Thursday, August 26, 2010

Size Matters Not

by Hilde Garcia

Well does it? Is a book by any other page count read just as sweet? In my previous post, I mentioned how my books were my friends. They were the right size and weight to be taken everywhere while remaining indiscreet. Looking at some of today’s leading YA novels; it’s a whole other ball game. Now, I need a backpack and a chiropractor to tote my best friends around!

It gives a whole new meaning to the phrase super size.
My collection, which neatly fits into a small box has over 70 titles. They range in pages from 117 to 187, with the majority clocking in at 153 pages.

Compared to current titles, these great friends of my youth seem scrawny by comparison. Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly, (soon to be released), clocks in at 472 pages, Simon Bloom by Michael Reisman is 298 pages and The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, is a whopping 376. Shall I mention Harry and the 6 books that follow, the first having the smallest page count at 309.

So does size matter? In 1976, Roll of Thunder, Hear my Cry by Mildred Taylor won the Newberry with 276 pages and The Loud Silence of Francine Green won the same award with only 217 pages. A book’s measurements doesn’t make a story better, the characters need to be captivating whether they speak for 100 or 400 pages. I found Looking for Alaska by John Greene at 223 pages and Jay Asher’s 13 Reasons Why at 288 pages to be brilliant examples of YA voices. Does a reader care what the final end page count is?

If you consider a classic like The Secret Garden, when it was re-formatted for modern readers, the book came out to a hefty at 288 pages. Good stories can be long or short.

What I find interesting is the diversity of covers, shapes, layouts, sizes and paper quality in the current market. The Lemony Snicket Series chose an old fashioned, academic parchment paper. Other books rely on basic paper choices, nice to the touch, but thinner, thus giving the book a light feel, reminiscent of the friends of my youth. The covers are slick, the images and artwork impressive as new technology enhances the appeal of YA fiction.

The stories still cover the same range of topics, like fitting in, peer pressure, self awareness, but the backdrops are more exotic, rich and diverse. Stories are set overseas or in different time periods. These amazing adventures for the main character are woven into the everyday struggles of being a teenager like getting asked to dance.

In an age where kids have choices like Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, Tivo, YouTube sports, movies, and sleeping, it’s amazing that picking up a non-electronic story, a plain old book, is still a favorite thing to do.

And no, to them, size matters not. It’s what’s inside that counts.

1 comment:

  1. Relieved to know that size is not an issue. I think I'm in love with the girl on the cover of "We Interrupt This Semester..."

    Dimensionally Challenged


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