http://www.publishersweekly.com/article/CA6593578.html A co worker pointed this article out to me today. Its written by Denene Millner co author of the new Young adult series Hotlanta
I thought I'd take the time to share my thoughts on it. I agree that African American fiction is on a serious decline. The section is filled with urban and street literature, I've shed tears in the past but now I've even up hope. I also agree that there must be something done about teenage girls reading their mother's Zane books.
"Very few prolific authors have enjoyed consistent, successful careers writing about black teen life, and only a handful of publishing houses have dedicated their resources to publishing black teen books."
I agree that there are not nearly enough black authors writing YA novels but it would've be nice if a few were acknowledged by name. Why not recognize some of the authors who paved the way for Hotlanta like Sharon G. Flake, Jacqueline Woodson, Sharon M. Draper, Walter Dean Myers and Julius Lester to name a few. Giving these authors credit does not diminish the fact that there are not enough books for black teens but rather reinforces that truth because the list is so small.
At the bookstore I work at I am constantly getting teachers, librarians and parents who are searching for YA novels starring or featuring black characters. Teachers or librarians unfamiliar with new black teen authors are always willing and open to learning about them. So I happily share a few names like Coe Booth, Tia Williams Tanita S. Davis, Okorafor-Mbachu; Nnedi, Chase-Hyman, Paula ,Deborah Gregory and M. Sindy Felin just to name a few. There are not enough publishing houses geared toward black teens but if asked I am quick to point out the Bluford High series published by Scholastic or Kimani Tru novels published by Kimani press. I wish book stores carried more black YA fiction but just because its not in stock doesn't mean I won't tell the customers about it. At that point its no longer about the sale but exposing black teens to characters and situations they can relate to and possibly find a piece of themselves in.
"Houses should be publishing more books about and for African-American teens, and not tomes about slavery, the ghetto and growing up in impossible conditions."
Tomes about slavery is a tad harsh, unnecessary and inaccurate. The sisters in Hotlanta are well to do and don't live in the ghetto anymore because this stepfather is a big man in the drug game. Living in a house with a man that would hurt you to keep his secret doesn't seem like the most ideal living conditions.
"At a book conference for teachers, librarians and booksellers, many attendees cast a dismissive eye on Hotlanta, with its pretty brown girls on the cover, wearing cute dresses and fresh makeup, posed against the Atlanta skyline. “This,” one teacher huffed, “is street fiction—like Zane, right?"
Hotlanta is nothing like Zane, however the cover does have a street lit look, and people at the conference probably dismissed it for this reason. Though Hotlanta is not my type of read, but its good that black teen girls have another option. Hotlanta might be the book that turns some into book lovers.
"I can't tell you how painful it is to have my books—particularly a teen book—dismissed as street fiction because the cover features black girls.
I am offended for all the teachers and librarians I interact with on a regular basis at the bookstore I work at or blogs I visit, that Millner believes Hotlanta is looked upon has street lit. because the cover features black girls. The cover artist should be blamed for people mistaking Hotlanta for street fiction.
If you want more black children's authors check out http://thebrownbookshelf.com/28-days-later/