YA, NA and MG Fiction Defined With Recommendations

Most readers will be familiar with the genre of books referred to as YA, but what about NA and MG?

Young Adult (YA)Eleanor & Park
YA fiction generally contains novels written for readers aged in their teens, or more specifically between the ages of 13 and 20. The stories feature teenage protagonists and often explore themes of identity and coming-of-age. Having said that, YA novels can be from any genre, science fiction, contemporary, fantasy, romance, paranormal etc. Some popular YA novels include the Harry Potter series, Hunger Games series, Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell, and The Book Thief by Markus Zusak.

Middle Grade (MG)
MG novels are generally written for readers aged between 8-12 years, with main characters less than 13 years of age. Themes can include: school, parents, relationship with siblings and friends, being good or misbehaving. Just like every genre, some MG books can have an underlying message (e.g. be kind to animals).

Some examples of popular MG novels include: Diary of a Wimpy Kid series by Jeff Kinney, Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan, Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl.

New Adult (NA)A Court of Thorns and Roses
NA fiction is a relatively new genre in publishing, and in my opinion grew from the popularity of adult audiences reading and enjoying YA novels (Twilight and The Fault in Our Stars). The genre is situated between YA and adult fiction and protagonists are generally between 18-30 years of age. Themes include leaving home, starting university, choosing a career, sex and sexuality.

Some popular NA novels include: Slammed by Colleen Hoover (called CoHo by her fans), The Night Circus by Erin MorgensternA Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas and The Elephant Tree by R.D. Ronald.

On my TBR ListInheritance
I have a number of books on my to-be-read pile from the genres mentioned above, including: Inheritance by Christopher Paolini, Matilda by Roald Dahl, Reasons She Goes to the Woods by Deborah Kay Davies, The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman, The Original Folk and Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm: The Complete First Edition by Jacob Grimm, The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly by Stephanie Oakes and 100 Cupboards by N. D. Wilson. What’s on your list?

Whether you enjoy MG, YA or NA fiction, the most important thing is that you don’t allow yourself to become pigeon-holed. Enjoy your reading, keep an open mind and explore new authors. You never know where your next favourite book might come from.

Australian Classic Read-Along

There are just too many Australian classics I haven’t read and I’m sure I’m not alone on this one. I always have the intention of getting to them, but there are so many other great books and new releases clambering for attention on my TBR (to-be-read) pile, that it’s difficult to achieve.

Does anyone else in the Boomerang Books community feel the same way? If you do, would you like to participate in an Australian Classic Read-Along?

How would it work?
First we’d need some suggestions in order to come up with a range of Australian classics to choose from. Depending on your feedback and requests, we can then determine the most popular/requested novel. I’ll create a reading schedule for us and each week we can discuss our thoughts online here on the Boomerang Books Blog by leaving comments on the weekly posts.

Advantages of a read-alongBoomerang-Books Australian Classic Read along
A read-along can inspire you to read a book (in this case an Australian classic) you’ve always been meaning to read.  You’ll enjoy the bookish conversation and feel like you’re part of a reading club. You might even meet likeminded booklovers like yourself.

What should we read?
That’s up to you, what would you like to read? You can click here and browse books from some of these lists, but some suggestions to get us started could include: The Power of One by Bryce Courtenay, My Brilliant Career by Miles Franklin, Picnic At Hanging Rock by Joan Lindsay or The Harp In The South by Ruth Park.

We could also choose a contemporary Australian classic, such as: The Slap by Christos Tsiolkas or The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. The possibilities and choices are endless.

Suggestions welcome
Now it’s over to you. Are you keen to read an Australian classic with likeminded readers or know someone who is?

Leave your novel suggestions below and we’ll see if we can drum up some interest. You can also make your request on Twitter, just use the hashtag #bbooksreadalong and don’t forget to tag us @boomerangbooks

According to Mark Twain, a classic is: a book which people praise and don’t read. Let’s see if we can change that!

No. 21 – Most Popular Aussie Novels of All Time

We surveyed our customers to discover the Most Popular Aussie Novels of all time – we’re counting down the Top 24 Novels between now and Christmas Eve…

At #21 – The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

22.7% of all respondents have read this book

Synopsis for The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

It is 1939. Nazi Germany. The country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier, and will become busier still. Liesel Meminger and her younger brother are being taken by their mother to live with a foster family outside Munich. Liesel’s father was taken away on the breath of a single, unfamiliar word – Kommunist – and Liesel sees the fear of a similar fate in her mother’s eyes. On the journey, death visits the young boy, and notices Liesel. It will be the first of many near encounters. By her brother’s graveside, Liesel’s life is changed when she picks up a single object, partially hidden in the snow. It is The Gravedigger’s Handbook, left there by accident, and it is her first act of book thievery. So begins a love affair with books and words, as Liesel, with the help of her accordion-playing foster father, learns to read. Soon she is stealing books from Nazi book-burnings, the mayor’s wife’s library, wherever there are books to be found. But these are dangerous times. When Liesel’s foster family hides a Jewish fist-fighter in their basement, Liesel’s world is both opened up, and closed down.

