Association’s (ALA) division called YALSA (Young Adult Library Services Association) has committees of dedicated librarians choosing the best of the best books in various categories for things called the Youth Media Awards. In YA literature, the biggest award is the Printz for outstanding overall books. Other awards include the Morris which is for best debut.

Speculation on what will and will not make the Printz cut is a hot topic in library circles and heavily debated since the official criteria leaves a lot up to interpretation. I spend a lot of time trying to guess contenders both for myself and for my job where I chair a committee that chooses shortlist titles for a systemwide Mock Printz.

This year, I thought it would be fun to get blog readers involved and try to do a Miss Print Mock Printz.

As a starting point here is the shortlist my committee came up with:

  • Landscape With Invisible Hand by M. T. Anderson
  • The Nowhere Girls by Amy Reed
  • Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds
  • The 57 Bus by Dashka Slater
  • The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
  • Spinning by Tillie Walden

Because of time constraints (we do the Mock Printz as a live two hour discussion) we only cover five or six books at most. This list is determined based on titles the committee enjoyed, books getting buzz and critical acclaim (starred reviews from publishers and the like), and general appeal. We also try to cover a variety of genres which is something the real Printz doesn’t have to do. Now, a few of my favorites of the year did not make the cut with our shortlist so to the above contenders I would add:

  • Jane, Unlimited by Kristin Cashore
  • I Believe in a Thing Called Love by Maurene Goo
  • Vincent and Theo: The Van Gogh Brothers by Deborah Heiligman
  • American Street by Ibi Zoboi

There could be other books I’ve read that are just as likely as contenders which I’m forgetting. There could be titles I’ve never read or even heard of that will get attention from the committee. It’s hard to say and they read much more widely than I would.

That said, I feel good about this list and comfortable predicting that at least some of them will be Printz contenders.

This year I’m feeling pretty on point with my pre-awards reading. I have read 4 of the 5 Morris finalists (still need to get to Devils Within from the titles there) and 2 of the 5 nonfiction award finalists (The 57 Bus and Vincent and Theo). These are the only two awards that give a shortlist before the award announcements at ALA’s midwinter conference. Knowing and having read so many of the titles in play this year I’m very excited to see how the awards shake out this year.

I’m going to post an update for this post after my library system has their Mock Printz with our winners and then I’ll do another follow up after the actual awards are announced.

Until then:

Have you read of the Youth Media Awards? Do you follow them? What books would you predict for the Printz award?

If you want to try to read some of the shortlist (including my four extra picks) you still have plenty of time to track them down at your library and I’d love to hear thoughts as you read them!

  1. Landscape With Invisible Hand by M. T. Anderson
  2. The Nowhere Girls by Amy Reed
  3. Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds
  4. The 57 Bus by Dashka Slater
  5. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
  6. Spinning by Tillie Walden
  7. Jane, Unlimited by Kristin Cashore
  8. I Believe in a Thing Called Love by Maurene Goo
  9. Vincent and Theo: The Van Gogh Brothers by Deborah Heiligman
  10. American Street by Ibi Zoboi

High School Booktalks (I Am Princess X, The Scorpion Rules, The Game of Love and Death)

These are three booktalks I recently put together. They’re very similar to my review content but I thought I’d post them all here for reference anyway since I did shorten everything.

As always I pulled my booktalks from my reviews but this time I shortened them. It was an interesting exercise in seeing how much you can distill a plot summary (the answer is a lot!).

Feel free to use these to present to readers but PLEASE if you are posting them anywhere be sure to credit me and link back to this blog.

Here they are!

I am Princess X by Cherie PriestI Am Princess X by Cherie Priest: May and Libby created Princess X on the day they met in fifth grade. Libby drew Princess X while May wrote the stories. Together they made sure that Princess X became an indelible part of their childhood. That was before Libby and her mother died in a car crash. Now May is sixteen and looking at another long, lonely summer in Seattle. That is until she spots a Princess X sticker on the corner of a store window which leads her to IAmPrincessX.com where May finds a webcomic. In the comic, the princess’ story is eerily similar to Libby’s. And filled with clues only May recognizes. Which means that the only person who could have created the comic is May’s best friend–Libby–who is still alive and needs May’s help in I Am Princess X by Cherie Priest with illustrations by Kali Ciesemier.

