Tag Archives: Printz Award

ALA Awards


Okay, I’m home from Philadelphia, had a good night’s sleep, did my laundry, sorted the mail, and now I’m ready to say a few words about my reactions to the Youth Media Awards.

In order of their announcement:

The Alex Awards: that was me yelping when Lexicon was announced. Actually, it turns out that it was the only one of the ten that I had read, although Brewster and Sea of Tranquility have been on my TBR list since AB4T reviewed them. I was disappointed at the fact that nine were fiction titles, although there are more nonfiction titles on the expanded list, including my personal favorite, Frozen in Time.

Edwards Award: Yes, yes, yes! Some people were saying afterwards that they didn’t think of Markus Zusak as having been around long enough for an Edwards nod, but Fighting Ruben Wolfe came out in the US in 2001, and Getting the Girl  in 2003. Laurie Halse Anderson got the award in 2009, for Speak and Fever 1793, which came out in 1999 and 2000, respectively, so it isn’t unprecedented. As you note, I’m a big fan of Zusak’s “Aussie slacker” books, and I was especially gratified that Getting the Girl was one of the honored books, because it’s a personal favorite of mine, and I think it is one of the great overlooked YA books of the 21st century. It is a stand-alone sequel to Fighting Ruben Wolfe, and I am looking forward to re-reading both of them before the Edwards brunch at Annual.

Morris Award: As you know, I’ve been a fan of Charm and Strange since I read it, and I was delighted that it won the Morris. To be fair, I still haven’t read the other finalists, so I can’t offer any salient remarks on them.

Nonfiction Award: I was kind of rooting for GO!, just because it was nice to see a non-history (dare I say, non-World War II?) book on the list. But I managed to snag a copy of Nazi Hunters at the reception, and I’m looking forward to reading it. (You can make me eat my words next January, when my Nonfiction Committee chooses a World War II book!)

Printz: Again, we’ve both talked about Midwinter Blood. I see your issues with it, but it is a book that has really stuck with me. You mentioned its daring and inventiveness, and I sometimes think those kinds of things are like the “degree of difficulty” ratings they give ice skaters and gymnasts–even if the execution isn’t perfect, the attempt is so audacious that it merits extra points.

I was definitely surprised at Navigating Early. I read it back in the beginning of the year, but didn’t even talk about it on the blog, because I didn’t see it as Printz potential, nor was it particularly resonant with me. I gave it 4 stars on Goodreads, but honestly, it kind of slipped from my radar as soon as I read it.

Also a surprise to me was Maggot Moon. We both had issues with it, and one of mine was that I thought it was too young for the Printz. When I said this on Monday to a member of the Printz committee, that person–who had admittedly read the book more often and more deeply than I–looked startled, and obviously the committee thought it was a young adult book.

Eleanor & Park didn’t excite me, as you know, but I felt it was a solid YA book and I wasn’t surprised to see it on the list.

I had not even heard about Kingdom of Little Wounds until the night before the announcement, when I was having dinner with other librarians and someone brought it up as a book she thought was a strong contender this year. Clearly she was right!

Other awards:

Newbery: I haven’t read Flora and Ulysses, but I have it on hold. I was happy to see some younger books acknowledged, like that one and The Year of Billy Miller.

Caldecott: Not my area of expertise, but I heard Brian Floca speak on Friday afternoon, talking about the creation of Locomotive, and I’ve flipped through the pages, and it seems a worthy choice. I “read” Journey (it’s wordless), and thought it was lovely.

Schneider Family Awards: When Rose Under Fire was announced, I asked the person sitting next to me, “Why that one? What’s the disability?” She couldn’t answer, but fortunately, I ran into a member of the committee later, and she told me that it was Rose’s PTSD that they were mostly thinking of, but also the disabilities of the “rabbits.”

So there are some quick thoughts. Tomorrow I’ll post on some of the galleys I picked up at Midwinter (including a new one by Marcus Sedgwick), and we can start speculating about 2014.

– Mom





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YMA Reactions


What are your reactions to the announcements of the ALA Youth Media Awards?

My primary reaction was happy surprise at the Newbery Award going to Flora & Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures. To be honest, I have not been a huge fan of Kate DiCamillo – I think The Tale of Despereaux is a fine book, but not necessarily a Newbery-level one. And Because of Winn Dixie I can take or leave, although it too is a perfectly good book. But I was really enthusiastic about Flora & Ulysses (as I was about most of the ampersand titles of the year). And I’m always happy to have a comedy win.

