Hot on the heels of that WSJ article comes yet more children’s book bashing:
First, in a startling contrast to Gurdon is this article on the lack of deep, serious works of “literary fiction” from Book Expo America. YA doesn’t get a specific mention–the author simply lumps all “children’s books” together by writing:
I have nothing against children’s books, but when all of them seem to participate in a contest of garishness for the most outrageous combination of colors, the esthetic model that is being set up is accountable for the bad taste of generations.
Maybe this journalist (Daniela Hurezanu) and Gurdon should compare notes. Then everyone could bounce happily from bright sunny skies to doom and gloom. And don’t get me started on Hurezanu’s condescending label of “mommy bloggers…”
Then Slate jumps on the bandwagon to bemoan the lack of craft in YA fiction. After being approached to write a YA series, two first-time YA authors find themselves pushed to crazy deadlines:
Katie, having come out of an M.F.A. background where the rule was that good writing requires rumination, pain, and the slow loss of your best years, fought the craziness at first. But readers in Y.A. don’t care about rumination…They want you to tell a story…We’re literally rewriting the second draft of the second book in the series in four weeks. The average length of time you get to write a Y.A. book is six months. Compared with “literary” fiction, that’s warp speed.
Really? That’s like judging all of middle grade fiction by pointing to the predictable and endless Sweet Valley series or the Baby-Sitters Club books farmed out to various ghost writers. I’d like to see what authors like Philip Pullman have to say about “six months.”
The one recent bright spot is this lovely story about illustrator Christoph Niemann. NPR actually highlights his latest picture book, and look! the cover isn’t garish! (see that subdued elephant gray balancing out the fire engine red?) They don’t even make fun of Niemann’s tendency to add animals to all his drawings. Maybe it has something to do with his credibility as a “real” artist (drawing for The New Yorker will do that). Or maybe NPR’s Fresh Air, unlike Hurezanu and the Slate contributors, don’t give adult books the monopoly on “worthy” literature.