I was sorting through a few of my daughter’s old chapter books yesterday, when I realized something. They’re all about the daily dramas in the lives of girls. Friendship issues and birthday parties and small school embarrassments. Even the ones featuring spies or detectives are set firmly in the day-to-day.
They’re not so different from the play narratives my daughter and her friends were enacting at that age. “You be the mean girl, and I’ll be the nice girl, and you be the teacher getting us in trouble.”
Contrast this with the books my son is reading — most recently the Zac Power series — and there is no day-to-day. Zac spends about two paragraphs getting ready to do something normal before he’s whipped away to another top-secret mission on a glacier or in dense jungle. And all my son’s books are like this. Characters zip away to outer space, or get sucked into video games, or find themselves transformed into ninjas.
This has made me wonder if writers must turn to otherworldly scenarios because boys have no actual narratives in their day-to-day lives. Maybe when my son and his friend are throwing sticks, they’re just throwing sticks. Maybe when they’re digging, they’re only digging.
I outlined this theory for Min, and he said: “Right into adulthood, baby.”