Archive for the ‘Printz Award’ Tag

Author Spotlight: Benjamin Alire Saenz

This year saw a remarkable achievement by Hispanic author Benjamin Alire Saenz: he and his 2012 YA novel Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe were honored with multiple awards!

aristotle and dante

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe is a story that embodies multiple perspectives at once – Hispanic-American, LGBTQ, teenage loner – which is why I think it was honored with so many awards. Dante is an upper class Hispanic gay teen who becomes fast, but unexpected, friends with Aristotle (Ari) Mendoza, a lower class kid who’s a loner with a brother in prison, and a family who won’t talk about it. Both discover, as the title implies, much about their families, their home, and themselves through their friendship.

Saenz was name the 2013 Pura Belpre Author Award winner for Aristotle and Dante. The Pura Belpre Author Award is given each year to an outstanding author of Latino/a descent whose work best portrays, affirms, and celebrates the Latino cultural experience in an excellent work of fiction or nonfiction written for children or teens.

Aristotle and Dante was also given the Stonewall Book Award, which was the first award for LGBTQ literature, and has become one of the most important awards in literature for young people as more and more books and authors embrace the LGBTQ experience freely and beautifully. The Stonewall Book Award is the title of a series of awards for adult fiction, adult nonfiction, and children’s and young adult literature (fiction/nonfiction). The children’s/YA award is called the Mike Morgan & Larry Romans Children’s and Young Adult Literature Award and has been given each year since 2010 to a children’s or young adult book of exceptional merit relating to the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender experience. The name Stonewall is taken from the Stonewall Riots, a series of violent demonstrations that took place in New York City in 1970s in response to a police raid of a well-known gay club. It is considered one of the most important events in the gay liberation movement, so the award for LGBTQ lit is aptly named. (Information from,, and

And, finally, Aristotle and Dante (and Saenz) was named to the list of Printz Award Honors! The Printz award is the foremost award for books for young adults. Though it did not take the prize, getting an honor for such a prestigious award is a huge deal.

Benjamin Alire Saenz is a prolific writer of picture books, YA fiction, and novels, poetry and short stories for adults. He was born in New Mexico and resides in El Paso, Texas, and writes mostly about that area of the country, in particular the Mexican-American experience. (“Benjamin Alire Saenz.” Contemporary Authors Online. Detroit: Gale, 2010. Gale Biography In Context. 7 Feb. 2013.)


Piper’s Son by Melina Marchetta

Tom has hit rock bottom.  When he passes out at a bar and ends up at the hospital needing 10 stitches, it’s not his mother or father who come to get him…it’s Francesca.  Tom and Francesca, along with Tara, Justine, Siobhan and Jimmy, all become friends in high school.  But that was five years ago and Tom hasn’t spoken to any of them since his uncle died.  His uncle’s death tore his family apart and Tom pulled away from everyone, include Tara, his girlfriend.  But now, homeless and out of work, Tom turns to his Aunt Georgie.  Will reconnecting with family and old friends help Tom deal with his grief?

A beautifully written story of one family’s struggle to come together after the death of a loved one threatens to tear them apart.

I also recommend Saving Francesca, a companion novel to The Piper’s Son, that tells the story of how Tom and Francesca met.  And if you like Saving Francesca and The Piper’s Son you’ll love Melina Marchetta’s Printz Award winning novel, Jellicoe Road.  She’s also written a wonderful fantasy novel, Finnikin of the Rock.   As for me, I’m going back to read her first novel, Looking for Alibrandi.

New books with a serious side

Bruiser by Neal Shusterman
When Tennyson’s sister, Bronte, begins dating Brewster, aka the Bruiser, he’s immediately concerned for her safety.  But as both Bronte and Tennyson get to know Brewster they discover his nickname hides a dark secret that impacts their entire family.

Told from multiple perspectives, you get a deep sense of the trouble Brewster faces while discovering his secret along with Tennyson and Bronte.  Bruiser is a nominee for the 2011 Milwaukee County Teen Book Award.

You by Charles Benoit
What decision brought you to this point?  There’s so much blood…how did this happen?  You are Kyle Chase, a hoodie, a boy coasting along in life.  Somehow you find yourself in a terrible situation brought about by a series of decisions (or lack thereof) that will forever change your life.

This unique and gripping story will drag you in and make you think about how one decision can dramatically impact your life.  Also a 2011 MCTBA nominee.

Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A.S. King
Is it ok to hate a your dead best friend?  When Vera’s former best friend Charlie dies, she’s the only one who knows a terrible secret that could clear his name.  But Charlie ditched Vera long before he died, so does she owe him anything?  Feeling haunted by Charlie, Vera struggles to take action in her life.

Told in flashbacks that slowly reveal the entire story of Vera and Charlie’s friendship and the events leading up to Charlie’s death, this compelling story was selected as a 2011 Printz Honor book.

Teen Book Award Winners

The winners of the Printz Award for Excellence in YA Lit and the Morris Award for YA Debut Author have been announced!

2011 Printz Award
Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi

Stolen by Lucy Christopher
Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A.S. King
Revolver by Marcus Sedgwick
Nothing by Janne Teller

2011 Morris Award
The Freak Observer by Blythe Woolston

Hush by Eishes Chayil
Guardian of the Dead by Karen Healey
Hold Me Closer, Necromancer by Lish McBride
Crossing the Tracks by Barbara Stuber