Lili Wilkinson, Stonewall Book Award Honoree

July 25th, 2012 • Kate

As you may recall, in January at the ALA Midwinter convention, I was thrilled to hear that Lili Wilkinson‘s PINK was a Stonewall Honor book. Recently, at the ALA Annual convention, the awards were given out, and though neither Lili nor I could be there to accept the honor, her amazing editor Anne Hoppe of HarperCollins read a statement on her behalf, which is reprinted on the Page Turn blog. It’s well worth a read, but here’s a quick tease:

But I got to thinking. I’d read books about gay teenagers. Not many, certainly. But I had read a few – David’s not least among them. But I couldn’t think of any books I’d read about the teenagers who aren’t sure. And really, who’s sure about anything when they’re sixteen? I wanted to write a book for those teenagers. I wanted to write a book that said – there are some things you never have to definitively decide on. You don’t ever have to put yourself in a closed-off, past-the-point-of-no-return box, and you really don’t have to do it when you’re sixteen. It’s okay if you’re not sure.

So I wrote Pink.

Books about girls often don’t win awards. We focus a lot of our attention on getting boys reading. I visited an all-girls secondary school recently where not one book was studied that featured a female protagonist. And funny books with pink covers are even less likely to catch the attention of academics and awards judges. When you get home, have a look at how much academic analysis there is of authors like Meg Cabot, Maureen Johnson, Cathy Cassidy or Louise Rennison. Is it because their books are shallow and insubstantial? Cabot’s The Princess Diaries is about a teenage environmentalist who brings democracy to a small European principality. Just because a book is funny and romantic, doesn’t mean it has nothing to say.

Someone asked me the other day why all of my books feature strong, female protagonists. Confused, I repeated what Joss Whedon had said when he was asked the same thing: “Because you’re still asking me that question.”

Go on, click through to read the whole thing.

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3 Responses to “Lili Wilkinson, Stonewall Book Award Honoree”

  1. lexacain Says:

    Wow. Her comments are so deep. I wasn't aware women writing about girl protagonists weren't winning awards. What a depressing thought. But at least they're getting readers – probably far more than the awarded boy protag books. Just because their books aren't "recognized" doesn't mean they aren't changing the world with their writing.

  2. EFrance Says:

    Absolutely AWESOME. That pink, pretty books can have something to say. That we shouldn't be asking why writers feature "strong girls." That not being sure is totally okay. Awesome. Thanks for posting…

  3. Rebecca Petruck Says:

    LOVE.