Tuesday, February 21, 2006

And Now For Something For Much Older Kids

Today's book falls into the category of an adult title that YAs will like. Especially if we're talking about expanding the YA category to include people in their early twenties. The characters in The Strange Adventures of Rangergirl by Tim Pratt are college age or graduate students. Very twenty-something.

Okay, what is Rangergirl about? Marzi is a waitress in a coffeeshop filled with wall murals painted by an artist who disappeared at the time of an earthquake back in the 80s. She is also the creator of a comic book, The Strange Adventures of Rangergirl. Plus, she is getting over a nervous breakdown.

Slowly it becomes obvious that something is wrong in Dodge...I mean Santa Cruz, where the story takes place. Strange things are going on with a number of Marzi's acquaintances, regulars at her coffeeshop. Marzi is sort of the lynchpin to everything.

Now, along the way I figured out a couple of things that were going to happen, though maybe not exactly as they happened. This is not a complaint. I'm not saying the book is predictable. I figured things out in a satisfying way. Not everything, though. There was one neat surprise for me at the end.

The expressions "cowpunk contemporary fantasy" and "cowpunk neo-western yarn" appear on Pratt's website. Do you have to know much about the old west to enjoy the book? I don't know. I don't know if I know a lot about the old west. I grew up with a father who insisted we watch TV westerns three or four nights a week, and now you can't find TV westerns any night of the week. I can't tell if I know more or less than the average person about the west. Or about the mythic west, which is probably more to the point. But dang it, I liked this book. Even though it dragged a bit in a few places, mainly when the characters were sort of into college romance mode.

Romance is boring! Give me strange adventures any day!

The Internet Is Buzzing Today

Everyone is talking today about the Kate DiCamillo article in The New York Times. People are raving about her new book, The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane.

I hate to be crass, but what I'm going to mention is that her publisher is putting up $300,000 for a marketing campaign for the book. I'm not saying this is a bad thing. I just don't know what the average marketing allowance for a kids' book is. I'm guessing it's a lot less than $300,000, though. Her publisher, Candlewick Press, is doing a first printing of 350,000 books. (I do know that's big.) So they're spending nearly a buck a book for marketing.

I wonder about marketing. Certainly, marketing is necessary. You have to get info out about books or readers won't know they're there. On the other hand, marketing drives up the price of books, and the expense of all kinds of books, even paperbacks, could go a long way to explain why sales aren't all that terrific. And on the third hand, don't we all know about bestselling books that had huge marketing campaigns behind them even though the books weren't all that good?

We do.

DiCamillo is well-liked. Personally, I enjoy the story of her life, her wandering around a bit before she settled down to writing. I wish her well with this book. But I wish the book could do well without so much money going into making it do so.


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