The Readers’ Advisory Guide to Genre Blends for Children and Young Adults

ALA Eds. Mar. 2022. 224p. pap. $59.99. ISBN 9780838949900.
This innovative volume serves as a companion to Megan M. McArdle’s The Readers’ Advisory Guide to Genre Blends—though this is the first of its kind to cover books for young people. The first part, “Foundations,” sets the stage by defining genre blends and reader/book appeals. The second part, “Annotations,” delves deeply into the six featured genre blends: graphic novels, historical fantasies, historical mysteries, magical realism, steampunk, and verse novels. Criteria for choosing books is clearly outlined, promising a range of “characters of different races, abilities, ethnicities, and religions.” As Dewan and Lacy note, the majority of books are for a middle school audience, but librarians serving elementary and high school readers will still find plenty of gems among the selections. Each chapter dips briefly into the genre’s history, and the predictable format makes it easy to skim for specific information needs. Annotations helpfully identify themes, challenges the characters experience, and “book-related” and “reader-driven” appeal elements—all aspects the authors consider doorways into books. Further, books are separated into two categories: “Sure Bets” (popular titles) and “More Excellent Genre Blends” (great titles with narrower audiences). Symbols indicate series continuations or audiobook availability. Despite its well-organized structure, there are more than a few categorical errors. Two of the featured blends, graphic novels and verse novels, are knowingly miscategorized as genres, when both are formats. Moreover, the section on magical realism co-opts the genre beyond its Latinx roots without citing any scholarship that would argue otherwise.
VERDICT Useful, if a bit flawed; this compendium serves as a dual crash course on readers’ advisory and genre blends for anyone recommending youth materials.

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