Posted November 25, 2013 by in Literary Prizes

4 MORE Printz Honor Winners Worth Reading

Second place is the first loser, right? Well, not so with these fabulous Printz Honor Winners that represent the very best of young adult literature. Last week I gave y’all the skinny on four amazing runners-up, and this week we’l dig deeper into the Michael L. Printz Award archives to bring you four more excellent reads!

2007: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

book thief

Get out your tissues, because this World War II novel is a real tearjerker. Narrated by Death himself, The Book Thief is the story of a young German girl named Liesel Meminger. Liesel is sent to live outside of Munich in 1939 with her new foster parents. Her new papa is denied access to the Nazi party, and work is very hard for him to come by. Books are a luxury item, so Liesel can only have what she manages to steal. She and her papa read together at night, and Liesel discovers a love for the written word that carries her through difficult times in life –those times when Death brushes by her on his way to carry out his work of collecting souls. Death is very busy during these war-torn years, but Liesel makes an impression on him as he tells the story of a little German girl with the power to endure life tragedies.

Other Awards: ALA’s Ten Best Books for Young Adults, National Jewish Book Award

Check it out on Goodreads.

2003:The House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer

House of the Scorpion

Matteo is a clone. He was created and farmed to serve as a organ donor to El Patron, the dictator of Opium. Set in a dystopian future, Opium is the land between the U.S. and Mexico, and El Patron rules with a very heavy hand. As a clone, Matteo struggles. He sees the evil that El Patron represents, but also recognizes that he and El Patron share the same DNA. El Patron only cares about Matt until he needs his organs, and Matt knows he, as a clone, is considered a non-person. Nancy Farmer creates a fantastic dystopian world in Opium, and this is a dystopian written before dystopia became trendy.

Other Awards: National Book Award for Young People’s Literature, Newbery Honor

Check it out on Goodreads.

2001: Angus, Thongs, and Full-Frontal Snogging by Louise Rennison

angus, thongs

In this hilarious British novel, readers are introduced to Georgia Nicolson. Georgia is boy crazy, doesn’t take school too seriously, and has a bizarre cat and an annoying little brother. She’s one of the most awesomely, awkwardly flawed characters in YA literature, and she WILL make readers laugh out loud with her journal entries documenting her totally tragic life as a teenager. Of all the books to ever win a Printz Honor Award, Angus is probably the most “fluffy” on the surface. But Rennison’s incredible ability to capture the teenage voice and her comedic genius make this a worthwhile read.

Worth noting: Georgia Nicolson has her own series of ten books with titles like Dancing In My Nuddy-Pants and On The Bright Side, I’m Now the Girlfriend of a Sex God.

Check out the book on Goodreads.

2000: Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson


Melinda doesn’t talk. She called the cops during a party, and now all of her classmates are mad at her. Which is fine with Melinda, because there’s quite enough going on in her own mind that she needs to deal with. Anger. Truth. Something happened that night that Melinda doesn’t want to deal with and her classmates don’t know. She must learn to express herself and confront her secrets and demons. This is Laurie Halse Anderson’s first novel and, arguably, her best.

Other awards: Edgar Award Nominee (for mystery books), National Book Award for Young People’s Literature Nominee

Check out the book on Goodreads


This fall in What’s New in YA, I‘ve been covering the Michael L. Printz award and the notion of a literary fiction genre in young adult literature. Interested in more Printz-caliber reading? Check out my other reviews of Printz-winning novels:

What’s New In YA will be celebrating the Printz award all this fall. Have a favorite? Share your thoughts!


Former middle school teacher and school librarian, current doctoral student in education. Reader of all things young adult. I'm particularly fond of dystopian societies, sassy female protagonists, and clever dialogue. I can often be found asleep with a book on my face. Check out all my articles.