Happy Birthday, Judy Blume.

On classic children’s and young adult author Judy Blume‘s eighty-first birthday, I’d like to remind people of the importance of “controversial” books for teens.

For some young people, these books – that conservative groups try their best to get banned – are the only way they learn about important issues in their lives. Blume’s Forever, published in 1975, taught some teens things they needed to know about sex when their parents and teachers refused to fill in the gaps.

A few years ago, in the ballet world, I came across a group of homeschooled Christian ballet students from America’s Mid-West.

These young teens had been blatantly lied to by their parents, and told that: #1 only gay men could get AIDS, and #2 that AIDS could only be contracted by men having sex with monkeys.

And this is a perfect example of why we need authors like Blume, and why libraries shouldn’t be pressured to ban them.

A side note: dance is possibly the world’s most gay-friendly profession. The parents might have been in for a surprise!

Here’s The Australian Ballet onstage, openly campaigning for marriage equality during curtain calls (before the law was passed):

Yes, English matters.

Since at least the 1990s there has been a belief that the study of English at school isn’t all that important. When I was a teenager, students who prioritised maths over English in their course choices automatically graduated from college (the final two years of high school) with a significantly higher university entrance score, even if they didn’t get a particularly high grade in the subject.

With the recent push for more and more science in schools, an attitude has developed that English is a subject for stupid people. I’ve lost count of the times I’ve heard people in their teens and early twenties refer to English as a “dumb people subject” in recent years.

And now we have this story coming out of New Zealand:

New Zealand students say word ‘trivial’ in exam confused them

High School students in New Zealand who didn’t know what the word “trivial” meant in an exam question have demanded not to be marked down as a result.

More than 2,600 people signed an online petition over the “unfamiliar” word.

The students were asked to write an essay based on the Julius Caesar quote: “In war, events of importance are the result of trivial causes.”

Examiners said the language used was expected to be within the range of the year 13 students’ vocabulary.

If people in this world had better reading, comprehension and analytical skills, fewer people would be so susceptible to Russian propaganda and far-right conspiracies. If more people were better at English (or whatever their native language is), and better able to understand the rights and wrongs of the media they come across, we wouldn’t end up with people like Donald Trump running this world.

English isn’t for “dumb people”, and people with poor language skills shouldn’t brag about being smarter than those of us who read and write.

Babies in Young Adult Fiction

I was going to write some serious essay on the topic these tweets address, but I don’t think I need to. I’ve had multiple young adult stories ruined by the author rushing their adolescent characters into marriage and babies (and, in the case of more conservative books, marrying off characters in their teens so it’s “okay” for them to have sex!).

Maybe I’m weird, but never once as a teenager – not ever – did I want my teen heroines impregnated in the name of “romance”!

Twitter Conversation Link

Pregnancy in Young Adult Books Victoria Graveyard

Pregnancy in Young Adult Books PC Cast

Pregnancy in Young Adult and Romance Books M L Sparrow

The Week: 30th April – 6th May

Blue Sky Autumn Sunshine Canberra Australia 24 Degrees Sonya Heaney Eucalyptus Tree Gum Tree 1st May 2018 Garden Nature

Still looking beautiful in Canberra, even though it’s the last month of autumn!

My review of A Devil of a Duke (Decadent Dukes Society #2) by Madeline Hunter

A Devil of a Duke (2018) (The second book in the Decadent Dukes Society series) A novel by Madeline Hunter

My review of Baby on Her Doorstep by Rhonda Gibson

Baby on Her Doorstep by Rhonda Gibson

Release Day for Mary Balogh

Someone to Care (Westcott Family #4) by Mary Balogh

Tribeca Film Festival Gives Russian Propaganda Film Major Award

Make Tribeca Film Festival Deprive Anti-Ukrainian Movie Of The Award Phone Duty Russian Propaganda Movie

Fund in Honour of Miranda Neville

Miranda Neville Frances Mallary Historical Romance

Release Day for How I Resist: Activism and Hope for the Next Generation

How I Resist Activism and Hope for the Next Generation

Violent “Heroes” in Young Adult Fiction

I’ve been reading quite a lot of Young Adult books recently, and I’ve got to say, I’m tired of some common themes. Actually, what I’m most tired of is the casual violence.

One book I read the other day had the “possessive” hero beat a friend unconscious for his girlfriend’s “honour”. (In fact she wasn’t even slighted, except in the guy’s imagination.)

The reaction from everyone who saw it?

“You should have seen it. It was so hot!”

I’m sorry, but one of your friends has been beaten unconscious because he made a silly joke, and all the girls who witnessed it are turned-on? Seriously?!

That was the fourth YA book in a row I read that had scenes (plural) like that in it. Which leaves me thinking, what the hell has happened to YA fiction?

I have also been reading some 90s YA books, and – for the most part – I find them so much more relatable. The violent thugs aren’t portrayed as romantic ideals, and the teenagers actually behave like teenagers. There aren’t quickie weddings at the end, like there are in so many YA books today.

I wonder if the changes in the genre are largely because so many adult women read these books today (more adults than teens, according to some statistics). Are they fantasising about reliving their high school days with some big thug there to notice their Plain Jane teen selves? Some thug who’ll obsess over them and beat up the bullies?

Did Twilight start this crazy trend (not that Edward is violent, but one could never accuse him of acting like a teenage boy!)?

Personally, I find the teen relationships in books like Perfect You, Looking for Alibrandi and the Tomorrow Series far more satisfying in their realism. And I never once worried that those guys were going to grow into wife-bashers in a couple of years!