This afternoon I read Ellen Klages's YA novel, THE GREEN GLASS SEA. This book, which won the prestigious Scott O'Dell award for young adult literature, is about two eleven-year-old girls who live at Los Alamos with their scientist fathers during the Manhattan Project. Both girls are social misfits, very bright, and imaginative -- not unlike many of us SF fans as children. It's a terrific book, ending with the atom bomb detonations at Trinity and then Hiroshima, as only half-understood through the eyes of children.
What I noticed about the book, quite apart from enoying it, is how much it differs from the fantasies that are read by all the 12-16-year-old I know. The Harry Potter books and their clones are all fast-paced, fantastical, full of dangerous and wild adventures. GREEN GLASS SEA is very slow-paced, quiet, focussed on things like building a crystal radio and learning to trust a friend. All the drama concening the bomb happens off-stage -- way off-stage. So as I finished the book, I had to wonder -- do kids like this book as much as I do? Maybe they do. If not, do adults then give awards to books they think kids ought to like?
I have no answers to this. But I'm going to give GREEN GLASS SEA to a 15-year-old I know and see what she thinks.