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Okay, admit it, who here reads kids' books?:
Responsible adultBeing fond of fantasy is the primary reason I like kids' and YA stuff, since they're so much more willing to buck Tolkein, it seems.
meh, the dominance of Tolkienesque fantasy is sort of overstated, but I can see what you mean.
You can't even write racist abuse in excrement on somebody's car without the politically correct brigade jumping down your throat!
Responsible adultWell, Medieval European Fantasy, with the only real counterpart seeming to be "edgy Urban Fantasy." This is a gross oversimplification, of course, but kids don't seem to have the fantasy Extruded Book Product sort of thing that adults do. Their Extruded Book Product is of a different sort.
Don't get lost!I thought you were saying at first that kid books are more creative than adult books, but then you say they have a different Extruded Book Product? You referring to different genres for kids that are pumpted out? Anyway, I think there are different cliches aimed at the different audiences. Adult novels tend to have covers that contain nothing more than a picture of a location or an important object. I think that's really really stupid. Along with the whole "make the title and author's name enormous" thing. It's almost as if adults are being treated like we're dumber (or certainly, less imaginative) than kids. Kid novels tend to be more likely to have a Deceptively Silly Title, along with a cover that emphasizes something exciting or interesting, though the scene may not be anything that actually occurs in the book.
Responsible adultYeah, kids get stuff like Nancy Drew and the Babysitters Club.
Don't get lost!Oh yeah, that is pretty insulting indeed.
Queen of FilksSomeone earlier mentioned Madeleine L'Engle, and I think it's pertinent to mention that the Madeleine L'Engle Reread is in progress, commemorating the 50th anniversary of A Wrinkle in Time. Considering we don't have a L'Engle thread, I thought I'd post here. I love A Wrinkle in Time, I really do. But it has its flaws. This article, and the further article it links to by Catherynne Valente, do a very good job of pointing out the flaws in it. Wrinkle was also my introduction to the trope Can't Argue with Elves, here applied to alien races that are, to a one, superior to humans in every way that counts. I felt the trope keenly, but couldn't find the exact terminology to express it (TV Tropes Will Enhance Your Life!) Anyone else up for a little L'Engle discussion?
Responsible adultMaybe I should participate in that reread. It's been years since I last read Wrinkle. We're talking well over a decade.
Don't get lost!The Magic Treehouse is being made into a Japanese animated film. No, seriously:
Responsible adultI didn't read them much, but my sister did. It looks interesting, actually. Also, according to the page, they've been adapting them as manga for a long time. So not that strange, then.
Don't get lost!They were turned into manga? I knew they were sold in Japan as books, but they were made into comics too? That's interesting. This isn't the first time Japan has gotten big on something made in the West. Thomas the Tank Engine has a theme park in Japan, and some US-developed video games such as Wizardry are much more popular in Japan than they are here. This is the first time I'd heard of a Western kids' book series becoming more popular in Japan though.
Responsible adultYep. The comics even came with paper dolls, if the page is to go by. But Western books being popular in Japan is nothing new. There've been movies and series based on things like The Moomins, Anne of Green Gables, and the Studio Ghibli films based on Howl's Moving Castle, Earthsea, and The Borrowers.
Queen of FilksThere's also been an anime made of Emily of New Moon, which I would absolutely love to see, but it's been a while since I tried to catch up on it. Emily was always my favorite heroine, even better than Anne, I think. Don't get me wrong, Anne's great, but Emily was more conflicted inside and out, and she's one of the very few fictional characters who wants to be a writer that I can actually buy as a writer.
Just wanted to say that Oscar Wilde's stories for children are some of the most heartbreaking things I've ever read. The skill was lost on me as a child.
