Saturday, September 15, 2007
I'm always interested in how kids decide whether or not they're going to like a book. Obviously, cover art is criteria #1. Last night I was reading Saint Iggy while a bunch of kids at church were playing Around the World, having dance competitions, and waiting to sucker me into driving them home. And they stole the book from me when I was two pages from the end, still wondering if K.L. Going was going to be bold enough to go tragic, and they started reading it aloud to each other.
But even after reading a couple paragraphs, they still insisted they wouldn't read the book because it was fantasy. I explained to them that it was not fantasy, no one had special powers, and the colorful wings Iggy's wearing on the front of the novel are metaphorical. Still. They were having none of it.
And it reminded me of something a middle school librarian told me when I visited her library: books are status symbols. They're like accessories. And maybe that's why the kids wouldn't read Saint Iggy: because it looked like a fantasy, and therefore, even if it wasn't a fantasy novel, it would make them look like a fantasy reader.
Or maybe I'm reading too much into this? Anyway, I won't tell you how it ended, but I do highly recommend Saint Iggy. It's a bleak little Christmas story that would be a beautiful film shot on a handheld digital camera. Imagine a city in winter: cops, churches, high rises, abandonded-buildings-cum-crack-houses.
Iggy's on this quixotic quest to make an important contribution to society in time to save himself from being kicked out of school. But he gets entangled in the schemes of the local meth dealer, an idealistic law school drop-out, and a lovely, lonely rich woman who longs for her son like Iggy longs for his mother. (Don't worry: no Mrs. Robinson action.)
And since I'm on a meth-addicted mom kick, my next read is Harry Sue, which is just as good as she said it was.