Author Jacqueline West is writing a fun, surprising series in The Books of Elsewhere. I’m ready for the debut of book three.
Until then, I want to wear Olive’s glasses!
Jacqueline, what’s right right now about children’s literature?
Sherman Alexie recently said ‘right now YA is the Garden of Eden in literature,’ and I completely agree. There is so much fresh, exciting, readable, lovable, beautiful stuff coming out in the YA and MG fields right now—and many studies show that kids’ consumption of books is on the rise, which is kind of a chicken-and-egg situation, I suppose. I just hope that authors and publishers will be able to keep on raising these chickens (or laying these eggs) for a long time to come.
What can be done to make that “good” better?
We need to support local, independent bookstores. For every publishing juggernaut that rolls into the major book chains and big box stores, there are a thousand other books—many of them dealing with important social issues, or using experimental techniques, or published by small presses—that have just as much to offer to readers but lack the same commercial force. Without independent shops, many of these books will have a harder time finding their way to readers. While the big chains and department stores need to follow literary trends, independent booksellers can help to set them. To torture Alexie’s metaphor a little: If kids’ lit is the Garden of Eden, the online booksellers and the big chains can work wonders with the harvest, but the independent stores are tending the seeds.
CLN member Jacqueline West lives in Red Wing, Minnesota, surrounded by large piles of books and small piles of dog hair. Her first novel for young readers, The Books of Elsewhere, Volume One: The Shadows (Dial Books for Young Readers, 2010) has been translated into ten languages, won the Cybils award for fantasy/science fiction, was a Minnesota Book Award finalist, and made the master lists for the Texas Bluebonnet Award, the Illinois Bluestem Award, and the Louisiana Young Readers’ Choice Award. The Books of Elsewhere, Volume Two: Spellbound followed in 2011, and Volume Three: The Second Spy will be released on July 5, 2012. Visit her at www.jacquelinewest.com, and learn more about the books at www.thebooksofelsewhere.com.