Next Level Middle Grade Fandom, or, What Erin Hunter’s Warriors Series Hath Wrought
I’m riding in the elevator with my boss the other day when he asks what kinds of things my kids are into these days. “Does your daughter like K-Pop or any of that?” he asked innocently. He had no idea.
What followed was a lengthy explanation on my part, practically involving charts and graphs, of my 10-year-old daughter’s current obsession. Not simply her obsession, mind you, but the obsession that has swept up her friends as well. A fascination that strikes me as so interesting that I brought it up constantly when I went to Bologna, then here back in the States, and every time I try to put it into words I find that I have a hard time explaining what, precisely it is. So, because this actually does have a direct link to children’s literature, I’m going to attempt to explain it to you here today.
No. My daughter is not into K-Pop. My daughter is into parody videos and music tracks about Erin Hunter’s Warriors series as created by adult women who were kids when the series first came out.
Before I get into the weeds of what exactly all this is, I’d like to state for the record that I have absolutely no idea if my daughter and her friends constitute some fascinating outlier when it comes to current child obsessions or if, in fact, this is pretty par for the course. My 7-year-old son is into the relatively less interesting but more normal machinations of a British YouTube Minecraft star named SB737, which generally strikes me as par for the course. But reinterpretations of The Warriors by Millennials? If nothing else, I feel like this is a marvelous example of what happens when fandom, book series that never die, and the beauty of online appreciation and creativity all come to a head. Though I’m talking about the Warriors series, I bet you could find similar cases with other series like The Animorphs, or Babysitter’s Club, or Goosebumps, where the grown or growing fans create their own separate world.
For the record, and this is true, my kid has read precisely ONE Warriors book. It was Into the Wild. She was not impressed. Therefore, despite the fact that she probably does not get a lot of the jokes about continuity errors in some of these videos, she enjoys them.
Now two people in particular represent what fandom is for a lot of kids these days. One goes by the name Blixmei who specializes primarily in music. I am well and truly familiar with Blixemi because I share a Spotify account with my daughter and now all my recommendations are Blixemi-related. From what I can tell, Blixmei was going strong until the pandemic hit. After that the content fell off a tad.
This is a pretty standard example of a Blixmei song:
The other person that has the most sway over my household is Moonkitti. Moonkitti is constantly producing content, so no worries there. Her takes are interesting since she enjoys highlighting the mistakes, continuity errors, and generally bizarre elements of your average Warriors book character.
I won’t lie to you. I enjoy Moonkitti’s videos. They’d be a lot more enjoyable if I remembered reading the books at all (I did read the first one but didn’t retain much). They have basic animation for comedic purposes and . . . well, here’s what I mean:
This one was my favorite though:
Okay. Fine. I’m a mini fan myself. Normally I only really see these when I’m doing my daughter’s hair, but there’s something so appealing about them.
Now fandom used to be a simple case of reading a book or series, falling in love with it, and searching desperately for people who feel the same way. But what happens when the fandom itself becomes the enticing thing to bond over? Using these musical selections and these videos, my daughter and her friends have pieced together the plot elements of the books and now write their own fanfiction based on . . . the fan videos and music. This completely bypasses the original books themselves. Which, considering the fact that Erin Hunter isn’t a real person anyway, doesn’t make me quite as sad as it might.
No creator of a popular book series has any control over what their fans do or do not do with their properties. What’s interesting is when the series is just a starting point and things blossom in strange new ways. And if you’re lucky, those fandoms branch off into odder, more interesting interpretations.
So here’s to more kids reading books today and creating content based on those loves later. The child you hand a series title to now, may go anywhere with it. You really cannot predict where. Just don’t expect everyone to read the book.
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About Betsy Bird
Betsy Bird is currently the Collection Development Manager of the Evanston Public Library system and a former Materials Specialist for New York Public Library. She has served on Newbery, written for Horn Book, and has done other lovely little things that she'd love to tell you about but that she's sure you'd find more interesting to hear of in person. Her opinions are her own and do not reflect those of EPL, SLJ, or any of the other acronyms you might be able to name. Follow her on Twitter: @fuseeight.
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