47 responses to “Queen of Teen? Make mine the Prince of Darkness.”

  1. lili wilkinson

    Oh, and in answer to your question: Couldn’t we nominate them for a prize that wasn’t quite so aggressively…pink?

    If only. This year every single title on the Guardian Fiction Prize shortlist had a male protagonist. Our literary awards culture is ridiculously skewed away from books about girls and women. Awards like the Queen of Teen are the only place girl-protagonists are recognised.

  2. Lili Wilkinson • Blog • Pink. Ranty. Etc.

    [...] Meg Rosoff has shared some of her thoughts on the Queen of Teen book award. Bags or shoes?? Why, people, WHY? Why is so much marketing to girls swaddled in sparkly pink and demeaning language? [...]

  3. Celine

    ‘I’d much rather teenage girls were reading pink books about girls who like shoes and make mistakes and learn and become stronger, than read black and red books about girls who are only interested in their abusive, distant, passive agressive vampire boyfriends.’

    Those aren’t (and shouldn’t be) the only two choices for teenage girl readers, ( I might be wrong, but I think that only one person on these comments has been dissing what’s between the covers of the so called ‘pink’ book, btw. this isn’t a debate over the quality of the content and I think it would be wrong to make it such.) It’s the tone of the QoT website that (I think) is the point of the discussion.

    1. Meg

      Ah, thank you Celine. Well said.

  4. Judi Curtin

    Great debate, Meg, thanks, and thanks to David Maybury for drawing my attention to it.
    The question ‘bags or shoes?’ makes me deeply uncomfortable.
    But……..
    In their recent Q and A, the esteemed journalists at The Guardian saw fit to ask novelist Peter Carey the following:
    What was your most embarrassing moment?
    What would your super power be?
    How often do you have sex? !!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (The exclamation marks are mine because I write ‘popular’ children’s books and rely on extreme punctuation to get my point across.)
    Judi Curtin
    PS track me down and e-mail me if you’re shallow enough to need to know how Peter Carey responded to such searching questions.

    1. Meg

      Ah! Excellent point, Judi. And I love that Q&A (known as the Proust Quiz, I think?) Is the difference perhaps that it’s offered as a bit of entertainment amidst more serious content, not plonked in the middle of more of the same? Perhaps I’m just making excuses. None of what happens on the QofT website is particularly bad in isolation, it’s the onslaught of silliness that depresses me. I’d love it if they mixed it up with just a bit of content that reflected some of the wit, intelligence and sensitivity of their nominated books — and their audience.

  5. Celine

    Quite a few folks seem to be implying that pink and sparkly covers will appeal to the ‘less confident reader’ Why? Are you saying such covers imply less than challenging content? Surely not. Surely that is the most patronising of arguments – to both the author and the reader. It implies that a girl will pick up a ‘pink’ book because she thinks she’s incapable of reading something else! What exactly? What are these other books she feels incapable of reading? And why does she feel incapable of reading them? If I wrote a book and it was implied that it’s content was somehow ‘starter level’ because it had a pink and sparkly cover I think I’d be incensed. (I have no quibble with pink and sparkly, by the way! I’m simply baffled at the weird reasoning being presented here)

    In a related point, I was thoroughly depressed the other day by a self professed ‘teacher/librarian’ who described my books as ‘beautifully written’ with ‘fine characters and themes’ which she ‘enjoyed very much’ – but she wouldn’t be recommend them to her pupils as ‘only the very literate of girls would appreciate them’… Jesus. I’m so glad my teachers hadn’t that attitude to us – despite the school being located in what was considered a so called ‘working class’ area we were encourage to stretch ourselves and explore every kind of literature and art. Not just what was considered ‘appropriate for our abilities.’

    1. Meg

      Thanks for that, Celine. An excellent question. I guess all this goes back to ideas of femininity — and the thought that pink and sparkly=girly=intellectually light-weight.

      I can barely address the second half of your comment. Given that To Kill A Mockingbird has sold 30 million copies (see yesterday’s blog) I’m guessing that the market for literary novels that appeal to a teen market as well as adults must still exist.

  6. Celine

    Thankfully I think that teacher’s attitude was rare ( or am I being too hopeful there?) Certainly the majority of my reader’s mail comes from teenage boys and girls, and/or the teachers, librarians and adults who have passed the work on to them.

    As for the pink = girl = lightweight argument. Coupled with the arguments that the content is anything but lightweight, but that teenage girls need somehow to be conned into reading it. (as if it will take them by surprise how intelligent or engaged they are.) I just throw my hands up – I really do. Its ok to like pink and sparkling things – if the cover appeals to you then it appeals to you, good on you fo knowing what you like. But don’t say it appeals because a girl is too low in self esteem to pick up another type of book.

  7. Bits and Bobs « All Things Moorehawke and Otherwise

    [...] I found myself engaged in a very interesting discussion on Meg Roscoff’s Blog. Meg took exception to the rather, shall we say fluffy tone of the Queen of Teen. Lots of very interesting opinions [...]

  8. David Maybury | Blog » Queen of Teen 2010 | Vote Webb!

    [...] Meg Rossoff’s debate about the pink-ness of the award is interesting too – and well worth a read. But before you go reading anything… VOTE WEBB! [...]

  9. Books » Archive » Pink book covers make me see red

    [...] this year Meg Rosoff expressed a desire to let loose with an illegal firearm, goaded by the “aggressive pinkness” of the upcoming Queen of Teen award. My immediate [...]

  10. Daisy

    So this award only applies to writers who cater for stereotype pretty-in-pink teenage girls? What about those of us who like to wear black and read books about wars and non-boy-related suffering?

  11. Daisy

    There are some good authors who have won this, but seriously- pink and glittery and- bags or shoes? What about- how long did it take you to write…. or what is your top tip for young writers? Sorry, silly question.