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Find more Happy Birthday, Printz!
Since the first Michael L. Printz Award, administered by YALSA and sponsored by Booklist, was awarded in 2000, young adult literature has continued to push beyond the boundaries of its genre and offer teen readers more sophisticated, rewarding, and original stories than ever before. In honor of the Printz Award’s tenth anniversary, we’ve compiled these read-alikes for past winners.
2000 Printz Winner
Monster, by Walter Dean Myers.
Blending screenplay and journal formats with arresting, digitally altered photos, Myers’ novel was named the first Printz Award winner and is the story of a 16-year-old New York City teen accused of murder. Myers’ Riot (2009), set in historical Manhattan, also employs a screenplay format in a story of racially fueled injustice.
Black and White. By Paul Volponi. 2005. Viking, $15.99 (9780670060061). Gr. 9–12.
Volponi’s novel of two best friends—one black, one white—who face the consequences of armed robbery shares Monster’s Manhattan setting, authentic teen guy characters, and provocative questions about racism, justice, and versions of the truth. Volponi’s Rikers High (2010) touches on similar themes.
Jumped. By Rita Williams-Garcia. 2009. HarperTeen, $16.99 (9780060760915). Gr. 9–12.
Alternating, realistic voices narrate this taut page-turner that explores the volatility of daily tensions at an urban high school and the complex roles of bully, victim, and bystander.
Puppet. By Eva Wiseman. 2009. Tundra, $17.95 (9780887768286). Gr. 7–12.
Although set in a Hungarian village in the late nineteenth century, Wiseman’s story of a trial fueled by virulent anti-Semitism echoes Monster’s unflinching, young person’s view of crime and punishment, hate and injustice, and the wrenching complexity of moral choices.
2001 Printz Winner
Kit’s Wilderness, by David Almond.
In this poetic, haunting Printz winner set in a bleak English mining town, 13-year-old Kit meets an equally imaginative boy whose games transcend the border between the living and the dead.
Dead Man’s Gold. By Paul Yee. 2004. Groundwood, paper, $7.95 (9780888995872). Gr. 6–12.
Based on ghost stories told by early Chinese immigrants in the U.S. and Canada, these 10 short fiction selections bring the supernatural into young people’s daily lives.
The Graveyard Book. By Neil Gaiman. 2008. HarperCollins, $17.99 (9780060530921). Gr. 6–10.
Like Kit, the protagonist of this Newbery Medal winner finds guidance and love from the other side of the grave.
2002 Printz Winner
A Step from Heaven, by An Na.
In lyrical, stand-alone chapters, Na’s debut follows a Korean American girl from early childhood to her days as a college-bound teen. A potent exploration of universal coming-of-age conflicts, particularly those in immigrant families.
Does My Head Look Big in This? By Randa Abdel-Fattah. 2007. Scholastic/Orchard, $16.99 (9780439919470). Gr. 7–10.
Never didactic and often hilarious, this debut novel about a Muslim teen in Australia shows the diversity of her immigrant community as well as the discrimination and family struggles she experiences.
Good Enough. By Paula Yoo. 2008. HarperTeen, $16.99 (9780060790851). Gr. 7–10.
Patti, a high-achieving high-school senior, struggles between her Korean parents’ expectations and her growing desire to shape her own future in this funny, contemporary first novel.
Tell Us We’re Home. By Marina Budhos. 2010. Atheneum, $16.99 (9781416903529). Gr. 6–9.
In this nuanced story filled with well-developed characters, three eighth-grade girls from immigrant families face prejudice in their affluent New Jersey suburb.
2003 Printz Winner
Postcards from No Man’s Land, by Aidan Chambers.
Winner of the British Carnegie Medal as well the Printz Award, Chambers’ novel combines WWII romance with an edgy, contemporary story about English teen Jacob, who falls in love with a beautiful young woman even as he’s attracted to an openly gay young man.
The Book Thief. By Markus Zusak. 2006. Knopf, $17.99 (9780375831003). Gr. 10–12.
Death narrates this searing, inventive Printz Honor Book, which, like Chambers’ novel, is a powerful WWII story that crosses over easily to an adult audience.
