And it’s time for another Teen Read Week giveaway! This time we have the first two volumes in Cornelia Funke’s Mirrorworld series, Reckless (in paperback) and Fearless (in hardcover), both reviewed here. While Funke is widely known for her children’s books (and especially for Inkheart)he Mirrorworld books are dark fantasy and meant for older teens. Jacob Reckless is able to travel back and forth between our world and an alternate, highly detailed fantasy world through a mirror he discovers in his father’s study. There is an incredible app based on these two books as well, also highly detailed and with truly amazing additional content written specifically for it (unfortunately, there’s no Android version). That, I can’t give away. But if you love fantasy or Dungeons and Dragons, you can easily get lost in Funke’s Mirrorworld. There’s a free preview of Reckless for Kindle, if you want to try it out and see if it’s for you. Leave a comment telling me what you’re going to be for Halloween this year and these could be yours!
Thoughts from the staff of MonsterLibrarian.com.
Posts Tagged ‘transmedia’
The Boston Globe just published an interview with Michelle Ann Abate, a professor at Ohio State University who has just published a book about the tradition of murder and violence in children’s literature (a really interesting take on the “scaring the children” theme). I’m not sure if it’s because of the way the interviewer edited the interview for publication, but for some reason both he and she come across as seeming surprised that there is a tradition of violence in children’s literature, and she’s actually quoted as saying that “the story of violence and books for young readers hasn’t been told before”.
I have to say that I am surprised at the surprise that there is a tradition of violence in children’s literature. It’s a frequent reason that books are banned (although racism, explicit sexual situations, and profanity currently top that). Going back in history, even after you progress past Grimm’s fairy tales, there’s no lack of violence and death. Andersen’s tales often end with death. “The Little Match Girl”, for instance, freezes to death on the street.
Struwwelpeter, by Heinrich Hoffman, is a classic children’s book, with lovely illustrations. Here’s one for a story about a girl with matches who burns to death!
And let’s not forget the Gashlycrumb Tinies. Poor Kate! Childhood used to be a much different creature than it is today, a point that Abate does make, and attitudes toward parenting tended toward the didactic and scaring kids into behaving. It is interesting to note, though, that Hoffman wrote the book to entertain his young child, and in spite of the terrifying stories and illustrations, there are a lot of adults who remember it as being funny when they were kids. There’s a darkness inside children that a lot of grownups don’t want to admit is there.
Moving on to more recent times, we have the parents of the kids in Julian Thompson’s The Grounding of Group 6, who send their kids to a school that guarantees they’ll be permanently lost in the woods; the viciousness of the children in William Sleator’s House of Stairs; the matter-of-fact euthanasia of children and the elderly in Lois Lowry’s The Giver; the government approved murders of “extra” children in Margaret Peterson Haddix’s Among the Hidden; the chilling account of the Holocaust in The Devil’s Arithmetic; the supernatural terrors from Alvin Schwartz’s Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark; the death of Cedric Diggory in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Death, and especially murder, can be scary in books, but nowhere near as scary as daily life. Processing the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. is a lot more difficult for my kids than processing The Tailypo.
Many people– librarians, critics, parents, academics– have considered the story of violence in children’s books. Nearly every year there’s at least one article about how children’s literature has gotten too dark. I would say that it’s an aspect that people either choose to avoid (it’s not difficult to avoid children’s books containing murders) or take for granted. When something like The Hunger Games or Goosebumps becomes massively popular, violence in children’s books comes into the spotlight, but even when it’s not in the spotlight, there are people who notice it, study it, and write about it. I think as transmedia platforms become more popular we’ll see more of this come to light, as books and visual media connect in more ways than ever, and this is definitely a topic worth paying attention to… but if the study of violence in children’s literature hasn’t been noticed before, it’s only because people didn’t want to see what was really there.
Digital Book World just presented an interview with Ellen Archer, the CEO of Hyperion. For those who don’t know, Hyperion is a publisher that is part of Disney. We’ve received many excellent books for review from Hyperion Teen, including the stellar Generation Dead, and several books they sent us ended up on our 2011 Top Picks list for Young Adults, including Mercy by Rebecca Lim and the Near Witch by Victoria Schwab.
That they sent us these books doesn’t really have anything to do with why I’m sharing this interview with you, though. Here’s the deal: in spite of the fact that Hyperion is not one of the Big Six publishers we hear about and write about so much of the time, it is a reasonably good-sized publisher that puts out some really quality books, and it’s also part of a major media empire. Disney is about a lot more than princesses, and it has an impressive marketing machine. Hyperion, as part of that media empire, has the opportunity to produce transmedia experiences that will really stand out. I wrote about transmedia over the summer last year (and while I continue to be fascinated by it, I still favor physical books for children, which seems to be true for many parents, even those addicted to ebooks themselves), and I can see from this interview that Archer is headed in this direction (in a much more complex way than I described) from what she says here:
Maybe we have to drop “books” from the way we think. I think that’s keeping us from not thinking as big and broadly as we need to.
I have authors come in and I suggest we start with e-books and then have a print companion later on and they say, “what about the ‘book’ book?”
What I see Hyperion as is a producer of great reading experiences in the form that someone enjoys.
I continue to see debates about the value of ebooks vs. physical books. I think it’s pretty clear now that in order for publishers to survive that debate has to be reframed. There are going to be ebooks, physical books, and media of all kinds in play. And it’s not just going to be about how we consume media, but how our experiences of a variety of media bring us together. Have the Big Six publishers recognized this? They seem to be moving tentatively into this sphere, but if other publishers, like Hyperion, move faster, I think we’ll see the structure of the publishing industry change considerably. For those of us who are used to categorizing media into discrete areas (like some librarians and many, many digital immigrants) it won’t be an easy transition. But it’s coming, and, if Archer’s ideas about the future of publishing are on target, it’s coming sooner than we think.