Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Sheep Are Not Little Cows

The first half of my graduate education was spent in a laboratory on the top floor of the Animal Sciences Building at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. One day, I overheard a scientist say, “Sheep are not little cows.” Later, I asked my advisor if there was a deeper meaning to this apparently obvious statement. He explained that cattle are expensive to feed and house, even in America’s Dairyland, so some scientists study sheep and try to apply the results to cattle. But sheep differ from cattle in significant ways.

Teens differ from adults in significant ways. Although we persist in referring to teens as young adults, no writer in this genre should be lulled into complacency by that misnomer.

I almost always enjoy the mysteries of a well-known writer whose name I won’t mention. He is the author of over 60 books and more than 50 have been bestsellers. Recently he has written a couple books for the YA market. My first reaction was, “Can’t you stick to your own playground?” Breaking into the YA market is tough enough without competition like that. I tried to read his first YA novel, but couldn’t make much headway. I recently checked out the second and again had to put it down.


The teens in these books seem like adults who haven’t finished growing, filling out or going to high school. They have teenage bodies, but not teenage voices.

On the other hand, when I learned this author has a new mystery for adults, I raced to my library’s webpage to reserve it. The local library system bought 36 copies. All are checked out, and 20 holds have been placed ahead of me.

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