I haven't read much kidlit lately; my definition of kidlit is a book, usually about kids, where the children aren't trying on adult themes or attitudes. So, no sex, little sexual tension, very little fakery. I don't worry about how soft that definition is, because I'm sorting books for myself. Actually, in this house I haven't separated the kidlit from the other books at all, so I'm not so concerned with the categories.
My two kidlit books are Enchanted Glass, by Diana Wynne Jones, and Snakehead (Alex Rider Adventure), by Anthony Horowitz, and I absolutely delight in how different those books are. Aidan and his guardian Andrew are struggling magicians holding their home against a jealous power. They learn things about themselves by noticing what they are doing, so that emotional growth happens naturally and satisfactorily. This is one of my favorite things about Wynne Jones books -- the character suddenly realizing why he has been doing something. Aidan is mourning his grandmother, and sometimes he is the last to understand how he is doing that.
Alex Rider, on the other hand, has very little interior life. He usually knows very well why he is doing things -- he is desperately trying to stay alive. He wonders a bit about his parents, which is his emotional hurdle in this installment, but I don't learn anything new about him through his surprising win in the kick-boxing arena, or his daring escape from the cargo hauler. When he misjudges his parachute jump, he doesn't link that to any urge to misjudgment in his own life, and honestly I can't see much surprise in a boy missing his landing by a few hundred feet, especially when the experts asked him to go first because he's the coolest.
Both books were rated highly by my eleven year old, of course. And I enjoyed them myself. But I'd pick Horowitz's book as a good choice to read when I don't want to think about things, and the Wynne Jones for when I wanted to be reminded that there is joy in life. It's not one of her greatest works, but it has tasty vitamins and minerals in it.
I bought the Diana Wynne Jones; I'm sad to think it will probably be her last book as she is in the last stages of death. I may end up buying the Alex Rider, after the unfortunate incident with the koolaid and the top that wasn't on the bottle... Maybe I'll convince the library that the grape juice stains are authentic blood marks.