Today, I wanted to talk about why I love middle grade as a category so much. Middle grade resides at that special place, when kids are growing up, and becoming a little independent, at least in their thinking, if not in their activities, and so middle grade novels often tell a certain kind of story, one that is usually magnificent, and full of wonder.
So what are some of my favorite things about middle grade books?
I don't know that there's any real rule in publishing, but in my experience, middle grade books always get the best covers. They're usually illustrated, which makes for a far more artistic object, and allows the cover to be much more imaginative. Young adult books occasionally have interesting covers, but a photographed model almost never compares to a lovingly illustrated cover. Adult book covers are just plain boring. Vague stock photography and giant, bold type. Snore.
Here are some of my favorite examples of gorgeously illustrated middle grade novel covers:
Of course we have many amazing middle grade authors here at Project Middle Grade Mayhem, and I'm sure they're all wonderful in real life as well, but I have also met some of my favorite middle grade authors at conferences and conventions, and they really are wonderful people. I've met Shannon Messenger, Lisa McMann, Lou Anders, Kelly Barnhill, and others, and they all clearly love books, love reading and writing, and especially, love ...
Don't get me wrong, teenagers are great (I'm personally the parent of two of them), but there is no time quite as magical as that in-between time, that age when hugs are still okay, and curling up on a weekend with a book to finish it in one sitting isn't "so dorky, dad! Gosh."
From the actual middle-graders, to the third, fourth, and fifth graders who read up, the readers are truly the very best thing about middle grade books. There is something so special about kids and reading, about what books can do for their minds, that really makes bringing stories to their attention one of the most wonderful things in the world.
I'm not personally published, so I haven't had that experience yet, but I have seen it happen, and it is truly beautiful.
What are your favorite things about middle grade books?