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Monday, December 5, 2011

The Return of the...Blog

Ahem. There are lots of things I could say, such as "I had work" or "I had school" or "I had fleas" (no, I didn't actually have fleas. No, really. That's just me making things up). Or I could just say, "I am a lazy bum and I humbly beg everyone's forgiveness for not updating earlier."

Yeah, I could just say that.

So yes. I'm back! And hopefully, more entries will be coming up here soon and I won't be acting like there aren't people waiting on me to actually open my mouth and say something. Though I'm pretty sure you guys all have lives of your own and do not, in fact, wait with baited breath for a new blog entry to come up here (though I wouldn't mind if you did. It would make me feel like my ramblings are worthwhile).

Apologies out of the way now? Good.

So it's a bit of a mark of embarassment for me (or at the very least, mark of a lack of ambition) that most of my reading material comes from the children or young adult fiction section at the library/Barnes & Nobles/Amazon. And okay, yes, I still read picture books. But only the ones with pretty pictures and good stories! I have my standards. They may be low, but I have them.

I have a whole list of children's books that I need to get on. The Invention of Hugo Cabret (because the movie looks beautiful and I want to read the book before I see it), The Humming Room (inspired by The Secret Garden...loveliest book about gardens ever), The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place: Book II: The Hidden Gallery (it's like Jane Eyre, for the younger generation) and just, a whole bunch of them, okay? I don't have time to name them all.

But I'm keeping up with the trends! I'm staying aware! I know what kids like to read, what works and what doesn't. And what goes beyond even my extended realm of disbelief. There was one book I tried to read, The Mousehunter. It's this alternate reality where there are different breeds of mice that are extremely valuable and there are pirates and sailors who hunt them down to sell. Now, I love me a good mouse story. Brian Jacques fan, right here. But even this one was sort of like..."You're risking life and limb for a special kind of mouse?" They weren't even talking mice, either. They were like...really specialized dog breeds. And sort of absurd, honestly. So that didn't work. Then there was this other book, Dormia, about a young boy who can do all kinds of incredible things, like karate or climb walls...only when he's asleep. And if that's not enough to raise your eyebrow, he's also the heir to an underground kingdom, whose royal line is apparently defined by this sort of thing.

There is fantasy for children and there is fantasy for children. The trick is knowing the line between the two. Another trick is writing well enough, passing a message important enough, crafting a story believable enough for adults to enjoy them too.

 And don't even get me started on the young adult genres. They go through trends like my little sister goes through tennis balls. I mean, first it was vampires and werewolves. Then it was fallen angels and angels falling in love with humans. Then zombies/ghosts/undead had to get in on the action. Then there's the mash-ups that have vampires, werewolves, fallen angels and (just for the heck of it) magic-users and let's throw in the Knight Templars, just for fun! Yes, I've read a book just like the one I described above. It wasn't that great, for obvious reasons.

I promise you all, there is a reason for my wandering ways. It's because I'm teaching myself, what makes a good book for children/teens to read? Is it a believable plot? A touch of fantasy? An inhumanly good-looking boy with mysterious origins? (They do seem show up quite frequently, I've noticed). Or (amazing thought!  Shocking thought!) a story that be enjoyed by everyone. It can be done. It can be done with amazing results. It's not impossible.

But you've got to educate yourself. What sounds good in your head can be completely ridiculous on paper--trust me, I've had a lot of experience with that one. And keep reading! Always read! That's why I'm always happy to see writers who actually published still read children and young adult books. It means I am not alone and that there are others who share my philosophy. Or my lack of motivation/ambition.

Over & Out,

1 comment:

  1. Insightful as always, Little Sister. And keep in mind the C.S. Lewis approach to "children's fantasy": you can always get more out of them as an adult than you can as a child.

    By the way, I DO wait with baited breath for each new blog entry you post! Don't sell yourself short, sis.