Boys & Girls Together

The latest issue of the Horn Book is out, and it’s a special issue on books and gender. It features a whole bunch of people talking about the topic — Cecil Castellucci, John Green, David Levithan, Lisa Yee, and many more — and some of the essays are even online. I love this bit from the wonderful Sarah Ellis’s "Evelyn and Me," about how she didn’t think girls could be funny growing up but wanted to be anyway:

The solution to my dilemma came unexpectedly. A stray theological student left a box of books in our attic and never returned to collect them. Mum said I could have what I wanted. I chose a double handful of paperbacks by a writer named Evelyn Waugh. I jumped in, gulped them down, and was never the same. In these books I found a kind of funny I had not yet encountered. The writing was witty, dark, absurd, and satirical, and there was an edge of grade-six-girl meanness to it as well. Here was somebody being funny on the page and, best of all, it was a woman!

Well, of course I was wrong. There was nobody to enlighten me, and who would ever think that somebody would name a boy Evelyn? When I finally found out the truth, it was okay, because by then I had discovered Nancy Mitford. I had role models for being funny on the page, and some of them actually were women. I had found my people, those for whom Jane Austen spoke, "For what do we live, but to make sport for our neighbors, and laugh at them in our turn?"

Looks like it’s time to finally pony up for that Horn Book subscription.

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