Tamar. By Mal Peet. 2007. Candlewick, $17.99 (9780763634889). Gr. 9–12.
Like Chambers’ Printz winner, this sophisticated, split-history novel connects a WWII love story with a European teen’s search for answers to family secrets.
2004 Printz Winner
The First Part Last, by Angela Johnson.
This second installment in the trilogy that begins with Heaven (1998) and continues in Sweet, Hereafter (2010) tells the story of African American Bobby, a single teen father and artist. Winner of both the Coretta Scott King Author Award as well as the Printz Award.
Behind You. By Jacqueline Woodson. 2004. Putnam, $15.99 (9780399239885). Gr. 7–12.
Jeremiah, an African American teen killed by police bullets, narrates from the afterlife in this tender story of first love and grief, told in part by the people he left behind.
Slam. By Nick Hornby. 2007. Putnam, $19.99 (9780399250484). Gr. 9–12.
In his YA debut, adult author Hornby tackles teen fatherhood with typical wit, insight, poignancy, and memorable voices.
Tyrell. By Coe Booth. 2006. Scholastic, $16.99 (9780439838795). Gr. 9–12.
Like Johnson’s Printz winner, Booth’s debut, about a 15-year-old African American Bronx teen, is a story of kids raising kids, first love, and the difficulty of making good choices.
2005 Printz Winner
How I Live Now, by Meg Rosoff.
Rosoff imagines a third world war in this provocative novel about 15-year-old Daisy, who visits her aunt’s English farm and falls in love with her cousin before terrorists attack.
The Carbon Diaries: 2015. By Saci Lloyd. 2009. Holiday, $17.95 (9780823421909). Gr. 9–12.
In this title and its sequel, The Carbon Diaries: 2017 (2010), both set in near-future London, Lloyd envisions the devastating repercussions of global warming in teen rocker Laura’s perfectly pitched voice.
The Knife of Never Letting Go. By Patrick Ness. 2008. Candlewick, paper, $9.99 (9780763645762). Gr. 8–12.
Like Rosoff’s Printz winner, Ness’ first installment in the Chaos Walking trilogy, followed by The Ask and Answer (2009) and Monsters of Men (2010), centers on a young teen who bravely navigates a futuristic world shaped by terror and war.
Life as We Knew It. By Susan Beth Pfeffer. 2006. Harcourt, $17 (9780152058265). Gr. 7–10.
A meteor sets off a chain of horrific events in this apocalyptic story filled with honest characters and emotions. The Dead and the Gone (2008) and This World We Live In (2010) continue the story.
2006 Printz Winner
Looking for Alaska, by John Green.
Compared on its publication to John Knowles’ classic A Separate Peace, Green’s Printz Award–winning debut, by turns witty, irreverent, and heartbreaking, follows eleventh-grader Miles Halter through his first year at an Alabama boarding school.
Breathless. By Jessica Warman. 2009. Walker, $16.99 (9780802798497). Gr. 9–12.
Sent to boarding school after her schizophrenic brother attempts suicide, Katie finds escapism, first love, and deep friendship in this achingly realistic, mature debut.
The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks. By E. Lockhart. 2008. Hyperion, $16.99 (9780786838189). Gr. 7–12.
Like Looking for Alaska, this Printz Honor Book tells a boarding-school story of love, subversion, social politics, and a teen’s search for identity with sharp insight and clever, quotable humor.
Prep. By Curtis Sittenfeld. 2005. Random, paper, $14 (9780812972351).
Although this Alex Award title was published under an adult imprint, its shrewd, authentic view of boarding-school life seems targeted toward young adults and has attracted a wide crossover audience.
2007 Printz Winner
American Born Chinese, by Gene Luen Yang.
The first graphic novel to win the Printz Award, Yang’s expertly rendered title explores Chinese American identity through interwoven stories of three wildly different characters.
The Arrival. By Shaun Tan. 2007. Scholastic/Arthur A. Levine, $19.99 (9780439895293). Gr. 6–12.
