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2012 Printz and Newbery Winners

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Newbery Award:

Dead End in Norvelt by Jack Gantos (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)

Newbery Honor:

Inside Out & Back Again
by Thanhha Lai (HarperCollins)
Breaking Stalin’s Nose by Eugene Yelchin (Henry Holt)

Printz Award:

Where Things Come Back by John Corey Whaley  (S&S/Atheneum)
(it also won the Morris!)

Printz Honor:

Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler, illustrated by Maira Kalman (Little, Brown)
The Returning by Christine Hinwood (Dial)
Jasper Jones by Craig Silvey (Knopf)
The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater (Scholastic Press)

(More at Publisher's Weekly.)

I'll admit I haven't read a single book on this list--but I added a bunch of them to my tbr pile and can't wait to get started. Has anyone read some of these books who wants to comment on them? Any other awards you want to talk about?
#1 - January 23, 2012, 10:15 AM
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I had read a lot of the books this year, so it was exciting to watch the live webcast this morning!  Thrilled that Jack Gantos' hilarious book won the Newbery Medal.  There were so many great books this year.  I wrote a little commentary on my blog about several of the award books:  http://donnagephart.blogspot.com/2012/01/ala-youth-media-awards.html.  I know there are a few more books I'll be reading now, especially Where Things Come Back, which somehow eluded me this year.  It sounds wonderful.
#2 - January 23, 2012, 11:50 AM
OLIVIA BEAN, TRIVIA QUEEN (Delacorte Press, 2012)
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I haven't read many of them this year, which surprised me. Looks like I have some reading ahead of me. The one book that I did read and was blown away by was Maggie's--The Scorpio Races. Amazing!
#3 - January 23, 2012, 11:58 AM

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Oh Whiz, ya gotta read Scorpio Races. That's the only one on the list I've read (I admit I haven't even heard of some of them), but it's the best YA I've read in a long while, and I've been talking it up to everyone I know. I thought the way she integrated the magic was light-touched and outstanding, Sean is a fabulous male MC/hottie, and it was very atmospheric.

Maybe we can talk her into giving us a BB chat about the book and its writing or something; that would be awesome.
#4 - January 23, 2012, 12:03 PM
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I read only a couple of the books on the list -- don't want to name them -- and was underwhelmed. Right now, there are two of the Printz books I really want to read, and Dead End in Norvelt happens to be next up in my TBR pile. I'm eager to read it and see how it stacks up against my so-far favorite: Okay for Now.
#5 - January 23, 2012, 01:33 PM
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Oh, I loved Okay for Now . . . and everything else Gary D. Schmidt has written. 
#6 - January 23, 2012, 01:58 PM
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Joni, you'll be happy to know I have already started Scorpio Races. :)

I'm also really looking forward to reading the Newbery winner, which sounds pretty funny.
#7 - January 23, 2012, 02:38 PM
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I tried to read one of the PH books and...yeah....underwhelmed. Couldn't buy the premise at all. And I read SO MANY AWESOME YAs this year that I was disappointed. But I am excited to read the Morris, Alex, and some other Printz books!
#8 - January 23, 2012, 04:31 PM
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Very excited to see West Australian Craig Silvey take a Printz honour for Jasper Jones. It's an excellent YA/crossover book, and one which has been much awarded over here too.
#9 - January 23, 2012, 05:40 PM

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I just got done with a series of four blogettes about DEAD END this past week. Put the last one up on Sunday...just in time to *dead end* into the Newb!

Go Jack!

Z
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#10 - January 23, 2012, 08:06 PM

Linda

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I read only a couple of the books on the list -- don't want to name them -- and was underwhelmed. Right now, there are two of the Printz books I really want to read, and Dead End in Norvelt happens to be next up in my TBR pile. I'm eager to read it and see how it stacks up against my so-far favorite: Okay for Now.

yeah, I loved OKAY FOR NOW as well. I really thought it was Schmidt's year, but DEAD END is really a wow...

Z

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#11 - January 23, 2012, 08:07 PM

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I've only read Inside Out and Back Again, which I thought was lovely, but am surprised Okay For Now didn't make the list.  It was such a powerful and well-written book with great characterization.  Oh well.  Guess I have my reading cut out for me.

Stella
#12 - January 24, 2012, 06:16 AM

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When I finished reading THE SCORPIO RACES I was crushed....how can I ever achieve that level of writing? It is beautiful and hypnotic. Plus I was totally digging Sean. (Puck, not so much, but I didn't care. The language was what drew me in.)

