The Printz Award

This week in Adolescent Lit, I asked my students to take a look at the list of Printz winners and honor books to see how many they’ve read. I think the Printz committee gets it right more than maybe any other literary prize committee. I also think the Printz is the hardest award to predict. The committee seems to delight, especially recently, in finding obscure books that haven’t been widely reviewed or read.  The variety of books honored is impressive, even though it still focuses too heavily, in my opinion, on novels, too often overlooking distinguished nonfiction and poetry titles. Perhaps in an effort to avoid overlap with the Newbery, the Printz also seems to focus on the older end of the 12-18 age range listed in its mission statement.  

As I was going through the list and highlighting what I’ve read, I noticed one more thing: I have started reading almost all of these books. Discounting 2013, there are only four books on the entire list that I have never tried to read. But even though I have started all but four of the Printz books, you can see from the list below that my finish rate is much lower. I start and abandon–sometimes as much as halfway through a book. I have started and abandoned Going Bovine, The Book Thief, and Jellicoe Road four or five times EACH.

Why do I start and abandon so many Printz novels? They’re good books, so it’s not exactly about the book itself. Perhaps I only start reading them because I feel like I should, since they won the Printz. Perhaps because so many of these books are not quick, easy reads, and I often read YA lit to relax and escape. Perhaps it was just the wrong book for me at the time I was trying to read it. I don’t really know. But I do know that I have a lot of rereading to do if I’m going to finish the Printz Challenge that I would someday like to complete of reading all the Printz winners and honors. Books I finished are in bold:  


Winner: In Darkness by Nick Lake

Honor Books:

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

Dodger by Terry Pratchett

The White Bicycle by Beverley Brenna


Winner: Where Things Come Back by John Corey Whaley

Honor Books:

Why We Broke Up, written by Daniel Handler, art by Maira Kalman

The Returning, written by Christine Hinwood

Jasper Jones, written by Craig Silvey

The Scorpio Races, written by Maggie Stiefvater


Winner: Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi

Honor Books:

Stolen by Lucy Christopher

Please Ignore Vera Dietz  by A.S. King

Revolver written by Marcus Sedgwick

Nothing written by Janne Teller


Going Bovine by Libba Bray

Honor Books: 

Charles and Emma: The Darwins’ Leap of Faith by Deborah Heiligman
The Monstrumologist by Rick Yancey
Punkzilla by Adam Rapp
Tales of the Madman Underground: An Historical Romance, 1973 by John Barnes


Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta

Honor Books:
The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, Vol. 2: The Kingdom on the Waves by M. T. Anderson
The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart
Nation by Terry Pratchett

Tender Morsels by Margo Lanagan

The White Darkness by Geraldine McCaughrean

Honor Books: 
Dreamquake: Book Two of the Dreamhunter Duet by Elizabeth Knox
One Whole and Perfect Day by Judith Clarke
Repossessed by A.M. Jenkins
Your Own, Sylvia: A Verse Portrait of Sylvia Plath by Stephanie Hemphill

American Born Chinese, by Gene Luen Yang

Honor Books:
The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation; v. 1: The Pox Party, by M.T. Anderson
An Abundance of Katherines, by John Green
Surrender, by Sonya Hartnett
The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak



Looking for Alaska, by John Green

Honor Books:

Black Juice , by Margo Lanagan
I Am the Messenger , by Markus Zusak
John Lennon: All I Want Is the Truth, a Photographic Biography,  by Elizabeth Partridge
A Wreath for Emmett Till, by Marilyn Nelson



how i live now, by Meg Rosoff

Honor Books:

Airborn, by Kenneth Oppel

Chanda’s Secrets, by Allan Stratton

Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy, by Gary D. Schmidt



The First Part Last, by Angela Johnson

Honor Books:

A Northern Light, by Jennifer Donnelly

Keesha’s House, by Helen Frost

Fat Kid Rules the World, by K.L. Going

The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things, by Carolyn Mackler



Postcards from No Man’s Land, by Aidan Chambers

Honor Books:

The House of the Scorpion, by Nancy Farmer

My Heartbeat, by Garret Freymann-Weyr

Hole in My Life, by Jack Gantos



A Step From Heaven, by An Na

Honor Books:

The Ropemaker, by Peter Dickinson

Heart to Heart: New Poems Inspired by Twentieth-Century American Art, by Jan Greenberg Abrams

Freewill, by Chris Lynch

True Believer, by Virginia Euwer Wolff



Kit’s Wilderness, by David Almond

Honor Books:

Many Stones, by Carolyn Coman

The Body of Christopher Creed, by Carol Plum-Ucci

Angus, Thongs, and Full Frontal Snogging: Confessions of Georgia Nicolson, by Louise Rennison

Stuck in Neutral, by Terry Trueman



Monster, by Walter Dean Myers

Honor Books:

Skellig, by David Almond

Speak, by Laurie Halse Anderson

Hard Love, by Ellen Wittlinger

One thought on “The Printz Award

  1. I think you hit the nail on the head when you said “Perhaps because so many of these books are not quick, easy reads.” I feel that many of these books have deep and complex themes that make the reader (me) think…a lot. I like to read to relax and escape from some of the thinking. Sometimes I need to turn my brain off 🙂 Just a thought.

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