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What to call upper MG?

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I thought about this as I drove to work this morning. Upper MG needs a name. It seems like a mouthful. A lot of people like "tween" but I'm not sold on it at all. I don't know many boys who would like it and my younger tomboy self would not have liked it either.

We are definitely in-between so I understand where the name comes from but still. I thought maybe we could brainstorm together and see what kind of magic we can create. I just hope this doesn't turn into some heated debate.

For the record, I have nothing yet but I'll throw some stuff out there to get the ball rolling.

Pre-teen, fence sitters (j/k), almost adolescent (AA ... yeah, I know)

I'll sleep on it.
#1 - January 22, 2013, 07:09 PM

Liz
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I have been cataloging my books on LibraryThing and yep there are a group of upper Middle Grade Book/Lower Young Adult books that I have been putting in both Children's Literature and Young Adult Literature.  I have no idea how else to catalog them.  So they go in both categories. 

I know in my local public library they tend to be put in the teen section and sometimes they wonder back to the regular children's section from time to time.  When I look for a specific book I have to see where they place them.  This is even harder when they are paperbacks because they are placed on those darn racks and you sort of have to hunt for them unless they are part of a series. 

Sort of becomes like putting ratings on movies, in the end it all depend on the level the child is reading at and their maturity.  LMG, UMG, LYA, UYA.   :grin3
#2 - January 22, 2013, 08:02 PM
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Good luck with that. Since publishers themselves use upper mg in their marketing, I think it'd be tough to change that horse now.

Maybe I'm crazy, but I would say that tween was a different thing, anyway. To me, tween is girls only and implies certain things about the lightness and even the length of the story, not only that it's readers 10-12. Yellow and pink covers, humor, sweet. Whereas upper MG includes readers of 13 and even 14 and/or 9-year-old readers who are good readers, and implies more sober/scary works, longer books, and even more mature themes. Just not as mature/edgy as most YA -- and MG -age themes, not YA themes. Middle-school, not high school. Whereas tween might be grade school.

I might be totally making that up, though. :) It's funny what assumptions we can make on not much input, like what someone looks like based on their voice.
#3 - January 22, 2013, 08:50 PM
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This is a great question and one I have been grappling with a LOT lately!

My book, SEE YOU AT HARRY'S has been cataloged very inconsistently. In fact I've been keeping track of the lists and things it's been nominated for and it's about 50-50 in terms of it being classified as YA or MG. My publisher has it listed as 10+, which says MG to me, but several groups have put it on their YA lists. I don't know if this helps or hurts the book. But it certainly causes confusion.

On the other hand, do we need another "official" classification? There's been so much debate about this "New Adult" category, I wonder if trying to come up with yet another would make even more people upset. It's great topic of discussion though! Thanks!

Jo
#4 - January 23, 2013, 04:56 AM

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I would say that tween was a different thing, anyway. To me, tween is girls only and implies certain things about the lightness and even the length of the story, not only that it's readers 10-12. Yellow and pink covers, humor, sweet. Whereas upper MG includes readers of 13 and even 14 and/or 9-year-old readers who are good readers, and implies more sober/scary works, longer books, and even more mature themes. Just not as mature/edgy as most YA -- and MG -age themes, not YA themes. Middle-school, not high school. Whereas tween might be grade school.

This. I think "tween" has faded from use because it's too limited in scope, and definitely a turn-off to boys. I really have to say I have no problem with upper MG.

I do think there's a lot of confusion as to what is YA and what is MG, though. I've seen any number of books labeled MG in half the libraries in my system, and YA in the other half. I don't think coming up with an alternate term for upper MG would address that, though.
#5 - January 23, 2013, 11:11 AM
« Last Edit: January 23, 2013, 11:13 AM by mrh »
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Good luck with that. Since publishers themselves use upper mg in their marketing, I think it'd be tough to change that horse now.

Maybe I'm crazy, but I would say that tween was a different thing, anyway. To me, tween is girls only and implies certain things about the lightness and even the length of the story, not only that it's readers 10-12. Yellow and pink covers, humor, sweet. Whereas upper MG includes readers of 13 and even 14 and/or 9-year-old readers who are good readers, and implies more sober/scary works, longer books, and even more mature themes. Just not as mature/edgy as most YA -- and MG -age themes, not YA themes. Middle-school, not high school. Whereas tween might be grade school.

I might be totally making that up, though. :) It's funny what assumptions we can make on not much input, like what someone looks like based on their voice.

Oh, I'm not trying to get them to change but it is possible.

Re: tween. I get the same impression about the word tween. I don't hear it as much anymore but a few years ago when it was bandied about I cringed often.
#6 - January 23, 2013, 02:31 PM

Quite frankly, I feel we have TOO many categories as it is. I mean, picture books, first readers, chapter books, middle grade, young adult, new adult*, adult.

Shall we also have middle-aged adult, old-aged adult? Where will it all end? <grin>
#7 - January 23, 2013, 05:31 PM

I get ya but the category already exists; I just wanted to explore calling it something that rolls off the tongue better.
#8 - January 23, 2013, 06:01 PM
« Last Edit: January 23, 2013, 06:03 PM by L.E. Falcone »

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My answer was supposed to be tongue-in-cheek.  As a kid I read everything.  If you told me I couldn't read it or if it was an adult book, well that just made it more interesting for me.  I admit I read at a high level, but I hate trying to find books in my local library between MG and YA.  While I realize some books are nice to pull our for those who are teens who want to have a special corner to read in, some of those books are also great for MG readers as well.

