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

2007 Award Winner

American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang YA GRAPHIC NOVEL 741.5 YAN
Gene Luen Yang has won the 2007 Michael L. Printz Award for his masterful graphic novel “American Born Chinese.” Yang draws from American pop culture and ancient Chinese mythology in his groundbreaking work. Expertly told in words and pictures, Yang’s story in three parts follows a Chinese American teenager’s struggle to define himself against racial stereotypes. “American Born Chinese” is the first graphic novel to be recognized by the Michael L. Printz Committee.
Yang, who began drawing comics in the fifth grade, is a high school teacher in the San Francisco Bay area.

2007 Honor Books

The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation; v. 1: The Pox Party by M. T. Anderson YA AND
Gr 9 Up–In this fascinating and eye-opening Revolution-era novel, Octavian, a black youth raised in a Boston household of radical philosophers, is given an excellent classical education. He and his mother, an African princess, are kept isolated on the estate, and only as he grows older does he realize that while he is well dressed and well fed, he is indeed a captive being used by his guardians as part of an experiment to determine the intellectual acuity of Africans. As the fortunes of the Novanglian College of Lucidity change, so do the nature and conduct of their experiments. The boy's guardians host a pox party where everyone is inoculated with the disease in hopes that they will then be immune to its effects, but, instead, Octavian's mother dies. He runs away and ends up playing the fiddle and joining in the Patriots' cause. He's eventually captured and brought back to his household where he's bound and forced to wear an iron mask until one of his more sympathetic instructors engineers his escape. Readers will have to wait for the second volume to find out the protagonist's fate. The novel is written in 18th-century language from Octavian's point of view and in letters written by a soldier who befriends him. Despite the challenging style, this powerful novel will resonate with contemporary readers. The issues of slavery and human rights, racism, free will, the causes of war, and one person's struggle to define himself are just as relevant today. Anderson's use of factual information to convey the time and place is powerfully done.

An Abundance of Katherines by John Green YA GRE
Ages 14-up. Green follows his debut novel, Looking for Alaska, with this comic story about Colin Singleton, who at 17, considers himself a failure. "Formerly a prodigy. Formerly full of potential. Currently full of shit," he thinks, when, on graduation day, his girlfriend breaks up with him, the 19th girl named Katherine he has dated and been dumped by. (That number includes some third- and fourth-grade encounters, one of which lasted three minutes.) Colin's best friend, Hassan, an overweight underachiever, suggests a road trip to lift Colin out of his funk. A highway sign advertising the grave of the Austro-Hungarian archduke whose assassination sparked WWI leads them to Gutshot, Tenn., and Lindsey Lee Wells, whose mother, Hollis, is the town's largest employer—she owns a factory that makes tampon strings. Hollis offers the boys jobs recording oral histories of local residents, which they accept, though Colin's true preoccupation is a mathematical formula ("The Theorem of Underlying Katherine Predictability"), which will forecast the duration of all romantic relationships and enable him to make his mark on the world. It's not much of a plot, but Green's three companionable main characters make the most of it. Colin's epiphany—he can't predict the future but he can reinvent himself, maybe even date a girl not named Katherine—is pretty basic, but the intelligent humor that will make many readers eager to go along with him and Hassan for the ride.

Surrender by Sonya Hartnett YA HAR
Surrender is a mesmerizing psychological thriller from extraordinary novelist Sonya Hartnett. As life slips away, Gabriel looks back over his brief twenty years, which have been clouded by frustration and humiliation. A small, unforgiving town and distant, punitive parents ensure that he is never allowed to forget the horrific mistake he made as a child. He has only two friends - his dog, Surrender, and the unruly wild boy, Finnigan, a shadowy doppelganger with whom the meek Gabriel once made a boyhood pact. But when a series of arson attacks grips the town, Gabriel realizes how unpredictable and dangerous Finnigan is. As events begin to spiral violently out of control, it becomes devastatingly clear that only the most extreme measures will rid Gabriel of Finnigan for good.

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak YA ZUS
Gr 9 Up–Zusak has created a work that deserves the attention of sophisticated teen and adult readers. Death himself narrates the World War II-era story of Liesel Meminger from the time she is taken, at age nine, to live in Molching, Germany, with a foster family in a working-class neighborhood of tough kids, acid-tongued mothers, and loving fathers who earn their living by the work of their hands. The child arrives having just stolen her first book–although she has not yet learned how to read–and her foster father uses it, The Gravediggers Handbook, to lull her to sleep when shes roused by regular nightmares about her younger brothers death. Across the ensuing years of the late 1930s and into the 1940s, Liesel collects more stolen books as well as a peculiar set of friends: the boy Rudy, the Jewish refugee Max, the mayors reclusive wife (who has a whole library from which she allows Liesel to steal), and especially her foster parents. Zusak not only creates a mesmerizing and original story but also writes with poetic syntax, causing readers to deliberate over phrases and lines, even as the action impels them forward. Death is not a sentimental storyteller, but he does attend to an array of satisfying details, giving Liesels story all the nuances of chance, folly, and fulfilled expectation that it deserves. An extraordinary narrative.