Wednesday, May 16, 2007

I Will Miss Patty

I just began reading the new The Horn Book yesterday and managed to get through Roger Sutton's editorial where I learned that Patty Campbell won't be writing her "Sand in the Oyster" column any more.

How much have I liked Campbell's columns? Quite a bit. I liked one in April, 2003 and another in September of that same year. Then she wrote a column in October, 2004 that must have been really good because I seem to have agreed with pretty much everything she said. In February, 2006 I was so taken with one of her columns that I started taking notes. In fact, I liked it so much that I mentioned it again three days later.

I haven't read Campbell's last column because it's at the back of the magazine, and I read The Horn Book in a very linear way. There's a very real possibility that I'll be mentioning it here at some point.

Wow. Campbell's leaving The Horn Book is kind of a personal loss for me. I'm feeling kind of shaken.

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Monday, September 29, 2003

Professional Reading

As part of my general self-improvement plan, I've been a little more conscientious about keeping up with my professional reading. Thus, I have finished the July/August issue of The Horn Book. It included a very interesting article by Patty Campbell on the Printz Award. The Printz Award is given for excellence in YA fiction. Campbell's article discussed the question of quality vs. popularity--awards being given for good quality writing that no one reads.

Which is not what I'm going to discuss today. I just wanted to let you know where I got the following quote. Campbell says:

It seems to me that for a book to be considered YA, the protagonist must be a teenager; there must be no extended introspective passages from an adult or child point of view; the book must be plot-driven with a minimum of description; it must give priority to immediacy and brevity; and the point of view must have the limitations of an adolescent perspective.....If a book violates even one of these rules, it is outside the parameters of the genre.

I found this very interesting since I think there is a lot of confusion about what YA is. I did find the business about the books being plot-driven instead of character driven a little disturbing, though, because I was under the impression that in adult literature plot-driven books are usually considered of a little lesser quality. Thus, if YA books must be plot-driven rather than character-driven, aren't they, by definition, of lesser quality? Aren't they forced to be of lesser quality in order to be considered YA?

Which seems self-defeating.

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Friday, April 25, 2003

The History of YA Literature

I have actually read the latest issue of The Horn Book. It includes an interesting article entitled The Outsiders, Fat Freddy, and Me by Patty Campbell, a former YA librarian who speaks on YA literature. Her article describes how the YA field took off in the 1970s and the sense people working in YA lit at that time felt of being on the cutting edge, of doing something subversive and dangerous. At that time YA lit was not kids' stuff. They were definitely talking about readers in their later teens.

I found this fascinating because so many adults--at least the ones I know--feel just the opposite about YA fiction. They view it as a lame genre, written by second-rate people who aren't capable of writing for adults. In my experience the people who feel this way haven't actually read much YA lit, if they've read any at all. In fact, I feel pretty safe saying that most adults don't have a clue about YA maturity of content or sophistication of writing styles.

Campbell's article is worth looking up if you want to know more about the YA field.

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