Friday, 1 June 2012

Interview - The one where Little M calls adults normal!

Example of age banding on a YA book cover

We've been running a blog series on the boundaries in Young Adult (YA) and teen fiction featuring various views from new and edgy authors as well bloggers. We've been discussing what makes a YA novel Young Adult rather than Adult. 

To wrap the series up, the discussion comes back home.  I've asked Little M (who is 12) what she thinks about YA content:
M: What do you think the difference is between younger children’s books and YA/teen books?

Little M: It depends on the type of book. Like Michael Morpurgo compared to the Twilight series - they have completely different types of speech, different happenings, different concepts. Twilight is more about romance and Morpurgo is usually about helping animals in the war. The younger books are more childish and the YAs are more grown-up.

M: Do you think all YA books are appropriate for all teenagers?

Little M: I don’t know.  I don’t really know all the book types.  All the teenage books I’ve seen are appropriate.

M: What do you think about swearing in books?

Little M: I think sometimes you need it if it’s in a situation where it’s needed but not in every single sentence that they say.

M: What do you think about violence in books?

Little M: It depends what type. Some books are based on violence like The Hunger Games. But others like Divergent don’t need as much violence. I’m trying to think of a book that has violence but doesn’t need it….

M: Well, if you did read one that had it in, what would you think about that?

Little M: I’d think that the author maybe needed to put something more exciting in the book -  but it didn’t work.

M: Do you think that age ratings on book covers would be useful?

Little M: Yeah, I think they would be useful if you could actually see them.  They’re like tiny on the back. It gives a bit of guidance to people who might not know what the author’s writing style is like. Say you’re 12 and you want to start reading teenager type of books and you don’t know where to start then you can see age ratings for books and if you look at that book you can go, “Oh I like it” and then read it.

M: But would an age rating of 11 or 10 put you off?

Little M: It depends on the blurb as well and the first few pages.  If the blurb sounds pretty dull or too childish for your likings then maybe you don’t read it.

Example of a Hot Key Ring from Hot Key Books
M: I like this idea from Hot Key Books but what do you think of the Hot Key Ring for content guidance rather than an age rating (see image above)?

Little M: It looks really good but you would still need the age guidance. Because, say you had 30% Science and 15% Romance and 15% Magic, it doesn’t tell you if it’s an adult book or a child’s book. It could be like a massive adult crime scene compared to a Maximum Ride type of book. The kid’s one will be easier to read in writing style and it won’t have as much in the violence or swear words.

M: Do you think there is anything that shouldn’t be in a teen book?

Little M: It depends what type of teen book. If it’s like a 13-14, then a bit less violence, romance and that’s about it.  But then maybe in a 15 up, just normal – like adult.

M: So then what’s the difference between YA and Adult?

Little M: By the time I’m 15 I probably won’t be reading as many Young Adult books but reading more Adult books.

M: Have you got some favourite books that you would recommend for 12 year olds?

Little M:
The Maximum Ride series - James Patterson.

His Dark Materials (all 3 books) - Philip Pullman

War Horse – Michael Morpurgo

Wonder – RJ Palacio

The Hunger Games – Suzanne Collins

Between Shades of Gray – Ruta Sepetys

My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece – Annabel Pitcher


Thank you to everyone who has taken part in this blog series: authors Sita Brahmachari, Savita KalhanBryony Pearce, Miriam Halahmy and blogger Jim Dean (YA Yeah Yeah). And this is where I started it all off.


  1. Fab interview with some great answers!!! It's cool to hear what a 12-year-old thinks of young adult books :) I'm 15 but I don't read a lot of adult books - I don't enjoy them as much as YA but Jodi Picoult's novels are AMAZING!

    1. Really i thought adult books would be more exciting :)

  2. This has been an interesting series and I have enjoyed reading it. Little M, you remind me of my kiddo when she was your age (she's 24 now) because you both love to read and she liked to talk about the books she was reading. I like your choices, and agree you will probably move on to adult books by your mid-teens. Well, you will read some great YA books in the meantime, but will find there are also great adult books when you get there (there are some really bad ones, but my advice - don't waste your time trying to read through a bad one, so go find a good book.)
    But keeping reading, Little M and sharing with your mom.

  3. Great comments and wonderful to hear the voice of a twelve year old on such important matters. As a Y.A. author I feel uplifted!

    1. That's wonderful to hear Miriam; and thank you for taking part in our blog series. Your books deal with some very important issues. It's also great to see authors engaging with the nitty-gritty debates about their books :)

      Miriam's post can be read here:


Hi there! We'd love to hear what you think. Please leave a comment. You need to fill out the word captcha too because of spam. Your comment will be visible after approval.