See Nancy sit.
See the red chair.
See Nancy deny any knowledge of how that possibly could have happened.
Actually, this chair stood in the lobby outside Portland's fantastic literary festival, Wordstock. For days, everyone bookish could attend author readings, publisher discussions, writer workshops or just peruse the many, many booths hosted by everyone from small university presses to Powell's City of Books. I succumbed right away at a sweet spot selling t-shirts and messenger bags, walking away with an army green canvas bag big enough to hold a couple of books as well as my netbook. Best part? The stenciled "Intellectual Freedom Fighter" on the front flap.
It's all kinds of awesome.
And then it was time for my reading and Q&A. I shared the stage with the lovely and talented April Henry, author of (among many other books) Girl Stolen. Here's the link to get this fabulous read.
But something interesting happened during our Q&A session.
We had a heckler.
As April, who writes YA thrillers was explaining what she was working on now, which involved a couple of murders, a man cupped his hands around his mouth and yelled, "Hey! There are kids here!"
Actually, because both April and I were presenting YA novels, there weren't any "kids" in the audience - mostly adults and a couple of teens. There were some kids farther away that were happily visiting with the reading dogs. I seriously doubt we took their attention away from those fuzzy pups, but it got me thinking. Why did they have YA authors presenting on the kid's stage?
And here's a bigger question - why are YA books considered children's literature?
YA books often contain grittier stuff than adult books do. In fact a lot of the time the reason they're considered for teens is because of the age of the main character. If they're a teen, then it's usually a YA.
But teens are worlds' apart from the middle grade readers, let alone the chapter books and the picture books crowd. And the content of some of these YA books may not only be uninteresting to an early reader (a school dance? Yuck!) but may also be inappropriate. I've read passages in YAs that had me a little uncomfortable and I'm older than dirt. At least some dirt.
Maybe the reason that YA is still labeled as kid's lit is because that's the way it's always been done. I think that's lazy thinking. Since the advent of modern YA (think The Outsiders) the game has changed. These modern books for teens are fast paced, often hard hitting reads that aren't meant for children at all. And more and more adults are reading these books all the time.
So, new category?
What would it be?