PICTURE BOOKS

MIDDLE GRADE

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craft review by Jesaka Long In contrast to the rich yet static symbolism of Dolly Parton’s music in Dumplin’ (see Part 1 of this post here) where Dolly’s songs guide Willow Dean throughout the story,  the main symbol in John Corey Whaley’s Highly Illogical Behavior evolves throughout the story, thus helping to elevate the stakes […]

craft review by Jesaka Long Using symbols in young adult fiction can create emotional connections between reader, character, and story. The symbols—which frequently represent things like character’s relationship with a specific person, or a childhood relic signifying their resistance to growing up—typically have a meaning that does not change throughout the story. However, Donald Maass […]

craft review by Becky Levine You hear this over and over again: your story hero needs to face obstacles, grow and learn, and then . . . dive into that dark cave for the sword, come out swinging, and change their world for the better. Even in a picture book. Even when your hero is […]

craft review by Jen Jobart Kids do a lot of growing up from ages 8-12. Books are meant to grow with them and inspire them along their journey. A lot of middle grade books have a protagonist whose character arc moves towards independence over the course of the book. The middle grade novel Bob is […]

craft review by LA Biscay In the first post of Structuring Story with Character Arc in Hello, Universe, we examined some early plot elements–the hook, the inciting incident, and the key event–and how those elements are tied to Virgil’s Lie (or Belief that Must Be Changed) and Fear. The Character Arc in the early part […]

craft review by LA Biscay Whether or not Erin Entrada Kelly used a prescribed form of story structure while writing her 2018 Newberry Award winning book, Hello, Universe, I could sense solid bones during my first reading. I giggled, I teared up, I enjoyed the characters’ journeys, and since the novel is told from four […]

craft review by Kristi Wright HELLO, UNIVERSE by Erin Entrada Kelly won the John Newbery Medal in 2018, a literary award given by the Association for Library Service to Children to the author of “the most distinguished contribution to American Literature for children.” On the cover of the book, directly below the HELLO, UNIVERSE title […]

craft review by Anne-Marie Strohman I was probably seven or eight when I read Harriet the Spy for the first time, and decades later, my memories of the book mostly center around how much I tried to be like Harriet the writer and failed. Three details stuck with me from childhood: the rule that clothes always […]

craft review by Jen Jobart Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor is the story of a girl who must embrace her otherness in order to save the world. Sunny, who recently moved from Nigeria to the US, is struggling to fit in. Her albino skin makes her “other” in her new community.  Then she makes a […]

by Kristi Wright We’ve mentioned Cheryl B. Klein before. She’s the insightful mind behind THE MAGIC WORDS: WRITING GREAT BOOKS FOR CHILDREN AND YOUNG ADULTS. Last March our Middle Grade Lunch Break Book Club had the pleasure of spending time with Cheryl–via video chat. It’s been a few months now, but here are my top […]