Sunday, April 6, 2008

A Middle Grader Dishes on MG Lit

Emma, Age 9

Emma is a fourth grader who likes to read, but who likes to write her own stories even more.
"Mostly I used to read and write only about fairies. Fairies are still my favorite subject, and all the stories I write have at least one fairy in them. But in the last year, I have begun reading a lot of other types of books so I can talk about them."

Do you remember your favorite picture book?

I read all the Olivia books, then all the Madeline books, but I especially loved any story that had a cat or cats in it.

What types of books do you and your friends usually read now?

My friends read a lot of books that are from Disney movies or from Saturday morning shows. We also all read the American girl books. I don't really like the books from television or movies. I read books with enchantment and fantasy, books that take place in castles or have some mystery to them. I like when books don't match tv, and I don't know how the story ends already.

What makes you pick up a book?

Well, it used to be only the cover. Now I read the first few paragraphs before I decide whether or not I want to read it.

What kinds of covers do you like?

The cover can only have one main thing on it. I don't like covers with lots of little pictures and two or more things happening. I just put those down.

When you read those first few paragraphs, how do you decide if you like it or not?

The main thing is I don't want to know what the problem is right away. I love drama, when the writer makes something dramatic happen right on the first page and I get a picture of it happening in my head. Then I feel like I'm sort of going into the story, that I can see it. But when they say the problem, I feel like I don't know what's going on, that I missed a page before the first page. If I don't know where the story is happening or who the characters are, I'm not ready to know what's wrong.

What makes you keep reading that story after you've taken it home?

I like to feel a little bit scared while I'm reading. I don't like to be relaxed. It's exciting when the character has to do something like be quiet for a long time not to get caught or to escape from somewhere. I have to be just a drop worried and think about the book when I'm not reading it. That's a good book. It's like the story is happening to you. And I love details once I'm in the story. I like to know what the people are eating, what it looks like, where everything is on the table.

Is there anything you don't like about some books you read that you would like to tell writers?

Yes. This is something I have noticed and my friends have, too. In the last chapter, all the problems have to be solved very, very clearly. None of us like it when we have to try and figure out what the author meant. Like, did she escape? Or did she turn into a different type of fairy?
That's terrible. When authors do that, I don't read any of their other books. I just feel disappointed at the end.
One other thing is that you don't need to have the character like a boy. I feel like I can't wait until that part is over and the writer gets back to the story. It's like an interruption.

Thanks for doing this, Emma.

You're welcome, Mom. Only next time, I'd like to do a videoblog instead of watching you type.


Marie Brandenton said...

Interesting comments. Food for thought about the conflict being shown too soon.

Heather said...

Emma makes me want to write MG, which I have never wanted to do!

Anne Spollen said...

I know, Heather! She had the same effect on me. Only now that she has me persuaded to write an MG, I am slightly afraid of her -- she is a very tough critic, and her (current) fav author is C.S. Lewis. Sort of a tough act to live up to...

Anonymous said...

Emma is so cute!!!!