The super exciting 2008 Printz winner’s summary post

Am I overselling it with that post title? Possibly.

This was another eclectic year for honored books. Two were underwhelming to me (One Whole and Perfect Day and Reposessed). Another was a delightful and unusual book of poetry (which reminds me, I still haven’t read any Sylvia Plath. Too many books, not enough time….). Dreamquake was not as good as the first book in the duology, but I still enjoyed it — but caution that you do need to read both, you can’t just jump in to the second, award-winning book.

This year’s winner, The White Darkness, was a strange and uncomfortable read. I’m not sure I would have picked it up, based on the description, but I’m glad I got the chance to read it. I think that’s why we need passionate librarians, who can get to know their patrons and encourage them to read interesting books that they might not choose on their own.

“Repossessed” by A.M. Jenkins

Repossessed Book Cover Repossessed
A. M. Jenkins
Juvenile Fiction
Harper Collins

2008 Michael L Printz Honor Book

Don't call me a demon. I prefer the term Fallen Angel.

Everybody deserves a vacation, right? Especially if you have a pointless job like tormenting the damned. So who could blame me for blowing off my duties and taking a small, unauthorized break?

Besides, I've always wanted to see what physical existence is like. That's why I "borrowed" the slightly used body of a slacker teen. Believe me, he wasn't going to be using it anymore anyway.

I have never understood why humans do the things they do. Like sin--if it's so terrible, why do they keep doing it?

I'm going to have a lot of fun finding out!

This was? OK? I guess? The idea was interesting, a demon possessing a teenaged boy, and experiencing life on Earth through his body, but the execution was a little underwhelming for me. I guess I wanted there to be more to it, more plot, more exploration, just…more…

It also took a preachy turn to it towards the end that I thought was a little too in your face, message-wise.

This is ridiculously short, but the more time I spend agonizing about what to say about a book that clear the threshold of awesome for me is less time I can spend reading….

“The White Darkness” by Geraldine McCaughrean

The White Darkness Book Cover The White Darkness
Geraldine McCaughrean
Juvenile Fiction
Harper Collins

2008 Michael L Printz Award Winner

I have been in love with Titus Oates for quite a while now—which is ridiculous, since he's been dead for ninety years. But look at it this way. In ninety years I'll be dead, too, and the age difference won't matter. Sym is not your average teenage girl. She is obsessed with the Antarctic and the brave, romantic figure of Captain Oates from Scott's doomed expedition to the South Pole. In fact, Oates is the secret confidant to whom she spills all her hopes and fears. But Sym's uncle Victor is even more obsessed—and when he takes her on a dream trip into the bleak Antarctic wilderness, it turns into a nightmarish struggle for survival that will challenge everything she knows and loves. In her first contemporary young adult novel, Carnegie Medalist and three-time Whitbread Award winner Geraldine McCaughrean delivers a spellbinding journey into the frozen heart of darkness.

This was….a strange and intense book. Having gone on my own little adventure a few years ago, on a rafting trip through the Grand Canyon, I find reading about other adventurers to be very captivating. Not that my adventure in any way compares to what Symone, the main character in this book, experiences when she goes on a “vacation” to Antarctica.

From the start, you suspect that something is off, and the whole book is one big descent into madness. I found myself unable to look away as everything horrible happened, and just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse, it did, and in ways I didn’t expect.

This is another one of those books that won’t be up your alley if you don’t like unreliable narrators, or need happy endings for your books.

“Your Own, Sylvia” by Stephanie Hemphill

Your Own, Sylvia Book Cover Your Own, Sylvia
Stephanie Hemphill
Juvenile Nonfiction
Knopf Books for Young Readers

2008 Michael L Printz Honor Book


On a bleak February day in 1963 a young American poet died by her own hand, and passed into a myth that has since imprinted itself on the hearts and minds of millions. She was and is Sylvia Plath and Your Own, Sylvia is a portrait of her life, told in poems.

With photos and an extensive list of facts and sources to round out the reading experience, Your Own, Sylvia is a great curriculum companion to Plath's The Bell Jar and Ariel, a welcoming introduction for newcomers, and an unflinching valentine for the devoted.

I was not expecting to like this book at all, and honestly, there was a fair amount of dread on my part before starting it.

Poetry? About Sylvia Plath, the poet? I’m not smart enough for that — for poetry. This is my high school English experience still haunting me. Not surprisingly, poetry is not as hard as I once thought, and if nothing else, this Printz project has gotten me to read plenty of it!

I don’t consider myself any kind of judge of poetry, so I don’t know if Hemphill’s poetry is any good or not, but everything about this book worked for me. I know that the author was fictionalizing the thoughts and accounts of Plath’s life, but it drew me in, and made me want to learn and read more. Plath’s own novel and poetry are now on my TBR list.


“One Whole and Perfect Day” by Judith Clarke

One Whole and Perfect Day Book Cover One Whole and Perfect Day
Judith Clarke
Juvenile Fiction
Front Street Incorporated

In this Michael L. Printz Honor Book, Lily wishes she could be like the other girls in her class. But how can she? As the only sensible person in her family, she never has time to hang out with friends. Someone has to stay home to look after her brother. Maybe she should fall in love! What could be less sensible that that?
When her grandmother invites the whole family to a party, Lily cannot imagine how they will make it through the day. Her mother is always bringing home strange people. Lily doesn't even know her father . Her grandfather has disowned her brother. Her brother has a new girlfriend that no one has met. To top it all off, that day when her eye caught Daniel Steadman's just for a moment, she felt all woozy inside. If that was love, she isn't sure she likes the feeling. As the party approaches, all Lily can hope for is one whole and perfect day. Is it too much to ask?

I was completely underwhelmed by this novel and was glad it was so short. I didn’t really care about the characters, and all of the coincidences were a little too coincidental for me.

The whole thing felt a little pointless, and while I can handle a character-driven story that is light on plot, this was a little too far over that line for me.

Oooo, a three sentence post. OK, 4 with that one. Well, once I finish this it’ll be 6.