Lizzie Skurnick books is going to be reissuing those old and forgotten YA titles of the 1970’s and 1980’s.
From Publisher’s Weekly: Lizzie Skurnick Books will be issued in trade paper and e-book formats. Initial print runs will average 2,000 to 3,000 copies, with larger print runs as needed for high-demand books.
While Lizzie Skurnick Books releases will be marketed to YA readers, Skurnick believes that women who, like herself, came of age in the ’70s and ’80s, will form the core readership. “[These books] are not for teens,” she said. “Teens’ tastes have changed. It’s for adults who want to read, re-read, and collect these books. If mothers and fathers want to share the books, great.”
Noting that many of the books of that era beloved by teen boys are still in print – such as Isaac Asimov’s novels and The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier – Skurnick pointed out that, in contrast, many of the books that were embraced by teen girls are not.
I still have my late 1970’s and 1980’s YA books. I’ve had them for years. My first year of teaching, I used them in my classroom library for reading workshop. The paperbacks are old and fragile, and after the first year, I replaced the books with more current young adult and middle grade books.
I’ve never reread one of my old books. Not one. I look at their titles, and I remember reading them. I remember the twelve and thirteen year old reader I was who stayed up for hours at night reading under the covers with a flashlight. I remember trying to seek answers in the “problem novels of the 1980’s.” I remember my innovative, hippie middle school reading teacher who taught the Reading Workshop style long before Nancy Atwell came on the scene with her Writers and Readers Workshop. I remember loving Mr. Stobie’s sixth grade reading class where we could read whatever we wanted and he stocked his book shelves with these books. I remember buying these books with babysitting and allowance money at the B Daltons in the West County Mall. And I remember when I left behind these novels in exchange for the books by V.C. Andrews and Danielle Steele in high school.
When I look at my old young adult books, I see glimpses of my own stories. I see the threads of addiction and recovery which run in WEAVING MAGIC. I see my contemporary sweet romances in the older teen romances by Norma Klein. I see Jasmine from STAINED GLASS SUMMER in Cynthia Voigt’s Dicey Song and Homecoming. I see how those YA books were the soil where I built my dream to become a young adult writer myself.
But do I want to reread these books? Will I buy any of these reissued books? I’m not sure. I do already have quite a few on my bookshelves which I’ve never reread.
However, one thing I do think which will be interesting to see is if some of the young adult books of today begin to incorporate more elements of these young adult books of yesterday. Since the reissues are targeted towards those of us who grew up in the 1970’s and 1980’s, and that is a large demographics of the age group writing YA, will we see more books about social issues and problem novels? Will we see more books which linger over setting details and don’t have so much plot action?
I think that no matter where YA goes from here–whether retro, or not, the one thing we will continue to see is stories driven by character. Not once in any of my teen reading do I ever remember a story preaching at me. They were always driven by character. The character solved her problem. And this, I think, is the timeless element of any novel for children or young adults.