Awards for The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

  • 2006 – Commonwealth Writers Prize for Best Book (South East Asia & South Pacific
  • 2006 – Horn Book Fanfare
  • 2006 – Kirkus Reviews Editor Choice Award
  • 2006 – School Library Journal Best Book of the Year
  • 2006 – Daniel Elliott Peace Award
  • 2006 – Publishers Weekly Best Children Book of the Year
  • 2006 – Booklist ChildrenEditors’ Choice
  • 2006 – Bulletin Blue Ribbon Book
  • 2007 – Boeke Prize
  • 2007 – ALA Best Books for Young Adults
  • 2007 – Michael L. Printz Honor Book
  • 2007 – Book Sense Book of the Year
  • 2009 – Pacific Northwest Young Readers Choice Master List

Source: Wikipedia

About Markus Zusak (Books by Markus Zusak…)

Markus Frank Zusak (born 23 June 1975) is an Australian author. He is best known for his books The Messenger (published in USA as I Am the Messenger) and The Book Thief, which have been international bestsellers.

Zusak was born in Sydney, the son of an Austrian house painter father and a German mother. He is the youngest of four children. As he was growing up, he heard stories about Nazi Germany, the bombing of Munich, and Jews being marched through the small German town in which his mother lived. These stories inspired him to write The Book Thief.

Zusak was inspired to write after reading the books The Old Man and the Sea and What’s Eating Gilbert Grape. He started writing when he was sixteen and his first book, The Underdog, was published seven years later.

Zusak lives in Sydney with his wife and daughter. He enjoys surfing and watching movies in his spare time.

Source: Wikipedia

The List so far…

#21 – The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

#22 – Dirt Music by Tim Winton

#23 – Breath by Tim Winton

#24 – So Much to Tell You by John Marsden

CBCA NSW 2010: Markus Zusak previews new novel, BRIDGE OF CLAY

One of our favourite Tweeps, @tyecat, with Markus Zusak

The Conference’s other ‘International Star’ Markus Zusak stopped by on the second day and gave attendees a preview of his latest novel – the epically titled Bridge of Clay. My memory is pretty lousy, which is great, because it means this post will be kept relatively spoiler-free.

Of course, if you don’t want to know anything about the novel’s opening, then don’t read on.

Things we know for sure about Bridge of Clay:
– It’s pretty good.
– The protagonist is female.
– She is on the cusp of womanhood, so either 18 or 21 – I’m tempted to go with 18 because of the brief reference to ‘hitting the town’ to celebrate. Of course, I don’t know where this is set, if it’s the United States, then she’s almost 21.
– She’s good at jigsaw puzzles – in fact, she makes sense of the world as if it were a giant jigsaw puzzle, with the puzzle pieces/memories figuratively falling from the sky.
– She’s waiting for a boy, the same boy Zusak mentioned in his interview with The Guardian:

I’m writing a book called Bridge of Clay – about a boy building a bridge and wanting it to be perfect. He wants to achieve greatness with this bridge, and the question is whether it will survive when the river floods.

– Did I say it was ‘pretty good’? I probably should have said ‘excellent’. He silenced the hundreds of attendees with a brief passage. Well, until they broke out into applause.

He also read from one of his oldest creative writing attempts, one of the most unintentionally hilarious bits of creative writing I’ve ever had read to me in my life. The fact that Markus had the guts to read from it – and laugh at it with us – that really captures his character perfectly. Here’s someone who has experienced an unfathomable amount of success, and yet, has been absolutely unaffected by his own hype. I fear meeting authors I admire because they mightn’t be everything I imagined they’d be, but in the two times I’ve met Markus and heard him speak, my admiration is not only in tact, but intensified.

Boomerang at the 2010 CBCA Imagine This! Imagine That! Conference

Boomerang Books is proud to announce that this weekend, not only is a member of our Boomerang Books blogging team speaking at the sold-out 2010 Children’s Book Council of Australia NSW Branch Conference, but we’ll be live-blogging the two-day event – with scheduled appearances by the big names in Australian children’s writing, including Libby Gleeson, Glenda Millard, Libby Hathorn, Jackie French, Melina Marchetta, Markus Zusak, Margaret Wild, Julie Vivas and Shaun Tan.

