In keeping with my co-bloggers' themes of late, here's a list of what my children have been reading. While it's a small sampling, the comments are genuine and valuable and are delivered directly from middle grade readers.
Me to Third Grade Girl: What are the books you've read most recently, and what did you like most about them?
The Day the Crayons Quit - "I liked that most of them (the crayons) were mad at Duncan or each other and cuz they were saying funny things." (I think she really dug the conflict.)
Thidwick the Big-Hearted Moose - "I liked the fact that he let a whole bunch of animals in his antlers and didn't even know that they were about to fall off. And the hunters got all of the animals and his horns, I mean antlers."
Hug Machine - "I liked it because pizza energized him and he liked hugging a lot."
Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs - "Well, um I liked the fact that she thought it was a gigantic bears' house and I liked the fact of what the morals were. If you ever find yourself in the wrong story, leave. Oh, and for the dinosaurs, always remember to lock the back door."
Me to Fourth Grade Girl: What books have you read recently and what did you like most about them?
The Shadow Children series - "I liked that it's about third children, who are illegal. Lots of unfair things concerning food are happening but rich people called barons eat like nothing happened. Ok, see, there were a few years of famine and the barons are eating like nothing bad happened and like there's plenty of food. And I like that it's from lots of different characters' points of view."
Me to Sixth Grade Girl: What books have you read recently what did you like about them?
The Heroes of Olympus series - They're funny, dramatic, umm, I like how they're all from the different characters' views and they all have their own moods and feelings - like actual people do.
The Ranger's Apprentice series - The romance is way unbalanced. With Evanlyn, Alyss, Will, it's all kind of awkward. It's so obvious how, now that I've read it before, that it's hard to believe I didn't know it before.
Me to Sixth Grade Boy - Tell me about the books you've read recently.
"I'm going to tell you about The Templeton Twins Have an Idea. First of all it's part of a trilogy, therefore it makes you want to read more. One of the reasons I like it is the narrator gets in the story a lot. For example, at the end of most of the chapters, he has questions for review. Some of these questions are "different". For example, 'The author has succeeded I writing an actual prologue. Aren't you proud of him?' The second question for review of that section is 'what do you mean, no?' Number three in that section is 'Explain, in fifty words or less, why you believe the story will actually get started, and why it will be wonderful.' The reason I like how the narrator does this is because he actually gets involved. Sometimes when he gets involved, he explains words you may not know."
Me: And that's a good thing?
Me: Would that work for every book?
SGB: I do believe that would work for most books, though I do not know if when you get involved it would be funny in every book.
Me: What are you presently reading?
SGB: City of Orphans: The thing I like most about it is how detailed it is and how well everything is explained.
Me: What's it about?
SGB: New York in the late 1800s. Two kids Max and Willa are struggling with finances and survival. Max is an "newsie" - a news boy you know "Extra, Extra, read all about it!" - boy. He works hard each day to earn 8cents. Willa is an orphan who has been living in an alley for five months. Max gets in a jam with a gang and Willa happens to be there and saves him with her mighty stick. Now, Max and Willa have these troubles; the gang is always on watch for them, Max's sister was just sent to jail for no reason, and his other sister has wasting disease - the disease that killed Willa's mother. Will they make in the big city of the late 1800s?
Whenever I corner my children and grill them about the books they're reading, I always get some valuable insights. I hope you did too. Thanks and happy writing! -Rob