Tuesday, November 13, 2012

What About the Parents?

This kid may need parents.
The burning question for children's books (including YA) is what to do about the parents. Books are much more interesting if the protagonists run things, but for most kids, that's rather unrealistic. So adventure style books tend to have a large proportion of orphans, so that mom or dad aren't intervening to prevent the action from happening. The three middle grade books I read this week take drastically different approaches -- Pinky Pye is a cosy family story, where everything that happens is at a small scale that the parents approve and participate in. Magic Below Stairs has a true orphan, raised in an orphanage and without any connection to family. Finally, The Red Pyramid puts the kids in the driver's seat -- their father has been kidnapped so that he not only cannot prevent the jeopardy, his situation motivates them to dive further into it.

I admit to liking all three kinds of story, although usually they appeal to different moods.

Fast Responses:

Pinky Pye Pinky Pye, Eleanore Estes.  I'm glad I'm finally getting through some of the leftover summer books, which had a disastrous final month (I kept starting a book a day, but was left with over twenty unfinished stories). I find Estes' voice cosy and warm, although I can see how it might read as coy or cloying if your inner voice runs that way. But for me, the summer with the Pye family and their pets was a gentle delight, especially when Rachel moves to the front.

Magic Below StairsMagic Below Stairs, Caroline Stevermer. I grabbed this book because I've enjoyed Stevermer's other works, which are mainly YA or even general fantasy.  This one is aimed at a younger crowd, but seems to be set in the same world as the YA letter books that introduced me to her. It's a solid engaging fantasy but without the depth of her older books. For fans, it gives a fun glimpse at Kate and Thomas from underneath. I gave it to X; if he likes it I'll hand on some of her other books.

The Red Pyramid (Kane Chronicles Series #1)The Red Pyramid, Rick Riordan. No fair thinking about this one until after book club meeting!

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