Children's book people tend to get awfully prickly when non-specialists venture opinions on our field, whether it's Madonna thinking she's a writer, or Harold Bloom taking down Harry Potter. So my quills quivered when I saw that Naomi Wolf was writing about YA fiction in the Times Book Review, but, I have to say, the girl talks sense. Her critique of the Gossip Girl books and their ilk keeps the moral outrage in perspective and demonstrates how these books break faith with what makes YA literature valuable. Have a look.
I was much less convinced by a recent piece in Slate, "The Little Men Who Love Little House: Why Boys Like Girls [sic] Books" by Emily Bazelon. The first problem is that the article doesn't speak to its title; in fact, the case being made seems to be precisely the opposite of what is premised. Her sole evidence that boys like girls' books is that her six-year-old son likes some of the same books she does (but she never says what they are). She also claims that Nancy Drew outselling The Hardy Boys proves the same thing, but . . . no. Ultimately, Bazelon seems defeated by her own question, concluding that boys don't read because we aren't doing enough to publish and promote books they would like: boys' books.