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
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.