Not the writing, sadly. The writing has included a good deal of ‘meh,’ a lot of ‘seen it before,’ and very little that sparkles. But what the books lack in ingenuity and polished prose, they make up for in glitter, and I mean that literally–it’s one of the Trends of 2006.
Publishing houses are going to great lengths to catch our attention this year, so we have had book jackets with embossed lettering, shiny foil, cut-outs, and of course, glitter. They are pretty and eye-catching, but many of them aren’t greatly improved by the addition of a necessary Mylar jacket for library circulation.
Another children’s book trend this past year is the increase in the Everything and the Kitchen Sink book. You know the kind–there’s the main story, and then there may be a whole second text in a different font aimed at a different audience. They may decide to add “value” to the book by writing one book to begin with, and then loading the back pages with lots of information which mostly doesn’t correspond to the reading level of the first half of the book. Or, it may be a book about insects, but written in poetry, with a glossary at the back of each of the insects discussed, AND each of the poetic forms used. I am not making this up, by the way.
Another trend–the gatefold illustration. Publishers have decided that children’s book buyers love illustrations with lots of flaps, and a big gatefold as a triumphant climax. Gatefolds can be very effective, if you’re unfolding it to see the full span of the Brooklyn Bridge. But now I sometimes wonder if they are throwing them in to drive libraries crazy, because we all know that our patrons don’t immediately realize that it’s a folded page, and they rip them to shreds.
That’s just a few of the year’s trends in children’s publishing–more to come!