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Thread: Talk about the kidlit you're reading!

  1. #1876
    Alas, poor Yorick, he fed me 'nanas DavidBrett's Avatar
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    Just received my signed copy of THE 13TH HORSEMAN by Barry Hutchison in the mail. Been waiting for this book for weeks! Its really got a 'Discworld for kids' feel to it, despite being set in the modern day. Loving it so far...
    Mr Stuffenfluff - My FIRST attempt at horror for over a decade. Feedback welcome!

    Authors warn me writing children's books is a lot of work - signings, school events, literary festivals, a blog, etc. I always reply "I WANT THAT!"

    I don't claim to be a professional (yet). I just try and help others when and where I can.

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  2. #1877
    practical experience, FTW MsJudy's Avatar
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    Okay, true confession. I'm reading Each Little Bird That Sings, and I admit it's quite delightful and charming and has some very funny/heart-warming parts.

    The problem is me, not the book.

    I'll put it into the same category as the Penderwicks. Let's call it "The Perfect Childhood" category.

    In these worlds, every neighborhood is safe, and every adult is gentle, patient, warm, loving and wise. Of course, someone important has died, to remind us that life isn't actually perfect, but don't worry. There are wise, patient, loving adults around to reassure and explain everything so the grief never slips past bittersweet.

    *sigh*

    For me, it's so unreal that it pulls me out of the story. I find it easier to believe in Dementors or fallen angels who eat Chinese food than it is to believe in perfect, attentive, always-present parents. Couldn't somebody, anybody, in this wonderful little small Southern town be selfish, cruel, stupid or even distracted?

    I'll finish it. I'll even like it. But afterwards, I'll feel like I ate nothing but cream puffs for dinner. I'll need to go on a diet of books with an edge, like Alabama Moon or Tangerine, to get my stomach settled again.

    Anybody else ever feel this way?
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  3. #1878
    Reads more than she writes. AW Moderator Smish's Avatar
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    I feel that way sometimes, yes. Everything on a Waffle stands out in my mind, actually. It was charming and memorable, but the ending was just too good to be true. I felt insulted. I don't think the author gave readers enough credit.
    Revision is where you earn your money - and if you haven't made any money yet, revision is where you pay your dues. Sara Zarr

  4. #1879
    practical experience, FTW MsJudy's Avatar
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    Finished it. Yes, it's a very good book. Yes, it deserved the award.

    But I'm still royally pissed off about the ending. And I am definitely going to read something with snarky people in it next.
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  5. #1880
    Alas, poor Yorick, he fed me 'nanas DavidBrett's Avatar
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    Judy: And now I wished my book were finished, just so Mason could cater to your snarky needs
    Mr Stuffenfluff - My FIRST attempt at horror for over a decade. Feedback welcome!

    Authors warn me writing children's books is a lot of work - signings, school events, literary festivals, a blog, etc. I always reply "I WANT THAT!"

    I don't claim to be a professional (yet). I just try and help others when and where I can.

    Follow me @symplesymon

  6. #1881
    practical experience, FTW MsJudy's Avatar
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    Oh, goody! Just got an email from Amazon: there's a new Pigeon book! And TWO new Gerald and Piggie books!

    *hunts in the couch cushions for loose change*
    represented by Jenny Bent of the Bent Agency. Most happy.

  7. #1882
    practical experience, FTW sissybaby's Avatar
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    MsJudy - why aren't you in school today?


    Are you playing hookie, young lady?

  8. #1883
    i luv you giant bear statue AW Moderator Kitty Pryde's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MsJudy View Post
    Okay, true confession. I'm reading Each Little Bird That Sings, and I admit it's quite delightful and charming and has some very funny/heart-warming parts.

    The problem is me, not the book.

    I'll put it into the same category as the Penderwicks. Let's call it "The Perfect Childhood" category.
    It's an interesting point, and I had not really thought of it before. I am a person who had a bit of a perfect childhood. Nobody in my family even got sick or died until I was 14. No one I knew was abused or neglected or the victim of a crime or suffered terrible poverty or anything. Kids were cruel as they tend to be but adults were always trustworthy and supportive. So, it happens. I think the book for/about the kid who lives a lousy life and suffers many blows is terribly important. But I think the book for/about the kid who is facing their first adverse life event is also important.

