Thursday, November 12, 2009

Why writing books for boys makes me nervous

This book was number 2 on the New York Times Bestsellers list for picture books this week. I might not have noticed, except that I was around my nephew over the weekend.

Justin is 7 and we spent a good bit of time paging through the Jedi starfighters and battle droids while he told me about Geonosians and General Grievous. I didn't follow all of it, but he was very enthusiastic so it didn't matter whether I got every detail.

I've been close to a lot of little boys in my life, but haven't spent much time with boys lately. (Justin lives two states away.) So I don't know if I can write authentically about boys' lives. Here I was, completely oblivious to the Lego Star Wars phenomenon and this book is the number 2 bestseller.

I certainly write about boys. The narrator in Maggie's Monkeys is a boy. I also write books I hope boys will like. There are plenty of universal themes that relate to boys and girls no matter what times they live in. But could I make a boy a protagonist in anything longer than a picture book and hope to get it right? I don't know. Maybe I'd have to make it historical fiction (as in the 60s).

I want to think I could write a convincing boy. I'm even enticed by the idea of trying. Not only because it would be a creative challenge, but also because there aren't enough books aimed at boys, especially middle grade and young adult books.

Meanwhile, if you're looking for reading material for a boy, Guys Lit Wire was created to help connect boys and books, and does a great job reviewing titles that our sons and brothers might like.