Tuesday, October 26, 2010

My book's birthday wish

It's the birthday of my middle grade book!

(Its first birthday, as a matter of fact, so technically there should be only one candle on that cake. Hopefully, when it reaches that many candles, it will still be in print!)

Something near and dear to me is now making its way in the world, and I'm reflecting on the many wonderful influences that got it there.

When I was a middle grade kid, I spent countless happy hours in my parents' bedroom closet, hiding from the daily drama, sprawled on my stomach, reading middle grade books. I visited Oz more times than I can remember, and Narnia, and Middle Earth. I made friends with Martha, Jane, Mark, and Katharine in Half Magic, and Eliza, Jack, Roger, and Ann in The Time Garden. I foiled a Hanoverian plot with Dido Twite and Simon the painter. I learned that a tesseract was a fold in space used by time travelers.

What made me happy yesterday was reading Danny the Champion of the World. I enjoyed it as much as I would have when I was ten years old. Am I eternally juvenile? Maybe so, but there's a better explanation: I'm just as much of a person as I was then, and middle grade books are about people.

Not children.

Not adults.

Just people.

Sometimes when I tell people about The Boy Who Howled, I get the feeling they think it's a lesser accomplishment to have written a children's book than an adult thriller or even a young adult romance. These people have forgotten that they've always been people, even when they were little. So it's time I made a blanket statement. Every great writer, without exception, was turned on to reading and writing by a book he or she loved as a middle grade kid. That would include all the authors on the New York Times bestseller lists.

Which makes middle grade the most important genre. (With every blanket statement comes a blanket conclusion!)

This is my birthday wish, before I blow out the candle. I want everyone who's starting a family to remember this:

Read to your kids. Take them to the library. Let them pick out their own books. And be glad that they're people, like you!

Timothy Power

19 comments:

  1. Congratulations! I recently was at a lunch with some new friends. Somehow we started talking about books, and it was so fun to hear them get excited about books they loved at around age eleven. You're right - it's such a formative time for reading.

    So looking forward to reading The Boy Who Howled.

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  2. Tim!!! I'm so happy for you! I can't wait to read THE BOY WHO HOWLED!!!

    I believe any book that talks down to kids does not have a good chance of getting published. Like you said, we're "just people". A writer can never take for granted how smart kids are--they're brilliant!!

    Congrats on your Book B-day!!!

    xoxo -- Hilary

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  3. What a sweet post! A sincere congratulations to you, Tim. Happy Book Birthday to you :)

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  4. Beautiful post, Tim!! And Congrats :-) Can't wait to read your book.

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  5. Hoorayyyy, Tim! Happy book birthday!

    Great post, of course, and I can't wait to read the book.

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  6. Congratulations, Tim! I love love love MG.

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  7. Congratulations, Tim, from one big foot to another. :D

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  8. Happy Book Birthday, Tim! What an accomplishment. Congratulations!

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  9. Thanks, guys! Everyone gets a slice of birthday cake. :)

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  10. hi mr timothy! BIG HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU!! i just got done with a birthday and miss hilarys was just right after mine. so we all got october birthdays! how cool is that! i read about your book on miss hilarys blog and its just the kind of book i could like and its just for my age. i got some of those neat amazon gift cards for my birthday and i got thinking on what i could like to get and now for sure im gonna get your book. i hope you get lots of presents and for sure you just gotta have cake and ice cream!
    ...smiles from lenny

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  11. Congratulations, Tim!! Can't wait to read!

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  12. Amen and congrats! And having had the privilege of reading THE BOY WHO HOWLED, I can say quite confidently you're about to introduce a whole new generation of people to a world with charm and humor.

    Now cut me a piece. :)

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  13. Thanks again, guys. :)

    And thanks for the smiles, Lenny! But you know it's not MY birthday! It's my BOOK's birthday. For us writers, our books get cake and everything. :D

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  14. Happy Book Birthday!!!!

    When I was a kid, one of the happiest days of my childhood came when the San Diego Public Library system removed the limits on the number of books that kids could check out at one time. I was only limited by what I could carry. THE BOY WHO HOWLED would have been on top of the take-home pile!

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  15. Happy book birthday, Tim! I'm so happy for you, and I can't wait to read it!!!

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  16. Anonymous27/10/10

    timp - technically, the book's first birthday is next year :)
    Congrats though.

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  17. Drat you, Anonymous! I've been hoisted by my own petard!

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  18. Great birthday wish. Good luck Tim! Hope our book does well. Can't wait to read it.

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  19. Happy belated book birthday, Tim! I can't wait to read THE BOY WHO HOWLED:)

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Thanks for adding to the mayhem!