HarperCollins Children’s Books has coined the term “Clean Teen” for a new sub-genre in fiction for girls which focuses on everyday experiences, rather than paranormal themes.
HCCB m.d. Ann-Janine Murtagh said it is emerging as a counterpoint to the “extreme” scenes and storylines in paranormal fiction. She said: “I think emotionally there are girls that are 11+ who want fiction that reflects their everyday lives, families, friendships . . . a hint of romance, but only at crush level.”
She said HCCB identified the trend having seen the success of Geek Girl by Holly Smale, about a girl with a love of facts who is spotted by a model scout. It has sold 15,000 copies since February, and HCCB has decided to bring the release of the second title in the series forward by six months, to August this year.
Children’s retailers have backed the trend. Georgina Hanratty of Tales on Moon Lane in south London said: “For us, I would say [Clean Teen] would work. A lot of parents don’t want children reading anything excessively violent or with a lot of sexual content. There used to be quite a lot of that—Judy Blume, Tamora Pierce—with a hint of romance. There’s a market for it, though it has to appeal through the strength of the writing.”
Jenny Morris, owner and manager of The Lion & the Unicorn bookshop in Richmond, said: “There is a market for the kind of titles they are looking at . . . it would be a brave decision to go that way.”