Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Printz Awards

Wizards Wireless tends to review far more picture books than young adult (YA) books. But, as the American Library Association awards draw closer (they'll be announced on January 14th), I thought I'd highlight a few of the major awards. Also, it's a great way to prepare for the January Carnival of Children's Literature which is all about children's and young adult book awards. (See this post for more information and how to submit).

I've already talked about the Caldecott and the Newbery, so today I'm focusing on the Printz award. What is that, you ask? The Michael L. Printz Award is given to a book that exemplifies literary excellence in young adult literature. And one of the most intriguing things about it is that there is no residency requirement stating that the author must live in the United States (like there is for the Caldecott and the Newbery). This opens the Printz Award to an intriguing and diverse group of candidates.

The first Printz Award was bestowed in 2000, so the list of winners isn't nearly as long as some of the other awards. Here's my list of favorite Printz winners and honor books (keeping in mind that I don't read a lot of young adult books):
  • 2007 winner: American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang
  • 2005 winner: how i live now by Meg Rosoff
  • 2005 honor: Airborn by Kenneth Oppel
  • 2004 honor: A Northen Light by Jennifer Donnelly
  • 2000 winner: Monster by Walter Dean Myers
If you're interested the Printz Awards, here's where you can find out more. And here's a list of all the winners and honor books. Tune in on January 14th to find out which book will win this year.

Congratulations to kidlit blogger Liz Burns of A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy, who's on the 2009 Printz committee!

And here's a short story about the generosity of librarians. I was privileged enough to be able to attend the 2007 Newbery/ Caldecott/ Wilder Award Banquet at the American Library Association conference in Washington D.C. I was chatting with the librarians sitting at my table during dinner, and one of them turned to me and asked if I was going to attend the Printz Award ceremony (which was the following evening). I said no... the event was sold out. She handed me her ticket, and said she had to leave town early to catch a plane.

So, that's how I ended up going to the Printz Awards.

And I'm very, very glad I did because a cool thing about the Printz awards is that all the authors who have been honored get to talk, not just the winner. I got to hear some of the great current young adult writers in the field speak, including: M.T. Anderson, John Green, Sonya Hartnett, and Markus Zuzak. Also I got to hear Gene Yang's acceptance speech for American Born Chinese, which was quite a thrill. I had just finished writing a very long paper (40 pages!) for library school about Chinese American children's and young adult books, and American Born Chinese was a central part of my thesis. It was wonderful to be able to hear Yang's perspective about a book I had read so many times. The Printz Awards were inspiring and made me resolve to read more young adult literature (which I will, I promise!)

Do you have any favorite books that have won a Printz? See the new poll in the sidebar of this blog (which includes both winners and honor books) or write about them in the comments.

Update: The Printz poll results are here.


  1. I voted for my favorites, but I might have some more after I finish the Printz Award Challenge. :D

  2. Abby- Thanks for letting me know about the Printz challenge!

  3. Since I got out of library school, I haven't read as much YA as I would like, but A Northern Light is one of my all time favorites. Whenever a teen needs a recomendation, I always point out this one.

  4. Cary's Girl- I love A Northern Light, particularly the way the story comes full circle. It's one of my all time favorites too.

  5. More than anything, this list shows me how many I have to catch up on!

    So far I'm the only one who's voted for My Heartbeat. Garret Freymann-Wehr's Stay With Me was one of my favorite reads last year.

  6. Lisa- I feel the exact same way. Looking at the list of Printz winners and honor books made me realize how many books on the list I haven't read yet. I need to correct that!