Story Monsters Ink - February 2019

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Jan Coates: What I love about being a middle grade author is that kids that age are on the brink; they’re still kids, although in today’s crazy always-withyou world, there’s a lot of pressure for them to grow up too quickly. I find I’m always channeling my 11-year-old self while writing, and it seems first-person, presenttense works best for me in MG. When I visit schools, I always come away thinking that kids are still kids, with the same feelings, worries, and silliness they’ve always had, which I love! Q: What do you find the hardest about sticking to that narrow 8-12ish age group?

Vijaya Bodach: I write the gamut from pre-K to YA and the hardest stories are the ones that fall in between MG and YA. If I even find myself in that spot, I skew the content so it fits firmly in one category or the other so that there’s no confusion where it should be shelved. Marcia Strykowski: I don’t find it difficult to stick to that age group. I enjoy writing for various age groups and don’t find it difficult at all to stick to the middle grade level once I have my character and storyline plotted out. I also needed suggestions! Who better to answer that than a bunch of folks who have spent some serious time in the field sifting through what makes a successful 48

Story Monsters Ink | February 2019 |

book different from a snore? For my final question, I asked my authors… Q: So … aside from your own books, which MG authors would you suggest?

Vijaya Bodach: Karen Cushman, Eoin Colfer, Kate DiCamillo, Linda Sue Park, Katherine Paterson, Richard Peck, Rick Riordan, JK Rowling, Louis Sachar, Laura Amy Schlitz, EB White, Jacqueline Woodson, and so many more! Marcia Strykowski: I adore Kimberly Brubaker Bradley’s The War That Saved My Life, as well as its sequel. Melody Delgado: Kate DiCamillo is an author I admire.

Some helpful explanations for the terms mentioned above Guided Reading Level: Also called the Fountas and Pinnell Levels after its founders and is used by schools to track learning levels from “A” (kindergarten) through “Z” (Grade 6). Lexile: A reading comprehension level measurement from 5L (Beginning Reader) to 2000L.

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