*with apologies to Jerry Maguire
Tip of the Day, Librarian Edition: The public library is not a social services office, but remember that sometimes it feels that way.
I'm not an agent or editor, but as a YA Librarian, I have a "wish list" of books I'd like to see on my shelves, too. While I can't sell or produce these types of books, I can buy them, talk about them to my colleagues, put them on library book lists for patrons, put them face-out on displays, and directly set them into the hands of readers. Here's my current YA wish list:
1. Realistic, contemporary books with boy main characters that are funny but grounded. (Examples: SETH BAUMGARTNER'S LOVE MANIFESTO by Eric Luper; FOOD, GIRLS, & OTHER THINGS I CAN'T HAVE by Allen Zadoff; NOTES FROM THE MIDNIGHT DRIVER by Jordan Sonnenblick) Girls will read these books, AND I can give them to boys who are looking for something humorous.
2. Teen books with tween appeal. (Exampls: THE GALLAGHER GIRLS SERIES by Ally Carter; JUST ONE WISH by Janette Rallison; THE ESPRESSOLOGIST by our Kristina Springer) Fourth, fifth, and sixth grade girls particularly will come to me while I'm working reference in the children's room and ask for some "more good books from the teen area." *PLEASE NOTE: This is very different than the PARENTS who come to me in this scenario and say that their kids are "very advanced readers" who need teen books since they've outgrown the middle grade novels -- but the books can't involve romantic relationships or kissing or or or....* These girls just want to expand their library and book horizons with more "innocent" titles that feature slightly older scenarios and characters.
3. Contemporary fiction with non-white characters on the cover -- that aren't stories about the hood/drugs/race "issues". I want Sarah Dessen with an Indian girl on the cover. I want Jordan Sonnenblick with a Chinese boy on the cover. (*Edited to add: YES! A Jordan Sonnenblick novel DOES already exist with a Chinese boy on the cover and the story is funny and the cover is great -- ZEN AND THE ART OF FAKING IT -- and I'd love more like this to put face-out on my shelves.) This wish is more to the publishers than the authors, although count me amongst readers who want to see characters from all over the globe in my books so if you can write them, bring it on! I have so many non-white teens in my town who don't see themselves on the covers of YA books -- but they read a ton, and when I give them a book that features a teen who is Fill-in-the-Blank-American like they are, they are so happy.
I have to throw some middle-grade wish list titles too:
1. True science fiction with boy and girl characters. (Examples: a "younger" ENDER'S GAME by Orson Scott Card; CHRONAL ENGINE by Greg Leitich Smith) I get this question from a lot of student teachers, and it's a good extension for all the kids who ask for Star Wars books all the time and are looking to expand their base.
2. Ditto (3) above in the YA section, but for middle grade fiction (non-white kids on the covers of just good contemporary fiction).
All right, who's gonna write them? :)
Deena, Miss Subbing for Pubbing