Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Guest Post: Barbara Dee

photo credit: Randy Matusow

Please welcome Barbara Dee, author of Trauma Queen, to GreenBeanTeenQueen! I love her guest post about tweens and the library. This is exactly why I hope more libraries start to provide programs and books just for tweens!

Switching Rooms at the Library

When I was twelve years old, I ran out of books.

This was a big disaster for me, because I was the type of kid who lived at the public library. We had a pretty decent children’s collection—in fact, if I close my eyes right now, I can see where they shelved Harriet the Spy, A Wrinkle in Time, Pippi Longstocking, The Black Stallion, Beezus and Ramona, and all the Little House books. These books felt like my closest friends, and I read them all a gazillion times each.

Really, I loved everything about the Children’s Room—not just the books but the shaggy red rug and the oversized chairs and the smiling librarians. But one day, I realized I’d outgrown that cozy room. And that meant my only option was—gulp!—the grown-up section.

This was a major move. Back when I was twelve, we didn’t have a YA Room. YA wasn’t even a separate genre—either you were reading Harriet the Spy, or you were reading John le CarrĂ©.

So for a long time I wandered aimlessly around the Adult Room, which didn’t have a shaggy red rug and oversized chairs, and which had books that either scared me (Jaws) or didn’t interest me (The Winds of War) or just seemed embarrassingly romantic (anything by Georgette Heyer or Barbara Cartland).

For a kid who lived in the library, I was suddenly feeling homeless.

And then one day a librarian I didn’t know walked over and handed me a book. “Here,” she said. “Try this.” Then she walked away.

I stared at the book. It looked weird. A crazily-drawn horse on the cover, and a funny title. The Catcher in the Rye. Huh? What did that even mean? Why had she given me this book? Did she think this was the sort of thing I’d left the Children’s Room to read? Was she joking, or something?

Actually, she was right. I loved that book from the opening sentence. I didn’t get everything that happened in the plot, but I knew I was in the right section of the library.

Even so, it was a long time before I felt truly at home in that new section. Switching rooms in the library can be a long, tricky process, even now. Most public libraries have YA Rooms overflowing with wonderful books perfect for teens. But when you’re a tween—roughly defined as 9-13, although the definition is fuzzy—sometimes you aren’t ready for the darkest, edgiest YA stuff, and just browsing the YA shelves can feel uncomfortable. I remember when my own three kids hit this tricky period at the library, too old for the “babyish” Children’s Room (and for most books considered MG), but weirded out by the stuff in YA. That’s why I decided to write for tweens—to do what I could to bridge the sections.

At my wonderful local library, the YA Room has embraced tween fiction. And not just books for those awkward in-betweeners—our Head of Teen Services, Zahra Mirjehan Baird, has expanded the whole concept of library. We have Video Gaming competitions and knitting classes and test prep and anime film festivals. There’s even a big red sofa full of squishy embroidered pillows, where you can cuddle up with a great book and read all afternoon.

Very welcoming. Homey. Maybe I’ll go live there.

Thanks for sharing Barbara!

Want to win a Trauma Queen Prize Pack?

Three lucky winners will receive one copy of TRAUMA QUEEN by Barbara Dee along with a limited edition t-shirt! To enter, send an e-mail to TQgiveaway@gmail.com. In the body of the e-mail, include your name and e-mail address (if you're under 13, have a parent enter for you). One entry per person and prizes will only be shipped to US or Canadian addresses. Entries must be received by midnight (PDT) on 5/13/11. Winners will be selected in a random drawing on 5/14/11 and notified via email.

Barbara is a featured author on a new website called VYou. Readers can submit questions and chat with her! Just go to: http://vyou.com/barbaradee

Barbara Dee's next stop on the tour is The OWL for YA at http://owlforya.blogspot.com/.


  1. Great guest post! I can remember transitioning from Children's to YA (we had two bookcases of "YA") to Adult, as well, and how hard it was to filter out the books that I really wanted to read. They seemed to be a mix from everywhere in my tween years. Tamora Pierce - Childrens...Piers Anthony - adult...Nancy Drew - YA...

  2. Great interview! I remember the same - no much YA. I went straight to Mary Higgins Clark novels.

  3. What a great post! I SO remember this feeling, too, at a similar age. I was a Nancy Drew reader and my librarian introduced me to Agatha Christie and Arthur Conan Doyle--never looked back :) Thanks for the memories, Barbara!

  4. It is for this exact reason that we're having a Tweens at the Library night next month to introduce tweens to the teen section and booktalk some of the great tween-appropriate books we have for them there. (And to hang out and have fun, naturally!)

  5. Thanks, everybody! I think one of the MANY ways libraries serve communities is by making tweens and teens feel welcome and appreciated!


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