The Michael L. Printz Award for
Excellence in Young Adult Literature

2004 Award Winner

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The First Part Last by Angela Johnson - YA JOH
Johnson's novel is an extraordinary work in which the realities of fatherhood come slowly but surely to 16 year-old Bobby after the birth of his daughter, Feather.  Told in alternating chapters, Johnson's story reveals the love Bobby and his girlfriend Nia shared then, as well as the growing affection Bobby feels now for his daughter.

“Bobby's voice comes strong and poignant, pulling readers into the heartache, confusion, and insecurity,"  said Pam Spencer Holley, Chair of the 2004 Printz Award Committee.  "Angela Johnson's work never verges on sentimentality and brings readers close to the true meaning of parenthood."

Johnson lives in Ohio and is a recipient of a 2003 MacArthur Fellowship; in addition, she is the author of numerous award winning books for children and young adults.

 

2004 Honor Books

                                                                                                 

A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly  YA Mystery DON
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.

 

Keesha's House by Helen Frost YA FRO                
An unforgettable narrative collage told in poems
Keesha 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.

 

Fat Kid Rules the World by K.L. Going  YA GOI     
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.