The Scorpion Rules by Erin BowThe Scorpion Rules by Erin Bow: Charged with saving humanity from itself, the powerful artificial intelligence Talis swiftly establishes a series of rules and initiatives to maintain peace. Oh, and he also takes over the world. Four hundred years later, Talis’s every word is recorded in the Utterances and some cultures believe he is a god. They might be right. Talis takes hostages to make clear the exact cost of any declaration of war. The Children of Peace are the heirs to thrones and ruling positions around the world. They are hostages living under the constant threat of execution. If war is declared the lives of both nation’s hostages are forfeit. Greta Gustafson Stuart, Duchess of Halifax and Crown Princess of the Pan Polar Confederation, is a seventh generation hostage. She knows to follow the rules even with her country on the brink of war. Elián Palnik is a new hostage who refuses to accept any of the tenets of the Children of Peace, forcing Greta to question everything she believes and all of the rules as she struggles to save Elián and herself in The Scorpion Rules by Erin Bow.

The Game of Love and Death by Martha BrockenbroughThe Game of Love and Death by Martha Brockenbrough: Over lifetimes Love and Death have carefully chosen their players, rolled the dice, and waited for any opportunity to influence the Game in their favor. Death has always won. Always. But Love has faith in his latest player Henry Bishop. A white boy adopted by a wealthy family, Henry’s life is easy even in the midst of the Depression that still grips the United States in 1937. His bright future is assured thanks to his adoptive family. All he has to do is claim it. Even without the stakes of the Game and her role as Death’s player, Flora Saudade is an unlikely match for Henry. An African-American girl born just a few blocks from Henry, Flora supports herself as singer in Seattle’s nightclubs while she dreams of following in the footsteps of pilots like Amelia Earhart and Bessie Coleman. The odds, and the Game itself, are stacked against Henry and Flora. But with true love and free will at play maybe, just this once, anything will be possible in The Game of Love and Death (2015) by Martha Brockenbrough.

Fall into Your Next Book Display

Since September is finally here, it was time for a new book display at the library.

While I enjoyed my Summer Reading display and the RA fortune tellers seemed to be a hit, I also knew I didn’t want to be tied to a specific set of books for this display.

Since I wanted to do a back to school or fall themed display, I decided to go punny with “Fall into Your Next Book” which is versatile enough that I could stock the display with whatever titles are on hand. I also can trot this display out again next year and just change out some of the titles I highlight.

Working on my trusty sheet of foam core with help from PicMonkey I made five images for the display.

IMG_0241So as you can see I have nice autumn tree clip art with “Fall into Your Next Book.”

For the books to highlight I chose some titles I like that have fun connections to fall/back to school.

Here are the titles along with the quotes:

  • This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales: “You think it’s so easy to change yourself. You think it’s so easy, but it’s not. True, things don’t stay the same forever: couches are replaced, boys leave, you discover a song, your body becomes forever scarred. And with each of these moments you change and change again, your true self spinning, shifting positions–but always at last it returns to you, like a dancer on the floor.”
  • Gabi, A Girl in Pieces by Isabel Quintero: “Living a lie is painful, and doesn’t do anyone any good. I had to be true to myself, because, either way, God would know if I was lying.”
  • Au Revoir, Crazy European Chick by Joe Schreiber: “She was completely soaked in blood. Her hair swung in red tangles around her shoulders, and her face was a gleaming mask, her eyes like hard diamonds.”
  • The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater: “It’s the surf on your face, the deadly magic of November on your skin.”

