Wednesday, March 28, 2012

What I'm Looking For (or Show Me the Funny!*)

*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


Jordan Sonnenblick said...

Hi -

I just got a Google Alert about your blog post. Thanks so much for your interest in my work! I'm confused about something, though ... there IS a Jordan Sonnenblick novel with a Chinese boy on the cover. It's _Zen and the Art of Faking It_. I was thrilled with my publisher, Scholastic, for not whitewashing when they picked the model for that photo shoot.

Thanks -


Kate Fall said...

ZEN AND THE ART OF FAKING IT has a great looking cover! Ha, now we know how Deena made that connection.

I think it's wonderful when librarians and booksellers post what kids are really trolling the shelves for.

DeenaML said...

LOL! Yes, Jordan, it IS you AND your book, which I read when it came out. So YES! More like that, lol! Sometimes my subconcious amazes even myself! :)

DeenaML said...

OK, I edited to add ZEN to the post. :)

Jordan, your books could also fit the Teen With Tween Appeal category. I know some 10-year-olds who love your books.

Megg Jensen said...

Some of my daughter's favorite books are Cryptid Hunters and Tentacles by Roland Smith. Great MG adventure with boys & girls & some science thrown in for fun.

Jennifer R. Hubbard said...

For a book that fits #2 and #3 (except I don't think the protagonist is actually pictured on the cover), GOOD ENOUGH by Paula Yoo.

DeenaML said...

Megg -- I loved PEAK by Smith. Haven't read the others but will need to try them and keep them in mind. Thanks!

Jennifer -- I own GOOD ENOUGH at my lib, haven't read it, but think the cover is an outline of a person....

Greg Leitich Smith said...

Thanks for the shout-out. A younger middle grade that might work for you is K.A. Holt's MIKE STELLAR: NERVES OF STEEL.

Kate Fall said...

My daughter loves the Cryptid Hunter series (I think it has a sequel now). GOOD ENOUGH was a great book, very enjoyable. My copy had a violin on the pink cover. I also enjoyed DOES MY HEAD LOOK BIG IN THIS? by Randa Abdel-Fattah.