I frankly never will understand chapter books. Yes, I have read the explanation - but most of my books have chapters.  :eyeballs:
#9 - January 23, 2013, 06:26 PM
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I've always hated tween!  :yuk: And I never thought about it being a marketing issue as Jo pointed out--that's an eye-opener. I like upper middle grade but now you've got me brainstorming. Nothing yet. But I'll check back in if I have a stroke of brilliance. ;)
#10 - January 23, 2013, 06:34 PM
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I'm going to call them "my favorite kind." :) I like UMG better than most YA.
#11 - January 23, 2013, 06:38 PM
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UMG is my favorite category, too.

We better not start calling it "um-gah," though.  :faint2:
#12 - January 24, 2013, 06:53 AM
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I think upper middle grade is a great term, and really clear what it means. Percy Jackson, Savvy, that sort of thing--something more complex than Ramona Quimby, but not full on, angsty teen. "Tween" means that age group to me, too, but girly--kind of chic lit jr.

Those books do get shelved in different places, though--I've been to some libraries where things I felt were well into YA were down with the middle grade kid books, and the YA books were very old. My current library skews strongly the other way, with books I feel like are definitely middle grade over in in YA. The new children's librarian is changing things, though, and has at least divided the younger and upper middle grade into different areas of the kids' section. It's nice for my kids, who are looking for UMG.

My previous library had a lot more money, so whenever there was a book on that border, they bought two, and stuck one in MG and one in YA. It was a great solution!
#13 - January 24, 2013, 07:02 AM

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I'm going to call them "my favorite kind." :) I like UMG better than most YA.

Ditto^   :exactly:

Like olmue- I've heard "upper middle grade" also. Awkward? Well, the term "middle grade" is awkward. I have yet to have a non-writer/publishing person understand it as "intended for children in middle grades." They either ask, "what's that?" or assume it's a so-so (not very high grade) book.
#14 - January 24, 2013, 09:43 AM
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I have some new um-gah books coming in the mail.  :haha :dr
#15 - January 24, 2013, 11:41 AM
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Well, the term "middle grade" is awkward. I have yet to have a non-writer/publishing person understand it as "intended for children in middle grades."

Same here. I find they assume middle-grade means middle SCHOOL. I often explain the term to others by saying, "It's the sort of novel you read in 5th or 6th grade." Then I can see the recognition in their faces.
#16 - January 24, 2013, 01:27 PM
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I kinda like Umgah!

And yeah... I usually invoke HP to explain. Maybe we should use that abbreviation! :)
#17 - January 24, 2013, 02:11 PM
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UMG is my favorite category, too.

We better not start calling it "um-gah," though.  :faint2:

UM-GAH it is!

*lock thread* hahaha

Oops. I first read that as "we should start calling..."

How 'bout UMGee?

No?


#18 - January 24, 2013, 02:41 PM
« Last Edit: January 24, 2013, 02:47 PM by L.E. Falcone »


Ditto^   :exactly:

Like olmue- I've heard "upper middle grade" also. Awkward? Well, the term "middle grade" is awkward. I have yet to have a non-writer/publishing person understand it as "intended for children in middle grades." They either ask, "what's that?" or assume it's a so-so (not very high grade) book.

Exactly. Outside of our world, no one knows what it means.
#19 - January 24, 2013, 02:44 PM

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UM-GAH it is!

*lock thread* hahaha

Oops. I first read that as "we should start calling..."

How 'bout UMGee?

No?

It kind of sounds like an incantation, doesn't it? Or a mantra?
#20 - January 24, 2013, 04:21 PM
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This used to be called "transitional" or "Older MG" and when I was at the old Macmillan we did put that and the age code 10-14 in the catalog.

Personally, I think it's good that there are fluid boundaries between MG and YA, and there should be. It makes it easier for kids on the borders to move back and forth....
#21 - January 24, 2013, 05:53 PM
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eh, no one understands outside of the writing circles and a few close friends who I write for, so if I say I write for um-gah it will make as much since as anything else I say to them. 
#22 - January 24, 2013, 07:29 PM
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Personally, I think it's good that there are fluid boundaries between MG and YA, and there should be. It makes it easier for kids on the borders to move back and forth....

Oh, I have no problem with that. That's cool and as it should be.
#23 - January 25, 2013, 03:11 PM

eh, no one understands outside of the writing circles and a few close friends who I write for, so if I say I write for um-gah it will make as much since as anything else I say to them. 

I know. To simplify things I just say I write for kids.
#24 - January 25, 2013, 03:12 PM

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I do that also, but many think picture books...
#25 - January 25, 2013, 06:50 PM
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So we write books for kids to help them learn not to label people but then we want to label the categories those books fit into? Feels like an oxymoron to me, lol.
#26 - January 25, 2013, 10:44 PM
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I've started to call my novels "middle school" books, because (a) they are, and (b) people think that's what I mean anyway, and (c) no more jokes where "middle grade" means "mediocre."
#27 - January 26, 2013, 10:33 AM

I've started to call my novels "middle school" books, because (a) they are, and (b) people think that's what I mean anyway, and (c) no more jokes where "middle grade" means "mediocre."

Mediocre? People say that to you? Da bums!

I kinda like middle school. It doesn't require much explanation.
#28 - January 26, 2013, 12:49 PM

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