Here’s the display stocked with books:


Summer Reading Display with Reader’s Advisory Fortune Tellers

In the midst of summer reading madness at the library, I finally had a chance to make a new display (now that Ingrid’s epic glittery GLBT display is ready to come down). Summer is crazy at my library (and every public library) so I knew I wanted something that would be simple to stock and require minimal upkeep.

For me this summer, that meant a summer reading display because it allows me to pull titles from our summer reading section (a list I helped make so I like all of the titles already!) and also anything else that looks cool on the shelves.

I decided to skip the trivia/giveaway portion I’d been adding to my displays because it’s just too busy to expect staff to run around getting free books while doing all of their other work. But I still wanted to do something fun.

Several months ago I read an article from Molly Wetta (she blogs at Wrapped Up in Books and maybe you recognize her from when she contributed to Poetically Speaking 2015?) called “If Books are Magic, Librarians are Wizards: Readers’ Advisory as Fortune Telling.” The article has a lot of great ideas, but what really spoke to me was the idea of passive reader’s advisory with paper fortune tellers (or maybe you know them as cootie catchers?).

This is a picture of the fortune teller Molly talks about in her article.

I decided to adapt that idea for my Summer Reading Display. I wanted something that could be easily reproduced so I started by finding a printable template. And, believe it or not, there’s a site for that.

DownloadableCootieCatchers has a blank template you can download and edit. They also share a lot of fun user-created fortune tellers. In retrospect I could have edited mine a bit more to make it a little cooler but I decided to keep it basic.

Pick a color . . .

Pick a color . . .

Now pick a number . . .

Now pick a number . . .

Until you get your answer!

Until you get your answer!

I included a blend of titles from my system’s summer reading list (like All Our Yesterdays). And some reader’s choice options (in addition to Graphic Novels I also included fantasy, mystery or adventure).

Here’s the full display:

The image is from my library's summer reading art. I adapted it using PicMonkey.

The image is from my library’s summer reading art. I adapted it using PicMonkey.

And here’s a close up of the sign:

I added all of the text here except for "Summer Reading 2015" which is part of the original graphic.

I added all of the text here except for “Summer Reading 2015” which is part of the original graphic.

I made two versions of my sign. One with the text above and one that just reads “What will you read this summer?” That way, if the fortune tellers become more trouble than they are worth (or just aren’t a hit) I can still keep the display without it being inaccurate. I added the white text suggesting people pick a display book just in case someone is drawn to the display when the fortune tellers are not fully stocked.

Like my Blind Date with a Book Display I really like this idea and I’m hoping I’ll be able to use the fortune teller aspect again in future displays.

What do you think? Would you be into an RA fortune teller? If you work in or use a library, have you seen/tried passive RA ideas before?

High School Booktalks (Open Road Summer, The Screaming Staircase, All Our Yesterdays)

Now that Summer Reading is approaching it’s time to start thinking about booktalks for outreach and class visits. I’m on the YA Steering Committee at my place of employ which means that I present booktalks at every Fall and Spring new books presentation.

This spring we highlighted books from the summer reading list for our library system (which I helped pick and am in love with. You can find the full list online. I helped pick the middle school and high school titles.) and went with a shorter format to talk about more books.

As always I pulled my booktalks from my reviews but this time I shortened them. It was an interesting exercise in seeing how much you can distill a plot summary (the answer is a lot!).

Feel free to use these to present to readers but PLEASE if you are posting them anywhere be sure to credit me and link back to this blog.

So here are the three books I presented:

Open Road Summer by Emery LordOpen Road Summer by Emery Lord: Reagan wants to leave her bad-news ex and her bad girl reputation behind. She just isn’t sure how to do that. Country music star Lilah Montgomery is embarking on her first major solo your–with best friend Reagan in tow. Their plans for a girls’ only summer are quickly derailed when Matt Finch joins the tour as Lilah’s opener. Between his clean-cut good lucks and enough snark to match Reagan barb for barb, Reagan knows her plans for a drama free (and boy free) summer are in big trouble. Over the course of one unforgettable summer Reagan will learn that best friends are forever, mistakes can be left behind, and sometimes love is worth the risk.

