Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Printz Award

Winner: Looking for Alaska by John Green
Honor Books: Black Juice by Margo Lanagan
I am the Messenger by Markus Zusak
John Lennon by Elizabeth Partridge
A Wreath for Emmett Till by Marilyn Nelson

I know the awards were announced over a week ago, but I actually wrote a post earlier that was lost when our server re-booted itself, and this is the first chance I've had to rewrite. So, here goes with my thought on the Printz winners for 2006.
This year's winner, Looking for Alaska, was actually one of my picks, so I was very excited about this one. As always, there has been much discussion of the winners on the YALSA-BK list serve (the Young Adult Library Services Association, or YALSA, awards the Printz each year), but most seem to agree that Alaska is a deserving winner. Its literary merit is unquestionable, and that is the basis for the award. Some members have issues with the "we are invincible" message they feel Alaska sends, and, of course, many had other favorites that were not mentioned.
Looking for Alaska is the story of "Pudge," who is new to his Alabama boarding school. He falls in with a rather reckless but fun crowd, including his roommate and the beautiful, fascinating, unobtainable Alaska. Author John Green incorporated some of his own experiences at boarding school in the book, and Pudge, like Green, is a collector of last words - he shares the final words of many famous people throughout the story.
For a great photo essay and account of John Green's "John and the Awesome, Wonderful, Super Happy, Very Good Printz Award Day," see his blog .
As for the other winners, I cannot say a lot - yet - because I haven't read them - yet. I was glad to see such a variety: I Am the Messenger is a novel, Black Juice is a collection of short stories, John Lennon is a biography, and A Wreath for Emmett Till is a collection of poems in honor of a teen who was lynched in the south in the 1950s. John Lennon is at home on my "to read" shelf and I am the Messenger has now move much closer to the top of my "to read" list. I was/am completely unfamiliar with Black Juice (I'm somewhat embarrassed to admit this, but it seems to happen with one title each year, and I'm not the only librarian who hasn't heard of this one, judging by the responses on YALSA-BK). As for Emmett Till, I'm familiar with it but decided not to purchase it because I feel there will be little to no interest among my students. However, I might reconsider that decision now and add it to our collection.

What I'm Reading: Rebel Angels by Libba Bray (sequel to A Great and Terrible Beauty)
On my nightstand: A Certain Slant of Light by Laura Whitcomb; Inexcusable by Chris Lynch


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