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Thursday, February 24, 2005

Yeah, I'd call it fiction.

Francesca Lia Block's Los Angeles is a glittering dream world of "stained-glass Marilyn Monroes shining in the trees, leopard-spotted cars, gardens full of pink poison oleander," where the pollution makes for extra-beautiful sunsets. It is also the home of Weetzie Bat, the heroine of Ms. Block's highly successful books for young adults.

Weetzie Bat wears vintage clothes decorated with sparkles. She has a boyfriend she calls "My Secret Agent Lover Man." They live with Dirk, Weetzie's gay best friend, his lover, Duck, and Weetzie's daughter, Cherokee, possibly conceived during group sex with Dirk and Duck. There is also Witch Baby, Lover Man's child with a witch. The family works in the movie business. And they become involved with seamier elements of Los Angeles: rough sex, pimps and drugs.

This may not seem like a conventional young-adult book or something to be promoted by your local library. But in January, the Young Adult Library Services Association of the American Library Association announced that Ms. Block was being given the Margaret A. Edwards Award for lifetime achievement, sponsored by School Library Journal. The award's web site (www.ala.org) says it "recognizes an author's work in helping adolescents become aware of themselves and addressing questions about their role" in society.

Re: the highlighted phrase: Gee, you think?

Aware of themselves? Addressing questions about their role?

*GAG*

Based on the above description, the world of Ms. Block's series is as much a fantasy as Joanne K. Rowling's Harry Potter series. After all, there are plenty of coming-of-age lessons that don't change just because you live in a concealed world of magic, right?

Here's an important life lesson that should be communicated to children at all times. Your role in society will probably be something that no one will want to write a book about, or translate to film. Despite that, your life will be successful. You will have a job, good friends, a special someone, a home, a community, interests, and hobbies.

I know it sounds bad, but it's part of being an adult.

The lessons communicated in Ms. Block's writing are not something I'd want young adults reading.

Many years ago, I remember reading books in the Encyclopedia Brown series, and I remember thinking "Idaville is a lot more interesting than my town." But I learned to accept that, and you know what? Life was fine.

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