Mock Printz booktalk: Bull by David Elliott

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 Sonja Somerville of Salem Public Library.

So, sometimes people these days do freaky things and we think, “Wow … not like in the good old days.” But let me tell you something: freaky isn’t new, and the ancient Greeks have a lot of stories to prove it. Take the Minotaur for example. David Elliott did, and he wrote a fast, freaky book called Bull that tells a crazy, long-ago story from the Island of Crete about a murdering half-bull, half-man trapped in a labyrinth (a fancy word for a maze) underground.

The book is in verse, with each person telling their part of the story in a different style of poetry. You hear from Poseidon, the god of the sea, who really wants to mess with King Minos of Crete. You hear from King Minos, who gets pretty mad when his wife … uh … mates with a magical bull and births a baby with the head of a bull and the body of a man. And you hear from that baby, named Asterion, as he gets trapped in a maze and the crazy takes over in the darkness. David Elliott has added some of his own ideas to an old, old story. Now, it’s something fresh and new and super-freaky.

Mock Printz booktalk: American Street by Ibi Zoboi

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 Ian Duncanson of Beaverton City Library.

Fabiola has just arrived in the US from Haiti to settle with her cousins in a rough Detroit neighborhood. Her mom is caught in immigration limbo, and Fabiola swears that she will do whatever is necessary to help spring her so that her family can be whole again.

The opportunity arises when she makes the acquaintance of a cop who wants to collar a violent neighborhood drug dealer — but that dealer also happens to be the abusive boyfriend of one of Fabiola’s cousins. Fabiola is now torn between wanting to free her mother and the fear of violent, possibly fatal reprisals for snitching. On top of that, she’s navigating the typical teenage pressures of a new school and a fresh romance with a boy from the neighborhood. She sees signs of her native Vodou in everyday people and occurrences and hopes that the spirits will protect her as she decides whether or not to help the police and her mother when doing so may very well mean her death.

Mock Printz booktalk: The Library of Fates by Aditi Khorana

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 Kristy Kemper Hodge of Corvallis-Benton County Public Library.

Just when Amrita’s life is starting to get interesting, everything changes. Sure, she’d always had a doting father, a loving lady’s maid who’s almost like the mother she never knew, and a best friend who shares her luxurious life in her father’s palace. But she’s beginning to notice her best friend in a whole new way when a rival king suddenly appears at the palace … and no one is sure what the king’s intentions are. Soon it becomes clear that he intends to claim Amrita as a wife, whether she wills it or not. And this king takes what he wants when he can’t get it willingly.

Chaos ensues as the rival families clash, and Amrita finds herself on the run with only a stranger as companion: Thala, a slave girl brought along as a gift by the enemy king. Amrita and Thala must outrun and outsmart, as well as out-muscle, the vicious soldiers who are after them as the girls try to navigate an unknown realm. Together Amrita and Thala embark on a journey full of dangers, where they must learn to trust others and themselves if they are to survive against all odds.

Will Thala’s ability to see into the future help or hinder them? What does it mean when Amrita’s true identity is called into question? Can they make it to a far-off locale where immortal helpers may assist them … when no one actually knows where those helpers are? Are their fates pre-destined, or are they in command of their own lives? What will it cost for them to find their way?

To discover what happens to Amrita, Thala, and the worlds they care about most, check out The Library of Fates by Aditi Khorana, a lush new fantasy set in a land similar to a fantastical India.

Mock Printz booktalk: Spinning by Tillie Walden

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.

Every morning for twelve years, Tillie rises before dawn to head to skating practice. The hardest part is acclimating to the cold as she moves from her warm car onto the ice. She eventually begins sleeping on top of her blankets in her practice clothes so she can spend a few precious minutes resting rather than dressing, starting out the morning cold to lessen the brutality of the transition to the rink.

Tillie is a competitive figure skater, and though she is a dedicated athlete, she hasn’t found joy in her sport in a long time. But she does love art, and cello practice, and her girlfriend. Pops of color punctuate the muted tones of her life growing up in New Jersey, then Texas. Her life is a confusion of absent parents, sketch books, mean girls, trophies, creepy men, and coming out. In all this chaos, skating might not be what she wants to do, but it does keep her focused until the day art takes over.

Mock Printz booktalk: Midnight at the Electric by Jodi Lynn Anderson

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 Sonja Somerville of Salem Public Library.

Adri has been chosen for an adventure beyond imagination. She will be one of a small group being sent to colonize Mars, the first part of a plan for humans to escape from a run-down Earth where everything is melting and coastal cities are now mostly water. But first, Adri is going to be drawn into a different kind of adventure, in Kansas of all places. It’s time for Adri’s final training, and she is sent to live with a distant cousin she didn’t know she had in a family home she didn’t know existed. She finds herself living with an old lady who is starting to forget things and an ancient tortoise named Galapagos.

When Adri finds a stash of old letters and a journal in the house, she gets wrapped up in two much older stories about women who lived in this place before her. One is a love-struck teen trying to survive the Dust Bowl, panicking and determined to get away as the money runs out and the constant dust storm leaves her younger sister coughing and wheezing. The other is a young British woman recovering from the grief of losing her bother to World War I who leaves her own home behind to seek out a friend in America. In the end, this is about three women facing disaster –- connected by a house and a tortoise, by desperation and hope.

Mock Printz booktalk: The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

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 Susan Smallsreed of Multnomah County Library.

Starr Carter wasn’t supposed to be at Big D’s annual party. If mom or dad knew, she’d be grounded for life … or worse. But she hadn’t hung out with Kenya for months ’cause Starr moves between two worlds: the fancy Williamson prep, a mostly white, rich, suburban school, and Starr’s neighborhood, Garden Heights, where gangs fight over turf and drug dealing is a way of life. Anyway, with basketball practice, school work, and parents that won’t let her near the gangs, Starr doesn’t hang out much in the neighborhood anymore.

But Kenya begged, so Starr went to the party and it was HUGE. Starr hardly knew anyone and felt totally out of place until Khalil, her best friend from childhood, found her. And a couple of minutes later they had picked up where they left off, laughing and talking. But then shots rang out. Khalil got her out of the crowd and into his car to drive her home. But halfway there, a cop … badge number 115 … Starr made a point to remember that … pulled them over. And before she knew it, Khalil was dying in her arms and she had a gun pointing at her.

One white cop, one dead young black man, one witness. Should Starr talk? To whom? The gangs don’t want the police sniffing around and the police don’t want anyone to know that Khalil was unarmed. So it’s dangerous, no matter what. But what about justice for Khalil? What should Starr do? What would you do?

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.