I want to write at this level. I want to bring people into a world that is real, like this one, and make them fear the coast, the waves, and the horses' teeth.
#13 - January 24, 2012, 06:51 AM
THE FIRE WISH, Random House Children's, 2014
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I was surprised more National Book Award finalists didn't make the list. I thought CHIME would at least get an honor. OKAY FOR NOW was also a NBA finalist but came away with only an Odyssey from ALA.
#14 - January 24, 2012, 09:38 AM
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I am looking forward to reading the Newberry winner. Gantos is a terrific writer and it's nice to see him get this award. I actually wrote a review for BREAKING STALIN'S NOSE this summer on an advance copy. Here's what I had to say, if you are interested:

10-year old Sasha is proud of his Communist father and believes that Comrade Stalin is the greatest leader and teacher of all time. Sasha lives in a communal apartment with his father and 48 other people. The night before the Pioneers rally in which Sasha will officially become a young Communist, his father is taken away. Sasha is confused. Why would Stalin allow his father to be taken? Sasha decides to get answers for himself and sets out on a quest which takes him to his aunt’s home, his school and ultimately to Lubyanka, a prison. As the search for his father continues, Sasha begins to doubt everything he once believed: the comforts of his home, his father’s real work and Stalin’s leadership. Set during the heart of Stalin’s reign of the Soviet Union, the author brings the scenes, the language and the beliefs of Communism to readers as only a person who has lived there could do. The main character is thoughtful, spunky and courageous and the book contains illustrations throughout which will captivate readers. This is a well-written and accessible historical fiction for young readers.

I also had the honor of reviewing the Prinz Winner, WHERE THINGS COME BACK. Here it is if you are interested:

This multi-layered novel tells the story of seventeen year-old, Cullen Witter, a boy from a small town in Arkansas. Cullen is a contemplative, sullen and bored with life. He has a vivacious best friend, Lucas, a naïve, but endearing younger brother, Gabriel, and Cullen fantasizes about a gorgeous girl who is love with someone else. Two things happen to shake up Cullen’s world: first his brother disappears without any trace, and second, an outsider comes to the small town claiming to have seen the rare Lazarus Woodpecker right in Cullen’s home town. While Cullen attempts to deal with the loss of his brother and the media circus surrounding the woodpecker, a second story, about Cabot Searcy, a young college student turned religious zealot, begins to unfold. Author Whaley gradually and expertly zeroes in on the two storylines, bringing them together in a surprising conclusion. The tone of the novel is depressing throughout, but readers may find themselves pulled into the narrative, re-reading passages and thinking about the differences between reality and perceived reality. Strong characters and solid themes of friendship, religion, family and home make this a thought-provoking young adult novel.
#15 - January 24, 2012, 10:06 AM
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I should add that I've read all the National Book Award finalists except OKAY FOR NOW (which I'm dying to read). SHINE was absolutely stunning. I couldn't put it down. I was very impressed with Myracle's writing.

Congrats to Maggie Stiefvater!  :yay
#16 - January 24, 2012, 10:09 AM
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I just don’t get it.  Tonight I tried to read Dead End in Norvelt, and I can’t see how it beat out Okay For Now for the Newbery.  (And OFN wasn’t even an honor book!)  Obviously people disagree about these things–but this one really has me puzzled. 

Okay For Now has depth and feeling, plus surprising plot turns.  I don’t like to say anything negative about the Gantos book, about any book really.  I guess it’s of interest to kids who like history. But where’s the plot?  Someone help me out here. Did anyone think this book was going to win?  Can anyone defend this choice?
#17 - January 27, 2012, 08:40 PM

I was disappointed that OFN was not recognized in any way by the committee, as I was that A MONSTER CALLS and WITH A NAME LIKE LOVE were also overlooked. But my list of disappointments go back many years. Often, it's the result of what I call "the committee effect." Inherently, committees must strive for compromise and keeping the peace. Subsequently, the final decisions made by a committee often are about finding an acceptable middle ground. It's by no means the "fault" of the individuals, but rather the result of what they see as "excellent" individually and what they're willing to call "excellent" as a committee. What surprises those of us standing on the outside is how the committee could not see a specific book's value. But we did not have to make our choices under the same circumstances.

As for DEIN, the book is skillfully constructed. Most people reading it never even realize, until they get toward the end, that they are reading a murder mystery. Gantos's humor is both outright funny and many times very subtle (including the self-deprecating jabs he takes at his later self). The characters are lively, well-developed and wonderfully flawed. It's original in concept and execution.

I will say that Dead End in Norvelt was on my list of "books that could win." So, I'm not disappointed in it's selection. I'm more surprised that the committee didn't see my other choices as equal to Breaking Stalin's Nose and Inside Out and Back Again.

keep writing,
dave r
#18 - January 28, 2012, 10:04 AM
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This:

Subsequently, the final decisions made by a committee often are about finding an acceptable middle ground.

I've heard at least 3 people on different, prominent committees, both for kids' and adults' books, explaining insider workings and how the books that seem  absolutely the most brilliant to some members are, BECAUSE they are unusual or ground-breaking or special, more likely to garner meh or misunderstanding reactions from a few others. So committee processes that require consensus tend to result in selections that may not be as great, in plenty of views, but that are more universally viewed as very good. Awards are as much about accessibility and broad-based appeal as they are about the peak expression of any given art. Like best-sellerdom, just in a different way/with different criteria.
#19 - January 28, 2012, 01:16 PM
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Awards are as much about accessibility and broad-based appeal as they are about the peak expression of any given art. Like best-sellerdom, just in a different way/with different criteria.