You know my thoughts on the Printz Winner, Midwinterblood. On the one hand, I think it is great that the committee honored such a daring and inventive book–it certainly is more interesting than 95% of the YA literature out there. On the other hand, as you know I think Sedgwick was less than successful in his daring. So there’s that. Also, I stand by my (and your) position on Printz Honor Maggot Moon – it’s just really not very good.

But what I’d really like to talk about (or rather have you talk about) is the Edwards Award.  You have been very vocal (at least to me) about your love of Markus Zusak’s earlier work – I think you’ve called it his Aussie-slacker novels. Which appears to be what the committee awarded. I’ve read I Am the Messenger, and of course The Book Thief, but not the other two named titles: Fighting Ruben Wolfe and Getting the Girl. So what do you think?

– Mark

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A Question About Printz Eligibility


Bone_Issue_1Or rather, two questions both involving the same book(s)–for you or any of our readers familiar with the Printz criteria.  In working on my What Should’ve Won series, it occurred to me that I might want to look at Jeff Smith’s Bone series of graphic novels, but I ran into a couple of issues.  First, the series was initially published in individual issues, like a comic book, and each volume of the nine-volume series represents several issues of this comic book.  So first question:

1) What is the eligibility status of a graphic novel (or a collection of short stories) which was previously published in parts, but never as a standalone volume? Does it make a difference if all of the issues in question were published in the same year as the collected volume (although I don’t think that’s the case with Bone)?

The second question is regarding self-publication. The comic books and the initial graphic novels of Bone were all published by Cartoon Books, which appears to have been created by Smith with the sole intention of publishing Bone.  The Printz criteria say “Titles that are self-published, published only in eBook format, and/or published from a publisher outside of the US will not be considered eligible until the first year the book is available in print or distributed through a US publishing house”, but the question is:

2) What constitutes self-publication? If Cartoon Books counts as self-publishing, does that mean that the Bone series was never eligible until Scholastic began republishing them in color editions in 2005?

More details about the publication history can be found on the wikipedia page, here.  So, any thoughts on Bone‘s Printz eligibility?

– Mark

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What Should’ve Won: Printz 2002

The Publishing Year: 2001

The WinnerA Step From Heaven by An Na

step_from_heavenThe Honor Books:

  • The Ropemaker by Peter Dickinson
  • Heart to Heart: New Poems Inspired by Twentieth-Century American Art by Jan Greenberg
  • Freewill by Chris Lynch
  • True Believer by Virginia Euwer Wolff

Other Books to Consider:

  • Black potatoes : the story of the great Irish famine, 1845-1850 by Susan Campbell Bartoletti
  • The Rag and Bone Shop by Robert Cormier
  • Whale Talk by Chris Crutcher
  • Amandine by Adele Griffin
  • Meltdown : a race against nuclear disaster at Three Mile Island : a reporter’s story by Wilborn Hampton
  • Damage by A.M. Jenkins
  • Lirael by Garth Nix
  • Carver: A Life in Poems by Marilyn Nelson
  • The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents by Terry Pratchett

What Should Have WonDamage

black potatoesEach of the first two entries in this series came down to a decision between the Printz winner and one of the honor books–so that although I disagreed with both Printz committees on the final winner, I certainly validated their overall opinion of the year’s books.  If I were a different sort of reader or critic, I could easily see this entry as a death match between A Step From Heaven and True BelieverTrue Believer in particular seems to have been the overwhelming odds-on favorite of the year, winning the National Book Award (A Step From Heaven was a finalist), and making the BBYA Top Ten list, as well as the Notable Children’s Book list.

But the fact of the matter is that while I recognize the merits of both books, I don’t really care much for either.  It’s been a year and a half since I read A Step From Heaven and it is not crystal-clear in my mind, but I notice on goodreads that I didn’t bother to write a review of it, just giving it a mute 4-stars, something I usually do when I just don’t have much to say about a book.  One thing I remember clearly about the novel is being pulled out of the story almost immediately upon opening the first page, because the narrator is supposed to be four-years-old, the age of my daughter when I read the book. Now, Mom, you know Elsa, and she is ridiculously bright, so when I say that Na’s narrator was unrealistically articulate, I’m really saying something. It’s a small point (and, admittedly a pet peeve of mine–we discussed it regarding Adam Rapp’s The Children and the Wolves last year), but my overall impression of the book was not nearly enough to pull me back onto Na’s side.

