Tag Archives: middle grade

What evokes childlike wonder? And as adults writing for children, how can we recapture that? @DonnaGalanti

Harnessing Your Inner Child by Donna Galanti 

Fairy Wonder AChildlike wonder. What was yours as a kid? I walked along rock walls under the stars at night. Climbed trees to sing songs to the woods. And hid away in rose bush caves with a notepad to write my stories – all the while believing that magic existed.

Regaining a childlike sense of wonder isn’t about returning to a childlike state, it’s about letting yourself be awed by the little things in your grownup life. The mundane every day is what can dull our wonder. And just because those little things happen every day doesn’t mean they aren’t miraculous.

Sled Ride BBut keeping your childlike wonder can be difficult when grownup duties mount. One winter day as I tried to write, I watched two kids sled. Their laughter and joy snapped me out of my trapped trance. I remembered being ten years old and how a whole day of sledding was magical.

 

And I realized now that in order to do my job well as a children’s author, and to find joy in it, I needed to rekindle my kid wonder again. How can we keep that kind of wonder with us?


Caption:

Me with my lion ring.

I found wonder in my hero then, the lion from The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis.


My wonder list:

  1. Re-visit pictures of yourselves as a kid. Daydream about what you were doing in those photos. What were you excited about?
  2. Did you write diaries as a child or teen? Go back and read them to inspire that voice of youth in your own writing.
  3. Look at the world from a different perspective. Like the snow. I went out in it and made a snow angel and looked up at the sky. Something I hadn’t done in years.
  4. Create a new bucket list together with your kids or grandkids. What do they dream of doing that you could do with them?
  5. Read stories by your own children, or grandchildren, to see how they view the world in their words.
  6. Revive memories of being the age of your characters. Draw a map of the neighborhood you grew up in. Remember what you saw, what you felt, and how you reacted to events there and write them down.
  7. Act out a scene in your book, or any book, with dramatic flair.
  8. Face a childhood fear (mine was going down in our dark 200-year-old cellar where I had been sure dead bodies were buried in the dark hole in the wall).

Stylish YouthIn doing these things myself, I remembered how awesome it was to be a kid again and lost in the moment. And that every day as a kid was about being swept up in the magical moments. And I could once again be lost in the wonder – and the small things.

How do you harness your childlike wonder in writing for tweens or teens?


Buy Joshua and the Arrow Realm and Joshua and the Lightning Road (book one on sale now for just $.99cents through 9/20) at: http://www.donnagalanti.com/books/


About Donna: Donna Galanti is the author of the Element Trilogy (Imajin Books) and the Joshua and The Lightning Road series (Month9Books). She is a contributing editor for International Thriller Writers the Big Thrill magazine and blogs with other middle grade authors at Project Middle Grade Mayhem. Donna has lived from England as a child, to Hawaii as a U.S. Navy photographer. She now lives in Pennsylvania with her family in an old farmhouse that has lots of nooks and crannies, but sadly no ghosts. You can find her books, resources for writers, and upcoming events at www.elementtrilogy.com. For more information on her writing for tweens and teens visit www.donnagalanti.com.

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How to become a princess: A Review of Princess Academy by Shannon Hale

Princess Academy by Shannon Hale (Audiobook) This book was the monthly selection for my book club. I expected this to be a YA novel, but in truth, while it does deal with YA issues, it reads more like a middle grade novel. (Which yes, I should have figured from the cover)

The characters for the most part, are 14 and up, put with all the teasing and really young behavior and actions, they all sounded more like nine year olds (Comparing them to my own kids who are 10, 12, and 15)

In this book, a mountain province has been selected as the place where the prince will choose his new bride. Since the people living there are peasants, they create an academy for all the girls to attend to make them “princess worthy”.  After a year, the prince will choose one of them.

This is a nice, light story about building friendships, love of country, family, and home, and finding out that what you dream of might be hidden right outside your front door.

I can’t say I loved this book, because I have trouble connecting to middle grade characters in any story, but this was an enjoyable read. It will probably never rank among my favorites, but if you enjoy a good story about growing up, this might be a great choice for you.


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Review from a Twelve Year Old Reader: Dragons Vs. Drones by @WesleyTKing

This review comes from my twelve year old son. As a mom, I need to point out that he was jabbering about this book the entire time he read it. He even dragged it back and forth to school with him. The poor book is TOTALED. It looks horrible, but I’d prefer to say it looks “well read”.

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Dragons Vs. Drones by Wesley King

Expected Release date: March 15th

This book is about a boy named Marcus who is struck by lightning and sent to a dragon-populated world called Dracone that is being attacked by robot drones.

He meets a girl names Dree, and together they plan to make dragon/drone hybrids to combat the drones and save Dracone.

My favorite part of this book was when they snuck into the castle because it was really intense and it got me sunk into the book. It was really descriptive and I could almost feel the rats crawling against my feet. [Ewww]

There was also a great cliffhanger ending. The story is not over.

