Queen of Teen? Make mine the Prince of Darkness.
I can keep quiet no longer. Despite the fact that some of my favourite authors have been nominated for the Queen of Teen award ("It's glitzy, it's glam, it's the ultimate award for teen fiction!"), I have just looked at the website for the first time now. And while I passionately believe that anything that promotes books and reading to kids is great, I've had to spend half an hour in a darkened room to calm down. If I lived in America, I could reach under my bed for my .50 calibre M2 machine gun and express my sorrow at the state of feminism from the roof of the local MacDonald's. As I have chosen to reside in a nation that outlaws weapons of mass destruction for personal use, I have to make do with this blog.
Here's what the QofT folk say about themselves: "It's the sparkliest, most glamorous and certainly the pinkest award in the world of fiction...the Queen of Teen award was founded in 2008 to celebrate the feistiest, frothiest and most fantastic writers for the tween and teen market!!!"
OK, The Orange Prize, it ain't. But just in case you thought there was a serious intelligence behind all this frothy fun, here are some of the probing questions asked of last year's winner, Louise Rennison:
Bags or shoes?? Why, people, WHY? Why is so much marketing to girls swaddled in sparkly pink and demeaning language? (Please don't tell me girls are biologically pre-programmed to like pink, words like 'fabbie', and hundreds of exclamation marks, because I grew up in the 60s and I know better.)
I haven't read Louise Rennison's books, but I'm prepared to admire them, and I certainly do admire (2008) shortlisted authors Jacqueline Wilson and Cathy Cassidy, both of whom have dedicated their careers to writing subtle, non-stereotypical novels about all sorts of tough subjects. Couldn't we nominate them for a prize that wasn't quite so aggressively...pink?