PICTURE BOOKS

MIDDLE GRADE

YOUNG ADULT

hello!

JOIN US IN EXPLORING OTHERS' CRAFT AND BUILDING OUR OWN

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 […]

by Jen Jobart Like everyone else these days, I keep busy.  I don’t currently have a paying job, but I’m the primary caretaker for two kids – one who I homeschool, and one who goes to a parent participation school, where I teach writing to my son’s fellow fourth graders.  Someone literally always needs something […]

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 […]

craft review by Jen Jobart In Chapter 6 of his book The Anatomy of Story, John Truby talks about building a story world that reinforces the story you’re telling.  Jessica Townsend’s book Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow is a great case study for how to do this. Nevermoor is the story of Morrigan Crow, […]

craft review by Anne-Marie Strohman Reviews of Amy Dixon’s Annie B., Made for TV highlight the spot-on, hilarious middle grade voice of Annie Brown’s narration. “Annie’s first-person narration is hilariously astute.” —Kirkus Review “On the last day of fifth grade, when her best friend Savannah wins every award, Annie muses, ‘the only thing I’m best […]

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 […]

craft review by Jen Jobart One of the reasons that Book Scavenger by Jennifer Chambliss Bertman is such an intriguing read is that its cast of engaging characters expresses common archetypes–the character roles that universally populate stories. Bertram’s novel follows twelve-year-old Emily, new to San Francisco, as she follows clues in a mysterious book that […]

craft review by Laurel Holman I’ve got four completely different drafts of my current work-in-progress, a middle grade novel. I keep trying to “fix it,” and each time I embark on a new draft I come up with new solutions that take the characters and plot in wholly new directions. Even after exploring the story […]

craft review by Beth Mitchell First chapters are tricky. The craft books tell us that our first chapter needs to ground the reader in the world of our story. It needs to introduce the protagonist and establish the narrative voice. It needs to sow the seeds of the internal story and the external plot. Above […]

review by Beth Mitchell We’ve all read Middle Grade books that are good, but not great. Well written with exciting action, funny dialogue, or an intriguing setting. But somehow we don’t quite care about the protagonist. As one member of our MG Lunch Break (in-person discussion) group says about such books: “It didn’t really give […]