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Analysis: 2012 Michael L. Printz Award for Excellence in Young Adult Literature

The Michael L. Printz Award for Excellence in Young Adult Literature was first awarded in the year 2000 to Monster, by Walter Dean Myers.  Selected by a committee of 10 members, one book is named a winner and up to four honor books may be named for being the best young adult books published in the preceding year.  In terms of “best”, it is defined for the award’s purpose as “solely on literary merit”.( )  However, the criteria for what determines literary merit seems to be nebulous and fairly fluid year to year.  Young adult, for the purposes of this award, is defined as books targeted at teens, ages 12-18.

The category of young adult literature is a relatively recent development.  Twenty years ago it really didn’t exist.  Readers started with children’s literature and then when that was outgrown, they jumped straight into adult fiction.  Young adult literature has evolved to fill the space in-between.  Most often the characters are teenagers and the books gravitate towards coming of age themes.  Adults these days find themselves reaching down to read these works, particularly when a quality one comes along.  The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins is one such example.

There are many literary awards for books, but because the Prinz award is sponsored by the American Library Association, as is the respected Newbery Award, and the Prinz award-winning books are often recommended by librarians and other educators, Compass Book Ratings felt it was important to have a content review for these books.  Sprinkled throughout our review database are some of the previous winners and award books.  Beginning with 2012, we wanted to commit to reviewing and providing a content analysis for all the Prinz books.  This proved to be no small task this year as four of the five books were extremely high in content.  Sadly, because of the pervasive content and high content levels in most of these books, Compass Book Ratings may not invest time in analyzing  future Prinz winners.

So, what did we think of this year’s round-up of Prinz winner and honor books? Hands down we loved Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater!  Authentic characters, top-notch writing, solid plot, and moments of humor make this the book to read.  Definitely one of the more compelling books I have read this year.  This book is a keeper and recommended for ages 16+.

Below is the complete list of the 2012 Prinz Books.  See the full review and content analysis by clicking on the book’s title.

Related Posts:  2012 Newbery Books

2012 Prinz Winner

Where Things Come Back, Book Cover

 Where Things Come Back

by John Corey Whaley

3.5 Stars









2012 Prinz Honor Books

Jasper Jones, Book Cover

Jasper Jones

by Craig Silvey

3 Stars







Why We Broke Up, Book Cover

Why We Broke Up

by Daniel Handler

2.5 Stars






The Returning, Book Cover

The Returning

by Christine Hinwood

3.5 Stars








Scorpio Races, Book CoverScorpio Races

by Maggie Stiefvater

5 Stars




An accountant and CPA by profession, I found myself a book reviewer for Squeaky Clean Reads by happenstance. When the opportunity came to transform that website into Compass Book Ratings, I was excited to seize it and meld my business background with my love of books. As the mother of three teenage sons, I have read a large number of children and young adult books and I believe that there is great value in a content review service. As much as we would love to read everything our children read, there just isn’t enough time. I also appreciate being able to select books for myself that are really worth my precious and limited reading time. I believe there is a book out there for everyone–they just have to find it!

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