For program information, click here. Sad you can’t make it? Itching to ask a particular author a question? Well, send me an email, and I’ll not only be your eyes and ears at the Conference, but I’ll be your mouth.

The Book Burglar Meets The Book Thief

Considering the similarity of themes, titles, and habits (that is, a girl who steals books), it’s somewhat surprising that I hadn’t, until recently, read The Book Thief.

I know, I know. Given that it’s sold bucket loads in Australia, I must have been one of the only Australians not to have read it. But judging a book by its cover, I found the cover pretty bland. I’m naturally suspicious of any book that’s on the Top 100 Books list of the tried-to-pull-a-swifty-on-the-publishing-industry Angus & Robertson retail chain. And a book about a little German girl who steals books during WWII sounded slightly too Anne Frank-derivative and a lot heavier than I could enthuse myself to read.

But I finally succumbed over the Christmas period (mostly to enable me to comment intelligently on it when people pointed out the similarity between its protagonist’s and my own penchant for snatching books) and am pretty pleased I did.

The whole death-as-omniscient-narrator thing grated in the too-slow beginning, but thousands-of-people-can’t-be-wrong logic and Markus Zusak’s unusual turn of phrase kept me reading—as much to try to determine just how he came up with such clever constructions with such a lightness of touch.

Which is where he won me over.

I mightn’t think it’s the best book ever (to be fair to it, my expectations were sky high given the preceding hype) and I might have thought the narrative mechanisms and structures were at times a little twee, but I was impressed by Zusak’s ability to imbue life into (and help me see myself in) a small girl inexplicably driven to acquire books—even when she lacked the literacy skills to read them.

Above and beyond that, I owe Zusak a debt of gratitude for helping explain and justify my almost-physical need to commandeer books. I might not be a young orphan in Nazi Germany who needs books to help make sense of and develop a sense of security in the world, but the book-loving, book-hoarding compulsion transcends countries, languages, and borders. I now understand how a writer in Sydney could craft a story about Nazi Germany based on tales he heard growing up and why the story, which is as much about a love of books as it is about humanity, is selling well.

He might be a grown man writing about a young girl, but methinks that in creating that character, Zusak was channelling (and maybe publicly confessing and embracing) his inner book thief.

Beg, Borrow, Or Steal (But Mostly Only From Family)

Fahrenheit 451It’s dangerous to allow family members to spend any length of time in my room, because any visit invariably leads to the same thing: a casual perusal of my bookshelf followed by an indignant ‘Hey! That’s my book!’

Indeed, I’ve earned something of a reputation among my family for only buying them books I want to read, reading the books before I hand them over, and then feigning innocence when they notice their books on my bookshelf later on. They christened me ‘The Book Burglar’ long before Markus Zusak’s novel of a similar name was penned, but I refuse to apologise for my voracious book appetite and my love of looking after books.

It should be noted that the only people I steal from are my immediate family and that it’s technically not stealing if I paid for the book in the first place. Besides, I’m pretty sure that book thieving runs in the family. Case in point: Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451. I’ve heard that the book’s a classic, a must-read up there with Orwell’s Animal Farm and Huxley’s Brave New World, but I wouldn’t know. My brand, spanking new copy disappeared from my bookshelf before I’d even cracked the spine.

Two years since it disappeared, it’s become something of a bone of contention with my brother (AKA Prime Suspect #1), with the issue raising its ugly head around gift-giving birthdays and Christmas. Ever the peacemaker, my mother maintains that the book’s just slipped down behind something and will turn up. My sister considers it book thief karma. My brother staunchly maintains his innocence (some would say too staunchly). And my insomniac father tries to stay out of it—I’ve awoken at least twice in the wee hours of the morning in recent times to see him sifting through my bookshelf for reading material to consume the hours he can’t sleep. He knows that he’s Prime Suspect #2.

Whether or not I ever get to read Fahrenheit 451 remains to be seen (I refuse to purchase the same book twice and there’s currently no one in my family game to buy it lest they be accused of the crime), but I maintain that book thieving is genetic and if I’m guilty of book theft, so too are my guilty-until-proven-otherwise Fahrenheit 451-thieving family.

But surely I’m not alone in this passion for books? Surely there are others so passionate about books and reading they’re prepared to beg, borrow, or steal (from family members only) to satiate their reading appetite? C’mon. Which books have you commandeered for your bookshelf? Which books have been commandeered from yours? And do you know the whereabouts of my Fahrenheit 451?

