When you pick up TWISTED (which I sincerely hope you will do this summer) and flip through the opening pages, you will find something unusual right after the dedication page. It reads “NOTE: THIS IS NOT A BOOK FOR CHILDREN” Then the adventures of Tyler Miller begin.
Many people have been speculating on The Note. Some theorized that the publisher forced it down my throat. John Green called it a “marketing ploy” in his otherwise very nice New York Times review of the book. Several other reviewers concluded that the note was spot-on; that TWISTED is not a book for kids, but it is a great book for teens.
I had no idea this was going to be such a big deal. It’s time for me to set the record straight.
First, some background.
I write books for teenagers, yes. I also write historical fiction that is aimed at grades 5-8 (but read by all sorts of folks), I wrote a series for tweens about kids volunteering in a vet’s clinic, and I write picture books for little kids. I have lost track of the number of times I have met parents whose children (nine and ten-year-olds) have enjoyed one of my books for younger readers, so they pick up SPEAK or another YA title of mine and ask me to sign it for their child. I always ask the parent to read the book first. They appreciate the heads-up.
And then there are people like the lady who insisted on buying SPEAK for her second-grade daughter because the girl was gifted and reading on a 10th-grade level.
For years I have been talking to people in publishing, librarians, teachers, booksellers, and other authors trying to figure out a way to alert book buyers and borrowers about books that are better suited for older readers. The age ranges put on books aren’t very helpful – who decides what is right for 13? For 11? For 16? Ask 100 people and you’ll get 103 answers. This can be a very confusing muddle. (Plot summaries don’t help much either. They present a couple of facts, nothing more.)
I think SPEAK is a book for everyone in 7th grade and older (the main character is 14). TWISTED is aimed at the older end of the age bracket (the main character is 18) – it will have the most meaning for kids in 9th grade and older, though I have already heard from 8th graders who really liked it, and who got a lot out of the main character’s struggles.
Hence, The Note. I figure that anyone who is picking up TWISTED for a person that they still consider a “child” (regardless of age) will probably want to wait a while before handing it over, or should read it themselves, first. Anyone buying the book for a “teen” or “post-child person” won’t have a problem with it. My editor Sharyn, aka
I would love to hear what all of you think of this. Let the conversation begin. (John and I will be talking about this over coffee at ALA. Give us lots of opinions so we can ponder deeply!)
In other news, many thanks to the SCBWI members who came out to Saturday’s Mid-Hudson conference and treated me so kindly.
Daffodils bloom in the most unlikely and delightful places. This is
Blog alert: if you love YA Literature, you’ll want to check out Finding Wonderland: The Writing YA Weblog. (You probably already know about it since I am usually the last kid on the block to hear about anything new and interesting. But just in case…)
OK, OK, one last thing, just because it is summer and funky things happen.