I have a new author crush every week. How about you? Do you fall in love with authors you meet from friend’s recommendations and from the new books at the library?
My latest crushes are for middle grade authors Gordon Korman and Mary Amato! Korman was recommended to me by a new reading friend when she heard I was looking for examples of dialogue from a boy’s perspective. Both my grands are boys and I am writing several middle grade novels which my BETA readers call “girls’ books.” I want to appeal to all genders, so I picked up Ungifted to hear a different POV on my way to meet friends for lunch 2 hours away. Still driving last weekend, on the way to a children’s writing conference, I fell in love with Gordon Korman’s humor, character development and pacing. Ungifted is told from many different children and adults in school and home settings. What more could a reader and a writer hope to gain? This week at the library, I picked up one more book by Korman, Schooled, and I am prepared to laugh and enjoy more of his multiple voice books. Readers of both genders and all ages can enjoy these books.
Mary Amato is a new author I met at the children’s writing conference. What a find! Her Our Teacher is a Vampire and other (Not) True Stories also was created with multiple characters’ voices. Each of the students in Mrs. Penrose’s class adds letters and articles to a blank book Alexander received for his birthday. The resulting novel is humorous and authentic, full of likeable middle grade protagonists (plus teachers and a librarian.)
An old flame grabbed me at the library: Pam Munoz Ryan! The Dreamer and Echo are different genres and interesting additions to her body of children’s stories that range from picture biographies to historical fiction. I relished Riding Freedom, Mice and Beans, and When Marian Sang: the True Recital of Marian Anderson. In my latest read from Ryan, I discovered a fictionalized biography of the famous poet, Pablo Neruda, with illustrations by Peter Sis. What a delightI discovered in The Dreamer and I await a different experience in Echo which is based on ancient folktales! Many poems are added at the end of the book. An intriguing idea they share with us lovers of children’s literature.
One more new find is Leah Pileggi, author of Prisoner 88. I was looking for another book recommended by my ten-year-old grandson which had a similar title. It is amazing to hear of 4th and 5th graders reading about prisoners, but they love the authenticity of these books. Prisoner 88 is about a 10-year-old-boy who is the youngest prisoner in the history of Idaho’s Territorial Penitentiary. In 1885 Jake has a rude awakening, as you can imagine. Later in history, Yanek (Jack) becomes a prisoner in 10 concentration camps in Germany. He lived in a Polish Ghetto and then was imprisoned around 1939 for the sole reason that he was Jewish. Prisoner B-3087 is the memoir of Jack Gruener, penned with his wife Ruth and Alan Gratz. These two historical fiction books are both survivor stories you will want to read.
If you are considering writing your own children’s books, I recommend you join me in a great organization: the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. Lin Oliver founded this organization and, as a realistic and personable speaker at the latest regional conference, she shared her passion and advice for us pre-published authors. You may recognize Lin as co-author with Henry Winkler of the “Hank Zipser” series. Thanks to Lin Oliver, I met many aspiring children’s authors, agents and editors. Peer Critique advice was available and valuable. New friends from my own state and region will be a fine addition for my writing friends’ network.
[Don’t forget that if you see any errors in my posts, please alert me. A new writing friend wrote that Jane Eyre was written by Emily Bronte. I am too embarrassed to let her know… Should I tell her. What do you think?]
Happy Reading in 2016 and Love from Best Books By Beth!