YA author Cecil Castellucci, a two-time MacDowell Colony fellow whose first novel, Boy Proof, earned her a Publishers Weekly Flying Start in 2005, has accepted a position as YA and children’s books editor of the Los Angeles Review of Books, a newly launched online magazine.
Castellucci met LARB founder and editor Tom Lutz at a Los Angeles literary event last year. “Tom called me in August and offered me the position, but it seemed so daunting at the time that I turned him down,” says Castellucci, whose other YA titles include The Plain Janes, Rose Sees Red, and The Queen of Cool. When Lutz assured her that she could start slowly and work at her own pace, Castellucci, who is currently writing two books and travels frequently to promote her titles and participate in YA seminars, decided to accept the offer.
“So few venues review YA and teen books regularly, and even then it’s usually bestsellers and known authors, so this is an opportunity to assign reviews to the quieter books and older titles,” Castellucci says. “I’m a passionate advocate for the idea that YA lit has to be taken more seriously in the larger world.” She will also be having multiple people review the same book, as is LARB’s vision for adult titles. “Tom really has great ideas about the new media world, and how to do a book review as both a resource and an archive. It’s a fantastic, growing concept. I look forward to watching LARB morph into what it ultimately needs to be.”
Castellucci’s aim is to begin with two or three reviews a month. “I already have eight reviews in the pipeline,” she says. “The first will run May 3, and it’s on Victoria Bond’s Zora and Me. Margaret Stohl wrote the review.” It will be followed by Nette Ivie Harrison’s review of Strings Attached by Judy Blundell. Castellucci will also select one classic children’s book a month and have different authors write short “reflections” on the impact that, for instance, Charlotte’s Web had on them as young readers. “Everyone has a favorite kids’ book. Part of my mission is to remind people that YA literature is real literature,” she says. She will add picture books to the LARB review cycle by the end of the year.
Castellucci likens her new position to that of a captain steering a ship. “I won’t be reviewing or doing much heavy lifting,” she says. “Assigning reviews will have me in more of a monitoring, ringleading role, and as the site finds its legs I look forward to adding more YA features to LARB. I’m on a learning curve.”