True Believer, on the other hand, I just finished a few weeks ago.  I’ll reproduce my goodreads review here:

I found the story to be very moving, and much of the writing well-done, but there is simply no way this is poetry. I just used a random number generator to pick a random chapter and stanza. Here’s the result:

“My hunch was right.
It wasn’t the movie women
my mom put a dress on for.” (p. 103)

How is this a poetic stanza? I can’t identify any particular prosody to it. No poetic language of any kind. The full stop at the end of the first line is worse as poetry than it would be in prose (in either, it should be a colon, or a comma, or something).

Let’s try another:

“While the cookies were in the oven,
I made a card with red, blue, and green markers
on notebook paper:
a cartoon of him lying in bed
with a thermometer sticking out of his mouth.” (p. 191)

um . . . no comment.

That’s about all I have on that.  Speaking of poetry, though: fascinating, to meltdownme, that the Committee recognized a verse novel, a poetry collection, and a novel which could be described as a prose-poem (A Step From Heaven).  These committees do seem to have their own personalities, don’t they? So what about the other poetry I’ve mentioned?  Marilyn Nelson’s Carver was a Newbery honor book, but clearly eligible for the Printz.  I find it to be far too opaque for its own good–it seems to assume a good deal of knowledge of George Washington Carver’s life and the late 19th and early 20th Centuries in general.  Plus, though the poetry is certainly better than True Believer, I don’t find myself moved by it linguistically and emotionally the way good poetry should.  Heart to Heart, on the other hand, has the advantage over the other books of poetry by including the best, most interesting and challenging poetry–especially David Harrison’s “It’s Me!”, XJ Kennedy’s “Stuart Davis: Premier, 1957”, and Bobbi Katz’s “Lessons from a Painting by Rothko.”  But its main disadvantages are two.  First (and most importantly), it shares a limitation we’ve discussed before with regard to short stories collections, which is the uneven overall quality.  Those three poems I just mentioned and several others are magnificent, but others are only okay, and a few are just not good.  The second problem is related to the first–I find it somehow not coincidental that the three poems I cited above happen to be responses to three of the best pieces of art chosen.  In general, the art selections by the poets is confusing at best, disappointing at worst.  I wish that either 1) that the theme to the art selections was a bit more specific than a simple time-period (modernism, impressionism, African American art, whatever), or 2) given that they apparently could choose anything they wanted, that they had chosen, I dunno, good artworks?

The nonfiction titles I looked at fare much better than the poetry in my analysis.  Black Potatoes, in particular, is a fabulous piece of prose as well as a fascinating historical account, and a well-deserved winner of the Sibert award.  Meltdown, meanwhile, distinguishes itself by its unique narrative perspective: rather than a dry history of what happened at Three Mile Island, Hampton offers a memoir of his time reporting on the disaster, so that readers learn what happened as Hampton learned it.  I really don’t have much to critique in either of these–I just don’t think they are quite up to the high prose, structural, and thematic standards of my winner.

ragandboneshopSo what else do we have?  Well, we have novels from three (!) Edwards Award winners: Crutcher, Pratchett, and Cormier.  Cormier’s The Rag and Bone Shop was his last novel, published posthumously, and it is a doozy: a brutal, and depressingly realistic, demolition of police interrogation practices, in which nothing is sure but Cormier’s typically pessimistic message that a soul is an easy thing to lose. Compared to Cormier’s titanic achievements in I Am the Cheese, The Chocolate War, and After the First Death, this novel seems perhaps a bit minor, but it is still tremendously impressive, and for me beats all five Printz titles.  It also beats Crutcher’s Whale Talk, although both novels suffer from weak endings (Cormier for some uncharacteristically poor psychological development in the last chapter, and Crutcher for trying too hard to wrap up every detail).  Other than that ending, Whale Talk is rightly beloved by many, but I think too idealized: TJ is a multi-racial, beautiful physical and mental specimen; his decisions are ideologically pure; his stand for the little guy just so satisfying. Not to say that I don’t love it, because I do, but it’s all a bit implausible.  Finally, Pratchett’s novel was his introduction of Discworld to teens, which for many is reason enough to give him a prize.  For me, the humor isn’t as sharp as his later YA Discworld’s, The Wee Free Men and A Hat Full of Sky, and the business with the Rat King gets a little convoluted.

