Coming up next: YA week, with Lois Duncan!

by Sara Gran

Hey kids! Next week is going to be YOUNG ADULT week here at the Abbott Gran House of Fun! We have special guests coming, special posts by Megan and I, special book give-aways and even more specialness than that! There will be even be Megan’s interview with one of her favorite girlhood authors, YA pioneeress Lois Duncan! Plus, we hope to hear your (yes, we’re talking to YOU!) vintage YA favorites!

So stay tuned and listen to Megan and I rant about teen hookers, child psychics, the politics of YA fiction, and much more!

25 Comments to “Coming up next: YA week, with Lois Duncan!”

  1. Psyched! You had me at teen hookers!

    No seriously I’m psyched to learn more about this…this genre seems very gender-segregated, am I wrong about that? It just seems like there’s so much more awesome material geared towards the young ladies. Like I would have never read FLOWERS IN THE ATTIC only cos no guys did…now I would of course but not back then….we had Dungeons and Dragons-y stuff, THE HOBBIT, fantasy stuff that seemed acceptable for geeky guys….anyways pls correct me. Fun

  2. Nathan, I think I will need to be schooled too! My anecdotal sense is that YA only exploded long after I was that age–other than VC and some of the other ones we hope to highlight, I was unaware of any YA that seemed to speak to me (never could do the Sweet Valley High thing, for instance!). I wonder what WAS available for boys of that same vintage (late 70s-early 80s)—like me, my brother skipped, by and large, straight to adult books. Someone will surely tell us!

  3. yeah there seems like just piles of smart and fun books for tweenies these days. All that sexy but not too sexy vampire stuff. My grandfather gave me some musty Hardy Boys books but that was just boring. It was like Scooby Doo with two preppy jocks + no fun characters. We more or less had Tolkien, and then the Narnia stuff which was very marginal, you risked getting beat on cos it was perceived as too, well, fey/ girly. Tolkien was pushing it. I don’t know what the cool dudes read, probably nothing. Hey I didn’t make up the rules! I played D+D which was literary in it’s own way.

  4. Nathan, now that you mention it, I can’t think of ANY boy’s YA books from that era. A lot of the books for girls back then were issue-oriented–first periods, first kisses, etc–and the perception then was that boys didn’t have as many of those issues. Or was it? Was there a whole category of issue-oriented books for boys I missed? I know of a lot of boys books for middle readers (HInton, Coover), but that’s the step before YA. Other boys, what did you read from 10-16?

  5. The Phantom Toolboth was a favorite. I also recently discovered what may be the genesis of m love of crime fiction in a book called The Great Cheese Conspiracy. I saw it at a dollar bookstore and just the cover gave a flood of memories and I snapped it up for my daughters. They’re a little young but I was so glad to have it back in my life.
    As a child of divorce I also read a great series about a boy named Henry Reed and those still hold up. All but forgotten but great summer reading for a lonely kid like me

  6. Around 10 I read lot of Walter Farley, a lot of boy and his animal companion adventure books. Curiously, the main recurring issue I remember from those books is isolation from family and the adult world. A lot of lonely quests with only the noble and loyal horse/dog/wild animal companion. Odd, the “girl books” seemed to be about trying to engage the adult world, or at least the surrounding social world. I remember the boy books dealing with the opposite, how to survive alone.

    In middle school, I picked up the requisite Tolkein/fantasy and comic books (Batman) as well as whatever was assigned for school, which, now that I think about it, was a lot of classic sci-fi like Wells and Bradbury. High school expanded things with a lot of the obvious classics and I got really into the ex-pats and the Trancendentalists. Then again, I don’t know how much things changed for me, aren’t WALDEN and THE GREAT GATSBY just lonely quest books for grownups? Also, being way ahead of my time, I got into vampires via Anne Rice’s books.

  7. As reference, my 10-16 years span 1977-1983. There was the Hardy Boys, which I read some of without ever really getting into, and Encyclopedia Brown and The Three Investigators. I was reading that stuff in the lower, 10-11 range of the ages you’re asking about. I think I was in 4th grade when my teacher read us The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, so I asked for the Chronicles of Narnia for Christmas.

