Of diaries and YA literature
One of the most famous diaries to have been kept by a teenager has to be thirteen-year-old Anne Frank’s Diary, maintained during World War II. Years later it continues to be powerful. ( In fact her lesser known writings were published last year – Tales from the Secret Annexe, a collection of short stories, fables, personal reminiscences, and an unfinished novel, Cady’s Life. )
Recently the diary form has caught the imagination of many writers. An influential factor on this genre has been Jeff Kinney’s Wimpy Kid series. The story began online but was soon published as a diary, with scribbles and illustrations taking nearly 50% of the space in the book. Earlier this month, the latest volume, Hard Luck, was published. According to the publishers, Penguin Books India, it immediately zipped to the top and is No. 1. It is understandable. Frank conversations, angst about “losing” a friend to a girl friend, bullying etc. It is fun to read. In fact the moment a mother saw the book in my hand, she pushed off to the bookstore to buy her daughter a copy!
According to the promotional poster for the book this is a book that has done exceedingly well. Yet there are other titles in this genre for young adults. Some of the recent ones are: Shamini Flint’s diaries of sports “men” ( Diary of a Soccer Star, Diary of a Cricket God, and Diary of a Taekwondo Star); Paro Anand’s The Secret Diary of the World’s Worst Genius and a favourite of mine – Mayil will not be quiet ( by Niveditha Subramanian and Soumya Rajendran). The latter was shortlisted for the Crossword Book Award for children’s literature but never won. (Actually no one won that year!) It is a sensitively told book, touching upon various issues dear to a teenager, whose hormones are already out of control but is a sharp and perceptive observer of the world around them. Some of the challenges that can bewilder anyone, especially a teenager, are of sexual attraction, recognition of domestic violence victims but how to address it, privacy and basic social arrangements. It is very well told, sensitively too, without being patronising and can easily be accepted especially in the Indian milieu.
Oh! And how can I forget the Hank Zipser series, which follows the “everyday adventures of a bright boy with learning challenges”. ( http://www.hankzipzer.com/ ) Written and based upon Henry Winkler’s dyslexia, these books have been on the New York Time’s bestseller list as well. Stories worth reading. ( FYI: Henry Winkler played the role of Fonz in the long-running and hugely popular TV series, Happy Days.) In fact in September 2013, CBBC announced that a new show, “Hank Zipser”, has been commissioned. It will feature Henry Winkler in it. ( http://www.bbc.co.uk/mediacentre/latestnews/2013/hank-zipzer-announced.html )