JUVENILE FICTION- what sold in 2015?

reading

2014 was a big sales year for juvenile fiction. Publishers Weekly credits the Divergent novels and John Green for a good part of it. Unfortunately, print sales for kids’ fiction decreased by 3% in 2015. Apparently, the latest Wimpy Kid book was the only one to sell a million copies or more.

Although the category split out for juvenile fiction is far from perfect, a few insights can be gleaned. Harken back to what I wrote about predicting YA trends relating to the astrology of the up and coming generation (https://ellisnelsonbooks.wordpress.com/2015/05/20/can-ya-reading-trends-be-predicted/). Up 9% was a category called Holidays/Festivals/Religion. Is this the start of the Pluto in Sagittarius group taking an interest in spiritual and religious things? Maybe. Also notable was a 12% rise in purchases of animal fiction.

Social situations/Family/Health was down 10%. Small declines were also seen in SF/Fantasy/Magic (-2%) and History/Sports/People/Places (-4%).

Overall though, it’s hard to see emerging trends in the data when a bestseller in any category can really distort the picture. I would rather see the categories broken down and distributed by age group because picture book buying by adults is different than teens buying their own books. And this is only print sales. E-books are certainly playing an increasing role in sales for older kids. Even the decrease of 3% overall, needs to be taken with a grain of salt. Are e-books drawing off that amount or more? Is the decrease related to our overall flat economy?

Publishers Weekly Article: http://goo.gl/SoiKEu

 

CONTEST: WIN A FREE BOOK

Jan. 14:  THE WINNERS ARE: Patricia Robertson & KDKH. I will be contacting you both. 

It’s contest time! Leave a comment below and be entered to win a copy of the electronic version of Elephants Never Forgotten. Contest closes at noon (EST) on Wednesday (Jan.13th). Two books will be awarded by a random drawing on Thursday, January 14th. As a theme, tell me something about elephants. I’ll start us off with how the idea for the book came into being.

Here’s the synopsis:

A hundred years in the future, twelve-year-old Nigella receives a shipment from her deceased grandfather. Her inheritance is a herd of micro-elephants. While a lot of her friends have micro-pets, Nigella is at a loss on how to care for them. Why are her micro-pets so different from everyone else’s? What was her grandfather up to? With the help of her best friend, Kepler, the girls set off on an adventure to discover the truth.

What readers are saying:

“Ellis Nelson’s superb writing made this book a joy to read. I felt like I was right there experiencing the journey, the concerns, the total adventure. Lessons about friendship and family, ecology abound.”

“The leading characters are smart and resourceful girls. They set off for adventure and help make the world a better place. An intriguing, positive read for tweens.”

http://www.amazon.com/Elephants-Never-Forgotten-Ellis-Nelson-ebook/dp/B014AL1A9Y/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1452186113&sr=1-1&keywords=ellis+nelson

HALLOWEEN YA HORROR

In an effort to satisfy my hunger for a good ghost story around Halloween, I stumbled on two firmly planted in the horror genre. Read at your own peril. Spoiler alert.

Beyond- A Ghost Story by Graham McNamee

Seventeen year old Jane was born dead and revived. In her short life she has escaped death four more times, but her shadow is after her. While Jane wrestles with these issues her best friend, Lexi, provides necessary comic relief. As the “Creep Sisters”, Jane and Lexi have to deal with being outsiders at school. Jane must find out why death haunts her before it’s too late and the opportunity comes when a skull is unearthed on the edge of town. Solving that mystery brings her face to face with a serial killer and reveals why her shadow is after her. McNamee successfully incorporates the idea of a dark, lost region that contrasts sharply to the bright light bliss of near death experiences. It’s a nice twist making it a unique ghost story. Sufficiently creepy, fast paced, and satisfying.

Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake

Cas Lowood has inherited the job of ghost killer from his dad. Armed with a powerful knife, he seeks his prey. His next case draws him to Anna, a girl killed in 1958 on her way to a dance. Anna has the nasty habit of killing anyone who enters the house where she resides. This is a fairly well-crafted story, but not as original as Beyond. It has garnered quite a following seemingly attracting the Twilight crowd because of the romance between Cas and Anna. That part didn’t resonate with me. Cass witnessed a kid being ripped apart by Anna and yet he falls for her. The most unique aspect of the story comes from the idea of the Obeah- a creature seeking power and the Wicca traditions brought to the story by some of the lesser characters. This is a fast read, entertaining, but a bit familiar.      