amandine 2One more paragraph and I promise I’ll get to why Damage wins. First, my obligatory admission of ignorance: I haven’t read (nor do I plan to read) The Ropemaker–there’s too little time in the world, and it just doesn’t sound like my taste.  I also haven’t read Lirael, but I leave it on the above list as a sop to my brother Thomas.  That just leaves Chris Lynch and Adele Griffin.  We’ve both recently admitted our lukewarm feelings towards Lynch, so I won’t rehash that, except to say that I would be more than happy to hear from a Lynch fan about why Freewill deserved a win–it seems like a powerful book, but I just didn’t feel the power. Amandine, on the other hand, seems like a relatively slight book–basically a standard-issue school story, with broken friendships, jealousies, etc.–but Griffin imbues it with her trademark sense of unease, especially with a very late double-punch revealing that our narrator has been less than reliable.  A superb book, but again, not quite up to the level of our winner.

damageOK, the winner is . . . oh yeah, I already told you: A.M. Jenkin’s Damage is really the runaway winner in my mind.  A very short, but very powerful book about a high school athlete battling depression, it is a novel whose power sneaked up on me, but once it grabbed me, it wouldn’t let go.  It is written in the second person (strangely, for a device used so rarely, so is Lynch’s Freewill), which I usually don’t think much of (and didn’t in the case of Freewill), but Jenkins uses the device to great advantage.  Many times the use of the second person seems like a clumsy attempt to implicate the reader in the protagonist’s feelings (clumsy in part because any talented writer should be able to achieve the same end with less intrusive first or third person narration). Jenkins, on the other hand, achieves almost precisely the opposite effect: rather than feeling like a nameless narrator dragging the reader into the character’s world, Jenkins’s second person feels like it is the product of the protagonist, Austin Reid, desperately trying to distance himself from his own feelings and thoughts.  This effect is nothing short of brilliant, since it is precisely the way many people with mental illnesses (especially depression) talk about their disease.

Beyond the narration, there is the unique (except to Jenkins’s other novels) narrative structure of delaying the emotional climax (Austin admitting his depression to his best friend) until almost literally the last moment, and eschewing denouement entirely.  As I wrote in the post linked to above, Jenkins comes back to this structure frequently, and it has a variety of uses.  Here, it is very powerful because it at once acknowledges 1) that simply admitting to having a mental illness is a problem worth a whole book, and 2) that there is in all likelihood no easy solution to Austin’s problem that could neatly fit into a traditionally structured novel.  I also wrote in that post about a brief scene which is one of the most emotionally wrenching I’ve encountered in YA lit.  Go read about it there.  And I haven’t even mentioned the brilliant character that is Austin’s girlfriend Heather.

As I said, this really wasn’t much of a decision for me–Rag and Bone Shop is probably the closest second place, but it is pretty far behind.  I find Damage to be just head and shoulders above the rest of the 2001 crop.

My Honor Books:

  • Amandine
  • Black Potatoes
  • Meltdown
  • The Rag and Bone Shop


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What Should’ve Won: Printz 2000


Over on The Cockeyed Caravan, Matt Bird had an excellent series (which I hope he continues) called What Should’ve Won That Could’ve Won, in which he went through the winners of the first several Academy Award for Best Picture and discussed the movies that had a chance and decided what really should have won.  I like this idea so much that I’m going to steal borrow it for this website, except looking, of course, at YA books.

So for my inaugural piece, I’ll look at the very first Printz award in 2000:

Monster-MyersThe Publishing Year: 1999

The Winner: Monster by Walter Dean Myers

The Honor Books: Skellig by David Almond; Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson; and Hard Love by Ellen Wittlinger

Other Books to Consider: The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky; Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis; When Zachary Beaver Came to Town by Kimberly Willis Holt; Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by JK Rowling

What Should Have Won: Speak

I admit that I haven’t read Hard Love or Zachary Beaver (the winner of that year’s National Book Award for Young People’s Literature), but this is really just a two way race between Speak and Monster.  Both books were on the Printz list and the NBA list. Twelve years later, they were in the finals against each other at the 2012 ALA Pre-Conference discussion, which I discussed here. It is incredible that they both came out in that first year of the Printz, as they managed to set a pretty impossible gold standard for YA Literature right out of the gate.

