Cities and suburbs, real and imaginary.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

My thoughts on a middle grade book

Writing for kids is hard. Very hard. Doing it well takes gobs of talent, an exceptional internal editor, and a constant connection to someone you used to be inside of your mind.

I have read and enjoyed many YA and MG books. Lloyd Alexander and Roald Dahl and J K Rowling and the travails of those unfortunate Baudelaire children are all excellent things to read no matter what age you are.

Right now, one of my favorite MG authors is just getting her sea legs in the field. Adrienne Kress, author of "Alex and the Ironic Gentlemen" has a new book out, right now, a sequal - kind of - called "Timothy and the Dragon's Gate".

I was fortunate enough to give it a read.

As a very odd person, I really like how the odder a person is in Adrienne Kress' books, the more likely they are to be nice, friendly, and helpful. The stranger the stranger, the COOLER the stranger. Whether you're tlaking about the guy who herds mutant fish in the London Sewers, or the famous billionaire disguised as a trash collector.

I also love how MG books can get away with things that I could never get away with. Because it's a comedy. With a happy ending. So, when Timothy plummets from a plane into the middle of the ocean, the amazing coincidence that saves his life is not the sort of thing that throws you from the story. In fact, it engages you further with the narrative, because it's as much about how the author playfully constructs wild and zany obstacles as it is about how she constructs wilder and zanier solutions.


I enjoyed it thoroughly. I also suspect Adrienne Kress was really, really good at playiing make-believe as a kid. I suspect she hasn't quite ever gotten over it.

Anyway, that's all I got for today. Busy at work, and really, I ought to stop procrastinating and go make some stuff up.

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