Monday, June 2, 2008

Gender Blender*

It's June, and a really cool project I'm involved in has just gone live online: Guys Lit Wire is a website created to attack the notion that teen boys don't read. It's a ridiculous idea on the part of the book industry (authors, publishers, and booksellers together) which makes it difficult to find good books for teen guys.

Enter Guys Lit Wire--suggestions, discussions, interviews, all to help guys find great things to read. I'll contribute to the blog every third Thursday, but check the site often, as there's new content every day.

Speaking of assumptions we make about guys and gals when it comes to their reading material, I had an interesting discussion with a family the other day. It seems they listened to the audio book of Linda Sue Park's Project Mulberry, and they loved it. It's about a girl and a boy who raise silkworms for the state fair. They were looking for a book as a gift for a boy and when they pulled it off the shelf--well, as you can see from the pic on the left, it features a girl on the cover, and the family thought that this would be a deal breaker.

"He won't read a book with a girl on the cover."

Which is unfortunate. In our discussions for the Guys Lit Wire website, one of the contributors shared a quote from a teen guy she had spoken to: "I won't read a book with a girl hero, unless she kicks some butt."

So, weak protagonists need not apply. I think that's true of any hero, no matter their gender. Thoughts?


*I stole the title of this post from a great book by Blake Nelson. Imagine Freaky Friday, only a boy and a girl switch bodies instead of a mom and a daughter. Gender hijinks ensue (mid-grade to YA).

2 comments:

Kelly Fineman said...

Interesting post, Justin. My hardback version of the book didn't have a girl on the cover. Makes me question their decision to add one to what I presume is the paperback!

Justin Colussy-Estes said...

I assume that image is the image from the audio which the family was familiar with.

I've discussed other changes to covers before (http://littleshopofstories.blogspot.com/2008/03/cover-comparisons.html) but I'm always surprised by the changes publishers make. Sometimes they improve the look of the book, sometimes not...