Katia Raina

The Magic Mirror

Middle-Grade Month!

No, it’s not an April Fool’s joke — this month the Magic Mirror is going Middle Grade!

I will admit, I am a YA writer first. But lately, middle-grade stories have been on my mind. Maybe it’s my daughter growing up. Maybe it’s allthe younger me...a total dreamer and believer in magic this wonderful reading I’ve been doing as part of the Vermont College of Fine Arts Writing for Children and Young Adults program. But I’ve been discovering a younger girl inside me wanting to be heard — all these younger ideas zinging through my mind and my heart.

We will see.

What I love the most about middle grade books is their shortness and elegance — the ability of a writer to tell a rich story with fewer words. That, and a certain optimism, a sense of possibility, that idea that the world is still a frontier, waiting to be explored and understood. Of course, young adult books can — and do — also achieve these things that in a middle-grade story are basically a requirement. Whatever we read and write, from picture books to YA and beyond, middle-grade novels are filled with many wonders we can absorb and learn from.

To celebrate the wonderfully diverse tradition of literature for the young, adventurous, smart middle-grade minds, this month I would like to host giveaways to celebrate three wonderful MG authors, two of them my writing friends (one of them my publishing house mate!) and another just a fabulous new writer.

I will start next week with my friend and fellow Namelos debut author Shannon Hitchcock and her elegant Ballad of Jessie Pearl, which has been gathering much (well-deserved!) critical acclaim since the story came out in February. So stay tuned!

In the meantime, tell me, what is it about middle-grade stories that speaks to you?

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April 1, 2013 - Posted by | Book Impressions, Personal Mirror, Writing Mirror |

8 Comments »

  1. What’s interesting about THE BALLAD OF JESSIE PEARL is that there is no clear consensus about whether it’s YA or MG. Maybe there’s a little crossover appeal!

    Comment by Shannon Hitchcock | April 1, 2013 | Reply

    • Maybe that’s why I love “Jesse” so much. Because it satisfies that MG curiosity and the teen reader in me.
      But yeah, I see what you are saying, Shannon. It really is wonderful the way it can totally be read, appreciated and understood by either audience. How did you DO that? 🙂

      Comment by Katia Raina | April 1, 2013 | Reply

  2. Yes, I think definitely crossover appeal in Jessie Pearl.

    What appeals to me in MG novels? Hmmmm – I am drawn to characters discovering life’s complexities and their struggles to come to terms with difficulty. I guess the kid in me is still trying to figure out why bad things happen in the world. I’m intrigued with the meeting/clash of innocence and reality. Hopelessness and Optimism.

    Comment by Joyce Moyer Hostetter | April 1, 2013 | Reply

  3. Joyce, you really nailed MG (of course, no surprise there, really 🙂 I especially loved “the meeting/clas of innocence and reality.” Because that’s EXACTLY what happens at that age. (My daughter corenered me last night, and we had “the Santa talk” with her, as just one example. Sniff, sniff.)

    Comment by Katia Raina | April 1, 2013 | Reply

  4. Love the photo, Katia. And I love that you’re getting ideas for MG novels.

    YAY for middle grade! That’s all I’ve been writing lately (I’m on my third novel). But oddly enough, I have no less than 10 ideas for YA novels. Just haven’t figured out how to tackle them.

    What is it about MG that speaks to me? I can’t hope to say it as well as Joyce did, but I love that MG characters are discovering what the world is all about. They’re starting to look outside themselves for the first time, thus beginning to grow up. And I’m a sucker for happy endings. You don’t always get those in YA.

    Comment by Joanne Fritz | April 1, 2013 | Reply

    • You did put it very well, Joanne! Yes, YA characters (and readers) sometimes think of themselves as more world-weary know-it-all’s. Only sometimes. 🙂

      Comment by Katia Raina | April 1, 2013 | Reply

  5. I love reading middle grade. I’m going to soon plan and draft a MG idea I have.

    Comment by Medeia Sharif | April 2, 2013 | Reply

    • Can’t wait to see what you come up with, M!

      Comment by Katia Raina | April 2, 2013 | Reply


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