If you saw my last post, you know what my secret trip looked like at sunset. Here's what it may have looked like during the day:
File under PA LIBRARIANS totally ROCK:
Last week, I got word that EVERYBODY SEES THE ANTS has been named a 2012 Carolyn W. Field Award Honor Book by the Youth Services Division of the Pennsylvania Library Association. This is completely awesome and I can't thank the PA Library Association enough. Thank you!
More information about the award can be found here.
The 2012 Carolyn Field Award winner is Around the World, written and illustrated by Matt Phelan, Candlewick Press. Matt rocks, this book rocks, and I am so happy I can be in Gettysburg to watch him accept it!
Another 2012 Carolyn W. Field Honor Book: Born and Bred in the Great Depression, written by Jonah Winter and illustrated by Kimberly Bulcken Root, Schwartz & Wade Books.
I can't wait to go to Gettysburg in October for the 2012 conference.
Thank you again, PA librarians!
So About the Death Thing
We get caught up in analyzing stuff because we're human. And we box and label stuff because we're human. And I'm not saying it's not okay to have opinions. BUT. Sometimes we forget that art imitates life and sometimes we forget how lucky we might be.
Look. The internet is one big advertisement. As users of the internet, we are all creating content. In the search for content to share, we often write opinions. In the world of YA lit, there are several articles per year that claim that YA lit is: _______________. (a. too lowbrow for adults. b. the way to connect with your kids. c. full of horrible language and content that no teen should see. d. too dark! Oh noes! e. all of the above.) There are also helpful-to-new-writers pieces about the content of YA lit. Lists of overused plot devices. How-to and how-to-not articles. Flippant 140 character Twitter tweets about how if this reader reads one more book where a kid's on drugs or a parent dies, he/she will puke.
Look. If you're a writer, I hope you're not paying attention to any of this. Anything can work if done well. And in life, these things happen...I don't care HOW sick some tweetling is of reading it. Their 140 characters shouldn't sway your idea in any way.
Why am I even talking about this?
The prospective 2014 book has a dead parent. Not a "typical" dead parent...whatever the hell that means.
In the time I've been writing it, I read several of these off-the-cuff tweets about how children's books have too many dead parents.
Those comments aren't rare or anything. But still, I almost double-thought myself.
But then I remembered what it was like being a teenager and being told that my mother was going to die. (Here's that story.)
And then, last week, someone very close to me died and left a wonderful family, including children, behind.
And I thought, about those flippant tweets: What would those two kids think of some adult saying that dead parents are "overdone" or "trite" or "a convenient plot twist"? That the hell they're going through is being ground through that internet click machine?
It made me think: we are all advertising.
It made me think: we are all out here saying what we need to say to make ourselves heard...even if it completely overlooks the point of why writers put dead parents in books.
There is no one reason people die in books.
There is nothing convenient about my character's mother dying in the prospective 2014 book.
And let me tell you: if you are one of the lucky people who got through life so far without a parent dying, then I hope you know that many people aren't as lucky.
My first week as a camp counselor, I had four campers in my cabin. Two of them were ten-year-old cousins. One had just lost her father, and the other, her uncle. As in: he was buried the day before camp started. Those kids came to camp anyway. And we had a relatively good time, though at night, they might cry and need hugs.
Yesterday, I played monkey in the middle with two kids who recently lost their dad. It made them smile a little. It might have brought a tiny speck of near-normalcy into their life. It made me feel like I could do something. Anything. To help them.
How do I end this ramble?
This 2014 book, it's about death. It's about how death is all around us and that we are part of it. It's about how death scares us and ruins our plans. (It's also about lice and a bat and people at the mall.)
Recently, someone referred to ASK THE PASSENGERS as a (cringe) "lesbian-themed book." In all fairness, I believe this was someone paraphrasing another person. I do not think the person who came up with that term understood the book or the questioning idea behind it because if they did, they would have not called it a "lesbian-themed book." Hell, anyone who knows me or my work knows I just write books. I don't write "YA books" or "children's books" or whatever easy-to-slap-on label you want to stick on me or my work. I just write books. I'm happy my work landed on shelves where young adults can access it and teachers can use it in classes. But I don't aim. I just write.
We just box things.
It's what we do.
Humans = box lovers. Labelers. Organizers of categories.
We like things to be neat and tidy.
We like control.
Therefore, we're not all that keen on death.
And so, we like to be able to say concrete clickity-click things like: here's what to avoid putting in your YA book: dead parents!
I bet you a million bucks any kid with a dead parent wishes it was as easy as that.
Have you ever seen a river from an airplane? Have you ever seen how it twists and turns and nearly crosses over itself in an illogical journey across the landscape? What happened to humans? When did we lose touch with the fact that we are as natural, illogical and unboxable as that?
Here's a link to Disjointed Rambling Post #1.