Wednesday, November 23, 2011

hey-ho, lemur boy

Two sentences into your future, I am going to use some words that cause uncomfortable and anxious feelings in me.

I will print them in red, so you know what they are.

Over the past few days, I have found myself involved in several conversations about new trends in YA literature.

Every time someone starts to talk about trends in YA (especially at conferences), I can almost feel humidity from showers of Pavlovian salivations among aspiring authors who suddenly come up with brand-new OMGWIPs.

You know what OMGWIPs are.

They are Facebook statuses, usually.

Now, lots of people are talking about Paranormal Burnout and the renaissance of realism.


I will tell you the current trend: Good shit.

At NCTE, one of the panels that I was on dealt with this idea about YA "returning to its roots" by focusing on realistic characters and story arcs. Thankfully, the moderator of the panel began the introduction of the discussion by stating that realism in YA was not a "trend," that it has always been an essential feature of all American Literature.

This is very true. The fear and misunderstanding that underlie the outrage of editorial writers like Meghan Cox Gurdon express a two-pronged condescension of sorts: First, that there is an absolute content limit that can be measured as far as subject matter is concerned; and second, that "too much" reality (which frequently equates to bleakness) in literature is a bad thing to expose young readers to.

In fact, on a librarian listserv I have been voyeuristically following, the current topic is exactly that: Is there too much reality in current books for kids, from picture books and chapter books through Middle Grade and YA titles?


What do you think?

In the coming few days, I want to visit this idea of Realism in literature (not as a trend), and if there is such a concept of "too much" of it going on.