This is my first post for Book Blather! I’m so excited to start blabbing about my favorite genre- Middle Grade Fiction! I work with school age children, write for school age children, and am always looking for great MG fiction to read. I LOVE finding solidly written MG books with a strong hero/heroine that draws me into the story, and makes me incredibly sad when I’ve read the last page.
Today I read an article on The Telegraph titled, “Children's books are 'sexist and enforce gender inequality'” (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/books/8494392/Childrens-books-are-sexist-and-enforce-gender-inequality.html) that basically said that a large-scale study of children's books published between 1900 and 2000 revealed that they were almost twice as likely to feature a male central character than a female one. Interestingly enough I’m writing a story that features a strong female heroine, and I’ve just read a series that features a wonderfully strong, and incredibly endearing female heroine.
I’ve been furiously reading the last few weeks getting through a series called THE LAND OF ELYON by Patrick Carman. The heroine is Alexa Daley, a 12 year-old girl who longs for adventure, and of course, she finds it in abundance. There are five books in the series- involving many of the same characters throughout the series. There is a strong sense of good vs. evil, as Elyon (the Creator) through a series of events/characters lead Alexa, and her companions on several adventures to bring down Abaddon (the evil force behind all things bad), and his followers. At the same time Alexa discovers the history behind the Land of Elyon, who she is, and her role in the world.
Some of the themes in the series deal with nature/animals, adventure, discovering self-worth, humor, family, loyalty, discovering how to help others, death, and after-life. There are several characters that do “die” but get to go to the Tenth City, where Elyon lives, and welcomes those who are worthy and good. It can be quite sad, but there’s also a sense of recognizing death is part of life, and there are more adventures to be had. These themes are all interesting topics of conversation to have with children who read the books (or better yet, read with their parents).
It’s a great series full of adventure (talking animals), giants, a few twists and turns, and overall has a satisfying ending. The series definitely contradicts the Telegraph article because Alexa constantly saves the day, her friends, and the Land of Elyon (and beyond). A good read for kids, and adults (or “kids at heart”). For writers it’s a good read for seeing how characters develop, and grow through a series, and how to make characters endearing to readers.
Rebekah Jensen is an aspiring children's literature writer. She is fairly new to writing children's books (but received her first rejection letter last year, so she now feels like she's part of the club). She currently lives on a little pear orchard in Zillah, WA (which is the ideal place for the ongoing writing, and revising process). She works at an after school program, produces the Chinook Update, SCBWI, Western Washington blog for authors and illustrators of children's literature, and writes blog posts for the Seaside, Oregon Tourism Department, Pulse, and O2 Racing Technology. She loves children’s literature, and always beelines to the children’s section first. When not working with children, or plotting her next middle-grade novel idea, she's running, walking the dog, or planning a trip.