Tis the season for YA book lists, it seems, but apparently there's a little confusion out there as to what constitutes YA. As in, my-head-in-a-blender confusion. As the blogger who will get even more of my love by the end of this post writes:
[YA] does not stand for “Young Age” nor does it stand for “Yeah, Anything.” It stands for “Young Adult,” meaning—loosely—“teen.”
Witness the confusion here. NPR, bless them, has got a mega-list of book titles up, and they are inviting you and everybody else to vote for 10 favorites. Now, the comments on this post are F.U.L.L. of people bemoaning the absence of their favorite "YA" books. Like... Alice in Wonderland, Chronicles of Narnia, and Harriet the Spy. None of which, you will soon come to understand, are YA.
Let the record show, though, that NPR's panel actually did a pretty good job of (gasp) limiting themselves to books that could be conceivably construed as YA.
Consider, by contrast, a recent Huffington Post slideshow on fearless YA characters that included in its list the following (very much NOT YA) titles: Encyclopedia Brown (possibly prompted by the recent death of the author?), The Phantom Tollbooth (huh??), A Wrinkle in Time, The Wizard of Oz, Ramona Quinby, The Secret Garden, and others undeniably outside the YA category by any definition... except maybe "not for adults." In fact, I'd say of the 14, only 3 of the titles (The Hunger Games; Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret; and The Chocolate War) are solidly YA. Harry Potter and The Lord of the Rings are iffy.
Now, let me buffer all of this by saying that I realize not everybody is as YA obsessed as us author/librarian/publisher/editor types. But guess what? There's no longer an excuse because a brilliant blogger over at Clear Eyes, Full Shelves has generated this wonderfully useful (and funny) guide to YA identification.
Did you think that YA means "teen characters"? Or that everything you read as a teen was YA? Or that if it has a cartoon on the cover, it must be YA?
If you answered "yes" to any of the above, that's okay; we can still be friends. But you do need re-education.
For the record, the Carolrhoda Lab (my publisher) mission statement contains my favorite definition of YA--or at least the YA I write: "distinctive, provocative, boundary-pushing fiction for teens and their sympathizers."
Oh, and there's more discussion of defining YA here, if you still have an appetite for it.
If you didn't know, I'm on Twitter: @ashleyhopeperez. I've discovered that--for better or worse--Twitter lends itself to micro-confessions. I'm a bit of a confession junkie (for example, I MIGHT make a weekly stop to postsecret.com to see the latest in minor and major postcard confessions.)
Here are a few of my own small confessions from Twitter...
Sometimes, on my Mac, I "Force Quit" an application--even when it's behaving fine--just to feel powerful.
I used to giggle every time I saw the word “SIEMENS” on an appliance. Now, thanks to a WWII history buff, I think of concentration camp labor.
I place candy wrappers under poop-bomb diaper in trash to avoid spousal detection.·
At 9mos, our son got into the cat food on my watch. The worst = I think he liked it.
I used to have an irrational fear of odd numbers & argued a grade down once because of it.
Did an image search for “miscarriage” (book research) and was sorry.
I’m learning what potty-training involves, and sometimes I wish I could keep Liam in diapers.
Now that you know some of what you've been missing (I also retweet interesting articles and book-related stuff), go follow @ashleyhopeperez on Twitter. :)
After my recent blog post on losing a day in Paris, someone innocently inquired as to how I managed to *accidentally* make 10 gallons of soup. This is also for Sarah, who wanted to know about the tiny chickens.
It's like this, Adam: you say to yourself, we are so poor, we have to make the most of every rotisserie chicken we buy. Hence, make soup with the bones.
Only... you don't count on gobbling up those (relatively) tiny chickens three times a week.
Then, lurking in your fridge, you have a giant bucket of chicken stock you've cooked with all those little clucker carcasses. You put it on the stove.
Then you think, with all this stock, I better add a lot of noodles and veggies. And then you keep having to get out more pots to hold it all. It's madness, really.
Does anybody have ideas for what else I can make with chicken stock? Because I think my boys are going to go on strike if I do this again.
P.S. Not that I'm complaining about the tiny French chickens. That's probably how chickens are supposed to be. The ones I was used to buying in the US probably had bigger breasts than Barbie; I bet those poor chicks couldn't even stand up. Not cool.
P.P.S. When you buy your eggs in French, the package tells you how they were raised. Not just "en plein aire" for the ones that got to live outside, but also "en cage" on the ones from "traditional" farms. So you really are confronted with what your purchase means.