Okay, I have a confession. When I was a boy, I hated getting books as a birthday or Christmas present. It was like getting a rake or a dust cloth; books were work. I don't recall getting many books as presents. I am sure the sour, can't-fake-a-smile expression was more telling than the niceties of a follow-up thank you note.
I will admit that, while in grade two, I loved receiving Thornton W. Burgess books like The Adventures of Poor Mrs. Quack and The Adventures of Chatterer the Red Squirrel, but that's when the excitement stopped. Like many boys, I failed to find books that resonated with me. I was not into science fiction or fantasy and the Hardy Boys seemed entirely old-fashioned. Frank and Joe Hardy seemed a little stiff as characters and I could not connect them to people I knew.
I do think there is more choice for boy readers now. (Of course, I still hear boys say the same thing I did when I was their age: "There's nothing in the library I like.") When I wrote Fouling Out, I was intent on creating realistic characters, flaws and all, that boys might identify with. I knew that I could possibly sell more copies if I made Craig a wizard or had the boys living inside a secret society within a dormant (or active!) volcano. Just think of the ways Mr. Hanrahan might face his comeuppance in either scenario! Easy entertainment, but not the discussion springboard I was attempting to achieve.
I do hope that boys will receive one or two books as gifts this Christmas. (Obviously, I would feel all the merrier if Fouling Out ended up in a few stockings.) However, I hope the gift givers make picks based on what the boy will read, not what he should read. While many adults would find no joy in reading about Captain Underpants, a Wimpy Kid or even Craig Trilosky, these characters may help boys see life in books again. The right book in the hands of the right boy can lead to a treasured experience! (If you are interested, I do have a few book recommendations if you scroll down to the end of my blog.)