ALAN v22n1 - From The Editors


In the early years of what we now tend to call "Young Adult Literature" (then the most polite term was "adolescent literature"), there were authors of books for boys and authors of books for girls, but few who wrote successfully for both. John Tunis and James Kjelgaard fall into the former, Betty Cavanna and Rosamond Du Jardin, into the latter. And there were books for boys - Hot Rod and Call It Courage, for example - and books for girls - Angel on Skies and Going Steady come to mind. Conventional wisdom of the time said that girls would sometimes read boys' books but boys would never read girls' books; given the nature of the books, conventional wisdom was mostly correct. Spotting a book for boy readers and those for girl readers in their teens with a 95% accuracy rate was then as easy as looking at the cover, perhaps reading the title and knowing the author.

But in a world where change is the one stable element, little has changed more than books for young adult readers. Indeed, the very idea of a clear distinction between books written for readers from ten to seventeen and books written for adults has become a relic of the past. More teens read books in the Sweet Valley High  series than adults (we think!) and those teens that do are mostly young women (we feel more sure about that). Gary Paulsen, though his novels involve boys caught up in adventures that change them and their lives, is popular with many girls. Chris Crutcher, in his sensitive novels, many about the role of sports in our lives, is read by girls as often as by boys.

This issue, then, looks at male writers of books popular with young readers, their themes, their characters, their readers, the uses of their books. Paul Zindel, who with The Pigman gave an early start to books that are read by young women and young men, indeed, by adults of both genders, looks back to the person in his life who inspired Mr. Pignati. Articles present the views of Will Hobbs and Graham Salisbury, exploring life through their young male characters, as well as discussions of the work of Gary Paulsen, Chris Crutcher, and Stephen Schwandt. The issue is rounded off with a look at the uses of Cormier's novels in college classes, a suggestion of books to attract teen age boys who don't want to be seen as readers, and an exploration of how those quintessential males, coaches, are treated in books for teen readers, and a look at mother/son relationships as males move into manhood.