Teenage Kicks

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Waited in the grand lobby of Penguin HQ for JZ to turn up, harrowed text messages from P. regarding the Tree Savagery (see below) weighing on my mind. JZ was only a few minutes late. She had had 'transportation problems', which translated into having got on a bus going in the wrong direction, after a jaunt out to a Sainsbury store she hasn't visited before.

The event was Teenage Kicks, a panel discussion between Pete Johnson

Grace Dent

Julia Green

chaired by Damian Kelleher.
The audience was a mixture of librarians, teachers, reviewers and teenagers. Kelleher asked Pete Johnson, the most experienced of the three, (the other two being debut novelists) to talk about his latest book, Faking It, first. Johnson had interesting things to say about boys' attitudes towards romance and girlfriends etc. Whilst it has to be said that Faking It is not a teenage book in the sense of being a Young Adult novel (only Green's book can conceivably be called a 13+ read), I couldn't help thinking how iteresting it would have been to have had a debate between Pete Johnson and Melvin Burgess. As it happened, neither Dent's summery, escapist girl-gang comedy, nor Blue Moon, Green's solid study of a pregnant schoolgirl's predicament, provided opportunity for bouncing off Pete Johnson's comments, and so the discussion, although admirably chaired in a relaxed and informal manner by Kelleher, was a somewhat disparate one. The fact that none of the teenager members of the audience raised a hand during the Q & A session might have been significant. Johnson and Dent spoke as if their books were being read by 14-year-olds. I doubt it somehow. Their true market is 10-13 year-olds. Publishers, booksellers and librarians know that as well as me, and therein lies the root cause of the pathetically predictable press paddies generated by genuinely teenage novels such as Melvin Burgess's Doing It. I would happily give Faking It to a Y6 child to read, as I would LBD It's A Girl Thing. These are books about teenagers. They are not Young Adult novels.
After the discussion and the usual drinks and chat, JZ took a mini movie of me and GB to show her West Coast friend. Then we exchanged proof copies, one of my gains being My Heartbeat by Garret Freymann-Weyr, which JZ remembered me saying I'd heard good things about.
Still outraged by the ash tree destruction, I bought a copy of 'The Ecologist' for the train-ride home.

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This page contains a single entry by achuka published on May 28, 2003 11:06 AM.

Tree Savagery was the previous entry in this blog.

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