This is Teen Read Week, so I wanted to take a break from the festival of new books with a look at some of the most notable books in teen fiction from the past 10 years — specifically, books that have won the Printz Award. The Michael L. Printz Award was started in 2000 to honor books that exemplify literary excellence in books for teens. Check ’em out!
Monster by Walter Dean Myers (2000 winner) — While on trial as an accomplice to a murder, sixteen-year-old Steve Harmon records his experiences in prison and in the courtroom in the form of a film script as he tries to come to terms with the course his life has taken.
“The tense drama of the courtroom scenes will enthrall readers, but it is the thorny moral questions raised in Steve’s journal that will endure in readers’ memories.” — Booklist
Kit’s Wilderness by David Almond (2001 winner) — Thirteen-year-old Kit goes to live with his grandfather in the decaying coal mining town of Stoneygate, England, and finds both the old man and the town haunted by ghosts of the past.
“The intricacy and complexity of the book’s darker themes make it a more challenging read than his previous novel for children, but the structure is as awe-inspiring as the ancient mining tunnels that run beneath Stoneygate.” — Publisher’s Weekly
A Step From Heaven by An Na (2002 winner) — In this debut novel, a young girl describes her family’s bittersweet experience in the United States after their emigration from Korea. Four years old on the flight to California, Young Ju concludes that America is heaven. But when they arrive, they are weighed down by the difficulty of learning English, their insular family life, and the traditions of the country they left behind.
“This isn’t a quick read, especially at the beginning when the child is trying to decipher American words and customs, but the coming-of-age drama will grab teens and make them think of their own conflicts between home and outside.” — Booklist
Postcards From No Man’s Land by Aidan Chambers (2003 winner) — Alternates between two stories–contemporarily, seventeen-year-old Jacob visits a daunting Amsterdam at the request of his English grandmother–and historically, nineteen-year-old Geertrui relates her experience of British soldiers’s attempts to liberate Holland from its German occupation.
“The protagonists in these coming-of-age stories face real-world decisions involving love, sexuality, and friendship, linking the teenagers across time and generations, and leading to a conclusion as convincing as it is absorbing and thought-provoking.” — School Library Journal
The First Part Last by Angela Johnson (2004 winner) — Bobby’s carefree teenage life changes forever when he becomes a father and must care for his adored baby daughter.
“In this lyrical novel, 16-year-old Bobby narrates his journey into teenage fatherhood, struggling to balance school, parenting, and friends who simply do not comprehend his new role and his breathtaking love for his daughter.” — School Library Journal