THE STORY OF CHRISTOPHER ROBIN

Winnie

I’ve always loved the Winnie-the-Pooh stories. The Disney version is OK, but I really treasure the books with the pastel wash illustrations by EH Shepard. My son’s nursery had six of these prints which I still have and can’t manage to part with despite him graduating university. Why is that?

AA Milne became famous for a series of stories and poems about a little boy named Christopher Robin and his adventures with his animal friends in the Hundred Acre Wood.  Up until this point Milne had been known for his plays, but in 1926 he published Winnie-the-Pooh, and Christopher Robin, Eeyore, Kanga and Roo, Rabbit, Piglet, Owl, and Tigger made their way into children’s literature and the hearts of millions on both sides of the pond.     

The character of Christopher Robin was based on Milne’s small son by the same name. When the real Christopher Robin was young, he helped his father work on the stories. The fictional Hundred Acre Woods was modeled on nearby Ashdown Forest where father and son would walk together. Young Christopher had a stuffed bear named Edward. The fictional story bear was named after a bear in the London Zoo he had seen called Winnie (the bear came from Winnipeg, Canada) and Pooh after a swan the boy also saw. There is a bridge in Ashdown Forest where it is alleged that the first game of Poohsticks was played. The bridge has become a tourist site and since 1984, the annual World Poohsticks’ Championship has been held at Day’s Lock on the Thames.

Unfortunately, Christopher Robin grew up to resent his father immortalizing his childhood in the stories and poems. Once he was off to boarding school, he was teased and his life made difficult by other boys. So much so, that he learned to box to defend himself. Christopher Milne served in WWII, graduated from Cambridge, and ran a bookshop for most of his life. He also wrote several books, one called The Enchanted Places examined his life as a child. The stuffed toys Christopher played with were given to an editor who donated them to the New York City Public Library where they can be seen today.

Trivia Question: AA Milne attended school and was taught by another famous writer. Who was that? Feel free to answer in the comments. (I’ll post the answer if no one gets it.)

INTERVIEW WITH AUTHOR, ABIGAIL BORDERS

Abigail Borders is a fellow children’s writer. She has a brand new fantasy available from MuseItUp. Abigail grew up in Asia and is fluent in three languages. There’s no doubt her experiences abroad fuel her writing from her home in Southern California. She has one son she refers to as “El Kiddo”. I’m excited to host her here to talk about her new book entitled, Cyrion.

prop12 (3)The blurb: Jon and Saul come home to find their village torched, and everyone they know kidnapped by evil goblin troopers. Armed with little more than rotten eggs and help from their new friend Anya, they take the goblins on and rescue their parents. Only, they somehow end up trying to save one race from slavery, and another from complete annihilation.

Welcome Abigail.

Thank you, Ellis. I am honored to be here.

What was your inspiration for Cyrion and can you tell us a little about it?

I started writing Cyrion roundabout July of 2012. El Kiddo was bored out of his skull and driving me up the wall. I needed to come up with something fun to do with him (like write a story) or lose what few marbles I had left.

I hope “desperation” counts as “inspiration”?

As for the rest, well, I suppose I’m a bit of a magpie. I drew inspiration from my life experiences, people I’ve been lucky enough to befriend and/or am related to, and conversations with my Kiddo.

As a teen, were you the cheerleader, nerd, geek, or something else?

Honestly, I’m unsure how “geek” differs from “nerd”, but I was definitely not a cheerleader. I did my own thing in school, and I performed well enough academically to encourage my grumps (grown-ups) to continue letting me do my own thing.

I do have small groups of close friends – much like my characters in Cyrion. I was going to say “MCs”, but most of my characters have a close group of friends. Even a secondary character like Naeem has Greta.

I can’t imagine going through life without my friends. People I can count on to laugh, cry, and celebrate life’s crazy moments with me. People who are on my side no matter what or when or why, but never hesitate to call me on my bullsh!t. When my notes went missing a week before finals, my friends came through by lending copies of their notes to help me prepare. When I was sick, lonely and far from my family in college, my friends came through with phone calls, emails, packets of Lemsip and cups of soup. When faced with tough decisions, my friends came through with support and prayers.

