I read somewhere that you should read at least one hundred books in a particular genre before you attempt to write in that genre. I haven’t been keeping count, but I’m pretty sure I reached that goal for middle grade and young adult fiction (the line between the two can be a little blurry) before writing The Hopper-Hill Family, but since that time, I’ve discovered some new favorites. I'm linking up with Quick Lit at Modern Mrs. Darcy to share a few from this past month.
The Wednesday Wars by Gary D. Schmidt
I started listening to What Should I Read Next a few weeks ago and in episode 10, I was taken by Janssen Bradshaw’s description of The Wednesday Wars. I checked it out a few days later and fell head over heels for it. I love twelve-year-old Holling Hoodhood’s voice and wit, the way the Vietnam War and political turbulence of the 60’s serve as a backdrop to the story, and the parallels between Shakespeare’s plays and life at Camillo Junior High. The only thing I didn’t particularly like about the book was a subplot about two classroom rats, and that is only because I am terrified of rodents. Yes, even fictional ones.
One for the Murphys by Linda Mullaly Hunt
When a betrayal from her mother lands her in a loving foster home, twelve-year-old Carly Conners dares to believe that happy families might exist. This book caught my attention because I’m always on the lookout for good middle grade realistic fiction and I am very interested in the foster care system. I read this book in one day and cried through the last few chapters. Then, I passed it on to my thirteen-year-old daughter and she read it in two days and cried through the last chapters. Needless to say, it is a tearjerker, and, yet, there is a thread of hope that runs through it from beginning to end.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling
It feels like the end of an era, now that my ten-year-old son and I have read the final book of the Harry Potter series. My daughter got tired of hearing us talk about it, so she joined in, too, and I had so much fun sharing it with them. The Deathly Hallows was my favorite by far (we all have a different favorite to least favorite order). It was much more intense, but also more redemptive. My son has gone on to study quidditch and fantastic beasts, but I’m taking a break. On a side note, we are confused about the fact that students at Hogwarts don’t study Math, Language Arts, or any foreign languages. Surely they couldn’t have learned all they need to know in those subjects by fifth grade?
Popcorn: Poems by James Stevenson
April is poetry month and I was thrilled when my eight-year-old son came home quoting a poem he had read in school about a free throw shot and an eagerness to share a collection of his original work. I checked out several books of poetry for children and Popcorn was our favorite. Stevenson creates simple illustrations to go with each poem and he writes about everyday items and events with wit and tenderness. He makes me think of Billy Collins, but for children.
Ramona’s World by Beverly Cleary
It was a month for finishing series with my kids. Even though I’ve read the Ramona books numerous times, they still make me laugh, and cry, and long for life on Klickitat Street. I can’t believe Beverly Cleary turned 100 years old this month and I can’t think of a better way to celebrate than dropping everything to read her work. I realized the other day that I’ve never read Ellen Tibbits, so I’m putting it on the list for next month.