Once Upon a Time, There Lived a Book Blogger…

Well, this is exciting.  My very first post in this wonderfully cozy corner of the blogosphere, talking about one of my favourite pastimes in the whole, wide world – books.

About the Blog

‘Poisoned Apples and Smoking Caterpillars’ is geared towards all things fantastical, so this blog’ll include high fantasy; science fiction; gothic Victorian fiction; paranormal fiction; historical and historical fantasy fiction; urban fantasy fiction; fairytales, myths, legends and their retellings… anything magical or removed from our current reality, basically. Fairy godmothers optional, orcs preferred.

The Philosophy Behind the Name

The blog title ‘Poisoned Apples and Smoking Caterpillars’ marries two famous motifs from my all-time favourite tales: no prizes for guessing that ‘Poisoned Apples’ belongs to the Grimm Brothers’ fairytale Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs; the ‘Smoking Caterpillars’ part hails from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll (now more commonly known as Alice in Wonderland).

Make no mistake, however – this isn’t a blog specifically about children’s books. Nor is it specifically a young adult focus. This is a blog that will feature the prim, the pretty, the ugly and the bloody, the innocent and the experienced, in equal measure. Apples and caterpillars are fine by themselves, but if they’re poisoned or smoking…well, it’s a whole different matter, isn’t it?

The Authors  I Tend to Gush About

Philip Pullman’s one of them. C.S. Lewis is another. In terms of Australian authors, I pretty much worship Markus Zusak and Margo Lanagan…and if Tim Winton ever decides to write a fantasy, I’ll gush about him on here too.

The Ideal Blogger-Reader Relationship

If I have any choice about it, I don’t want to be the lone voice echoing inside some endless cavern. I’d love to hear your opinions on what I write; criticism (provided it’s constructive); suggestions for future books; book news and gossip; random stories, and anything else you feel like typing in the comments section. Consider this blog a modern, almost entirely democratic version of the Roman Senate – without that whole ‘betrayal of Caesar’ thing…

A Final Confession

To tell you the truth I was a little nervous, writing this first post. It’s a lot of pressure, particularly as I want to be the best blog hostess I can be. I needn’t have worried – if you’ve ventured here in the first place, it’s likely that you love books just as much as I do.

I think we’re going to get along just fine.

Adelaide Writers Week Day 5 with Amanda McInerney

Markus Zusak

Writers Week day 5 and Adelaide reverts to type –  a blazing hot day with everyone searching for a shady spot!

This afternoon my two daughters and I sat in on the “Meet the Author” session with the improbably youthful looking Marcus Zusak, who had the audience eating out of his hand!!  My daughters were very keen to see him as my eldest (19) had seen him some years before when he visited her English class and the youngest (13) has just about finished reading “The Book Thief”.  Zusak has a very natural and self deprecating way about him and obviously feels very strongly for his book, “The Book Thief”.  He told the very large crowd that the book really came out of stories that his Austrian parents used to tell himself and his siblings about their experiences during the lead up to the war, before they came out to Australia.  Some of the passages in the book, such as when the stepfather gives some bread to a Jew, were directly derived from his parents experiences and he is grateful to them for what he feels is their gift to him, in their stories.  He feels it is a book about people doing beautiful things in ugly times.

He also spoke about some of  the ways he approaches his writing,  trying to write simply, adding small details for authenticity to make the story more vivid to the reader and to try to use something unexpected to maintain momentum in the story.

The audience watching and listening to him was , as I mentioned, very large and entirely captivated as he read the first few pages of his next book, leaving us all keen to read more of it.  He was then available to sign books, which he did with enormous grace, engaging both my daughters – and I assume everyone else – in a little small talk.  No easy task as the lines for his signings were the longest that I have seen all week.

Adelaide Writers Week Day 3 with Amanda McInerney

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Day 3 at Adelaide Writers Week and I could only pop in for a brief visit today.  I was running late and missed the first part of “Trainspotting” author Irvine Welsh’s discussion on his writing experiences, but managed to catch some of the question/answer time.  He was just as I expected him to be – blunt and forthright with that lovely Scottish accent and plenty of swearing.  He answered questions about his characters and how he gets around the issue of setting his books in places that he no longer lives.   This, he says, is sorted by visiting his old stamping grounds and taking old friends to the pub, plying them with drink and then quizzing them!

