“So you wrote a children’s book?” the voice on the phone asked. She was pleasant, but my insecure ears picked up a note of condescension.
“Yes, I wrote it for my granddaughter when she was learning to read.”
“I see,” the voice paused. “So it’s a picture book?”
“No, not a picture book,” I answered trying to think how best to describe it.
“Not a picture book, so is the target audience MG or YA?”
What? I thought. After retiring from engineering, I figured I had put the alphabet soup of acronyms behind me – EPA, DOE, IDEM, EDA. Alas, it was not to be.
When I wrote Olivia’s Story: Protector of the Realm, my goal, my only goal, was to entertain Olivia. Blissfully unaware of the world of MG or YA books, I innocently proceeded with that simple goal.
Returning to the voice on the phone, I answered, “Well, it’s meant to be a fun story for my granddaughter.”
“I see; okay. How does it relate to real world problems?”
“It’s a fantasy set during WWII,” I replied somewhat taken aback. It was becoming clear that I needed to do some homework.
In true engineer style, I set to work to understand the question. Digging into my research, I learned that these are standard terms – age group identifiers used by publishers and retailers to place a book on their shelves. As such, they are not so much genres, as they are general groupings.
So, which is Olivia’s Story, MG, or YA? Before we can answer that question, we must define that alphabet soup. I found useful definitions in a column by Brian A. Klems. (The Key Differences Between Middle Grade vs Young Adult, Writers Digest.com. August 7, 2014.)
MG – Middle-Grade readers, age 8 to 12 years. The age range is a bit soft with some overlap into beginning readers on the low end and YA on the upper end. (Sorry I’ll explain YA in a minute). MG includes 3rd to 7th grade. The younger members of this group have just learned to enjoy reading for reading’s sake -short chapter books and series. The older members have moved beyond those chapter books and are yearning for books with more substance. These kids are eyeing the Harry Potter type stories. MG stories tend to be milder, and less controversial – clean language, limited violence, and the love story leads to a crush or a kiss. The protagonist is usually a preteen or young teen.
YA – Young Adult readers, age 13 to 18 years. This age range overlaps into MG on the young side, and into Adult on the upper. YA includes 8th to 12th grades. Heaven forbid – they’re teenagers; gasp. YA stories tend to be edgier, more controversial – profanity, graphic violence, romance and some sexuality (up to a point). With a teen or a young adult as the protagonist, YA stories often take on current social problems and issues.
Olivia’s Story falls into the MG range, although the protagonist is a young woman, not an eighth grader. It is milder, with clean language and limited violence. There is a love story, presented with a G-movie rating, and secondary to the action. That said, Olivia’s Story does resonate with real-world problems. Today’s pre-teen is bombarded with news stories. Every day she hears of evil events occurring somewhere in the world. At home, disparate groups incessantly argue and fight. War, riots, shootings, murder, muggings, terror – these are the operative words for today. At times the magnitude of world chaos and terror parallels the runup to WWII.
Confronted with such a confused and troubled world; facing seemingly insurmountable odds, the pre-teen can quickly feel overwhelmed. What can she do?
In Olivia’s Story, a young woman from Wyoming, faced with an overwhelming problem, finds a solution. Working with an alliance of fairy kingdoms, she sets out to overcome an evil Ginn, and by so doing saves the world. The story teaches that people of vastly different cultures can work together to defeat evil forces in the world.
As bad as things can seem to be, working together we can succeed.
David L Dahl.
Leave me a comment, follow me on Twitter @buggasbooks, or like me on Facebook.
Read more about Olivia’s Story here – http://www.buggasbooks.com/book/olivias-story/
Read about my other books here- http://www.buggasbooks.com/other-works/