Annal: 2004 Michael L. Printz Award for Excellence in Young Adult Literature

Results of the Michael L. Printz Award in the year 2004.

Book:The First Part Last

The First Part Last

Angela Johnson

Bobby is a typical urban New York City teenager—impulsive, eager, restless. For his sixteenth birthday he cuts school with his two best buddies, grabs a couple of slices at his favorite pizza joint, catches a flick at a nearby multiplex, and gets some news from his girlfriend, Nia, that changes his life forever: He’s going to be a father. Suddenly things like school and house parties and fun times with friends are replaced by visits to Nia’s pediatrician and countless social workers who all say that the only way for Nia and Bobby to lead a normal life is to put their baby up for adoption. Then tragedy strikes Nia, and Bobby finds himself in the role of single, teenage father. Because his child—their child—is all that remains of his lost love.

With powerful language and keen insight, Johnson tells the story of a young man’s struggle to figure out what “the right thing” is and then to do it. The result is a gripping portrayal of a single teenage parenthood from the point of view of a young on the threshold of becoming a man.

Book:The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things

The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things

Carolyn Mackler

Fifteen-year-old Virginia Shreves has a larger-than-average body and a plus-size inferiority complex. She lives on the Web, snarfs junk food, and follows the “Fat Girl Code of Conduct.” Her stuttering best friend has just moved to Walla Walla (of all places). Her new companion, Froggy Welsh the Fourth (real name), has just succeeded in getting his hand up her shirt, and she lives in fear that he’ll look underneath. Then there are the other Shreves: Mom, the successful psychologist and exercise fiend; Dad, a top executive who ogles thin women on TV; and older siblings Anaïs and rugby god Byron, both of them slim and brilliant. Delete Virginia, and the Shreves would be a picture-perfect family. Or so she’s convinced. And then a shocking phone call changes everything.

With irreverent humor, insight, and surprising gravity, Carolyn Mackler creates an endearingly blunt heroine whose story will speak to every teen who struggles with family expectations—and serve as a welcome reminder that the most impressive achievement is to be true to yourself.

Book:Fat Kid Rules the World

Fat Kid Rules the World

K.L. Going

Troy Billings at 6'1", 296 pounds, is standing at the edge of a subway platform seriously contemplating suicide when he meets Curt MacCrae -a sage-like, semi-homeless punk guitar genius who also happens to be a drop-out legend at Troy’s school on the Lower East Side of Manhattan.

“I saved your life. You owe me lunch,” Curt tells Troy, and Troy can’t imagine refusing; after all, think of the headline: FAT KID ARGUES WITH PIECE OF TWINE.

But with Curt, Troy gets more than he bargained for and soon finds himself recruited as Curt’s drummer. “We’ll be called Rage/Tectonic. Sort of a punk rock, Clash sort of thing,” Curt informs him.

There’s only one problem. Troy can’t play the drums. Oh yes, and his father thinks Curt’s a drug addict. And his brother thinks Troy’s a loser. But with Curt, anything is possible. “You’ll see,” says Curt. “We’re going to be HUGE.”

In an outstanding, funny, edgy debut, K. L. Going presents two unlikely friends who ultimately save each other.

Book:Keesha's House

Keesha's House

Helen Frost

has found a safe place to live, and other kids gravitate to her house when they just can’t make it on their own. They are Stephie – pregnant, trying to make the right decisions for herself and those she cares about; Jason – Stephie’s boyfriend, torn between his responsibility to Stephie and the baby and the promise of a college basketball career; Dontay – in foster care while his parents are in prison, feeling unwanted both inside and outside the system; Carmen – arrested on a DUI charge, waiting in a juvenile detention center for a judge to hear her case; Harris – disowned by his father after disclosing that he’s gay, living in his car, and taking care of himself; Katie – angry at her mother’s loyalty to an abusive stepfather, losing herself in long hours of work and school.

Stretching the boundaries of traditional poetic forms – sestinas and sonnets – Helen Frost’s extraordinary debut novel for young adults weaves together the stories of these seven teenagers as they courageously struggle to hold their lives together and overcome their difficulties.

Book:A Northern Light

A Northern Light

Jennifer Donnelly

Mattie Gokey has a word for everything. She collects words, stores them up as a way of fending off the hard truths of her life, the truths that she can’t write down in stories.

The fresh pain of her mother’s death. The burden of raising her sisters while her father struggles over his brokeback farm. The mad welter of feelings Mattie has for handsome but dull Royal Loomis, who says he wants to marry her. And the secret dreams that keep her going—visions of finishing high school, going to college in New York City, becoming a writer.

Yet when the drowned body of a young woman turns up at the hotel where Mattie works, all her words are useless. But in the dead woman’s letters, Mattie again finds her voice, and a determination to live her own life.

Set in 1906 against the backdrop of the murder that inspired Theodore Dreiser’s An American Tragedy, this coming-of-age novel effortlessly weaves romance, history, and a murder mystery into something moving, and real, and wholly original.

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