The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan StroudThe Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud (Lockwood & Co. Book 1): Unlike most psychic investigation agencies, Lockwood & Co. does not employ adult supervisors who can’t see ghosts anymore. Instead the agency is run jointly by its young operatives who can see ghosts: Anthony Lockwood, George Cubbins, and–often much to her own surprise–Lucy Carlyle. When their latest case ends with a burn down house and threats of legal action (despite the ghost being effectively removed), Lockwood & Co. is faced with the imminent failure of the agency. The trio has one option to keep the agency open: accept a case clearing the most haunted house in London of its malevolent spirits. Lockwood says the case should be easy, he says that a lot. But matters involving ghosts–and murder–are rarely simple matters as Lockwood & Co. is about to find out.

All Our Yesterdays by Cristin TerrillAll Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill: Em has tried everything she can thing of to prevent the completion of a time machine that will break the world. All of her attempts have failed, leaving Em with one last, terrible option: She has to kill the man who will build it. Marina has loved her science prodigy neighbor James since forever. More than she loves herself sometimes. After one disastrous night everything Marina thought she knew about James (and even herself) will be thrown into question as she scrambles to protect James at any cost. Em and Marina are on opposite sides in a race to protect time. Only one of them can come out alive.



High School Booktalks (The Brokenhearted, Proxy, The Scorpio Races, Unspoken)

With Summer Reading, it is time for outreach and booktalks. Here’s another set of booktalks I gave in a high school outreach.

As always I pulled my booktalks from my reviews but I have also been trying to shorten them.

Feel free to use these to present to readers but PLEASE if you are posting them anywhere be sure to credit me and link back to this blog.

So here are the three books I presented:

The Brokenhearted by Amelia KahaneyThe Brokenhearted by Amelia Kahaney: Anthem Fleet lives in a city a lot like Batman’s Gotham. Everything thinks Anthem is lucky and has everything going for her. Everyone is wrong. When Anthem meets a boy from the bad part of town, it feels like her real life is finally starting. Then everything goes wrong. Then she dies. When Anthem wakes up she has a bionic heart that beats faster and makes her stronger and faster than should be humanly possible. Anthem’s old life is over. She is broken. But maybe her new heart will give Anthem what she needs to find a new life and help Bedlam the way no one else can.

Proxy by Alex LondonProxy by Alex London: The only thing that keeps Syd going is that his time as a proxy is almost over. No more punishments for crimes committed by his patron. No more being seen as less than everything by the system. Two more years and Syd will finally be free. Knox lives in the moment focusing on opportunities to create mayhem and catch a cheap thrill. Sometimes Knox gets caught. But then his proxy gets punished so really, who cares? Drawn together in the wake of a terrible wrong in a world where debts can be lethal, these unlikely allies will have to work together to try and tear down the system if they want to survive.

nthem Fleet lives in a city a lot like Batman’s Gotham. Everything thinks Anthem is lucky and has everything going for her. Everyone is wrong. When Anthem meets a boy from the bad part of town, it feels like her real life is finally starting. Then everything goes wrong. Then she dies. When Anthem wakes up she has a bionic heart that beats faster and makes her stronger and faster than should be humanly possible. Anthem’s old life is over. She is broken. But maybe her new heart will give Anthem what she needs to find a new life and help Bedlam the way no one else can.

Unspoken coverUnspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan: Kami Glass knows that every town has a story. Sorry-in-the-Vale is no exception. Kami knows that her town’s past is tied to the Lynburns, the town’s founders, even if their manor house has been empty for years. But no one in town seems willing to tell that story to an intrepid girl reporter. But a lot of people don’t like talking to Kami. That’s what happens when your best friend seems to be an imaginary boy you talk to in your head. When the Lynburns return to town they bring many questions in their wake as well as something more sinister that will force Kami to question everything she thought she knew about her town, her friends, and even herself.

