Tuesday, February 23, 2010

100 Dresses and a Few Greek Gods

Those of us writing for children and teens hold a secret underlying hope. Even if we're writing
fantasies about elves and fauns, sci-fi's about robots and aliens, or humorous middle grade boy books about disgusting things people rarely discuss, we secretly hope that our stories will reach children, teens, (and even the adults who often read YA,) at the deepest places of their minds and hearts. We want our books to strike emotional chords that will cause our stories to live within our readers forever. Mwa Ha ha!

That's why I'm always so thrilled to see the many children's and teen books that are moving forward into the wider world of pop culture these days. In the past two years alone we've seen hugely successful movies based on the Twilight books, the Narnia books, Harry Potter #6, and many others. What excites me about this continuing trend is that these stories did not come straight from screenwriters, or other people on the cutting edge of the fast-paced new technology loved by teens. Nope -- these tales were first published in paperback books -- novels and middle grades typed by authors at coffee shops while their own kids were off at school. The books have been so well loved by so many kids, teens and adults that they've found their place in popular culture through film, and music, t-shirts, and toys..

This trend seems to affirm the idea that books aren't on their way out. They're on their way up. And so of course we all want our books to be wonderful enough for Barnes and Noble and Amazon, but equally so for Paramount, Dreamworks, Disney, and Mattel...
And just as we support our fellow writers by attending their book signings and speaking engagements in book-stores around the area, it seems to me we should applaud this pop-culture trend, and celebrate our fellow writers' success in film, song, and theatre as well.

Four current opportunities to attend showings of Kid's and YA lit in Pop Culture in NC include (click the blue links):

The Hundred Dresses: A play, at the Raleigh Little Theatre (March 12-28, 2010)
1st written in 1944 by Eleanor Estes, this book for 9-12 year olds was one of my top 10 favorites in elementary school. It's the story of an impoverished little girl from Poland who lives in the U.S. and gets picked on at school b/c of her poverty -- also because she tells all her classmates that she has "100 dresses" in her closet at home, though she wears the same one to school every day. "The Hundred Dresses" is a story of bullying, poverty, and creativity in which two girls
who have picked on poor Wanda Petronski learn the hard way that their words really hurt a creative little girl who really did have 100 dresses in her closet -- colorful dresses, on paper, that she'd drawn. Sweet Wanda leaves them for the girls when she moves.

Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief, The Movie -- In Theaters now.
This YA novel by Rick Riordan features Percy Jackson, the confused son of a single mother,
who doesn't know the father who abandoned his family when Percy was a baby is actually the Greek God Perseus. But when an argument between the Ancient Greek gods puts the world at risk, Percy finds out quickly who he is, where is power lies, and how much trouble he's about to get into on his mission to prevent a war between his powerful, immortal "aunts and uncles."

Alice in Wonderland: The Updated Movie - In Theaters soon.
Alice and the Red Queen face off in a war that has all of Wonderland up in arms.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid, In Theaters soon.
In this, the first of Jeff Kinney's comic novel series, a Middle school student, Greg Heffley, takes readers through an academic year's worth of drama.

Have fun checking out these great children's stories that are making it big in theaters and on stage this Spring!


Joyce Moyer Hostetter said...

Such a great point - that children's books are on their way up!

So good to be reminded. Sometimes pop culture can seem to drown out the voices in literature but we press on in search of excellence.

And with the dream that maybe our characters' voices will be heard - even in the movies.

Happy writing!

Beverley BevenFlorez said...

I wanted to let you know that I gave you the "One Lovely Blog Award" today. :)