July 05, 2006

Remember That Mills YA Term 'Kernel of Hope?'

I always thought it was a little awful of me to get such a chuckle out of the term 'kernel of hope' or 'sense of hope' in the Children's Lit classes at Mills during MFA days. Every time someone would say it, I would get this sort of queasy sense that the Little Mermaid was singing her little wordless song somewhere outside, and Tinkerbell was sparkling, bells were ringing, and angels were getting their wings. It was such a weird phrase that I was thrilled to death that Oz and Ends had not only heard of it, but had a chuckle over it as well.

A Fuse #8 Production quoted an hilarious line attributed to M.T. Anderson when he won a Boston Globe-Horn Book Award Honor for Excellence in Children’s Literature in 2003 that tells you just how much Anderson has in common with the hope group: "Yes, I do have hope. Not for the human race--we're doomed--but for the Insect Overlords who will follow us". Hah!

Maybe roaches won't necessarily rule the world, but I do think sometimes that the insistence on hope makes for many falsely emoted novel endings in the YA/children's lit circles. It's not that hope isn't important for this age group -- it is. But it's equally important for adults. The 'kernel of hope' often seems to be used as a phrase that signals a "happily ever after" kind of thing, which is, sadly, bogus. Just about any teen is well versed enough in the real world to know that 'happily ever after' rarely even happens in fairytales... after all, like adults, they're alive, and most of us know better than to expect a full on 'happily ever after' at any time.

Of course, this is not to say that we don't wish a happy ending for our readers. Perhaps what is more important to convey is that the story continues... through whatever crap, it has continued for us, it will continue for them. Some days, they will even be happy. Hope by any other name...

The July issue of SmartWriters is up, with some fun summer novel suggestions, and the June /July The Edge of the Forest has a great review on Jeanne DuPrau's newest City of Ember novel - this is the prequel, though. Can't wait to read it, and check out the other interviews and information, including the Susan Taylor Brown interview that talks about how she uses blogging to help connect with her readers and get her name out there.

p.s. ~ Oh my goodness! In my Edit Hell funk, I totally missed giving a shout-out to Cynsations for her upcoming new novel with its really gorgeous cover. Yay for Cynthia, and yay for more vampire tales! They're becoming a summer reading addiction; always good to the last... um, drop. Ahem.

1 comment:

a. fortis said...

Oh, yay, a new Ember novel. I can't wait! I like prequels.