Category Archives: New releases

Retro reads

Ig Publishing, a small New York press, is re-releasing vintage young adult fiction. The new imprint is called Lizzie Skurnick Books, named for the editor of the titles. Details are here.

Among Skurnick’s impressive gigs: author of books from the Sweet Valley High, Love Stories, and Alias series. Award-winning poet. Writer/commentator on books and culture. And YA maven. (Read about her here.)

Skurnick will bring back old YA favorites from writers such as Lois Duncan and M.E. Kerr. Does the publisher think teens are going to stampede stores for books once read by their mothers? Nope.

Not me! I could never get bangs that high. Trust me, I tried.

Not me! I could never get bangs that high. Trust me, I tried.

The target market is me. The company is betting women will devour those old stories. My friends and I are now nearly 40 somethings with insatiable cravings for nostalgia. We drink wine together, and conversation inevitably turns retro. (And men think we talk about men? Hah.)

We came of age in the conservative Reagan culture. We had synthesized music, the Brat Pack, and the most horrific perms. We shared a love of books. Those YA novels gave us momentary escape from teen horror stories – from prom dates gone bad to acne at homecoming to crushes that would never, ever blossom. And those horrific perms.

YA stories reaffirmed our world and perspective, which was particularly important since our parents had no clue about real life and could not relate to us and did not trust us with the car past midnight even though we’d shown incredible responsibility despite that one accident and also they did not understand things we suffered like shaker sweaters and Aqua Net and banana clips.

Just thinking about it makes me want to slam my bedroom door.

Now many of those books will be back: Summer of Fear by Lois Duncan, To All My Fans, With Love, From Sylvie by Ellen Conford, and Me and Fat Glenda by Lila Perl are on the initial list.

I hope those titles are already on their way to the bookstore. Otherwise I’ll totally have to take a chill pill so I don’t yell at people, eat my shorts! Because that, Ms. Skurnick, would barf you out.


Beautiful Music for Ugly Children

My friend Kirstin Cronn-Mills has a new book on the shelves. It’s called Beautiful Music for Ugly Children, a title I love. The book is rich with music references. The main character has a show on community radio, and his cool neighbor still plays records on a turntable. It brings back memories of hanging out with my grandparents, eating orange sherbet, and listening to their favorite songs.  “Tiny Bubbles.” “Crazy.” “I Never Promised You a Rose Garden.” What a kick.

Kirstin came up with so many catchy lines for this book. They’re on stickers and bookmarks and cards. My favorite sticker is on the back of my computer. It reads, “Whatever Turns Your Turntable.”

Beautiful Music for Ugly Children is written for older teens, so you won’t find it in middle school libraries. But when you do find it, grab it. Read it. Repeat.

And check out her cool web site.