Tag: middle grade

  • The Symbolism of Dolls In Storytelling

    Charles Haigh Wood - Storytime 1893

    Dolls serve as comfort; they also creep us out. Which is it gonna be? And how do storytellers utilise their multivalent presence in our lives?

  • Charlotte’s Web Novel Study Analysis

    Charlotte's Web Cover

    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 […]

  • Body Swap Stories

    Your Name movie poster

    Body swap stories are as ancient as story itself. Take the British folk tale The Witch-hare of Cleveland. A local witch tells some farmers where to find a hare they can hunt, but warns them not to set a black dog on it. They set a black dog on it, of course. That’s how fairytales…

  • When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead Novel Study


    When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead is ten years old now, published 2009. I’ve seen this middle grade novel described as magical realism, though for knotty political reasons we might prefer to call it fabulism. It is also science fiction and grounded in the real world. It packs a lot into 40k words. There…

  • Insults and Swearing In Children’s Literature

    insults and swearing

    A quandary for writers of middle grade fiction in particular: By about age ten, regular kids have heard all the insults out there. They may hear far more insulting language than adults do on a daily basis. (Did you get called a poo head at work today? I didn’t.)

  • The Appeal of Milly Molly Mandy

    Milly Molly Mandy setting out

    Milly Molly Mandy remains one of my mother’s favourite books, but even then it was old. Milly Molly Mandy is in fact the great-grandmother of today’s child readers. I’m not sure how popular these stories are among the contemporary audience, but I can say for sure, Milly Molly Mandy entertained at least two generations of…

  • Introducing your character’s age in a children’s novel

    child age

    Readers want to know early on the age of a main character in a children’s book. In a (non-illustrated) book, we don’t have a visual before us. So character age is one of the most important things we need to know up front. How and when to convey that bit of information? I took a…

  • I Kill Giants As Perfect Example Of Being-toward-death

    I Kill Giants movie poster

    I Kill Giants is a film and comic book for an upper middle grade audience which functions as a perfect example of Heidegger’s Being-toward-death.

  • Cameras In Storytelling

    The invention of cameras was a boon for storytellers. Writers and film directors have this new narrative tool — in the shape of a camera — which allows them to play around with perspective, to use as a metaphor and as a way to explore death. (No kidding. Read on!)

  • Pax by Sara Pennypacker Novel Study

    Pax is a middle grade novel by Sara Pennypacker about a boy and a fox who embark upon a mythic journey to reunite after Pax is abandoned in the woods. Structurally, Pax is the middle grade equivalent of Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier.

  • Child Moves House Trope In Children’s Fiction

    Edna Eicke New Yorker July 29th, 1950

    Child moves house and starts at new school. This trope is hard to write well because it has been done so many times before. But it’s very useful, because many children’s stories are about friendship, and all stories about friendship must start from a point of loneliness. Everyone is lonely when they move to a new place.

  • Strays Like Us by Richard Peck Storytelling Tips

    Strays Like Us is a 1998 middle grade novel by American author Richard Peck. (155 pages) Peck not only understands the fragile emotions of adolescents, he also knows what kind of characters will pique their interest. In this tender novel, he paints a richly detailed portrait of Molly, a drug-addict’s daughter sent at the age…