There’s a lot to be said about the publishing industry as relates to gender. I’ll try not to wade into them all. For now, I just want to bring up a small part of it, in order to highlight how much I adore the image above.
As a male editor in children’s books / YA books, I get a lot of questions around the fact that there aren’t a lot of male editors in the children’s books / YA books. I get a lot of submissions from agents that are “perfect for boys!” and I’m very thankful for it, because I would love to find perfection in anything.
And I always get a question about whether or not I’m looking for “girl’s fiction.” I have no idea what this means. I do know what it’s supposed to mean. I understand the connotation, if not the denotation of the phrase. But I don’t want to give the phrase safe passage in its attempt to communicate with me. I want to say, “huh?”
But I don’t, because it’s annoying to pretend that you don’t understand something when really you just disagree with the premise. So I usually say that yes, I do acquire girl’s fiction. Though I tend to dislike “strong female characters” that have been so ludicrously juiced with testosterone that their “strength” isn’t much more than a bunch of arm-wrestling matches with Michael Clark Duncan. And yes, I would adore, adore, adore, any manuscript about anyone that is well written. Even if it’s a girlie book.
But all of it aside…I wish I could just hand everyone this LEGO ad from 1981 and say, “THIS! I want books about and for THIS girl.” I love the smile. I LOVE that the advertisers call it “beautiful.” I love that it isn’t militantly “anti-pink” or a statement against femininity. I love how completely oblivious the girl seems to be to all the conversation that publishers, sociologist, media analysts, etc have about media. I love her sneakers, and the tree planted on top of the man’s head.
More of this ad, please. More books like the ones she’d read, or live in.