Ten writers for children. All with something to say.
Or is it work while reading?
I have been blessed with my free-lance writing job, and my jobs teaching at Writers in the Schools and at the Whidbey Island Workshop. These jobs require me to read.
I read for work!
For the January 2012 Directed Reading for the Whidbey MFA program, students will be required to read cross-over books, books published for young adults that adults read and books for adults that young adults read.
Sherman Alexie's The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian is in the list. I find it an honest book, a book with a message for all of us. But also a book that every writer should read because of the proportions between authentic dialogue and authentic descriptions, believable characterization, and humor that ends up into us being serious.
I'm telling you, I am blessed because of all of you who write books.
I came across WILDTHORN by Jane Eagland as I prepared for a talk I'm giving in Hayward, WI this Friday about including Gay/Lesbian/Bisexual/Transgender books for young adults in your public/school library. A 17-year-old girl in Victorian England dreams of someday becoming a doctor, but finds herself imprisoned in an asylum for the insane instead. Slowly she discovers why she was sent there, and desperately plans an escape. Both harrowing, and eventually hopeful.
Another outstanding historical fiction book for young adults was Katherine Sturtevant's THE BROTHERS STORY. Set during the Great Frost of 1683, 15-year-old Kit escapes to London to find a better life for himself, even though it means leaving behind his simple-minded twin brother. It isn't a book I would have picked up on my own (the cover doesn't do it justice) but thankfully I was given it as a gift, and the rich details of the time period kept me fascinated as Kit discovers what is most meaningful to him.
Finally THE POPULARITY PAPERS by Amy Ignatow is a hilarious book describing two fifth grade girls' attempt to become popular. I found it a kinder and funnier DIARY OF A WIMPY KID-type book. As a side note, one of the girls just happens to live with two dads, which is dealt with very matter-of-factly. If you know any middle grade girls (or even middle-aged men), they will eat this up.
The Shakespeare Manuscript
Those Across the River by Christopher Buehlman. Wow. I still can't get this one out of my head. Set a few years after WWI, failed academic Frank Nichols and his wife arrive in a small town in Georgia, which has some serious secrets. A reviewer called it "As much F. Scott Fitzgerald as Dean Koontz."
Another one I highly recommend is The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. "The circus arrives with no warning. No announcements precede it, no paper notices plastered on lamposts and billboards. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not..."
Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children was another I thoroughly enjoyed. A mysterious island, an abandoned orphanage, a strange collection of odd photographs...
And my last recommendation:
In the summer before Cullen Witter's senior year, a birdwatcher in the small Arkansas town claims to have seem a bird declared extinct in the 1940's. Amid all the hubbub, Cullen's beloved younger brother disappears.
It was hard to narrow all my summer reads down to just this list, but they are terrific and I think you'll enjoy them as much as I did.