A close analysis of the opening to a 2005 young adult novel. How much backstory to include? What about setting? And how does setting link to character and theme?
The opening to Dusti Bowling’s middle grade novel, Insignificant Events In The Life Of A Cactus, is notable for its lists.
Let’s take a look at openings to various middle grade novels. How do contemporary storytellers hook young readers?
Young adult readers can now find better queer diversity scattered across young adult literature. Many of these new stories feature trans masculine characters. Here are some young adult stories featuring trans feminine characters.
Gender is in Western culture a relational concept. And “masculinity” relies on a binary relationship with femininity. Non-binary people have existed since the dawn of humankind, and are now cracking open proscribed Western gender expectations for everyone.
Ther are three main types of modern myth, and by ‘modern’ I mean ‘3000 years old’. In one type the main character hangs around home base (e.g. an island). This type of myth is known as a Robinsonnade. Another much newer type is the so-called Female Myth, in which the main character (of any gender) […]
Two Weeks With The Queen is an Australian middle grade novel by Morris Gleitzman. My edition is copyrighted 1989, though other places on the web will tell you this book was first published in 1990 or 1991.
The World of O is a trilogy of fantasy novels by New Zealand author Maurice Gee published 1982-1985. The Halfmen of O (1982) is the first of the series. We might call this series The New Zealand Chronicles of Narnia with a bit of sci-fi thrown in. There are also tropes recognisable from The Wonderful…
In A Dark, Dark Room and Other Scary Stories written by Alvin Schwartz was first published in 1971 for emergent readers ready for scary… but not too scary. I recently looked closely at a modern picture book called Creepy Carrots, another excellent example of a ‘scary’ story perfectly pitched at 4-6 year olds. This collection…
As an English speaking child of the 80s I grew up on a heavy diet of Roald Dahl. Danny The Champion Of The World (1975) stands out in my adult memory my favourite Dahl story, perhaps only bested by the frisson of horror left by The Witches (in which I actually examined my J2 teacher, thinking she might be a witch. Fortunately she didn’t wear gloves, which absolved her.)
Should parents expose our modern kids to Little House On The Prairie, given the uncomfortable realities?
At almost 32,000 words, Charlotte’s Web (1952, 1963) is a middle grade novel rather than a chapter book. This is a story with many hidden depths, which appeals to middle grade kids as well as their adult co-readers. Below I’ll be getting into how this story appeals to both children and adults, the themes of…