    Quote Originally Posted by MsJudy View Post
    Oh, goody! Just got an email from Amazon: there's a new Pigeon book! And TWO new Gerald and Piggie books!

    *hunts in the couch cushions for loose change*
    There's also a new Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place book out. And a new one I am excited about: A.M. Smith wrote a No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency book for kids, it looks like lower MG mystery.

    Quote Originally Posted by sissybaby View Post
    MsJudy - why aren't you in school today?


    Are you playing hookie, young lady?

  9. #1884
    careful...you'll end up in my novel RuthD's Avatar
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    Yay for more Mo Willems! That's the nicest thing I've heard all day.

    We're in the throes of state testing. Everyone is picking up on the anxiety. Even my students (who aren't participating b/c they are either (a) too young, or (b) already took the alternative assessment) are going berserk. One of my first graders threatened to shoot someone. Another ran into the building during recess, hid under the stairs, and refused to come out. Her reason: she was hungry and didn't want to put her ball away. A third grader put my pointer in his mouth, tried to eat a bead, and ran from his aide (whereupon, in a moment of karmic justice, he fell and skinned his knee). My second grader was defiant all day, my fourth grader refused to get on the bus, and had to be driven to school,and my fifth grader forgot everything he ever knew, including how to spell his name.

    Can I stay home tomorrow?

    ETA: None of which belongs in this thread. Sorry...

    Quote Originally Posted by MsJudy View Post
    Oh, goody! Just got an email from Amazon: there's a new Pigeon book! And TWO new Gerald and Piggie books!

    *hunts in the couch cushions for loose change*
    My blog: Readatouille

  10. #1885
    practical experience, FTW MsJudy's Avatar
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    I'm on spring break, silly!

    And loving every minute of it. Wrote 2000 words today, and had a flash of insight that enabled me to outline the next several K. If I didn't have to eat and walk the dog, I might have gotten even more done!
    represented by Jenny Bent of the Bent Agency. Most happy.

  11. #1886
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    I'm reading The Royal Book of Oz to my daughter now. I had just finished Baum's Oz books. I wasn't sure where to go next, to read more Oz books written by other people, to read Baum's non-Oz books, or to read something else. I'm thinking of reading The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents by Terry Pratchett, but might be to young to follow the story. The Royal Book of Oz seems OK, my daughter likes it, but it doesn't seem to have the same feel as Baum's Oz books.

  12. #1887
    Alas, poor Yorick, he fed me 'nanas DavidBrett's Avatar
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    The Amazing Maurice is AWESOME. If you're daughter can understand/enjoy the original Oz books (which CAN get kinda wordy), then Maurice should be fine. I'd highly recommend it.

    Likewise, I finished THE 13TH HORSEMAN, and it was brilliant. Grab a copy when you can!

    Moving on to DINKIN DINGS AND THE CURSE OF CLAWFINGERS.
    Mr Stuffenfluff - My FIRST attempt at horror for over a decade. Feedback welcome!

    Authors warn me writing children's books is a lot of work - signings, school events, literary festivals, a blog, etc. I always reply "I WANT THAT!"

    I don't claim to be a professional (yet). I just try and help others when and where I can.

    Follow me @symplesymon

  13. #1888
    Kidlit gang, Junior member. MJWare's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kitty Pryde View Post
    It's an interesting point, and I had not really thought of it before. I am a person who had a bit of a perfect childhood. Nobody in my family even got sick or died until I was 14. No one I knew was abused or neglected or the victim of a crime or suffered terrible poverty or anything. Kids were cruel as they tend to be but adults were always trustworthy and supportive.
    I'm still living that life; no one gets sick. Only old people die (or people I don't know well). Both my parents are live, my kids even have great grandparents. Kids never get abused, everyone has good jobs.
    Over 37 years now, so I'm just waiting for the day it all comes crashing down and counting my lucking stars until them.

    As for reading, I've been on a (mostly adult) sci-fi kick lately thanks to NPR's 100 best sci-fi books list.