And Monster is, obviously, a tremendous book and a worthy Printz winner. In fact, I might be willing to argue that it is the best book to have won the Printz Award.  Myers’s trenchant examination of American legal system, especially as it functions with respect to poor, young, black, men is (unfortunately) seemingly timeless.  And the way that he intersects the intricacies of legal guilt with the vagaries of moral guilt (while cleverly concealing from the reader key information about Steve’s actions) is nothing short of amazing.  Add to that his formal innovation of having the text consist almost entirely of Steve’s screenplay of his life–a trick which offers an entirely new and interesting take on the unreliable narrator–and you have a really stunning book.

So why shouldn’t Monster have won? Well, mostly just because it happened to be released in the same year as probably the best YA book of all time. But I do have some slight criticisms of the novel as well.  The screenplay style, which is so effective most of the time, does lead to a few pitfalls.  There are two brief flashbacks to Steve’s film class which complement the action in the courtroom–these scenes work perfectly when considered as Myers’s comments on the drama, but when you take them (as the reader is supposed to) as being introduced by Steve himself, they become too cute by half.  The screenplay technique also gives Myers just a little too much of an excuse to load the beginning of the novel with exposition.  Still, these are very minor concerns, and there are very few YA books out there that are better than Monster.

speak-laurie-halse-andersonBut one of those is Speak.  Speak actually shares many of Monster‘s strengths–a subtle look at a difficult social topic (in this case rape), an engaging but somewhat unreliable narrator, the decision to withhold crucial facts from the reader for a time, the contrast between the public and private selves of the protagonist, the theme of art as redemption, and probably more that I’ve missed.  But in my view, Anderson handles these strengths even better than Myers, and adds a few. 

I’ve said many times, that I think the novel’s greatest strength is Melinda’s voice, and I think it is much stronger than Steve’s–most importantly because of her biting humor, which helps to obscure how many pain she is in.  In terms of the “art as redemption” theme, though Myers is more committed to his theme, by allowing Steve’s art to take center stage, I find Anderson’s use of the theme more convincing, for several reasons: 1) because of the flaws in the screenplay technique, described above, 2) because we are able to see Melinda’s growth as an artist and gradual commitment to it, as opposed to Steve’s seemingly already fully formed artistic ambitions, 3) for the much more fully explored relationship between Melinda and her art teacher–as opposed to the underdeveloped character of Steve’s film teacher.

And of course there is Anderson’s prose.  Not to take anything away from Myers, but Anderson is the better stylist. From the well-known first paragraph (“It is my first morning of high school. I have seven new notebooks, a skirt I hate, and a stomachache”) on, Anderson loads her text with sentences that are at once witty, well-formed, and freighted with meaning.

There is much more to be said about both of these novels, but I’ll leave it there for now.  There are many many devoted fans of The Perks of Being a Wallflower–I wonder if anyone wants to make a case for it over Monster and Speak?  Or should I have taken another look at the best book in the Hary Potter series? Or either of the highly touted books from that year that I’ve never read?

– Mark


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Mock Printz 2014


Sorry for the blog silence. I actually have been reading, but everything I’ve finished recently has been a book I’m reviewing for either VOYA or AB4T, so I can’t really talk about them yet. I’m in the middle of finishing up a few 2012 books, but mostly I’ve moved on to 2013, which brings me to today’s topic:

I know I mentioned this in passing a week or two ago, but now I’d like to make it official: let’s run a Mock Printz program  for 2013 titles.

Here’s my thought:

  • We’ll continue to read and discuss young adult  books on this blog during the year, as we have been doing since August, and we’ll encourage our readers to comment and challenge us.
  • In June, around the time of ALA Annual, we will put out a list of early contenders, based on reviews and our own reading.
  • In late October, we’ll come up with a list of about 15-20 likely titles for the final list.
  • In late November, we’ll winnow that to 8-10 finalists, and encourage everyone who wants to participate to read them.
  • In January 2014, we’ll find a location somewhere in the San Francisco Bay Area and invite any interested parties to join us for a three- or four-hour meeting to discuss the finalists and vote on our Mock Printz winner and honor books.
  • At the same time, if we decide we have enough interest, we can run an online vote and see how that compares to the in-person vote.

I have no delusions that we (I) will be able to read anything like the number of books that the real Printz committee will, and I have no expectations that we will come up with the same book that they will. But I’m hoping that having this in mind will encourage me to take notes on the books I read, and that it will encourage me to think more critically about them. Plus, I haven’t been on a book committee in a while, and I think it will be fun to make an opportunity to talk about books in person with other passionate readers.

