Friday, April 24, 2009

No Cream Puffs - Realistic Fiction or Historical Fiction?

I am reading No Cream Puffs by Karen Day and thoroughly enjoying it. Madison is a twelve year old girl in 1980 and the first girl on an all boys little league team. Madison loves baseball and has great ability, however, she loves playing ball and NOT the attention that goes with being the first girl to blaze this trail. Madison is also struggling with issues twelve year old girls deal with - growing up, developing physically, noticing her appearance and boys for the first time, and trying to hang on to some friends even though they are growing in different directions. Madison has also put her absentee father on a pedestal. He was a great baseball player in college and Madison is sure that if he knew her now as she has grown up, he would want to be part of her life. Day has created suspense as well as we root for Madison's team at each game as the season progresses and at the championship game as Madison must face Billy, the boy she got into a fistfight with at the beginning of the novel when he made fun of her chest.

As I am telling others about this book, I never know if I should say it is realistic fiction or if I should say it is historical fiction. What makes something cross the line from one genre to the other? I ask myself this many times when I am pulling books for genre studies as I debate between whether something is historical fiction or realistic fiction. I think I will always consider Judy Blume's books realistic fiction, with perhaps the one exception being Starring Sally J. Freedman as Herself. The same is true for Beverly Cleary, even though they were written a while ago. However, this book is set in 1980 (which scares me that something set 29 years ago - a year I can remember! is historical fiction), and deals with issues that are unique to that time period- gender equity in sports and the 1980 hostage crisis in Iran. So, because of this I lean toward this book being historical fiction. Is it possible for books to fall into more than one genre? What about when teachers are trying to use these books for genre studies and need them to be one genre, not both? Is there a line somewhere that defines this? What does everyone else think?


peaceful reader said...

I am leaning towards historical fiction for No Cream Puffs. The genre categories get tricky for me as well-like Dan Gutman's Baseball series. The main character travels back in time (science fiction) to explore another place in time (historical fiction).

karen day said...

Hi Tina, thanks so much for posting such a lovely review of my novel! I've gone back and forth on this same issue, too. Many of the conflicts (girl drama, first crushes, learning to break away from mom) are certainly contemporary issues . But I always ask this question, thinking about genre. Could this book be set in 2008? The answer is no. Certainly we still wrestle with gender/equality questions, but a girl playing on an all-boy baseball team wouldn't have quite the same impact today.

Kristen said...

I would say this book is fiction because it does not sound like it revolves around a specific historical event or time period. It sounds really cute and I will be sure and suggest it to all my nieces. If you like historical fiction you should read a book I just found about the Civil War. It's called Bedlam South by David R. Donaldson and Mark Grisham.