This was followed by  a panel session entitled “Mystery” with authors Sarah Dunant, Audrey Niffenegger, Sarah Waters and Marcus Zusak.  It was not necessarily about mystery writing, but about the notions of mystery in their work.  Niffenegger spoke of how writing genres seem to be bleeding into each other, to some extent, citing the example of how the simple mystery story is now evolving into a more literary form.  She also stated that she prefers to be a little mysterious in her writing, sometimes leaving things unsaid in order to leave “space” within her work for the reader to interact and, in a way, become complicit with the story.


When the very amusing Marcus Zusak was asked if he felt it necessary to temper ambiguity in his writing for younger people his delightfully refreshing answer was “I dunno!”  He went on to say that it was a mystery to him how he got to Writers Week at all as he seemed to be such a poor judge of the varying merits of his work.  He was unexpectedly surprised that “The Book Thief” was so very popular!   He made no mystery of the narrator and, in fact, states in the book that the concept of mystery clearly bores “Death” who much prefers the machinations behind it.


Dunant told of how the mystery for her is generally in the actual writing as she often has no idea of where the story will take her or of how the characters will develop.  Thus mystery, for her, becomes motivating and exciting and keeps her writing.  On the other hand, Sarah Waters was shocked at this as she could not contemplate sitting down to start a book without having a meticulously planned plot – in fact she often has a definite story ending before she starts! Clearly, there are as many ways for writing novels as there are writers.

CHILDREN’S BOOK WEEK: Sandy Fussell

White Crane “…Why don’t you write proper books?” I’m often asked by friends.

I write on the frontier of Australian story telling. It’s a wild and woolly place. A little bit dangerous even. There are Dragonkeepers and Ranger’s Apprentices. A Book Thief and a Bugalugs Bum Thief. You can go Hunting Elephants or into the Teenage Underground. There’s even a Pencil of Doom and my own Samurai Kids.

I’m a children’s author.

We’re raising the imagination stakes, encouraging a love of reading and opening the door to critical thinking. We’re always entertaining, sometimes educating and often making our readers laugh.

Children and young adults are not easy to write for. They won’t tolerate a story that doesn’t immediately engage their attention nor will they read a tale with an overt lesson. Their own ideas rival the most fantastic of storylines. They have widely ranging reading abilities, life experiences and interests. The youngest of readers need to be handled with care and the older readers exposed to new thought. It’s an enormous challenge and a lot of fun.

When I write for children, I get to tell the stories I want to hear. Another children’s author once told me you write for the age you are inside. So I’m somewhere between ten and fourteen on any given day. I think that’s about right. I also enjoy being able to regularly interact with my readers in their classrooms, the library and the wider community. Children want to meet their authors and listen to their stories. There are no barriers or pretensions. I know from experience kids will ask almost anything!

Sometimes I get the big reward. “Your book was the first one I ever liked. I’m going to read another one.” The storytelling frontier is an exciting place where things are growing all the time. As a children’s author, I’m helping to grow enthusiastic readers and maybe writers as well. I love it!

Owl NinjaWant to win copies of the books in Sandy Fussell’s Samurai Kid’s series? All you have to do is email me a review of the last children’s book you read. You could’ve read it last night, last year, or even back when you were a kid. The catch? Your review has to be 20 words or less. In your email’s subject, be sure to write: ‘FICTION NOVELS FOR AGES 10+’

CHILDREN’S BOOK WEEK: Michael Gerard Bauer

It’s not so much writing for teenagers and young adults I enjoy, it’s more writing stories centring around them. The teenage years are such a fun and exciting time to write about. It’s a time full of discovery and possibility where feelings and emotions are often more intense and focused and friendships and relationships are at their strongest.

My favourite book as a child was Wind in the Willows. I read it many times and every time I lost myself in the world of the Riverbank with those wonderfully unique characters of Mole, Rat, Toad and Badger.

When I was a teenager myself I read lots of Agatha Christie murder mysteries and adventure books like King Solomon’s Mines and books by Alistair MacLean like Where Eagles Dare. Another big favourite was Lord of the Rings. One holidays I read War and Peace but just because I wanted to be able to say I’d read what I thought was the longest book in the world. I even ended up liking it.

There are so many Children’s and Young Adult books by fantastic Australian authors that I love – far too many to mention them all. But I will make mention of books by Scot Gardner, Barry Jonsberg and Steven Herrick because if I don’t they’ll beat me up!

My favourite YA book is probably The Messenger by Markus Zusak. That book inspired me to have a go at writing.

CBCA Book Week Fact

Did you know that Michael Gerard Bauer’s first novel, The Running Man, won the 2005 Children’s Book Council of Australia Book of the Year for Older Readers?