From Armchair BEA: From Picture Books to Young Adult Today’s genre is a big one, Children’s Literature. From picture books to middle grade to young adult novels this is a category that encompasses books that young and old alike flock to on a daily basis. What are your favorites? Why do you love children’s literature? You don’t have to be a kid to appreciate children’s and teen literature, do you? (Armchair BEA design by Puss Reboots)
Finally, the genre turns to children’s literature. For Kid LIt Reviews that means picture books and middle grade fiction and everything between. There have been reviews for board books and early readers but the majority are picture books and middle grade so that is what the day’s questions will focus.
1. What are your favorites?
That is actually an easy question. All one needs to do is check out the Top 10 of 2013 lists.
2. Why do you love children’s literature?
Why do we look up at white fluffy clouds against a solid blue background? Why do we smile at babies? Why do we like the holidays? Why? Because they are beautiful, fun, interesting, eye-catching, and wonderous. I think and feel the same about kid’s books. What I have read ranges from the simply awful to the absolutely and stupendously magnificant.
Picture Books: I love illustrations. I love the colors and shades. I love the details, especially the small or unneeded that the illustrator took the time to add. Those details add to the fun or give extra information. Mostly, it shows me that the illustrator enjoys his work and probably considers it more play than work. I would love to be an illustrator and create these picture books that kids and parents, aunts and uncles, and grandmas and grandpas will enjoy for years. I would love to create a monster that roars and has nasal drip. Or a fire-breathing dragon that cannot control when or how far his fire shoots. And maybe a tiny fairy with see-through wings of pale blue and a wand of gold. That is why I love picture books for the illustrations.
I find it amazing how much information or how detailed a story the author can tell with 500 words. Sometimes they tell a nice story with no words, such as Flood and Press This. Picture book authors can be humorous (That Cat Can’t Stay) or completely silly (When Grandma’s False Teeth Fly). They can explain the mysterious (The Shepherd Girl of Bethlehem), express feelings (I’d Choose You), and cope with illness (Nowhere Hair).
Most importantly, picture books are the doors to life-long reading.
Middle Grade: Middle grade books are amazing in many ways. MG novels, such as House of Secrets, take us to mysterious worlds or to a time long ago (The Cheshire Cheese Cat). We can immerse ourselves in the pages and become ninja warriors (Jack Templar, Monster House), musketeers (The Wee Musketeers), or dragon masters (Jonah and the Last Great Dragon). A middle grade story can have us solving family mysteries (The Templeton Twins), saving small creatures (Freedom Pen), and fending off bullies (Bully.com).
Middle grade books are a test of persistence when they reach 500 pages. Some can be read in one sitting and others cannot, but we do it anyway because the pages won’t stop turning and the story gets better with each passing chapter. Many MG stories read as if the author were sitting by a campfire telling his tale. They flow naturally and keep kids reading on their own. The last middle grade book I’ve read was A Girl Called Problem. It took me to a place I have never been and a culture I knew little about. For me, middle grade novels reach out and grab me, pulling me into a world of 8 to 12-year-olds. It has been awhile since I was any of those ages and I am amazed at the subjects in these books. I do not remember one middle grade book I read as a kid. Not one. Maybe I am making up for a time lost.
Whatever the reason, I love middle grade books and the places they take me, the things they teach me, and the joy they bring me.
The biggest reason I like children’s literature is because after I enjoy the story I get to tell you about the book, be it a picture book or a middle grade novel. Love ’em or hate ’em, children’s literature will never go away. What I read years ago can be read now and today’s new book will be tomorrow’s classic. How great is that?
Today is the final day of Armchair BEA. Next year maybe I’ll be writing from New York. I would love to talk with the authors, grab tons of soon-to-be-released books, and marvel at all the excitement. If not, maybe I’ll win a book next at Armchair BEA 2014.
PICTURE BOOKS: On a Beam of Light by Jennifer Berne – Chronicle Books for Kids / I HATE Picture Books! by Timothy Young – Schiffer Publishing / Flood by Alvaro F. Villa – Capstone Young Readers / Finder’s Keepers by Robert Arnett & Smita Turakhia – Atman Press / The Santa Trap by Jonathan Emmett & Poly Bernatene – Peachtree Publishers
MIDDLE GRADE BOOKS: The Secret Room by Antonia Michaelis & Brigit Brandt – Skyhorse Publishing / The House in Windward Leaves by Katherine L. Holmes – Couchgrass Books / The Dream Dealer by Marita Phillips – Neve Press / The Secret of the Village Fool by Rebecca Upjohn & Renné Benoit – Second Story Press / House of Secrets by Chris Columbus & Ned Vizzini – Balzer + Bray
- Armchair BEA: Children’s Literature (bookertalk.com)
- Armchair BEA day 5: Children’s Literature (bookblogbake.wordpress.com)
- Armchair BEA 2013: From Kid Lit to Young Adult (bookishtemptations.com)
- Armchair BEA Day 5- Children’s Books (turnthepagereviews.com)
- Armchair BEA, Day 4 – Ethics and NonFiction (kid-lit-reviews.com)
- Armchair BEA Day #5 – Keeping it Real and Children’s/YA Literature (bookswithoutanypictures.wordpress.com)
- Armchair BEA – An Introduction (kid-lit-reviews.com)
- Armchair BEA, Day 2 – Blogger Development (kid-lit-reviews.com)
- Armchair BEA 2013 – Keeping it Real and Children’s/YA Lit (chapterbreak.wordpress.com)
- Armchair BEA! Keeping It Real, and Children’s / YA (sarahsaysread.com)