    But, I'm back to kidlit now just having finished Nathan Abercrombie, Accidental ZOMBIE (fun boy-book that, I think many girls would like too) and Dahl's Boy - Tales of Choldhood--Mostly told (as is show, don't tell), but a very good read. I'd put ths one as a good example of how 'telling' can be done right.

  14. #1889
    practical experience, FTW MsJudy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mware01 View Post
    I'm still living that life; no one gets sick. Only old people die (or people I don't know well). Both my parents are live, my kids even have great grandparents. Kids never get abused, everyone has good jobs.
    Over 37 years now, so I'm just waiting for the day it all comes crashing down and counting my lucking stars until them.
    You are a lucky skunk. Hope it doesn't come crashing down anytime soon!

    But that wasn't so much what I meant. After all, both Penderwicks and Each Little Bird deal with death--of a mother, of several beloved family members. That part I can relate to and thought was handled pretty well.

    The parts that pull me out of the story are the perfect, understanding, always-wise parents/adults. No one is ever too busy to have a heart-to-heart talk, or to cook the perfect breakfast. No one is ever impatient or self-absorbed or drunk or just in a mood to watch football instead of taking their kids on a memorable fishing trip.

    They always know why their kids are acting out, and instead of getting mad and sending them to their rooms, they sit down and find just the right words of wisdom to make everything all better.

    I think my parents did a pretty darn good job. But there were plenty of times when their own issues kept them from noticing mine. And I try to do my best with my kids, helping them deal with some heavy-duty family stuff, but there are just a lot of times when I have no idea what I should say.

    So on the one hand, I feel like it's not realistic. And on the other hand, I wonder if it realistic and I just don't have that kind of luck. So then I get grumpy...
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  15. #1890
    practical experience, FTW JKRowley's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mware01 View Post
    I'm still living that life; no one gets sick. Only old people die (or people I don't know well). Both my parents are live, my kids even have great grandparents. Kids never get abused, everyone has good jobs.
    Over 37 years now, so I'm just waiting for the day it all comes crashing down and counting my lucking stars until them.
    .
    The crashing might not come. Some folks are blessed with a drama free life. That might not be ideal for a writer. Writers need something to work with, after all, and a pleasant life with little strife is not a good read.

  16. #1891
    Kidlit gang, Junior member. MJWare's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JKRowley View Post
    The crashing might not come. Some folks are blessed with a drama free life. That might not be ideal for a writer. Writers need something to work with, after all, and a pleasant life with little strife is not a good read.
    If possible, I'll take my chances =-)

    Judy, I get what you are saying. Even though the rich boy's Mom in The Penderwicks was kinda a witch, in the end she came through, right?

    I agree the parents in these sort of novels are a little cardboard, too June and Ward'ish.

    I don't think most kids notice (I'm sure some do), but I think they could identify with the characters more if they had more realistic parents.

    That's why I love Danny, the Champion of the World. The dad really loved Danny, but put him in great risk so he could pouch.

  17. #1892
    practical experience, FTW MsJudy's Avatar
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    Yes, exactly. Compare Winn-Dixie with Each Little Bird. (I'll go for the white text 'cause I can't do it without giving away they whole darn plot.)

    Both books: Set in a small Southern town full of quirky, off-beat, charming characters.
    Funny names.
    Girl MC.
    Dog.

    Each Little Bird: Parents never get mad. Everyone over the age of 12 is wise. The dog dies.

    Winn-Dixie: Dad is messed up with grief, doesn't see what his sadness is doing to his daughter. She has to find other people, equally damaged, to help her find a way through to him.
    But the dog lives.

    So to me, Winn-Dixie has just as much charm, but in a more believable way. And as a teacher/parent, I have a hard time recommending any book that kills off such a beloved character. I know how sensitive I was at that age, and how much it bothered me even now, at the age of 48. The sort of kid who would enjoy that book is also the sort who would be absolutely heart-broken. Why do that to a kid?


