Serving Young Teens and Tweens: Chapter 3

There was a minor kerfluffle in the scifi portion of the blogosphere recently, this time over steampunk – was really something cool or is it just rehashed and recycled junk, all prettied up to make the prejudice from ages past seem acceptable?  Scott Westerfeld quickly stepped into the fray with a defense of steampunk…that turned into an explanation about why he writes for young adults.

“THIS is why I don’t write for adults. Their heads are all full of genre cooties and “Taj Mahal? Nah, don’t like tombs.” Whereas a kid will come home from the library with a mystery, an sf novel, an autobiography, and three books about sharks. That’s how kids read, and when something’s cool and fun and awesome (or weird and gnarly and thought-provoking), they don’t worry about how many times it’s been mentioned on io9, or whether it’s that-genre-Fortnight on Tor.com.”

All which made the part of our reading where Taylor discussed Dr. Dresang’s book Radical Change* rather interesting.  There’s been a lot of discussion about the recent renaissance in young adult literature and why that has come to be.  After reading Westerfeld’s post and about Dr. Dresang’s theories and observations, I wonder if part of it is due to a great number of talented authors simply being drawn to a niche where they are allowed a lot more freedom to play with themes and writing styles.  Several of the titles I’ve read have played with formats and genres in a way that seems gimmicky…until you actually read it and realize that it not only works really well, it also adds a lot to the story.  The alternating chapters in Flipped and the journal/online vids setup for Skeleton Creek both come to mind as good examples of books that play with format and do so in a way that serves both the plot and themes.  I can see that, and the corresponding freedom to mash-up genres or tell unusual stories, being something that would appeal to a great number of talented writers.

*so going on my to-read list on goodreads

S Westerfeld. (2010, November5).  Genre Cooties [Weblog post].  Retrieved from http://scottwesterfeld.com/blog/2010/11/genre-cooties/

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