Daily Archives: January 28, 2010

Thoughts on Newbery: Mashups

Dear Gatekeepers,

Where are the new genres?  If you feel compelled to place a book into one, why use the old ones?

On this Heavy Medal post, Cindy comments:

I’ve been sharing the medal winners and honor books with my students and have come across the same issue with When You Reach Me. According to the definition we use (takes place at least 30 years prior to date of publication), it does qualify as historical fiction. Since I was only a couple years younger than Miranda in 1979, it doesn’t feel “historical” to me. However, because of the time travel element, we probably wouldn’t offer it for either historical or realistic fiction assignments.

Or what about the Scott O’Dell winner, graphic novel The Storm in the Barn with its mix of fantasy and history?  J. L. Bell is dubious.

Not to mention other Newbery honorees, say the 2008 one.   Commenting on an earlier Heavy Medal post by Nina, Jonathan wrote:

I am leery of counting CARVER and GOOD MASTERS! as informational books. Yes, they both use poetry in service of history and the latter, in particular, is a hybrid of poetry, monologue, and nonfiction, but I worry that too many people like to list these as nonfiction because “a spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down.” In other words, isn’t it lovely to have something to make those dry facts not so dry?

How about the loveliness of new genres?  Why, when everything else is merging and shifting and changing, are we still using categories that don’t work?  I just love the way Stead, Nelson, and Schlitz mixed and melded a whole bunch of genres into delicious new ones.  If it is so critical to tag them with particular genre names, rather than forcing them to be what they aren’t can’t we generate and advocate and come up with new ones?

Sincerely,

One of you (a gatekeeper too)

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Filed under Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Newbery