In which Annie (high school teacher, mother of two young girls and a younger boy) and her aunt Deborah (children's bookseller, mother of two young women in their 20s) discuss children's books and come up with annotated lists.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Teen lit, continued

Dear Annie,

I'm writing this from my brand new iMac: my first new computer since the girls were in middle school (or maybe before?).  The screen is very laaaaarge.

I too am loving this current thread.  The people who posted on your last entry are fascinating.  The Ender books and Tolkien are still steadily popular.  I recommend Ender and sequels a lot.  In addition to the ones you mention, I'm quite fond of Ender's Shadow, which replays the events of Ender's Game from the point of view of Bean, a minor character in the first book.  Very Rashomon.  And Ender, like Tolkien, appeals across gender.

Orson Scott Card is a prolific and interesting writer.  He's a Mormon, has done a series of novels on women of the Bible, a longer alternate history series set in the American west (the continent is divided into more countries, greater Native American presence, and magic), and Enchanted, which I really want to read. It mixes Sleeping Beauty, Russian folklore, and time travel.  I heard a chunk of it on book radio the other day: good sense of humor too.

Is anyone out there into the Piers Anthony Xanth novels?  They're another item on my I-should-read-these list.  Fantasy novels with a fantastic map of the magical world.

At Child's Play we organize fiction a little differently from most stores.  Between the ages of Early Chapter Books and Teen/YA/Adult we have two major categories which run parallel in terms of reader age, but separate by subject.  One side of the aisle is Science Fiction and Fantasy; the other side is more reality-based Fiction.  (A small Mystery section lives around the corner.)  We set it up that way back when we started the book section because Steven, my boss, felt fantasy books were really important to a lot of teenagers.  This was in the days before Harry Potter had transformed the children's publishing industry.   The belief was that fantasy worlds with their complex but knowable structures and rules are a comfortable escape from the messier more out-of-control adolescent reality.  Steven talks about fantasy worlds in books requiring more involvement on the part of the reader because those structures and rules need to be understood to grasp the plot and characters.

Child's Play, by the way, made it into the industry press this week: a nice piece by Publisher's Weekly.



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