This week’s theme is “If you liked my book, you might like…” which is kind of tricky, since my book isn’t out yet (although it will be, in just a few weeks. Wheee!!!). So I figured I’d take this theme and turn it around, to be, “If you liked these books, you might like SMALL MEDIUM AT LARGE.”
Now, as you may know, SMALL MEDIUM AT LARGE was originally written as a Young Adult book, but a wise editor said she thought the voice and humor would work better for a middle grade audience. I was surprised by the suggestion at first, but then eventually (long story short) saw the light and thought I’d give it a go. But I said to that editor (in what was, I’m sure, a very panicked voice), “I’m lost when it comes to MG—I don’t have kids and I haven’t read any books for this age since I was in middle school. Do you have any suggestions?”
Without hesitation, she suggested the Alice books by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor. I’d never heard of these books, but went out and bought The Agony of Alice – the first book in the series that follows Alice McKinley from age 11 to the most recent books where she’s a teen (I believe the final book in the series, where she’s 18, comes out next year). This book showed me exactly the voice I really needed to channel—the very honest voice of an unsure but curious and prone to embarrassment 12 year old girl (which sounds a lot like me at that age). The Alice books are VERY honest and don’t sugar-coat tough topics, so ALL the stuff that young girls think about is in there. Now, I didn’t want to go whole hog with controversial topics, but 12 year olds worry about their bodies and boys and being embarrassed, so that’s what’s in SMALL MEDIUM AT LARGE. Not only that, but the Alice books are funny. And that smart editor I was talking about? She said I was funny, so I figured I needed to really harness the funny and go for it.
She also mentioned the Ramona books by Beverly Cleary – more funny books from my childhood about regular kids growing up. Okay, I was starting to get what she was talking about. These books are perennial favs and I highly recommend them, but of course, you’ve probably already read them, along with everyone else on the planet.
Another book I read (actually, re-read, since it was one of my childhood favs) as I was preparing to rewrite my book was ARE YOU THERE GOD? IT’S ME, MARGARET and was reminded why I loved it so much. Blume captures the feelings of a pre-teen so well—the questions, the new and scary feelings, the changes, the worry that your boobs will never grow… so much is going on at this age and getting that voice pitch-perfect is a hallmark of Ms. Blume (who is on Twitter – did you know this? I get so geeked up when I see her tweets). And it’s not just this book that captures the perfect tween voice, either. Pick up any of her middle grade books and you’re guaranteed to be taken back to those awkward years!
So there you go. If this list makes you smile and nod and feel nostalgic and think about books you want to read again or buy for your daughter or niece, then maybe you’ll like my book, too (and don’t forget—it’s still available for pre-order and will hit shelves in just a few weeks—you can pick them all up at the same time!).
Any of these among your favorite tween reads? Tell me about your childhood favorites.