The Scorpio Races by Maggie StiefvaterThe Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater: Thisby is never safe. Not when dangerous water horses are drawn to the island beaches. But it is never so dangers as on November first–race day. The racers keep their own counsel as to why they enter the race. All Sean Kendrick wants is Corr–the one water horse he can never have. Until this year–this race–at least. Puck Connolly has already lost much to the water horses of Thisby. But the race might be her only way to hold onto her brother before the mainland spirits him away forever, even if it means challenging Thisby’s most basic traditions as the first girl to ride on race day. Only one rider can win on race day–if they stay alive long enough to finish–and the stakes for Sean and Puck couldn’t be higher.

How to: Reader’s Advisory

(This post has been adapted from a handout I made for a presentation on Reader’s Advisory that I gave with a fellow YA Librarian at my place of employ on October 22, 2014 at a YA Specialist’s meeting. While you are welcome to reference and use the ideas and resources listed here, please do not quote or otherwise use this text without credit/linking back to this blog. I have also made this post into a page for easy locating.)


What is Reader’s Advisory?

  • Reader’s Advisory is the “art” of Library Science where librarians talk with patrons to determine the best reading recommendations possible—like a reference interview where there is no specific question or right answer.

Before You Start: Things to Consider

  • Know Your Collection: What books are generally in stock at your branch? What is always checked out? What books can you recall without being near the teen space? Which ones require shelf browsing?
    Remember: You don’t need to know the entire collection for effective RA interactions.
  • Know Your Strengths: What genres do you read or have wide experience with? Which authors can you talk about confidently? Is there one section in particular from which you often recommend?
    Remember: You don’t have to read every book to recommend it but it is a good idea to have a few in your wheelhouse outside of your default reading choices.
  • Know What Else is Out There: Where can you go to find other books outside of your chosen reading areas? Who can you trust for read-alike suggestions?
    Remember: You don’t have to know everything. You just need to know how to find it. The Resources section on the back of this handout offers several ideas about where to look for information.
  • Know Your Space: Where do teens congregate in your library? What books have strong browsing appeal? Set up displays and fliers in high traffic/visibility areas where teens can find them. Keep displays fresh and interesting by changing them regularly.
    Remember: Not everyone wants to talk to a librarian when they come into the library. Displays or fliers are a great way to suggest titles without requiring one-on-one interaction.

Reader’s Advisory in Six Easy Questions

It is very rare for teen patrons to talk about books in terms of genre preferences or literary terms. Instead, it is sometimes easier to try and set up RA conversations in terms of binaries as posed in these easy questions.

  1. How do you feel about books set in a realistic setting or with plots that could happen in real life?
  2. How do you feel about fantasy books? Is a little fantasy okay?
  3. Do you like books with a romantic aspect?
  4. How do you feel about books with historical settings?
  5. How do you feel about mysteries?
  6. Have you read X books?—Couch this in terms of what’s popular now whether it’s If I Stay, Divergent or something else. (Asking in terms of The Hunger Games or Divergent is especially helpful to gauge the level of gore or violence that younger teens are comfortable with.)

