Oxymoron Booklists

Cindy and Lynn: Recently on YALSA-BK listserv there was a request for suggestions from a librarian who wanted a list of “Clean Vampire” novels. Now, we appreciate the efforts to satiate the Stephenie Meyer Twilight fans and are working hard to do that ourselves, but really, clean vampire stories? It’s our feeling that if you don’t want blood and sex in your vampire story, you really don’t want a vampire story. I mean, since zombies are the new vampire this spring, what’s next? Requests for zombie stories without the dead?

This request brought back the memory of the 6th grade girl last year who asked Cindy for a Holocaust book. After a brief readers advisory interview that narrowed down her choice to a novel over non-fiction or biography, we were scrolling through the catalog reading the summaries of the fictional titles when the girl stopped and said, “These all seem so sad. Do you have any happy Holocaust books?” It’s times like these that strain the self control of even the best librarian, but it is important not to laugh at young patrons–at least not in front of them. Publishers, authors and editors ought to delight in the knowledge that there’s a whole new market to explore with happy Holocaust titles.

And this week, Cindy learned that her 7th grade English Language Arts classes were working on an assignment to go with their study of Rick Riordan’s The Lightning Thief. One of the teachers tells me that the students are writing MODERN ANCIENT myths. We are surrounded by oxymoron lists and we bet you have more to add. We want to hear from you. Submit your best Oxymoron Booklist! We can’t wait to see what you come up with! (George Carlin, we miss you–and your “wicked good” sense of humor!)



About the Author:

Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan are Booklist reviewers and middle-school librarians who have chaired both ALA’s Best Books for Young Adults and the Michael L. Printz Award for YA Literature committees. Follow Bookends on Twitter at @BookendsBlog. You can also find Cindy at @cdobrez and Lynn at @482april.

9 Comments on "Oxymoron Booklists"

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  1. kerers@gmail.com' Keri says:

    I suppose a “happy” Holocaust book would be one in which the main character triumphs over adversity and survives/saves someone as a result of their actions. Number the Stars is probably about as happy as you can get based on how tragic the circumstances are (though I recall crying buckets whenever I read it, so I guess even that’s not a good example).

  2. Keri, you get bonus points for trying to solve my patron’s readers advisory request and I did try to help her in a similar way at the time. But come on, folks! Where is your wacky list of oxymoron booklists? I was counting on you to entertain me this week! Give it your best shot. Surely we have not exhausted the ideas!–Cindy

  3. aperrigo@alleganlibrary.org' Ann says:

    But as far as clean vampire reads? Don’t you think that’s why Twilight is so very popular?? I must admit to not reading the sequels, but it seems that they are pretty tame, and that what makes Edward so appealing is that he doesn’t succumb to animal desires. It seems that the first of this genre I ever read, many years ago, was also pretty safe–but wonderful! That was of course, The Silver Kiss, by our friend Annette. It seems possible that there could be others–enticing just because so much is left unsaid!

  4. I did have a teacher ask for some “serious” funny books. (She was tired of her boys reading Captain Underpants and The Day My Butt Went Psycho, so I think what she wanted was funny books where the plot was more feasible, but what came out of her mouth was “serious, funny books”. I just looked at her, and said, “You do realize that you just asked me for two opposite things, don’t you?

  5. I’ve also had students who wanted scary, nice books because they didn’t want to be afraid to turn out their light at night, but wanted to be scared during the day!

  6. mrowe@leopold.k12.mo.us' Mary says:

    What about the Heather Brewer books about vampires? Clean as far as language and sex are concerned but still a vampire book. That is what I look for in clean vampire books. I want the language to be clean and I don’t want descriptions of sexual acts.

  7. kgraff@ala.org' Keir says:

    The request for “happy Holocaust books” gave me deja vu. At last year’s Printers Row Book Fair, where I was on an author panel, the first question out of the audience was something like, “How do you write about something like the Holocaust without making it depressing?” I could hear a whoosh as the air was sucked out of the room. After a beat, I replied on behalf of the stunned authors: “But the Holocaust IS depressing.”

    I’m surprised that no one has asked for crime novels without law-breaking, war novels set during peacetime, or memoirs where the authors don’t write so much about themselves.

  8. emoehring@greenwoodlibrary.us' Erin says:

    We have had so many requests for clean vampire novels, and I am working to put together a list, but have found it very difficult. I hope you are having more success than I am.

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