Wednesday, October 28, 2009

YA, MG, and Blurry Borders

Back in August, the blog MiG Writers assembled a number of opinions about YA, MG, and what makes them different. They discuss such distinctions as the age of the protagonist, the wordcount of the novel, and the focus of the story itself. There are a lot of differing opinions gathered in one place. For instance, the definitive wordcount of YA novels is given as anywhere from 40k to "oh, heck, these days anything goes." Check out the post for more thought-provoking contradictions. There is a wind-up at the end of the article that seeks to distill and resolve it all.

The article is aimed at writers, but I think it's also interesting for librarians, teachers, and kidlit lovers in general.

It is a blurry line, as anyone who's ever had to decide where to put that could-be-MG, could-be-YA novel. Some libraries have even gone to an additional "tween" distinction--stuff too YA for the MGs but too MG for the YAs. And of course, kids themselves rarely stick to one section. It's Harriet the Spy one day, then maybe some Princess Diaries tomorrow.

As regular readers know, I'm on the Round 2 SFF panel for the Cybils. Now this one's unusual in that we'll be judging both MG and YA novels, and giving the Cybil to one in each category. It's not our job to decide which is which--that's already been hashed out by the most excellent adminstrators. But I'm keeping this discussion in mind as I look forward to judging after the first of the year.

How do you decide if the book in your hands is YA or MG?

Twittered by Greg Pincus of The Happy Accident.


Patti said...

This comes up a LOT in ordering books for our system. We do centralized collection development, so myself and the other collector have plenty of conversations. It helps a lot to have seen the book - that usually makes it easier. Otherwise we just try to get a feeling with the knowledge we can change it if we were wrong.

Ms. Yingling said...

I've been trying to define this for days and not coming up with anything good. There is such a range. Middle school girls like to read high school romances, but anything about college seems too far away. It depends on the topic of the book and so many other things.