Mock Printz booktalk: A Face Like Glass by Frances Hardinge

What follows is a booktalk for a title on our Mock Printz shortlist. We hope you’ll be able to join us at the event where our winner will be chosen! This booktalk was written by Lisa Elliott of Tigard Public Library.

The underground world of Caverna is home to master crafters who create exotic and often magical delicacies. Their wines can erase or restore memories, their perfumes can intoxicate and enchant, and their cheeses can cause hallucinations or explosions. When Neverfell is a young child, she appears in the tunnels of Master Grandible, one of Caverna’s most highly regarded cheesemakers who, in spite of the aristocratic status that comes with his craftsmanship, has rejected the Court and keeps to himself behind intricately locked and booby-trapped doors. He discovers Neverfell in a vat of curds, and takes her under his wing as his apprentice. He also insists that she wear a mask and never reveal her face to strangers, because within it contains horrors Grandible refuses to explain.

By the time Neverfell is a teenager, she grows restless and escapes the cheesemaker’s tunnels and finds herself in a world of intrigue so complex, it is impossible to distinguish enemies from allies, especially considering Caverna’s most curious peculiarity: All of its citizens are born with blank faces and must learn facial expressions. The lower class drudges are taught only friendly, subservient faces, and the upper classes pay top-dollar for a huge variety of expressions they use to help them lie and manipulate in order to gain advantage in the Court. Neverfell’s entrance into this society immediately causes a stir, especially once the face under her mask is revealed. She finds herself a key figure of plot after plot, until she finally gets fed up with being a pawn and decides to take the fate of all of Caverna into her own hands.

Mock Printz booktalk: Golden Boys by Sonya Hartnett

What follows is a booktalk for a title on our Mock Printz shortlist. We hope you’ll be able to join us at the event where our winner will be chosen! This booktalk was written by Lisa Elliott of Tigard Public Library.

The cover for Sonya Hartnett's YA novel, Golden BoysThere’s always a catch with Colt’s father Rex. The kids in his new neighborhood are totally charmed by Rex’s easy manner and generosity, but Colt is not fooled. When he and his family moved to this working class neighborhood, it was clear they did not quite fit in, but Rex launched a campaign to win everybody over by sharing the products of their wealth. The toys, the bikes, the backyard pool. Always the best that money can buy. All are invited to partake, but Colt suspects the point is not to ensure that he and his brother Bastain have friends, but rather that they are envied.

Freya, a sophisticated 12-year-old, has begun to notice that the adults in her life are less than perfect. She says that growing up is like learning you live in a castle and finding yourself in unfamiliar, often ominous rooms as you walk along. Like an unraveling of faith. Rex becomes her confidant, as she refuses to keep silent about her abusive father, her large family’s struggles, and her suspicion that there’s another sibling on the way.

Freya and Colt are both thoughtful young people in pain. Their observations are cutting, but their decisions about where to place their trust, not always wise. The tension in this literary novel builds to a crescendo as Colt and Freya’s families meet, mingle, and clash.

Mock Printz booktalk: The Passion of Dolssa by Julie Berry

What follows is a booktalk for a title on our Mock Printz shortlist. We hope you’ll be able to join us at the event where our winner will be chosen! This booktalk was written by Lisa Elliott of Tigard Public Library.

passion-of-dolssa-julie-berryIt is the 13th Century, and war has ravaged the people of what is now France and Spain. Wars of land and treasure, but also wars of religion, with entire villages and the people within them burned as heretics. Though people are still afraid, that time has mostly passed. Botille and her sisters have carved a peaceful living amongst their neighbors in the small fishing village of Bajas. Botille’s older sister, the beautiful Plazensa, brews and cooks in their tavern. Her baby sister Sazia tells fortunes with uncanny accuracy. Botille is a matchmaker.

And all is well until she stumbles upon a frail, starving woman while on a short journey. Something compels Botille to hide Dolssa in her wagon and bring her home. Something keeps her from revealing her sickly charge to the Friar who is searching for her. Somehow, in spite of the deadly risk of helping this young woman branded “heretic,” Botille knows she must keep her safe.

Then the miracles begin, and Botille knows Dolssa, this strange woman who can’t seem to perform the simplest tasks, who spends her time chatting with her invisible Beloved, is certainly holy. She knows she must preserve her life, but when the Friar arrives, with a Bishop and a small army, she feels conflicted about putting her family and the whole village at risk of punishment and worse. How can someone as radiant as Dolssa be evil? And is Botille also evil for harboring her? She doesn’t think so, but dare she disagree with the Church?

Readers who love history, intrigue, a hint of romance, and a story that will stay with you long after the last page will love this dense, but fast-paced book.

Mock Printz booktalk: We Will Not Be Silent by Russell Freedman

What follows is a booktalk for a title on our Mock Printz shortlist. We hope you’ll be able to join us at the event where our winner will be chosen! This booktalk was written by Lisa Elliott of Tigard Public Library.

we-will-not-be-silent-russell-freedmanAs Hitler rose in power and embarked on a mission to take over Europe and wipe out any people that did not fit the “Aryan ideal,” one group of college students risked their lives to create an underground grassroots movement of resistance, to unify those Germans that did not believe in the Fuhrer, but were too afraid to raise their voices in protest. And rightfully so: If they did, they would most likely be jailed or killed.

Siblings Hans and Sophie Scholl were loyal members of the Hitler Youth when they were young, but as they got older they could no longer stomach being required to love their so-called leader without question. As college students, they began to hear rumors of horrific acts committed by the Nazi regime, and they could no longer be silent. Through an underground network of like-minded people, they began to spread the revolutionary word of the White Rose movement through pamphlets reporting secret Nazi atrocities and calling for all citizens to stand up against hate and repression.

Before Hans and Sophie raised their brave, revolutionary voices, and before they were caught for doing so, they were kids, growing up during the rise of the Third Reich, when Germany seemed headed towards a time of prosperity and power, not brutality and loss. You may wonder how Hitler was allowed to remain in power after his tyranny was out in the open. This book chronicles that rise from the perspective of the citizens that felt powerless to stop the Third Reich, and a handful of young people that found a way to say “No, this is not who we are, this is not the Germany we know.”