This, of course, doesn’t mean we can’t continue to talk about children’s books or adult books or anything else that comes up. It’s our blog, after all!

So what do you think? Any refinements to the process?

– Mom


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Back to Printz Thoughts


Now that I’ve cleansed my palate and planned my early 2013 reading, and now that all the 2012 books have been published, it’s time to muse again about the Printz Award.

I should state here for the record that I have a fairly spectacularly bad record of predicting Printz winners (I still think E.R. Frank’s America was robbed back in 2003, but hey, what do I know?). Sometimes, after the award is announced, I can look at the book, and look at the committee members, and say, “Yeah, I can see how those particular people chose that particular book,” but as for predicting . . . nah. There have been several years when I hadn’t even heard of the book that won (White Darkness, anyone? Jellicoe Road?). Continue reading

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The Brides of Rollrock Island (plus assorted other books)


bridesFirst some thoughts on Brides of Rollrock Island, which, although I have been championing it since I first read it back in July (thank you Netgalley), I realize I have never quite put into words why I love it.

What sets Lanagan apart from every other YA writer out there is her prose style.  You already mentioned some aspects to this (her unique adjectives, for one).  Here are a few phrases that I picked out of the book more or less at random:

“It was a poisonous day. Every now and again the wind would take a rest from pressing us to the wall, and try to pull us off it instead.” (p. 3)

“I wore a dress newly handed down from Tatty, and I felt blowsy and floaty in it, not held together properly” (p. 14)

“A little knifing of fear cut me free” (p. 120)

“Against the green-gray of the sea and the mottle-gray of the stony beach, white Aggie glowed” (p. 230)

There are those adjectives again–a poisonous(!) day, blowsy, white Aggie–but there is also just this sense that Lanagan can do anything she wants with words.  “A knifing of fear”, that personification of the wind, the image of not be “held together properly”.  To me it is just incredible.

But what sets this Lanagan apart from her other books is her incredible sense of narrative.  Even in my beloved Tender Morsels there were parts that dragged and her decision to pin the entire plot to the “Snow White Rose Red” story caused just a few hiccups.  This time, she is working from her own story and she uses her prodigious skill as a short story writer to offer an almost prismatic view of the plot, with six different narrators conveying the story to us.  And who are those six narrators: 1) Misskaella, the “witch” herself, 2) Bet Winch, the daughter of a wife soon to be cast aside in favor of a selkie by the Rollrock men, 3) Dominic Mallet, a man put under the spell of the selkies, 4) Daniel Mallet, a half-human, half-seal boy who understands both sides, 5) Lory Severner a foreigner seeing Rollrock for the first time, and 6) Trudle Callisher, the new “witch”.  Continue reading


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Reading Covers


Sorry for my absence from the blog. Between the World Series and my trip to Chicago for ALA Fall Exec, time just got away from me.

But covers: yes, absolutely covers make a difference–in more ways than one.

I think your weeding examples are good ones. There’s no point in a book taking up valuable real estate if no one is looking at it. There can be lots of reasons for that, and dull covers can be a major contributor. Outdated covers can also kill a book’s circulation. Those paperbacks from the 80s, where the kids have big hair, are an example. Also, these 80s paperback covers were almost always drawings, not photographs. Today the trend seems to be  photographs of real people (or, frequently, parts of people–feet, parts of faces, headless bodies) or something stylistic but essentially non-representational.

So obviously, there are trends in cover art, and publishers are constantly updating the covers of some of these books, to keep up with the times. Look at two newer versions of the Judy Blume book pictured on the left: Continue reading


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Auteurists and anticipation


I’ve been thinking about your last post all day, and I find that almost all of the examples I can think of are the opposite of yours. To start with a couple of adult authors: I have read almost everything Richard Russo has written, but I still think Nobody’s Fool  is his masterpiece, and that was the first of his books that I read. I have very much liked several of his other books, and I can definitely see similar themes and, as you said, interconnections, continuities, and discontinuities. But even though he won the Pulitzer Prize for Empire Falls,  to my mind, Nobody’s Fool is the better book.

Similarly, Book of Illusions was the first Paul Auster book I ever read. I’ve read most of his other novels, and I found them all fascinating and beautifully written, but Book of Illusions is the only one I’ve ever wanted to re-read.

Continue reading

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