Almost entirely wordless, Tan’s beautiful title uses fantastical, visual metaphors to tell a dreamlike story of immigration.
Storm in the Barn. By Matt Phelan. 2009. Candlewick, $24.99 (9780763636180). Gr. 5–8.
Set during the Dust Bowl, this visually arresting title, a Booklist Top of the List choice for youth fiction as well as the winner of the 2010 Scott O’Dell Award for Historical Fiction, shares American Born Chinese’s blend of myth and realism and exemplifies the sophisticated artistry of the best graphic novels published for youth.
Stuck in the Middle: Seventeen Comics from an Unpleasant Age. Ed. by Ariel Schrag. 2007. Viking, $18.99 (9780670062218). Gr. 7–10.
Both established and emerging comics artists contribute spot-on stories about the anguish of junior high in this collection for a wide readership.
2008 Printz Winner
The White Darkness, by Geraldine McCaughrean.
With poetic language and taut suspense, McCaughrean’s Printz Award winner follows 14-year-old Symone on an increasingly dangerous expedition to the South Pole.
The Compound. By S. A. Bodeen. 2008. Feiwel and Friends, $16.95 (9780312370152). Gr. 7–12.
This postapocalyptic thriller about a boy’s search for truth in the wake of a nuclear Holocaust shares The White Darkness’ themes of family conspiracy and survival in extreme elements.
Emperors of the Ice: A True Story of Disaster and Survival in the Antarctic, 1910–13. By Richard Farr. 2008. Farrar, $19.95 (9780374319755). Gr. 6–9.
Readers intrigued by the Antarctic setting in McCaughrean’s Printz winner will enjoy this riveting nonfiction account of an ill-fated expedition to the South Pole.
Peak. By Roland Smith. 2007. Houghton, $17 (9780152024178). Gr. 8–11.
Along with the exciting action, this richly layered adventure story about a teen who attempts to climb Everest explores the repercussions of obsessive, single-minded pursuits.
2009 Printz Winner
Jellicoe Road, by Melina Marchetta.
The palpably evoked heat and dust of rural Australia provide the setting for this Printz winner’s complex story of boarding-school wars led by a teen who gradually uncovers the mysteries of her past.
Surrender. By Sonya Hartnett. 2006. Candlewick, $16.99 (9780763627683). Gr. 9–12.
The Australian setting and a young person’s experience with a small community’s dark secrets make this Printz Honor Book a natural partner to Marchetta’s Printz winner.
Tales of the Madman Underground. By John Barnes. 2009. Viking, $18.99 (9780670060818). Gr. 9–12.
Like Jellicoe Road, this hefty Printz Honor Book about a teen’s attempt to reinvent himself rewards readers with an ambitious, wholly original high-school story whose central characters search for identity and meaning.
2010 Printz Winner
Going Bovine, by Libba Bray.
Reality TV, quantum physics, cults of happiness, yard gnomes, time travel, and the blues are just a few of the elements that make up this nearly indefinable Printz Award winner about a 16-year-old with mad-cow disease who embarks on an epic road trip to save the world.
Andromeda Klein. By Frank Portman. 2009. Delacorte, $17.99 (9780385735254). Gr. 9–12.
As epic in scope as Going Bovine, this equally tough-to-define novel about a tarot-obsessed teen probes similar theories about the organizing forces of the universe.
The Last Summer of the Death Warriors. By Francisco X. Stork. 2010. Scholastic/Arthur A. Levine, $17.99 (9780545151337). Gr. 8–12.
Based, like Going Bovine, on Cervantes’ Don Quixote, this eloquent novel shares other uncanny similarities to Bray’s Printz winner, particularly its unforgettable male teen protagonists, who experience heroism, revenge, illness, and love during an archetypal road trip.
This Is All: The Pillow Book of Cordelia Kenn. By Aidan Chambers. 2006. Abrams, $19.99 (9780810970601). Gr. 9–12.
Like Bray’s Printz winner, Chambers’ novel, a sprawling, intellectually rigorous portrait of a pregnant 19-year-old who records her life for her soon-to-arrive child, is an unrestrained examination of life’s largest questions.
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