*what my 9-year old calls the “Twilight” frenzy sweeping her sister’s 5th grade class.
Between books, ballet and basketball — the spring has just skittered by. I thought I would begin to catch up with a couple of posts about fascinating reads the girls and I have come across in recent weeks. Up first, some stars in the “kid lit” world — where there are some truly distinctive voices. Next post, I will look at some of the books that I’ve been using to further my research — filling in the chinks in the historical foundation, so to speak.
A caveat to start things out – I do object to the term “kid lit.” A good book is a good book – there are no age parameters. When I was 12, I’d read Gone with the Wind so many times that my Dad confiscated and hid the book (it was in his sock drawer, btw). Technically, an adult book – however, my Dad felt a little southern girl needed something to balance my love and adoration for Little Women. I still ended up writing stories about conducting on the Underground Railroad, I was just dressed far more beautifully. Another example is the Diary of Anne Frank, which is often taught to middle schoolers. Really…. does her story lose its timelessness when you reach adulthood?
While many of these books are classified in the “young adult/kids” section, they are great reads and the girls love our “mother-daughter” book club.
First up, the Twilight series (4 vols) by Stephanie Meyers: Vampires and werewolves and a strong female lead, oh my! As the 9 year old noted above, 11 and 12 year old girls are mad for the books AND the movie. So are some moms (or so I’ve heard). In fact, there’s a name for the obsessed grown-ups, they are the “twi-moms.” On the other hand, I’ve had several moms question my judgment in letting my eldest read it at all. OK – I get the concept: reading about adolescent lust, longing and angst will cause adolescent lust, longing and angst.
OK – let’s just say I don’t buy that theory. I think Meyer’s books are engaging and tap into an emotional well that already exists (oh, you know it’s there 🙂 ). Bella, the heroine, is responsible, adventurous and refreshingly un-materialistic. Surprising in an age where Gossip Girl parodies like the Clique series are also all the rage. Recitations of designer labels, interspersed with snarky dialogue don’t really work for me, although my older girlie calls them her “candy” books. I can appreciate that. And they do serve a purpose — we can and have often used them for “what not to do,” examples in girl world.
In contrast, my youngest has discovered the Series of Unfortunate Events. There’s a strong female in peril – this time with elements of all the best fairy tales – villainous relatives, mortal danger and gorgeous language. And to my baby’s delight, there are 13 volumes to race through, each more fantastical!
One of the more wonderful consequences of their enjoyment of reading is listening to them create their own story in which the characters from Twilight and the Series of Unfortunate Events co-exist. Likewise, I hear stories of the gods and goddesses all the time.
My daughters love Greek mythology. Two series that stair-step beautifully, just as my girls do are Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson and the Olympians and Kate McMullan’s Myth-o-Mania. In true Harry Potter fashion, Percy discovers that he is a son of Poisedon and like Harry finds a parallel world inhabited by gods, demi-gods, heroes unsuspected by the humans around them. The last book came out today (5/5) and we’re negotiating who gets to read it first. We’ve kind of outgrown McMullan’s books, and we will definitely miss them. She tells the great myths from the perspective of a misjudged Hades. Laugh out loud funny, adults get some of the writing that sails over a younger head.
A final entry in the mother-daughter book club is the Looking Glass series by Frank Beddor. Imagine Alice/Alyss (who spells her name wrong, or so I always told people) living in an alternate universe. One where the stories told by Lewis Carroll are real, culled from the memories of a princess ever so briefly trapped in our world. The suits of cards are scheming nobility and the Red Queen is a violent pretender to the throne. The Mad Hatter forms part of an elite palace guard. Wonderland is rendered in incredibly delicious detail. The next chapter comes out in September and we are wildly excited.
Stay tuned for more books …….
music to read by: Werewolves of London (Warren Zevon); Only Sixteen (Sam Cooke); Moonland (Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds); Kings & Queens (Luna Halo); Mama’s Little Girl (Dusty Springfield); I Just Died in your Arms (Cutting Crew); Ballad of a Teenage Queen (Johnny Cash); All American Girl (Train); You Call it Madness (Nat King Cole); Sister Moon (Sting, of course — but check out the version where he teams with Herbie Hancock); Sixteen Going on Seventeen (from the Sound of Music); I Got You Now (Kasey Chambers); Teen Town (Weather Report); Kiko & the Lavender Moon (Los Lobos); I Want to be your Girlfriend (Mary Chapin Carpenter); Half-Life (Duncan Sheik); Girls in their Summer Clothes (Bruce Springsteen); Moon over Bourbon Street (Sting); Young Love (Celtic Thunder); Don’t Tell Mama (from Cabaret); and Sparkle Girl (Letters to Cleo)
The great challenge of adulthood is holding on to your idealism after you lose your innocence –> Bruce Springsteen