    As for the Penderwicks--I really love those books. But I do think there is a flaw in the realism. I know how hard it was for my mom to raise me after my dad died. And I was already a teenager. Four girls, one of them a baby... and never a sign of stress or exhaustion... it does seem a bit too-good-to-be-true.
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  18. #1893
    practical experience, FTW sissybaby's Avatar
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    Wow, MsJudy, I'm glad you revealed that because I want to avoid that book. For some weird reason I can handle people dying better than dogs dying, which seems really weird.

    I guess I write darker stuff because of all the foster kids I've had the opportunity to get to know. I've seen what many, many kids live with, and I think those kids can identify with books where things aren't always so perfect.

    Hopefully, those kids are still in the minority, but sometimes I wonder. I sure wish the planet leaned more in the other direction.

  19. #1894
    practical experience, FTW MsJudy's Avatar
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    That's my feeling, too, from years of teaching. The perfect parents are rare. But a lot of parents are working hard at doing the best they can, and they make more interesting characters, IMHO.

    Before I'd recommend Each Little Bird to a kid, I'd feel obligated to let them know it has a sad ending.
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  20. #1895
    i luv you giant bear statue AW Moderator Kitty Pryde's Avatar
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    I mean, isn't it kind of a given that a beloved fictional dog who is central to the plot must die at the end of the book? Exhibit A. Winn-Dixie is like the exception to the rule. I don't think Old Yeller or Where The Red Fern Grows needs a warning for the delicate child. Children's literature is positively littered with dead dogs and parents and siblings.

  21. #1896
    Kidlit gang, Junior member. MJWare's Avatar
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    Winn-Dixie is going back on my re-read list. Never read Each Little Bird, but it doesn't sound like it's for me.

    As for today's kids, I don't see enough of them to know. Maybe I need to start volunteering at school.

  22. #1897
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    My kids can handle dead parents or evildoers, but not dead dogs. Marley and Me just about finished us. Seriously. But it was such a shocker, nothing about the trailers and publicity let on that the dog was going to die.

    Old Yeller truamatized me as a child too. I still can't bring myself watch that movie.

    I'm sure it's something to do with safety. It's safe to let go and cry about a dog. It's not safe to contemplate something terrible happening to a human in your life, so you don't go there emotionally. If it's a human, it's fantasy. If it's a dog, it could happen to you - to your dog.

    Orphans are two a penny in literature and movies, and rather romantic. Dead dogs, not so much.

    That's my theory, anyway.

  23. #1898
    carpe libri Amarie's Avatar
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    Interesting discussion going on here. I actually like books both for kids and adults that aren't too dark. I read for escapism, and that's why even when I know the situations and characters are somewhat unrealistic, I don't mind. It's interesting with my two kids, one will read semi-dark, the other not at all, though I know other kids who devour the darkest of the dark.

    And I really, really don't like a main character pet dying. Wolf Storm spoiler: I did have one wolf die in Wolf Storm, and I thought about it for a long time before I wrote the scene, but it wasn't a wolf the characters felt an attachment for. I felt I needed to have it happen, because of the research I'd done on wolves. Here's a fact for the day-most wolves die from fighting with other wolves, both within a pack, and more often, from fighting with wolves from other packs.

  24. #1899
    carpe libri Amarie's Avatar
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    And to add in a book i've read recently, I think The Last Musketeer is one that a lot of reluctant readers would enjoy. It's about a boy who goes back in time and meets the three musketeers when they were kids.

    My only issue with this book is because I can't turn off my writer brain. I wish the author would have just used "said" more often rather than the whole variety of dialogue tags he employs. It's very distracting to me, but I'm sure no kid would ever notice.

  25. #1900
    practical experience, FTW sissybaby's Avatar
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    Well, Old Yeller undid me and I still can't watch the movie. My kids have been warned that Marley and Me is not allowed in the house, even as a rental movie, or a book.

    I remember when The Incredible Journey, or whatever it was called, came back out as a movie. I had watched it with my older daughter, but the younger hadn't seen it. We got it and she was so worried that they were all going to die. I kept reassuring her that it was all okay, that she didn't have to be sad or cry because they all got home safely at the end.

    She came into the kitchen and said, "Well, my eyes aren't going to cry, but my mouth is!"

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