It is a very unique topic using medieval fantasy with robots. I like how descriptive it was. I really felt like I was there, and it was nonstop action. I kept wondering what would happen next.

I would recommend this book to people who like action adventure and unique topics.

I would give this book four and a half stars out of five. The only books I’ve read that have been better are Fablehaven series and The Undertakers series.

(Pretty high accolades. He’s pretty picky.)

Click here to find out more: Goodreads

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Twelve Year Old Reader Review of: My Diary from the Edge of the World by: Jodi Lynn Anderson @jodilynna

A note from Mom: This book had a profound effect on my son. He spoke about it every day. But that ending … wow, did that ending throw him for a loop. this is what he had to say:

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This book is about a girl named Gracie who is in a world where a cloud comes to take a person’s soul before they die. She thinks a cloud is coming to take her little brother Sam, so they run to a mythical place called “The Extraordinary World” where clouds cannot follow. They run into a lot of conflict and strife on their journey.

[Yes, he used the word “strife” (proud momma alert!)]

I liked how they were always in a different place and in a lot of situations where they couldn’t get out, but they always managed to get out. And I like how it was a really big journey and a HUGE plot twist at the end.

I didn’t like how sad the ending was. I prefer to read things with happy endings. It would have been a sad ending no matter what, but it was even more sad because of the twist.

I would recommend this book to people who like cross country journeys and people who don’t mind a sad ending or plot twists.

I would give this book three and a half stars out of five because of the ending. I was really enjoying it a lot until the end. It was very original and I loved it until the end.

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A note from Mom:

Like I said… it was all about that ending. Without giving spoilers, just make sure your child is going to be okay if everything doesn’t end up “happy songs and lolly pops”. He was a little disturbed. He was loving it (and did love it overall) but he could not get over that ending.

Find out more on Goodreads

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An 11 year-old Reviews Joshua and the Lightning Road by @DonnaGalanti “Omigosh! Action Adventure!” @Month9Books

Since Donna was nice enough to hang out and chat on Monday nights with us, I thought it would be great if I could get a middle grade perspective of her book.

This review comes directly from my eleven year old son, with a little prodding by Mom.  Details about what the book (and the book trailer) are about are at the bottom of the post. Enjoy!

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 Let’s start out with what you liked.

The main thing I liked about it was the non-stop action and adventure.

Other details I liked were how different things and different problems were introduced and there were so many things they had to do all at once. And I also liked how the story didn’t take place in one area, how they had to move to different realms all the time.

Also I liked how things started winding down at the end, and then they started winding back up at the end– At 75% it seemed like everything was safe and then it was like “Omigosh they’re not safe because (character name removed) is back!”

 

 Did anything special catch your eye?

Some of the things that caught my eye were how you didn’t know Joshua’s name until his friend mentioned it. You didn’t know his name until the second chapter. I kinda liked that.

Also, at the beginning, I liked how when the storm happened out of nowhere and then this guy showed up and all this action suddenly came out of nowhere. It was like, “Omigosh! Action adventure.”

(Mommy plays Devil’s Advocate) Was there anything you didn’t like?

(He had to think a minute)

The only thing I didn’t like was how hard it was to keep track of who the characters were. There were too many kids that he meets.

There was also one character that has something bad happen to him, but he still goes on the adventure, but is only mentioned once when they are eating but then you never hear about him again. What happened to him?

[Minor spoiler] They never found out who spilled the beans on the plan they had to escape from the mill. [End minor spoiler]

 Overall thoughts?

Even though there were a few things that bothered me, overall I really liked this book.  

Would you read another book n the series if there were one?

Yes.

 

On a scale of 1 for the worst book you’ve read and 5 for the best book you ever read, how would you rate this book?

I would rate it a four

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There you go! Directly from my eleven year old son. I hope you enjoyed it!

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About Donna: Donna Galanti is the author of A Human Element and A Hidden Element (Imajin Books), the first two award-winning, bestselling books in the paranormal suspense Element Trilogy, and the middle grade fantasy adventure series Joshua and The Lightning Road (Month9Books). Donna is a contributing editor to International Thriller Writers the Big Thrill magazine and blogs at Project Mayhem. She lives in Pennsylvania with her family in an old farmhouse. Visit her at www.donnagalanti.com.

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About Joshua and the Lightning Road:

Twelve-year-old Joshua Cooper learns the hard way that lightning never strikes by chance when a bolt strikes his house and whisks away his best friend—possibly forever. To get him back, Joshua must travel the Lightning Road to a dark world where stolen human kids are work slaves ruled by the frustrated heirs of the Greek Olympians who come to see Joshua as the hero prophesied to restore their lost powers. New friends come to Joshua’s aid and while battling beasts and bandits and fending off the Child Collector, Joshua’s mission quickly becomes more than a search for his friend—it becomes the battle of his life.