With the announcement of the 2009 Michael L. Printz Award only days away, and there is lots of fun speculation all over the kidlitosphere over which of the fantastic 2008 titles might win the prize.
But I've been thinking about great YA novels of the past, published before the establishment of the award. The Printz was first awarded in 2000 (Monster by Walter Dean Myers was that first recipient) but--contrary to what some people seem to believe, YA literature has been around long long before then. The American Library Association's Best Books for Young Adult committee has been around since 1966, compiling annual lists of the finest YA books.
So I thought it might be fun to play around with the idea of books that we think ought to have gotten the Printz--if the Printz had been around when they were published. Here are a couple of my nominations:
The Grounding of Group Six by Julian F. Thompson, 1983: Five high school students discover that their parents have sent them away to boarding school not for an education but to be murdered. Fun!
Owl in Love by Patrice Kindl, 1995: Were-creatures in YA are more common now, but this story of a wereowl remains highly original.
Squashed by Joan Bauer, 1992: Best book about a girl growing a giant pumpkin you'll ever read.
The Right Hand Man by K. M. Peyton, 1977: This might be one of those "What the heck?" titles, but it's wonderfully vigorous historical fiction.
And oh so many more, obvious titles come to mind like Annie on My Mind by Nancy Garden, Ironman by Chris Crutcher, So Much to Tell You by John Marsden, The Chocolate War (natch) by Robert Cormier and some less obvious.
But what are yours? If you could go back in time and hand out Printz awards to pre-1999 titles, which would you pick?