We would like to know…
What is the allure of contemporary fiction for Middle Grade readers?
I believe that the biggest draw for readers of contemporary MG fiction is relatability. Now, before the historical and fantasy writers throw their keyboard at me, let me preface that! Every novel has elements we can relate to, whether through characters or setting. That’s why we read these books. An MG novel that takes place in 16th century Scotland may have a main character who reminds us of our 21st-century best friend. Or a parent from a high fantasy trilogy might remind us of our own parent’s discipline strategy (even if that fictional parent happens to be a dragon robot with two heads)!
In contemporary middle grade, however, the books often read like they could have been written yesterday. There are often references to pop culture. certain clothing styles. and the language of today’s tweens. These stories feel like they could have been written about the same people in your school. I think there’s a fascination in feeling like these stories are about you or people you know. Its like looking inside the window of an exclusive party or overhearing a conversation in the bathroom. If the main character is relatable to you, then its almost like you’re on the adventure too. Bonus: you’re able to hear little nuggets of fun dialogue and experience the risks and rewards that go along with a great plot. You may not hang out with the middle school soccer team in real life, but it’s fun to imagine what their conversations might sound like in a book where the main character is the star of the soccer team. Books taking you to worlds you never imagined isn’t just for fantasy, and I think that young readers enjoy the everyday escapes to other parts of likfe just as much as they would traveling to worlds beyond Earth.
Just like a healthy meal should include a balance of vegetables, protein, and Brie cheese (kidding on that last one…sort of). I would suggest that the balanced bookshelf of a young reader should include the three whats: Even if an MG reader gravitates toward one category, I would definitely recommend trying these and many other styles even for those readers who prefer contemporary fiction.
● What happened? Remember that 16th century Scotland book I mentioned above? Our young readers don’t always relate to history through textbooks. It’s often beautifully written historical fiction that captures the spirit of history and packages it up beautifully to make it relevant to the modern day.
● What now? This is contemporary fiction, and it feels like it’s happening right this very minute!
● What if? It’s not always satisfying enough to think only about what’s happening in the past and what’s happening now. What is happening in the future? If the world was taken over by dragon robots, should dragons be ALLOWED to drive school buses? These are the kinds of thought-provoking questions that allow us to examine our world in a very different way.
I like to add elements of many types of fiction to my books. It’s fun, for example, to bring in bits of history. My book LIBERTY BELLE is set in Washington DC, a city rich in history. So it’s fun to pull in little tidbits here and there. And the elements that make a book great are often similar. That said, I love writing middle grade contemporary and I hope to write many more contemporary books (perhaps even a sequel to LIBERTY BELLE) in the years to come.
Oh my, what an interesting story! Thanks, Emily, for stopping by today and spending time with our readers!
Liberty Belle by Emily Ungar
Trailer: Available from Youtube: http://youtu.be/DMo2A-LLCbQ
On the same day she turns twelve years old, Savannah moves away from everything she’s known in sweet, sunny Georgia to preppy Washington D.C. Not only will she miss her best friends Katie and Tessa, Savannah will start a new school. She soon discovers that her schoolmates love to brag—about their clothes, their parents’ governmental connections, and even who has the in with the school authorities.
Unhappy and lonely, Savannah decides if she can’t make life better, she can at least make it sound that way. Soon she is living in the childhood home of George Washington, riding in the limo of the vice president’s daughter, and even moving into the former Luxembourg embassy.
All is well until she learns that her true friends from Georgia are coming for a visit. Now Savannah must create the life she’s been talking about in her letters—and fast! Will Savannah find herself or lose her friends?
12th August 2014
Anaiah Press: http://www.anaiahpress.com
Please note, this giveaway is only open to residents of the US
Emily Ungar is a graduate of Indiana University, where she majored in journalism. After living in seven different U.S. states by the time she finished college, she now lives in Indianapolis, Indiana, with her husband and very curious twin toddlers. When she isn’t chasing after her twin boys, Emily loves to curl up in a chaise lounge with a book in one hand and a lemon cupcake in the other. Emily loves connecting with her readers, so she welcomes you to say hi on her blog at emilyungar.com.
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