Being mostly independent school librarians in Manhattan, it’s no surprise that some of us were suffering from, or recovering from, the cold that everyone in the NY metro area seems to have. Luckily, Karyn and I were prepared with Cold 911 from David’s Tea (our not-so-secret obsession), and we served up a few pots before getting down to our discussion.
All of our titles were written on a white board in alphabetical order by author’s last name. To save our limited time for in-depth discussion, we did a quick poll (by show of hands) of everyone’s top-five books. The Drowned Cities and Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe received the lowest number of votes, which matched the results of our original nominations poll.
We decided to discuss the books in the order they appeared on the board, putting The Diviners by Libba Bray up first. This was also our first opportunity to review the Printz policies and procedures, which Karyn helpfully wrote on the white board for easy review. Whether The Diviners succeeds as a standalone book was a main topic of our discussion, as was Evie’s emotional journey, and the character development overall.
The Fault in Our Stars came next. John Green’s novel had received the 64% of the votes in the nominations round, and while there was a lot of love for John Green, we had to wonder if he was bigger than the work itself. Ultimately, we agreed that although voice and style were strong, the plot and some of the characters were flawed.
Before discussion started we acknowledged that none of us had read every title, but that we would do our best to give informed opinions when possible and lean on those who had read a particular title. One of these was Margo Lanagan's The Brides of Rollrock Island, which had our members questioning if it is actually a YA title. Karyn informed us that on a real Printz committee, the chair and members would agree prior to discussion if a book published as YA (but judged by committee as not really a YA book) would meet criteria. This was an important designation to note, as the Printz criteria certainly covers the publishing distinction, but not the critical.
Plot, theme, and characters dominated the discussion of David Levithan’s Every Day. Some members took issue with the pat moral lessons, and the implication that A could understand the life of a person after living in their body for just one day. However, we agreed that the Levithan challenges readers to face their own biases.
Railsea by China Mieville was another title that was sadly under-read by our group, but Karyn made a good case for its world-building and wit. Collectively, we marveled at Karyn’s copy heavily laden with post-it flags.
We returned to our series vs. standalone debate with The Raven Boys. It seemed like we all heart this book and Maggie Stiefvater, but there was some disagreement on the richness of the characters and themes. Some felt that although parts of these elements are established in this book, it’s too evident that more is to come in future books.
Finally, we discussed our second place title in the nominations round: Code Name Verity. Although it didn’t touch everyone emotionally (i.e.: not all of us cried), we agreed that superior craft is on display in Elizabeth Wein’s book.
When it came time to vote, there was definitely excitement in the air. Having been snacking on candy, pretzels, and tea, we were fueled up and ready to back our favorites. In secret ballots, we each ranked three books for Mock Printz gold. Each first place vote was worth 5 points, second place 3 points, and third place votes were worth 1 point. (In the excitement of the afternoon, we accidentally gave TFIOS one extra second place vote that was meant for CNV, but the difference is negligible). Here’s a look at how the votes fell:
|Click to enlarge the table.|
This first round is so interesting because CNV narrowly edges out ATP, but ATP placed on every member’s list save one. To win, a book needs to receive 50% + 1 first place vote, which means that we needed to vote again to get our true fake winner.
Second round voting in the Real Printz should follow another round of discussion, often focusing on the books that dominated the top votes, but in the interest of time and excitement, we went straight to the voting. Karyn advised us to vote strategically in order to reach a decisive winner; therefore, a member could sway the vote to CNV or ATP by changing their first place vote. With that in mind, here’s the second round breakdown:
|Click to enlarge the table.|
Once again, running on adrenaline we miscounted at the time so the breakdowns shown here are the result of a second count. Although it didn’t win by the true Printz margin, our Mock Printz gold went to Ask the Passengers, proving that consensus is just as important as perfection when it comes to the Printz.As in the Real Printz, we voted for Honor books separately. This was also an aha! moment for many of us, as it became clear that although one might not vote for a certain title for Gold, you may want to support a flawed but noteworthy book for an Honor. With this in mind, our Mock Honor picks were: Code Name Verity, The Fault in Our Stars, Railsea and The Brides of Rollrock Island.
After a long day’s journey into night, we not only came away with Mock Printz winners, but picks for our February Book Club. The titles, date and time for our first meeting of 2013 will be announced here on the blog soon!
Head over to Someday MyPrintz Will Come for additional analysis and data on our Mock Printz. Thank you to all who participated! Watch this space for details on how to participate in next year's Mock Printz sequel: bigger, better, more tea.