Reader’s Advisory Resources

  • The Age of YA: A Timeline of Historical Fiction: http://www.epicreads.com/blog/the-age-of-ya-a-timeline-of-historical-fiction This site is a great list (in infographic timeline form of historical fiction by decade and period.
  • Blogs: Provided you can find bloggers you trust who are consistent in posting, blogs can be a great resource to stay on top of new and current titles. School Library Journal’s blogs are a great combination of professional library evaluation and conversational analysis. (Of course, I’m a fan of my own blog but the key here is really finding bloggers you can understand and trust whether that means you know that you generally agree with their tastes or even if it means that you disagree.)
  • Cozy Mysteries List: http://www.cozy-mystery.com/Cozy-Mysteries-by-Themes.html If you are looking for cozy mysteries, this site has them parsed out by author, theme and even new releases.
  • Cybils: http://www.cybils.com The Cybils Awards recognize children’s and YA authors/illustrators whose books combine literary merit and popular appeal. The award has two rounds which offers a shortlist and then an actual winner in a variety of categories for all ages (and even for book apps). This award is also judged and organized by bloggers so if you want to find some quality blogs, the participants here are always a good start!
  • Disability in Kid Lit: https://disabilityinkidlit.wordpress.com “Thoughtful portrayals of disability require more than memorizing a list of symptoms; we hope that sharing people’s day-to-day experiences, pet peeves, and thoughts on various disability-related topics will help readers and writers learn about the realities of disability, which are often quite different from what you read in books or see on TV.”
  • Diversity in YA: http://diversityinya.tumblr.com Created by authors Malinda Lo and Cindy Pon, this site posts guest posts from authors about their books and writing process to “celebrate young adult books about all kinds of diversity, from race to sexual orientation to gender identity and disability”.
  • Edgar Awards: http://www.theedgars.com/nominees.html The Edgar Awards are given to the best mysteries in a variety of categories including Children’s, Young Adult, Best First Novel and more. In addition to a winner, the Edgars also include a shortlist of nominees. It’s a great way to stay on top of what’s new and worth notice in the mystery world.
  • Fantastic Fiction: http://www.fantasticfiction.co.uk This site is a great one-stop shop to check out all of the books an author has written (including new titles) as well as seeing which series they have written and their order.
  • Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/ This is another great way to find read-alikes and know if a book is worth recommending before you read it (especially if you add a lot of other librarians as your friends!).
  • KDL’s What’s Next Database: http://ww2.kdl.org/libcat/whatsnext.asp A one-stop shop to find series order for a variety of titles.
  • Lost Titles, Forgotten Rhymes: http://www.loc.gov/rr/program/bib/lost/novels.html This site offers some helpful information on how to go about tracking down a novel (or other written works) when you do not know the title or author.
  • Nebula Awards: http://www.sfwa.org/nebula-awards The Nebulas are an award given for science fiction and fantasy and are a great way to keep up with what is new and noteworthy for speculative fiction in a variety of categories including Young Adult and Best Short Story among others.
  • Review Resources: Review journals like Kirkus, Publisher’s Weekly or School Library Journal give detailed book summaries as well as a rundown of what does and doesn’t work in a title. If you don’t subscribe to all of those or want to look at every site, another trick is to search for a book on BarnesandNoble.com or Amazon.com and then check out the editorial reviews section where all of the reviews will be compiled in one handy spot for each book.
  • Sci-Fi Vs. Fantasy Flow Chart: http://static02.mediaite.com/themarysue/uploads//2011/09/Optimized-SFSignalNPR100Flowchart-1-1.jpg This chart was made by Sci-fi Signal to navigate NPR’s Top 100 Science Fiction and Fantasy books and serves as a great primer for the different sub-genres found in both sci-fi and fantasy.
  • We Need Diverse Books: http://weneeddiversebooks.tumblr.com/ This site is the official home of the We Need Diverse Books movement that started as a hashtag. A great place to look for titles that are both diverse and often lesser-known.
  • What’s That Book?: http://www.whatsthatbook.com/ An online community where members help each other find forgotten book titles.
  • Which Book: http://www.openingthebook.com/whichbook/ This search site offers sliders that allows you to find books based on content (happy or sad? Beautiful or disgusting?) as well as options to search based on setting (including imaginary) as well as on character attributes (race, age, sexuality, gender).
  • YALSA Book Lists: http://www.ala.org/yalsa/bookawards/booklists/members If you are looking for a book in a specific category or demographic, chances are the Young Adult Library Services Association has either an award list or annual book list that can help ranging from the Alex Award for adult books with teen appeal to Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults which offers thematic lists each year.

Is there a resource you use that is not listed here? Let me know in the comments!