Leafing through my Publishers Weekly Children’s Books Spring 2007 special issue, it occurred to me (not for the first time) that there really is nothing new under the sun. (Okay, I stole that from somewhere. But it’s still true.)
I’m a big fan of re-tellings. I like to write them and I like to read them. Fairy tales, mythology, alternative historical perspectives—it’s all fab. Re-groupings of disparate historical figures, conspiracy theories—big fun.
But lately I get the feeling that people are so intent on publishing, they’re going for any sure thing they can latch onto. Remember Marley and Me? Author John Grogan is releasing a middle-grade novel—Marley: A Dog Like No Other—as well as a picture book, Bad Dog, Marley!
This season you can also watch for a re-visioning of “Jabberwocky” as a basketball game.
Then there's Enter Three Witches: A Story of Macbeth.” “A ward of Lord and Lady Macbeth struggles to survive.”
Lots of demons. Lots of vampires. Lots of demons and vampires in high school. Hmmm... high school slayers. Hmmm….
I love this stuff—honestly! But come on: there’s already sequels and prequels to Little House on the Prairie, and there are going to be prequels (or is it sequels?) to Anne of Green Gables. It just all seems a little too bandwagon-y to me.
But there’s plenty of new stuff coming this season. Heavy stuff, too—adoption, cerebral palsy, absentee parents found, alcoholism, bixexuality, conjoined twins, euthanasia. Once again, my childhood looks like the most vanilla thing going. (Lucky me! Although the angst would certainly be beneficial to any YA writing I decided to attempt. Ah, well. That’s what imagination is for, right?)
This spring there is way, way more than you might suspect about bowel movements. (I’m not kidding.) That is a bandwagon I think we’d all be best avoiding.
And there are many authors with multiple books coming out: Neil Gaiman, Tim Wynne-Jones (is he any relation to Diana Wynne-Jones, who I worship when I’m in a blasphemous mood?), Meg Cabot (does she sleep ever?).
Still, there are plenty of authors I’ve never heard of—and plenty of original ideas.
The Surprise: “Sheep shears himself, spins yarn from the wool, and knits a sweater for a friend.” We should all be so self-sufficient.
The House Takes a Vacation. “A house takes its own vacation while its family is away.”
Repossessed: “A tale of demonic possession—from the demon’s point of view.”
Jack Plank Tells Tales. “A novel introducing an ex-pirate in search of a new career.” Hey—it’s never too late to be who you might have been.
So there's reason to celebrate: plenty of room for newcomers at the party—and those who arrived early are able to stick around. Good news for all of us. (And a definite impetus for me to finish my revsion and submit it for God’s sake!)
* Which I was a couple of entries ago. Pay attention!