Jan. 8th, 2016

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I just finished rereading Diana Wynne Jones's Enchanted Glass, and continue to be a little bit "Wow, how did she get away with that?" about a couple things. It's a kid's book, with two POV protagonists, and the first one we meet is 30. The 12-year-old doesn't even get introduced for a few chapters.

I've been thinking about this for a while, partly because we go through so many picture books at the moment, and a bunch of the early-reader levels in between full-sized picture books and real no-illustrations chapter books. There are a lot of picture books about kids, or animate toys, or animals both anthropomorphized and not, but there's also a reasonable subset that's about adults. Some of it is expectation setting (here are ways to be when you grow up), some of it is adults doing silly things so the kids can feel superior, some of it is folklore retellings. But it's there; you have books where the identification character is all grown up.

The early reader books that we've had so far are a little more kid-skewed (Cowgirl Kate's parents are referred to a few times, but portrayed in one flashback illustration), but there are preschool-friendly versions of adult franchises (so far we have avoided easy reader Avengers and Star Wars, and also the girl-target equivalents, though the most grown-up of those is Barbie.) And there's Cynthia Rylant/Arthur Howard's lovely Mr Putter & Tabby series, full of mundane adventures about a stodgy old guy and his cat, and their enthusiastic new-thing-loving old lady neighbor Mrs Teaberry & her "good" dog Zeke. Also some folklore.

And then we get to mid-grade, and I can't think of anything else with adult POV. A bunch of proto-YA (Mercedes Lackey, some earlier Robin McKinley, the stuff we read in the 80s/early 90s) has teen-to-adult transitions or 20-somethings. I can think of a couple technicalities (a character who starts off identified as 15, but it turns out to be more complicated...), some older love-interests, and there's a lot I haven't read. Am I missing anything? Is this a marketing category thing, or assumed kid disinterest thing, or what? Do you have to be DWJ to get away with having a full adult main character in a kids' book?

Now I'm curious.
thanate: (Default)
I just finished rereading Diana Wynne Jones's Enchanted Glass, and continue to be a little bit "Wow, how did she get away with that?" about a couple things. It's a kid's book, with two POV protagonists, and the first one we meet is 30. The 12-year-old doesn't even get introduced for a few chapters.

I've been thinking about this for a while, partly because we go through so many picture books at the moment, and a bunch of the early-reader levels in between full-sized picture books and real no-illustrations chapter books. There are a lot of picture books about kids, or animate toys, or animals both anthropomorphized and not, but there's also a reasonable subset that's about adults. Some of it is expectation setting (here are ways to be when you grow up), some of it is adults doing silly things so the kids can feel superior, some of it is folklore retellings. But it's there; you have books where the identification character is all grown up.

The early reader books that we've had so far are a little more kid-skewed (Cowgirl Kate's parents are referred to a few times, but portrayed in one flashback illustration), but there are preschool-friendly versions of adult franchises (so far we have avoided easy reader Avengers and Star Wars, and also the girl-target equivalents, though the most grown-up of those is Barbie.) And there's Cynthia Rylant/Arthur Howard's lovely Mr Putter & Tabby series, full of mundane adventures about a stodgy old guy and his cat, and their enthusiastic new-thing-loving old lady neighbor Mrs Teaberry & her "good" dog Zeke. Also some folklore.

And then we get to mid-grade, and I can't think of anything else with adult POV. A bunch of proto-YA (Mercedes Lackey, some earlier Robin McKinley, the stuff we read in the 80s/early 90s) has teen-to-adult transitions or 20-somethings. I can think of a couple technicalities (a character who starts off identified as 15, but it turns out to be more complicated...), some older love-interests, and there's a lot I haven't read. Am I missing anything? Is this a marketing category thing, or assumed kid disinterest thing, or what? Do you have to be DWJ to get away with having a full adult main character in a kids' book?

Now I'm curious.

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