Tag: middle grade fiction

I’m Going to Camp!!!

Camp NaNoWriMo is only a few short days away, and I’m excited!

For those not in the know, Camp NanoWrimo is the love child of NanoWriMo, a time away from the vigorous expectation of the elder namesake and it’s 50,000 words within a single month of craziness.

My story idea is a new one that I’ve been developing: a child not too school savvy who has fallen in love with only one book of his life, and it ends with a cliffhanger. The need to find the sequel to the book is strong, but it seems the author never got around to making it! What’s a kid to do? Give up?! Obviously, the answer is no!

One of my favorite features of the Camp experience is that YOU, the amazing writer with a million other responsibilities, get to make your own manageable goal. Forget the NaNoWriMo box; create your own!

This month I will try to write 30,000, which is about 30,000 more than I wrote for the month of February.

Ok I lied, I spent some time writing poetry.

But drafting stories is a mixture of feeling almost godlike to being reduced to a mere mortal within the same breath.

It’s not good for the blood pressure some days.

Which is why the second unique feature of CampNanoWrimo is so valuable: bunkmates! In a forum-based discussion group, you are paired with various people (or create your own cabin) to have a support group.

So far my bunkmates are ready for action!

Anyone else participating in CampNaNoWriMo this year?

Children of the Planes

The Kindle Edition is Now Available for Pre-Order

Maybe it is his video game withdrawal or the fact that he is not used to being outside for such lengthy periods of time, but Zane finds himself under constant surveillance of an alien named Jax. Jax never stops talking, trying to convince Zane that it is able to travel to an Inner Plane of the universe where an Aged is King is destroying civilization to find his lost jewel. Jax has plenty of stories to share about how the children of the Inner Plane are fighting back:

An orphan forced work in the textile factories within the Walled Cities who learns to read.

A warrior girl of the Arikara Tribes that reunites her people with the Great Herd.

An elemental boy who rescues a baby bear from wolves and learns they share a special connection.

The youngest sea captain who crashes on an island that reveals memories that had been purposely taken from him.

Are these children real, or is Zane going crazy?

Book One of the Children of the Planes series.

Dear Children, You’re Fired…Or I’m Fired?

For weeks now, I have been trying to get my kids to read my official revised draft of Children of Planes

The youngest started to read it. To make it official, she even asked that I draft up a Inked41723143_1807676106012125_2867250365001105408_n_LIcontract of what my expectations were of her to be a professional reader:

Note the deadline of September 3rd….

Apparently, she got bored with the fact that “her character” wasn’t mentioned yet and hasn’t gone back to it. Suffice to say, if I was paying her to read it, she’d be fired.

The eldest was like, “oh… well you know I have soooo many books I have to read this year for L.A, so I can’t even…”

I’m pretty convinced that if my own kids won’t read it, it is likely pretty crappy.

So, what do you do when you’ve developed this new found interest to try to get a novel published, but then realize it’s likely to be crap?

Scrap it?

Get new kids who are properly brainwashed and want to read their mother’s manuscript?!

Middle Grade Fiction: LGBTQ+ Community

In honor of Pride month, Scholastic listed a series of books that promote the LGBTQ+ community within middle grade fiction. It is important that members of these communities are valued and represented within our literature, especially Middle Grade Fiction where adolescents are at the cusp of displaying and understanding their identities.

 

 

In Children of the Planes, one of the themes I focus on is introducing the non-binary gender spectrum.

Jay, a twelve-year-old male is learning to communicate about his preference for displaying a gender non-conforming lifestyle.

I’m often asked, what does that even mean?

Jay knows he’s a male, but feels he wants to be a girl. He dresses in pink t-shirts and purple sneakers that light up, but his favorite past time is playing Legos. Jay is learning to put words to thoughts he’s felt for a very long time. He’s not entirely sure with what he identifies as of yet, and to spotlight this experience when he is still navigating that aspect would force us all to have to put labels onto his situation that he’s not ready to express.

Within the scope of this novel, Jay is learning to build a support network for when he does figure out his true self. His friend Zane is the first person that he has felt comfortable sharing these feelings with, so we see him in a very raw state within this novel. He gets easily frustrated and builds walls around others because it’s been easier to be alone than trying to be something he knows he’s not. When Zane supports him despite the conflict that ensues, Jay learns that he can be respected and valued even when he doesn’t feel “normal.”

As such, Jay doesn’t “come out” or any of that stereotypical nonsense, but rather we see the seeds being sown for him to embrace himself no matter what that is.

The Girl Who Drank the Moon

 

A sacrifice to witches, a bog monster, and a snuggle bug dragon. Barnhill uses these elements to spin a tale of a young girl Luna, trying to cope with irreversible consequences of not sticking to a standard diet of milk and pureed peas.

This week the kids and I finished Kelly Barnhill’s “The Girl Who Drank a Moon.”

There are so many great quotes from this book that make it an engaging and soul penetrating story. Barnhill has a gift for sprinkling thought engaging quips, that I often had to stop and wonder if my life was still the same. The story is going along at a great pace and then BAM:

Barnhillquote1.jpg

As a parent, I can relate. There are things about the world that I don’t want my kids to know. I don’t want to share my secrets….to share worries that keep me up. I hadn’t really thought that there are things in their lives that they want to protect me from as well.

What are they hiding?!

By far, my favorite character was Adara, Luna’s mother. Barhnill took a very classy approach when she talks about mental illness in this novel. Although mental illness doesn’t usually have a catalyst like Adara’s does, Barnhill makes us empathize with the loss of power that is the root of Adara’s insanity. I feel that Adara had to embrace her mental instability in order to truly find her inner power, and it helps everything come full circle when her daughter Luna had to do the same. She doesn’t have to overcome the mental illness itself, which is a great concept for adolescents to be more empathetic with this situation.

 

 

You can be crazy… you can be deformed… you can be a witch…. and still be a hero.

Barnhillquote2

 

 

If your child has read these books and you’d like to engage them with the storyline, here are 5 questions that you can ask. I’ve also included some of the quotes that lead me to ask those questions:

  1. Adara, Luna’s biological mother, ends up having magical abilities of her own. In a vision, it is implied this could have been because she was a descendant of the witches and wizards who were around before the great volcanic eruption. Do you think this means that Luna was always destined to have magical abilities?

 

  1. “Their backs bent under the weight of their secrets.” Are secrets ok? When are secrets not ok?

 

  1. “Sorrow is dangerous.” This phrase is repeated often throughout the book. Has there ever been a time that you felt you were so sad that it changed the way you look at the world? What makes you happy? Does happiness have the same ability to be dangerous?

 

  1. “Compassion or Revenge? Sometimes the two were the same.” What do you think? Do you think the ending was very compassionate to the mean people in the book such as the Grand Elder?

 

 

  1. If you had Seven League Boots, where would you use them to go? Do you think they are faster than Fyrian?

 

Kelly Barnhill has a few other books available, which I hope to read with the Allaire kiddos sometime soon. You can check her out at kellybarnhill.wordpress.com.

 

If you’ve read the book, do you have any thoughts on the above questions?

 

Have a good day and happy reading!