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>Matthew Insists on Puffed Sleeves

>There’s been some discussion recently about blogging and inclusivity that came to mind when I read this article Martha showed me about kids and their cliques. Marion Hawthorne lives.

As Monica Edinger pointed out in the post linked above, it’s not just kids. As Barbara Grizzuti Harrison wrote of her adolescence among the Greenwich Village Beats, “when I came of age in the 1950s, everyone one knew was an Outsider, and proud of it; and every Outsider belonged to a privileged Inner Circle of Outsiders, and then we grew up.” But not really: when, decades later, Harrison reviewed Beat poet Diane Di Prima’s memoir for the NYTBR, she devoted her entire review to proving that Di Prima hadn’t been one of the cool kids, really. It never ends. I’m not sure it can, heck, I’m not sure it should. As I once pointed out in a different context, this is how we got Protestants.

And today I read that kids are compiling hit lists of their enemies. Should we worry or be relieved that the Times chose to run this as a “Fashion & Styles” story?

Roger Sutton About Roger Sutton

Roger Sutton has been the editor in chief of The Horn Book, Inc, since 1996. He was previously editor of The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books and a children's and young adult librarian. He received his M.A. in library science from the University of Chicago in 1982 and a B.A. from Pitzer College in 1978. Follow him on Twitter: @RogerReads.



  1. Elizabeth says:

    >I find your blog entry a little ironic, Roger, since the first professional clique I ever came across was the Horn Book/Simmons Crowd in the 70s and early 80s. It didn’t matter how astute a critical thinker you were or how passionate about children’s literature, if you didn’t happen to charm Ethel, Paul, John and Jill (hmm, they sound like the Beatles), you weren’t going to be “in” with the “in crowd,” you weren’t going to teach at Simmons or review at the Horn Book, and you weren’t going to get invited to tea with major authors. My, it was rarified air they all breathed, and it sure helped you if you were British.

    I don’t speak from personal disappointment–I didn’t even graduate from college until ’83–but I saw them shutting others out. There are still a lot of cliques in the children’s book business, but fortunately, in my opinion, it’s a bigger tent now with room for a lot more people and more points of view.

  2. Roger Sutton says:

    >Those were the days, alright. We’re still mopping up the blood.

  3. Roger Sutton says:

    >P.S. I’m already afraid of the Readergirlz. High-minded idealists or naked careerists? In my head they growl “BOTH,” while attacking me with their Carrie Bradshaw pointy shoes. And putting me in their slam book.

  4. >Oh, come on Roger, readergirlz are great! I’ve been following their threads on MySpace and how they interact with their readers and it’s really great. They get them talking about books, life, and community service. I’m going with idealists. And, if they get a bump in their careers, it will be well deserved.

  5. rindawriter says:

    >Well, Roger, I’m grateful you’ve let this big mouth “outsider” just be herself on your blog…a welcome relief from the almost universal boredom of reading…ah….ah…ah…I better quit while I’m ahead…here…

  6. Roger Sutton says:

    >Yeah, Rinda, I see you just got spanked on child_lit. My sympathies. I’m not one of the cool kids there, either. I mean, I love the place and it’s taught me a lot, but it has, perhaps inevitably, a certain clubbiness.

    But the Insider/Outsider thing is as much about the individual as it is about the club–put me in an AA meeting and I still feel like an outsider (not in a glamorous way, but in the left-out way) even though I’m as much of a drunk as the rest of them. The lessons of seventh-grade are very hard to shake off, for both victims and ringleaders.

  7. Roger Sutton says:

    >Kelly, all that pink makes me grumpy 😉 And the “reading is cool ‘n stuff! 🙂 :-)” tone. And the fact that they are focusing the club on their own books. But as publicity, it is complete genius, so hats off for that.

    I’ve got an article coming up in the next Horn Book about my own experience as a teen reader, and it’s part of the Insider/Outsider discussion, too. My high school clique would have sneered at something like Readergirlz because it would have threatened our definition of what a “real reader” was. One weapon the unpopular kids do have is snobbery–“I wouldn’t be in your stupid readergirlz club if you begged me.” But they didn’t beg us–that was the problem.

  8. Anonymous says:

    >in re Elizabeth’s comment on hb/Simmons clique: they also made publishers aware of their (the clique’s) power. be “charming” or forfeit good reviews!

  9. Roger Sutton says:

    >Naw, it wasn’t “be charming.” It was “be British.”

  10. Anonymous says:

    >in re “charming” vs. “British” — as the kids say: “Same difference.”

  11. readergirlz says:

    >Oh, Roger, only one of us wears pointy shoes. I wear nicely rounded Converse. Very cheery pink ones. ;~)

    Lorie Ann, ~readergirlz diva

  12. Ms. Yingling says:

    >It would be nice to have a “popular” blog, but only because I’m trying to do a good job covering as many books as I can. It’s good to be reminded that “popular” is not something to which I really need to aspire as long as I am providing my students with a good over view of books that they might like to read!

  13. What a frankly fun writing!

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