My friends talked me out of deleting my WIPs when I felt down about my writing ability. I almost chucked Cyrion into my recycle bin at least five times when it was still a WIP. They challenge me to move out of my comfort zone, and write in new genres like romance and science fiction. Although my foray into science fiction resulted in the Burned Bridges Protocol, my attempt at romance is definitely a dead duck.

I don’t think we ever had a label, my friends and I. I know I always thought of labels as irrelevant.

fabaiola 018

What impact would you like to see your books have on the world?

I’ve written two books thus far, The Burned Bridges Protocol, a young adult science fiction novella published by Giant Squid Books in December 2014, and Cyrion, a middle grade fantasy published by MuseItUp in June 2015.

This is a tough question for me because I never actually expect to be a published author. I only started Cyrion because Kiddo was bored, and the Burned Bridges Protocol started out as a dare. That being said:

  • From Cyrion – Cultivate and cherish your friends. Good friends will help you become a better person, and you, in turn, can help them become better people. Friendship is a two-way street, never take your friends for granted.
  • From The Burned Bridges Protocol – You are the author of your own destiny. Lilliane was chosen to be expendable. Her actions made her indispensable. Lemon was chosen to be a machine. His actions made him more human than a few of the human characters in the book. God gave us free will for a reason.

What’s your next project?

I am currently working on two projects. One is a short story I co-wrote with Kiddo that involves a minotaur, blueberry pie, and the properties of a circle. The other is a middle grade (for now anyway, who knows what it will morph into in the future) fantasy that involves a New-Yorker and two snarky fairies.

For more about Abigail and her books, please visit:

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Abigail-Borders/180906748773138

http://www.amazon.com/Cyrion-Abigail-Borders-ebook/dp/B00XIFZ94Q/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1436811717&sr=1-1&keywords=Abigail+Borders

http://www.amazon.com/Burned-Bridges-Protocol-Abigail-Borders-ebook/dp/B00QG5YBLM/ref=sr_1_2?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1436811751&sr=1-2

 

Dream Boy by Mary Crockett & Madelyn Rosenberg

dream boy

We all dream. Some of them are good. Annabelle dreams about the perfect and irresistible Josh. Imagine her shock when he walks into her science class one day. She tries to dismiss it as coincidence. Martin Zinkle just looks like Josh. But that’s not the case. Martin knows things about her he shouldn’t. Did Annabelle dream this boy up and then have him walk into her life? What other explanation is there? Regardless of how Martin arrived, Annabelle is smitten. Martin’s behavior becomes more possessive as he tries to anticipate her every need. Will, Annabelle’s long time best friend, is thrown off balance the more Martin plays the role of perfect boyfriend. The real tension of the novel begins when Annabelle starts having nightmares and those begin to intrude on her life turning very threatening. It was the premise of this book not the teenage dating angst that got me reading this. What if dreams are not just fanciful imaginings or attempts to offer solutions to everyday problems? What if you can dream and create your reality? Read the book to start to tease out your own understanding of how we might be co-creators of our own experience.

And We Stay (YA) by Jenny Hubbard

AndwestaySpoiler Alert

With this book we have an interesting case where it won numerous awards, but readers gave it mixed reviews (3.7/5 stars).

The book opens with Emily Beam starting second semester as a junior at Amherst School for Girls. Although there is a lot of speculation about the new girl, Emily does her best to keep her secrets locked safely inside. Almost immediately she turns to writing poetry and begins to feel an affinity with the town’s most famous former resident, Emily Dickinson. Slowly the reader finds out that Emily is dealing with the tragedy of her boyfriend’s suicide, an abortion, and adjusting to a new school with very little support. This is one of the best YAs I’ve read in a long time. It’s believable and written from the heart.

In scanning some of the reviews, I’m forced to think that the book exceeds the maturity of its intended audience. Several reviewers couldn’t relate to the third person perspective which is a very traditional form of novel writing. Others were unsatisfied not knowing a specific reason for the boyfriend’s suicide, failing to understand that in real life those who stay behind often lack concrete answers. Some reviewers also wanted Emily to be head over heels in love and less confused over the abortion. Again, in real life people are often ambivalent and uncertain about their choices. For me, not having everything tied up neatly made the novel more realistic and therefore memorable. Hubbard writes about tough topics with compassion, humility, and hope.