Thursday, October 9, 2008

Your Questions Answered!

Side note: There's been lots o' posting today...don't forget to scroll down for the interview with Alan Gratz, and my bestest linkspam EVAR.

Sheri had a great question on the conference notes on Alan Gratz's workshop on MG vs. YA:
I wonder what Alan would say about this "new" age range they are calling the 'tweens, the official grey zone bridging MG and YA?

I emailed Alan this morning, and he was kind enough to send me this reponse:

The "Tween" age range is, indeed, a gray zone between middle grade and young adult. Look up "tween" and you'll get a variety of definitions, but I think the "tween" market is the upper end of middle grade--that 11 to 12 age. One of the best descriptions I've read of it is, "kids who desperately want to be teens, but aren't ready to stop being kids." To my mind, a majority of the Disney "teen" programs (shows like Hanna Montana and High School Musical) are aimed squarely at these kids. "Tween," like most categories, is a marketing device--another way to sell media to a very specific group of people. and yet there usually isn't a "tween" section in the bookstore. Most books that use some kind of age range coding system on their covers put "tween" books in the middle grade category, coding them as 8-12 or 9-12, while I think their appeal will be the upper end of that range.

I ran into a similar coding problem with Samurai Shortstop. The book deals with more mature themes--suicide, death, hazing, loyalty, honor, political tensions--but it also has no sex, drugs, or profane language. Most bookstores put it in the young adult section, which is where I think it belongs. Barnes and Noble shelved it in their "Young Readers" section, which is essentially their middle grade section. While I think it can be read by both ages, I think its core readership may fall into that 11-12 "tween" demographic. Off the top of my head, other books I think work as "tween": The Spiderwick Chronicles, the Sammy Keyes mysteries, Lauren Myracle's Eleven and Twelve, the Molly Moon series, Flush, Skullduggery Pleasant...

I'm interested to hear what others think though. There's certainly no industry consensus....

I, like Alan, would love to know what you all think. As Alan points out, there's not a set definition for this relatively new genre, and it would be wonderful to get some real dialog going on the subject! So...

What do YOU think?

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