Friday, February 25, 2011

Wanna see me cringe?

When I see teen books lumped in with children's books, I cringe a little.

My BFF lives about three hours away. That’s too far, but as we are both settled in our careers where we currently live, it isn’t something that will be changing anytime soon. Since driving there and back in one day can be very taxing, and work schedules don’t mesh well enough to stay longer than that, we try to meet up half way a couple times a year. It doesn’t always happen, but when it does it is sure to be an afternoon of fun.

Recently we meet up in a small college town. As it was Sunday, most of the stores were closed, which meant there wasn’t a lot of shopping to be had. One store that was blessedly open, however, was a used bookstore. A very nicely sized one at that! We wandered around the store for some time before I finally purchased a few items (not nearly all that I had wanted, of course).

It was a bibliophile’s dream. Books were stacked from floor to ceiling. The store was well organized, for the most part. Like items were with like items: cooking, travel, poetry, etc., with first editions and collectible books displayed separately.

Then there was the children’s book area. That had teen literature interfiled with novels written for a much younger audience. It was almost like I could hear someone say, “Oh look. Here’s a fun sounding book. The Perks of Being a Wallflower. It doesn’t look too long, either. I bet it would be a great book to give to my 10 year old daughter!”


Fast forward to today. In an article announcing the recent passing of Young Adult novelist L.K. Madigan, it was said she was a children’s author whose book won the Morris Award given by the American Library Association (ALA).

Flash BurnoutUm. No. She was a wonderful author of TEEN fiction. The Morris award was given to her first published novel, Flash Burnout, by YALSA (Young Adult Library Services Association), a division of ALA. Please get your facts straight. It makes for a more sincere tribute. The incorrect information is a disservice both to the author and her fans.

While I haven’t yet read her second novel, The Mermaid’s Mirror, I have read Flash Burnout. It isn’t a book for children; it’s a book for teenagers, preferably those in high school as it has a darker storyline than appropriate for most children. Lumping it and other works written for a teen audience, in with children’s literature is like lumping grapefruit in with oranges. Yes, they are both fruits and both citrus, but one is much more tart than the other. It’s the same with YA and children’s lit. Yes they are both literature and both written for an audience under 18, but teen lit is more “tart”, often with darker themes and more mature subject matter.

There are books that overlap both teen and children’s literature, such as Harry Potter (especially as the series progresses), but that is a topic for another day.

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