    I got into Jack London’s books too, and stuff like Where the Red Fern Grows, and there was a writer named Jim Kjelgaard who wrote basically boy’s adventure books; three dealt with Irish Setters (Big Red; Irish Red; Outlaw Red) and some other outdoorsy-type stuff. I really enjoyed that genre, and have been looking for those titles again as an adult (I was older by the time Gary Paulsen came along, who writes GREAT books in this vein).

    Then I got into LOTR via my older sister, and I’d say by the time I was 12 I was reading Burroughs, Howard, Doc Savage, etc. And always lots of comic books too! By the time I was 13/14, I started playing Dungeons and Dragons via an older cousin. The 1st Edition Dungeon Master’s Guide had a reading list with stuff like Asprin, Leiber, Moorcock, etc. and I devoured all of that stuff as well.

  8. Somebody’s gonna have to admit this, so it might as well be me: I liked The Hardy Boys. The later titles in the original run of the series, from 45-55 (!), were actually not bad. But I preferred the Alfred Hitchcock and the Three Investigators books. They had interesting characters and good writing from the likes of Dennis Lynds. My first “grown-up” books were Clive Cussler’s Dirk Pitt adventure series. Derring-do galore, with enough sex that I was pretty sure I wasn’t supposed to be reading them at age 12. Tolkien I managed to miss completely. To this day I haven’t been able to read him.

  9. Thanks guys! Such interesting stuff! I think we will have to admit this is “ladies’ ya week” and have “gentleman’s ya week” sometime soon. I hope you guys enjoy it anyway! Bill said: “Odd, the “girl books” seemed to be about trying to engage the adult world, or at least the surrounding social world. I remember the boy books dealing with the opposite, how to survive alone.” That’s really interesting, and I think mostly correct! I wonder what that’s all about? Like I think I said a lot of the girl books wee first-period type stuff and the perception then was that boys didn’t have equivilant issues–but they didn’t quite live alone in the woods, as some of these books would have you think. And BTW, Chris, I was wondering if someone would mention Jack London or any of those boy-adventure books — boy, compare those to Judy Blume for a sad commentary on the past century’s gender expectations!

    Didn’t any of you guys read books about dating, groping, school problems, etc? No issue-oriented conformist authoritarian reading material? No gender-normative books about how boys should behave?

  10. The majority of our groping education was largely self-inflicted after viewing those magazines dad had stashed.

    So I’m told, anyway. :cough:

  11. Actually, the closest “problems” books I remember reading were SE Hinton’s gang books. Those dealt with some relevant growing up stuff, I thought.

  12. Oh, god, Chris, I LOVED those books. I read all of them. I don’t know if I would have tried them were it not for the Coppola movie, which was such a glamorous and sensitive evocation. I probably would have felt they were too distant from my experience–but they turned out to be exactly what I wanted.

  13. Megan, are saying you weren’t a big gang banger back in the day? Leather jackets, brass knuckles, switchblades? Wow.

  14. Ah. Phew, you had me nervous there for a minute.

  15. S.E. Hinton as boys’ Judy Blume? Interesting to compare–from what I remember the Hinton books were very tough, urban, and working class, weren’t they? And of course Judy Blume (God love her, she’s fantastic!) was very suburban, middle-class, and safe.

    Megan, was that before or concurrent with your years in the purple gang? And/or the string of hold-ups on the peninsula?

    • One thing about SE Hinton–there were always some of the “Socs” (middle class kids) who were nice–but they were books SO much about class. And SO sensitive in a James Dean-Holden Caulfield-lite kinda way.

  16. I think I need to recuse myself from this discussion. I’ve already said too much!

  17. Whenever I hear Judy Blume’s name, I remember when Connie Jette had a copy of Wifey in a homemade Black Beauty cover making the rounds, with all the dirty pages marked.

  18. Chris, that Connie Jette sounds like a cool lady! Nathan, the title is familiar, but I didn’t read that one. Weird bit of synchronicity, though, huh? I can’t imagine you talk about Judy Blume on a regular basis!

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