I met with Kristen Randle, YA author of The Only Alien on the Planet, Slumming and Breaking Rank yesterday.
Alien has been my teenage girls' favorite book for a long time, and I quite liked it too, but it was out of print by the time we discovered it. Kristen has recently (this week!) brought it back in print under her own imprint, PonyMoon Press.
I was thrilled to discover this book was available again and I rushed down to her home today to buy the first two copies from this printing. And of course, I stayed to chat a bit. (Yes, I guess that makes me a groupie.) And she was gracious enough to spend some time with me--a total stranger--talking about literature and teens.
I've been very impressed with Kristen's philosophy on writing for youth, since I first met her at a workshop she gave three years ago. Her commitment to quality writing and her determination to give our youth literature they can live with has stayed with me. I can still hear her saying to the writers in the room that if you're going to write YA lit, "you better not mess with my kids!"
Kristen wrote an article published in the English Journal (Volume 90, Number 4, March 2001, Page 125) on the need for YA literature that is hopeful, to counteract all the depressing, dark and bleak stuff that's out there now. Go read her article.
I agree with her whole-heartedly. I've given books to my children, nieces, nephews for every gift-giving occasion since I became a mother/aunt. I give them my favorite books and several of the recipients have said that they look forward to the gifts because they know they will enjoy reading them if they have my "stamp of approval."
I take this responsibility seriously. And unfortunately, at around 12 years old, it becomes much, much harder to find fun, interesting, captivating, well-written stories without objectionable content. That's one of the reasons I like Kristen's books. It's not that they're all light and "It's a Wonderful Life"--there are real issues. But good is good, right is right, and wrong is wrong. You can count on that.
And so, I'm supporting Kristen's efforts in bringing Alien back into print. If you'd like to support her too, purchase The Only Alien on the Planet. Read it, then give it to a teenager you know. (Kristen is still getting the bugs worked out of the PonyMoon website, but you can e-mail her directly at Alien (at) ponymoon (dot) com. If you do contact Kristen to get her book, please let her know you read about it here. Thanks and good reading!
P.S. If you know of any good, hopeful YA books, spread the word. List them in the comments trail. And thanks--I'm always looking for good books to read.