Monday, May 28, 2007

Kids Books -- What's Not to Like?

I've been reading a lot of YA and middle grade fiction lately, trying to wrap my brain around the ins and outs of writing for this age level. My next idea will probably fall into one of these two genres, and OK, maybe I love reading this stuff because I'm just a kid at heart.

Here are a few of my favorite recent reads:

  • Rules by Cynthia Lord -- This Newbery Honor book is a beautiful, funny, brutally honest portrayal of how autism -- and other disabilities -- change life for everyone. The main character is 12-year-old Catherine, who is torn between her love for her 8-year-old autistic brother, David, and her embarrassment of him. To explain life in terms David understands, Catherine creates a list of "Rules," including "No toys in the fish tank" and "Flush." An interesting sub-plot involving a new neighbor and a new paraplegic friend keep the story moving. I absolutely loved this book! Having grown up with an epileptic brother, I could totally relate to Catherine's conflicting feelings.

  • How My Private Personal Journal Became a Bestseller by Julia DeVillers -- Jamie Bartlett is tired of feeling like a nobody. The magazines she reads bombard her with photos of perfect-bodied, beautiful girls, and she's tormented by the "Populars" at school, too. Venting her frustrations in her journal, she invents a story featuring superhero Isabella (IS), who with the flick of her wrist, destroys the "Evil Populars" and restores justice to ordinary girls everywhere. When the journal is accidentally printed out and handed in to her English teacher, Jamie suddenly finds herself on the fast track to publishing fame and teen "idolhood." DeVillers perfectly captures the voice of 14-year-old Jamie, who narrates the book. Hilarious, heart warming, and a great insight into what teenage girls deal with on a daily basis.

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