Blogger: Etta Wilson
Location: Books & Such Nashville Office
Weather: Hot and sticky
Young readers’ enthusiasm still thrills me. From the time most of them first discover they can decipher those symbols on the page and glean meaning from them, they are in love with words and with easy reader series like the Berenstain Bears. The more rabid young reader simply can’t get enough of stories about a favorite character or group. Thus a series is born in response to eager readers. Many series characters have become cultural icons–Nancy Drew, the Hardy Boys, the Boxcar Children, Beverly Cleary’s Ramona books and Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House series, to name just a few.
For the slightly older and young teen readers, the American Girl Series blossomed, and Francine Pascal began the Sweet Valley High series followed by Ann Martin’s Baby-Sitters Club series. Note that as the readers mature, the series tend to be more for girls (the Matt Christopher Sports Series to the contrary), while boys at this age lean more toward comics.
That still is generally true, but the arrival of the Harry Potter books changed things. I’m not sure exactly who the target age or gender was. Maybe J.K. Rowling had a specific group in mind, but the series exploded from early middle schoolers through adults. And I wonder where and when the decision was made to publish in hardcover rather than the usual paperback format of most series.
In short, from picture book series like Maisy and Arthur to Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight Saga Series, we seem to be in a humongous flurry of series publishing by big publishers. I suspect that’s due to several factors: The publisher has a pattern for editing and production from one book to the next and the time required for negotiating terms is minimized. The author has many of the story elements worked out as well as the security of knowing a contract has been agreed on.
Most series do reach their limit in one way or another, and authors can only hope that the generation coming along will like their series as well as the one in place when it was first written.
What were your favorite series growing up?