Morituri te Salutamus
Responsible adultDespite the whole Most Writers Are Writers thing, it does seem like writers are bad at portraying their kind. The only other one that really convinced me was Harriet the Spy. The thing that clinched it for me was that she observed the weird things people do and wrote about them, which is something I do, so it rings true to me. Hey, I'm actually reading a kid's book now! So I can post here with updates on stuff! I'm reading a book called The Eye of the Moon right now. I picked it up because it was set in Ancient Egypt and it looked intrigue-y (not intriguing as in interesting, but intrigue-y, as in the plot revolves around intrigue), so I thought, hey, why not? It's pretty decent thus far. The writer is very good at descriptions and writes some nice prose, but the characters talk like they're in, well, a semi-educational novel about Egypt, and not real life. They As You Know stuff all the time regarding aspects of their culture, which just kind of makes me roll my eyes. Also, it contains one of the "better" authorial brainfarts I've read in a while: The phrase "multicolored rainbows." As opposed to those monochrome rainbows you hear so much of.
Don't get lost!Started reading the first book of a series called Brixton Brothers, which seemed like a light-hearted take on kid mystery/adventure stories. A boy who is into Kid Detective stories wants to be one, and he enlists the help of a friend. Unfortunately, it turned into one of those "way too silly" types of books that I really don't like. Librarians that turn out to be secret agents, with a dozen of them trying to go after the hero because he Knows Too Much, and when someone else manages to save him from them, he's told that all librarians are well-trained secret agents because all the world's knowledge, hidden in cyphers, is in books. Blah. During that scene, there was a neat moment where he hid in a library by taking books off a top shelf, putting them in empty shelves, and lying down in the empty space he'd cleared up top. This is then ruined by the secret agent discovering what he did ("Why is Plato mixed with Classical Music" or something similar). I flipped through the pages to see the illustrations, and they promise adventure with scenes such as dressing in disguise and sneaking aboard a ship, or being trapped in a flooded room, but I already knew from the tone that I wasn't going to like it. There's light-hearted, and there's just silly. I bought these two books at the same time I bought The Books of Elsewhere: The Shadows, which I liked, so it wasn't all bad. I might buy the next The Books of Elsewhere book.
Don't get lost!Some more information on the The Magic Treehouse movie, courtesy of The Japan Times. Basically, Mary Pope Osborne had been hit with Hollywood offer after Hollywood offer to make a live-action movie about her books, but she was afraid the movie would be a big thing and draw attention away from the books, so she turned it down. It also took her a long time to warm up to the idea of a Japanese animated movie about it. But she was told the movie would draw people towards the books, which is important to her (she's big on reading and comments about how today's entertainment doesn't engage the imagination). Plus she said the movie is faithful to the books.
Three-Puppet SaluterI read a book called The Switching Well a few days back. A girl from 1891 and a girl from 1991 each wish to live in the century of the other. It's not the most riveting plot ever, but it does take pains to be accurate, and the exposition is worked in with a perfect concurrence to the information humans would actually reveal, internal monologue included.
Righto. This box you saw. Was it in some kind of desolate rust belt?
Don't get lost!That's definitely a good thing. Accuracy is very important when telling a story such as this. With an adventure story, writers can afford to make stuff up for the sake of the story, and often do. But if it's about everyday life involving time travel, then that specifically is the appeal. Therefore, the author would have to get the everyday life accurate, or else they'll mess it up.
Responsible adultActually, what I notice there is "where humans would actually provide exposition." Unnatural exposition is a pet peeve of mine TO DA MAX.
I am a writer, but would prefer to stay anonymous simply out of embarrassment for not having any work published.
Odd.Do you think Animorpha count as kids' books?
He's the Doctor. He could be anywhere in time and space.
That One GuyYup, I'd say so.
Don't get lost!Yes, they most definitely are. I can't imagine them being seen as anything else. Just because they're well-written doesn't mean they're not for kids. It just means that they're well-written and for kids, and frankly, I'd rather kids read books like that than reading something that's insipid.
Responsible adultAlthough I don't think "badly written" is necessarily the nail in the coffin for me. Prose is only one aspect of a book, and books can succeed at other things without having OMG-amazing prose. The writing might be dull or clunky, but maybe the characters are good, or the plot's interesting, or there's intriguing themes, or whatever.
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