My library finally e-mailed me the news that David Small’s Stitches was nestled on a shelf with my name neatly tucked into its pages. About freakin time.
As always, I did the responsible thing and disregarded the 25 book reading list for my upcoming class, scrunched into bed, and opened up Stitches to its dramatic, ink soaked first page.
Now lets face it. I expected it to be a beautiful book. Small has more than proved his artistic brilliance. Stitches’ lively and sometimes terrifying images stay with you long after the book has been closed but geez how many more articles can we read about that.
“But, Kristin”, you say, “didn’t you just claim in that previous dull post that you are interested in children’s books?!” And, alas, dear fictitious reader, you are correct. While Stitches is published by the adult W.W. Norton & Co and you will most likely find it in your library’s adult Nonfiction (possibly their Graphic Novel section if they are hip and with it), this book has YA written all over it. Apparently I am not the only genius throwing around this idea since the ALA’s Alex Awards recognized it as an adult book with YA appeal, but I was still rather flabbergasted when my local librarian gawfawed at me when I suggested its potential as a YA book.
No one is going around saying that Stitches is a roaring good time. Yet young readers eat dismal stories for breakfast. They love that stuff. Small’s moments of childhood frustration, neglect, and fearfulness hit home with young readers and are similar to emotions seen in YA realism. For librarians, Stitches arises the issue of how much do we restrict the subject matter of books that we hand to young readers? Is it irresponsible to give a 14 year old a book that question’s adult voices and shows blurry images of nudity or is it even more irresponsible to limit their view of these truths of our world? I’m in the mindset that it is pretty naïve of an adult to think that teenagers have not already discovered these things on their own and if they already know the world why not give them books that are amazing. Ones that potentially aid in their negotiation with this ugly beautiful world.
My biggest hope is that some nerdy kid will be pursuing the super hip library’s Graphic Novel section and pick it up. In the least, they will leave the book stoked that their grandmother is not trying to set ablaze dear old grandpa. That’s an uplifting thought.