Volume 23, Number 2
Winter 1996


You know and we know that YA literature has grown in both quality and depth since its early days. If we're old enough, we remember the days when most -- certainly not all, as the novels of Florence Crannel Means and others clearly demonstrate -- were shallow, when what Dwight Burton termed "taboos" dominated themes, characters, and style. We know that that situation gradually changed and was given a major boost by school integration and the wide availability of the inexpensive paperback book. At last authors could speak directly to their young readers, writing about the real lives of teenagers, their concerns, problems, joys, and in styles simple and sophisticated.

Unfortunately, not everyone realizes that this change has taken place. Even some of our colleagues in schools, libraries, college English departments, persist in thinking of, speaking of YA literature as . . . well, you know. We'd rather not use the words here. Is that ignorance "invincible"? We hope not. And we offer this issue of The Review as evidence not only that YA literature is rich in content and style but also that the literary analysis that it invites is both profound and challenging.

In this issue, then, we give you

* a novelist exploring the uses of humor in YA books

* a teacher exploring YA books in a multi-disciplinary unit

* a critic looking at an esteemed author for adults who has begun writing profound novels in the "baseball story" tradition

* a philosopher using Dewey and Rosenblatt to analyze the philosophical foundations of Jackaroo

* a teacher examining the multi-layers of perception and reality that Avi uses in Nothing but the Truth

* a scholar considering the good and the not-so-good in Hawaiian YA literature

* two students looking at YA books dealing with homosexuality and the literary criticism that these books have caused

* one of our columnists reviewing an especially nasty censorship case

* another of our columnists examining YA literature on the World Wide Web

* a novelist considering the aridness that results in the books available to young readers by the activities of censors.

Give that list to those who still think books for teenagers are simplistic.