Monday, August 2, 2010

Rachel Vail's Keynote: School, Drool, & Other Daily Disasters: Finding the Humor and Heart in Middle Grade Novels, part 1

Rachel Vail has written over 30 books for kids through teens. She has one of the best opening 2 lines ever in her book "Gorgeous:"

"I sold my cell phone to the devil. In my own defense, it had been a really crappy day."

She's also the author of "Justin Case: School, Drool and Other Daily Disasters!"

That starts out like this:

September 1, Tuesday
Okay, yes. I'm worried
I can't help it.

As Lin Oliver is saying in her introduction, Rachel is

"Queen of the novel for kids"

Rachel thinks a good book is more than just a story well told, at it's best, for middle graders, it should be suffused with humor and heart.

If I want a character to feel head exploding jealousy... she remembers how she felt when she was a child. The mix of emotions.

She challeneged the room to remember a book that really moved you when you read it as a child.

She shared the story of reading "Of Mice and Men," and how deeply it affected her - and how later it became a theme of her own books - What does love require of us?

What an interesting challenge to see if the books of our childhoods that split our heads apart had themes that still resonate for us, through time and into our own narrative flows.

Adolescence is so fraut: We are faced with adult feelings and no adult perspective. As an adult, we see someone hot and go - he's hot. As a 7th grader, we see someone hot and the brand new feeling knocks you down.

Unlike some other luckier species, we have no cocoon to hide in - we're going through these changes of adolescence in what feels like full view of the entire world!

"Life or death moments are a dime a dozen in seventh grade."

1 comment:

  1. Hello, LEE WIND,
    i just wanted to take the opportunity to thank-you for posting this up.
    I am an international school student, who has an author project. Unfortunately, our teacher assigned us a "investigation"assignemnt for two authors in one night. If it were not for this blog post, I do not know where I would be!
    Thanks so much,