About Linda W Braun

Linda W Braun is a YALSA Past President, the YALSA CE Consultant, and a learning consultant/project management coordinator at LEO: Librarians & Educators Online.

2 Thoughts on “Never Enough NonFiction

  1. Emily Watson on November 10, 2008 at 10:28 pm said:

    Oh, was this ever a disappointing session. Pam’s history of YA NF was fine, and Susan Kuklin’s discussion of her excellent book No Choirboy was illumunating, but things went downhill from there. Tim Jones did what he could from a publisher’s point of view, but the librarians in the audience wouldn’t have his explanation that very few manuscripts for YA NF are submitted to publishers, and that many teens read up to adult level NF making YA versions of the same material unnecessary (and from a publisher’s understandable viewpoint, unprofitable). A smaller problem was that there was, in general, far too much time spent on No Choirboy to the detriment of many other titles which could have also been highlighted. This is the problem when too many people are on a panel.

    The real disappointment, though, came from LuAnn Toth of SLJ and Gillian Engberg of Booklist. They had the audacity to declare that good NF required a story. This sort of narrative-centric attitude is exactly what turns off so many boys to reading when they are teens, as if fact and/or informational books are unworthy of reading. As if series NF was an afterthought, they shrugged off books that apparently didn’t fit their concept of “quality NF”. Even when a representative from Zest Books called them on their elitist attitude towards fun, advice, and relationship books, they brushed her off with barely a recognition of just how narrow their focus had been.

  2. Pam Spencer Holley on November 17, 2008 at 1:59 pm said:

    Gosh Emily, I’m thinking I was at a different session than the one you’re mentioning. Let me address a few of your concerns. When David Mowery and I set up the panel, we wanted just one author/editor combination and two reviewers [we liked the idea of two different review publications]. No Choirboy was the primary focus so that attendees could hear the background story of one book, rather than an overview of many. We had hoped that Susan’s editor could be present, but she had family commitments for that date, so were glad when Tim volunteered as David and I were curious about marketing for nonfiction and Tim responded to that. When he said that his publishing company didn’t receive many YA nonfiction manuscripts, I think that’s true for Holt as it’s known for literary works and authors who haven’t written a literary type work of nonfiction naturally wouldn’t send their work to Holt, but to a different publisher., such as Zest Books that you mentioned.

    In the same vein, when Gillian and Luann discussed literary nonfiction, I didn’t think they were being elitist, but rather talking about one type of nonfiction. I didn’t feel they were disparaging series nonfiction or other types, such as self-help or craft books, and certainly they’re aware of books that appeal to all types of teens. Perhaps we should have included an author/editor from a publishing house that specializes in self-help books or series nonfiction to see that perspective also; if we had done that, I’m sure you would have heard more from the reviewers about the other types of nonfiction. If you think that would be a viable topic, maybe this session could be expanded into a preconference at the next YA Lit Symposium.

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