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A to Z of YA | Writers' Bloc


Over on Writers Bloc, we’re celebrating everything Young Adult, thanks to Danielle Binks. Below are some excerpts:

  Adaptation. Lately it feels like the Box Office is ruled by adaptations of young adult (YA) franchises – from Hunger Games to The Fault in Our Stars. But don’t forget, Hollywood has a rather illustrious history of adapting YA and children’s books for the big screen, such as; The Wizard of OzThe Outsiders, and To Kill A Mockingbird.

• Diversity. From authors of colour, to LGBTQI representation – this has been a serious issue in youth literature for a while now, but grassroots campaigns like#WeNeedDiverseBooks are leading the charge for change.

 Questioning. The mark of a truly good YA novel is how much the author pushes their audience to question themselves, characters and the status quo. People often assume that all YA books are literary-fluff because they look back at their own childhoods with rose-coloured glasses and forget just how messy they actually were. I like John Steinbeck’s description of that time when children start catching adults out; “It is an aching kind of growing.”  

• Stephen Colbert. The host of The Colbert Report nailed it when he said; “A young adult novel is a regular novel that people actually read.” Back in 2012Bowker Market Research discovered that readers aged 30 to 44 accounted for 28% of YA sales, and since then the numbers have been increasing.

• Z for Zachariah. Robert C. O’Brien’s book won an Edgar Award for Best Juvenile Mystery in 1976, and in 2015 a movie adaptation will be hitting our screens with Aussie actress Margot Robbie in the lead.

“I really wondered why people were always doing what they didn’t like doing. It seemed like life was a sort of narrowing tunnel. Right when you were born, the tunnel was huge. You could be anything. Then, like, the absolute second after you were born, the tunnel narrowed down to about half that size. You were a boy, and already it was certain you wouldn’t be a mother and it was likely you wouldn’t become a manicurist or a kindergarten teacher. Then you started to grow up and everything you did closed the tunnel in some more. You broke your arm climbing a tree and you ruled out being a baseball pitcher. You failed every math test you ever took and you canceled any hope of ever being a scientist. Like that. On and on through the years until you were stuck. You’d become a baker or a librarian or a bartender. Or an accountant. And there you were. I figured that on the day you died, the tunnel would be so narrow, you’d have squeezed yourself in with so many choices, that you just got squashed.”

—   'Tell the Wolves I'm Home' by Carol Rifka Brunt

“The last thing he ever said to me was, “Just always be waiting for me, and then some night you will hear me crowing.””

—   ‘Peter Pan' by J.M. Barrie 

“Once you are real you can’t become unreal again. It lasts for always.”

—   The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams

“Once upon a time, each of us was somebody’s kid. Everyone had a father, even if he never provided anything more than his seed. Everyone had a mother, even if she had to leave us on a stranger’s doorstep. No matter how we’re eventually raised, all of our stories begin the exact same way. They all end the same, too.”

—   Saga Vol. 1 by Brian K. Vaughan, illustrated by Fiona Staples