I've been becoming increasingly concerned about the state of nonfiction. Up until now I was quite positive about the growth in creativity and opportunities in children's nonfiction titles, but I'm feeling a little differently this month. You see I've started reading numerous nonfiction titles each week as part of the Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge. I've seen some terribly creative titles, but some of those titles seem to be fiction masquerading as nonfiction.
One of the titles clearly states on the cover that it is a mix of fact and fiction. It includes a wonderfully imaginative journal and even a note on how the journal survived the tragedy the book speaks about, but it's imagined ------not true. And yet the book is classified as nonfiction by the publisher. Why hasn't the Library of Congress balked at this classification? How can a reader distinguish fact from fiction?
In another title, also published by a traditional, well respected publisher, I found the following quotation:
"Then a cavewoman sprouts yellow hair. Why? The men have started to hunt for meat. The dangers of going after reindeer, mammoths, and horses are killing too many cavemen. Cavewomen have to compete for the few men left. Instead of beating each other up, they evolve ways to be more special. Being blond seems to help."
Can this be a true statement? But it's nonfiction. It must be.
Authors must put their foot down if a publisher misclassifies their work. Our readers deserve better! I hope I don't find many more of these titles during my challenge. There are so many fine nonfiction authors out there who are careful about their work that I have faith these inconsistencies will be the exception.