This is an interesting behind-the-scenes take. Because isn't the common complaint (which I don't always agree with) about the Newberys, etc, that the books are inaccessible to kids, because the criteria for the awards includes a lot of other things besides kid-friendliness?
#20 - January 28, 2012, 01:36 PM

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Awards are as much about accessibility and broad-based appeal as they are about the peak expression of any given art.

I don't know -- I'm struggling here. I just don't know how much "accessibility" and "broad-based appeal" figure in. Maybe broad-based as in across the committee? But as for kid appeal, I just don't think it's much of a factor.

I have loved many Newbery books, and thrown a few at the wall. I admire more of them than I don't, and consider many of them worthy. I also appreciate the difficulty of trying to do these things by committee, and actually, if I were a librarian and not a writer, I'd go after the opportunity to serve on a Newbery committee. BUT...there's still something in me that believes the award does what we say we in general don't do: point out to adults books that are "good for kids."
#21 - January 28, 2012, 02:40 PM
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Maybe reader friendliness isn't a natural criteria for award winning literature. It certainly isn't in the adult world. God bless Danielle Steel, but I don't think she'll be picking up a Pulitzer anytime soon.
#22 - January 28, 2012, 05:43 PM

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Loved Scorpio Games. Have only read one other, IN & OUT which was sweet, just didn't blow me away. Very curiousmto read the winner.  Wish they'd given more Newbery Honors. Seems like a shame not to include more books.
#23 - January 28, 2012, 06:32 PM
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 :cheerleader Congratulations, All.  :star2  :star2
#24 - January 28, 2012, 07:05 PM
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I just don't know how much "accessibility" and "broad-based appeal" figure in. Maybe broad-based as in across the committee? But as for kid appeal, I just don't think it's much of a factor.

Oh, no, I didn't say accessibility and broad-based appeal for kids AT ALL. Across the committee -- and across the spectrum of tastes that educated, relatively literate adults who get seated on committees have. (There's still a spectrum, even if they're all librarians.) I'm just saying (having heard it second hand from committee members -- and seeing it play out in the tastes of many friends whom I'd expect to have a lot in common with and sometimes shockingly don't) that what is ground-breaking, brilliant literature for one committee member can be too "out there" for another to consider.

It's pretty much axiomatic that committee consensus of any kind, consciously or unconsciously, is more like to trend toward "unobjectionable mediocrity" than toward a risky choice specifically because that risky choice's brilliance is almost by definition more likely to draw fire from SOMEONE. (And I'm NOT saying any of the award books are mediocre!! although frankly most of us can point to at least one or two award winners in the past 10 years that we, personally, did think were mediocre. Including this year, it sounds like. Right?) I was just trying to make a point about subtle tendencies in group decision-making. Just like a large group of people with very different tastes are more likely to agree on a pretty good restaurant that serves a predictable range of good, but uninspiring, fare than they are to agree on a fabulous sushi restaurant or a great vegan restaurant. It's in the nature of consensus-building - something of the lowest-common-denominator argument.)

The kid-appeal of lack thereof ALA picks is a whole different topic, and one I'll stay out of (this time, anyway). :)
#25 - January 28, 2012, 10:37 PM
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Yes, this which dave r said:

"I will say that Dead End in Norvelt was on my list of "books that could win." So, I'm not disappointed in it's selection. I'm more surprised that the committee didn't see my other choices as equal to Breaking Stalin's Nose and Inside Out and Back Again."

As a librarian myself, I'd go after ANY WAY POSSIBLE to point out AS MANY AWESOME BOOKS as allowed!

#26 - January 29, 2012, 06:50 AM
« Last Edit: January 30, 2012, 04:43 AM by dinalapomy101 »
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I have noticed that many years, the medalilst is a bit bland. (And doesn't often have any magic.) MG for grownups, someone said above. Indeed. (I haven't read this year's, so this is in no way a reflection on that book--in fact, the only two ALA winners I have read from this year were ones I found pretty much brilliant.) I usually find that if the winner is meh, the honor books are excellent--books with writing AND heart AND kid appeal. So I confess to being sad and confused that so few honor books were awarded.

Still, I'm looking forward to reading all those books I haven't had a chance to, yet. I hope there will be new ones to fall in love with.
#27 - January 29, 2012, 08:03 AM

Dinalopomy101,
  Thanks for mistaking me for Harold. It's quite a compliment! lol
keep writing,
dave r
#28 - January 30, 2012, 03:35 AM
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LOL! Oh sorry dave r! I was commenting on both threads re: this topic. But you are both wise so it was an honest mistake! :)
#29 - January 30, 2012, 04:42 AM
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Just finished reading OKAY FOR NOW, which took me all of three days, and I'd like to join the club that is wondering why it didn't get even an honor. Seriously? It was so good! I might go mint a Newbery in my basement so I can give it to Schmidt myself. I might go out and buy an Audobon book and cut out all the pages and hang them around my house and then feel guilty and consider taping them back in the book, as a kind of celebration.

Haven't yet read any of the other books on the Newbery list, though, so I'm hoping I'll just be blown away by how all-fired good they are that they could beat this one.
#30 - February 01, 2012, 03:57 PM
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