Grown-ups always need explanations...

This week I've had a lovely peek at HarperCollins and Holiday House, a squizz at JP Morgan's personal library (and his custom-made vault for Precious Items), and a glimpse into the mind of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry.

I showed my masterpiece to the grown-ups, and asked them whether the drawing frightened them. But they answered: "Frighten? Why should any one be frightened by a hat?" My drawing was not a picture of a hat. It was a picture of a boa constrictor digesting an elephant. But since the grown-ups were not able to understand it, I made another drawing: I drew the inside of a boa constrictor, so that the grown-ups could see it clearly. They always need to have things explained.

I showed my masterpiece to the grown-ups, and asked them whether the drawing frightened them.
But they answered: "Frighten? Why should any one be frightened by a hat?"
My drawing was not a picture of a hat. It was a picture of a boa constrictor digesting an elephant. But since the grown-ups were not able to understand it, I made another drawing: I drew the inside of a boa constrictor, so that the grown-ups could see it clearly. They always need to have things explained.

After these glorious weeks of talking to all and sundry about young-adult fiction - what it is, how it's changed, what it might be becoming - I have to confess it was quite refreshing to read the following caption, discussing the classification of The Little Prince when it was first published ...

'Was it juvenile literature, or a fable for adults? In early advertisements, the publisher embraced this ambiguity: "As far as we are concerned, it is the new book by Saint-Exupéry."'

I know why categories are essential - to publishers, to booksellers, to librarians, to readers - but every now and then it seems as if it might be very nice to just swim around in a sea of unclassified 'books' for a while. What would happen if we hid the inside of the boa constrictor and let people draw their own conclusions? (Although that would seriously curtail my fellowship report: To Whom it May Concern, it is my conclusion that young-adult fiction does not exist, yours very sincerely, Susannah.)

When will I be getting my three storey library with the hidden staircases? Is the answer: after I 'dominate corporate finance and industrial consolidation'? NUTS. http://www.themorgan.org 

When will I be getting my three storey library with the hidden staircases? Is the answer: after I 'dominate corporate finance and industrial consolidation'? NUTS. http://www.themorgan.org 

More evidence of my people.

More evidence of my people.

Tomorrow, I fly off to Bologna for the children's book fair. I am very excited, and rather trepidatious. Reporting from the field will be dependent on wifi availability. But I expect to get back to New York for the final weeks of my stay with all sorts of thoughts about international trends in YA - what people are looking for, what they are selling, what they never want to see any more of again ever. I also hope to have few thoughts on regional Italian food. Eeeexcellent.